In The Studio: Process of a Painting with Susan Logoreci

Susan Logoreci (NAP #61, #109, 2003 MFA Annual) draws urban sprawl in the most beautiful way. As Los Angelenos, New Yorkers, and big city dwellers know well, the view out of your airplane window when you arrive back in your city is often one that is at once overwhelming and bittersweet. I love the feeling of coming home and am at once warmed over by the minuscule aerial view of my large hometown, though I have panged feelings of being simultaneously shocked and awed at its sprawling enormity.

Logoreci captures that feeling beautifully in her drawings. In this Process of a Painting, we are looking at her detailed hand behind the creation of U.S.C. (Urban Swarm Contemplated), 2014. Using colored pencil on paper, she creates a wonderfully and surprisingly rich and bold palette, while exploring an equally intricate subject.

After seeing her process, I asked Logoreci to tell us about the inspiration behind U.S.C. and her aesthetic approach to the commission. Please follow along and join us on this wonderful aerial adventure.

Susan Logoreci | U.S.C. (Urban Swarm Contemplated), 4′ x 6′, colored pencil on paper, 2014

The underlying drawing is about three quarters of the way finished. I outline the buildings while looking through a loop over the photograph, usually drawing from left to right although this one I began in the middle. I never use a projector and I draw pretty quickly. I like the drawing to look handmade and to include “mistakes.”


The underlying drawing is complete and about a quarter of the colored pencil work is done.

Filling in with the colored pencils is about halfway done. This part takes a while as I press down really hard to create opaque color and I layer the color so there is more variation.

A detail of a small portion of the drawing.

Three quarters of the colored pencil work is completed.

The drawing is completed.

Ellen Caldwell: What inspired this piece?

Susan Logoreci: This piece was commissioned by Simon Chiu who is a Pasadena Museum of California Art board member and art collector. He’s earning a Ph.D. in Architecture at the University of Southern California and he wanted a large drawing that depicted U.S.C with downtown Los Angeles behind it. He came to my studio and we spent a long time looking at aerial images and talking about how Los Angeles developed. He was interested in how from certain angles the city looks like a series of triangles that have been wedged together and that was something I had never noticed before.

I often charter a helicopter and take my own photographs but for this piece I wanted a lot more information in it and helicopters only go so high, so I purchased a photograph from pilot Mark Holtzman who photographs Southern California from a small plane.

EC: How do you see your style and approach?

SL: I really liked how from such a high distance, the city looks like a swarm of insects, all those small bits coming together to make a whole. I wanted to capture that somewhat creepy, awe inspiring feeling you get from seeing a swarm of bees on the move; the collective power of all those little pieces. I often leave some of the paper white and in different drawings it represents different elements. Sometimes it’s an erasure. Sometimes it creates an added abstract layer that disrupts the world we are used to seeing. In this drawing I wanted the white to help create this swarm or explosion/ implosion feel.

I’ve done several commissions and a big part of doing them is taking the patron’s interests and merging them with mine. Sometimes, that’s where a large part of the creativity comes in. In this case we had a lot of shared interests and his observations inspired me to see the city in a way I hadn’t before. It was an enjoyable drawing to make which was a good thing because it took me about six months to complete. 


Susan Logoreci released a print of U.S.C. to coincide with this “Process of a Painting” and you can purchase it on her site.

Logoreci’s drawings are in several collections including the U.S. State Department, City National Bank, Creative Artist's Agency, and in several law firms and urban design firms. She completed two public art projects at the Los Angeles International Airport and was recently commissioned by Los Angeles Metro to create eight large drawings that were recreated into mosaic tile and will soon be installed in one of the new stations on the Expo Line in Los Angeles. She received her B.F.A from the San Francisco Art Institute and her M.F.A. from Cal State Long Beach and has lived, worked and exhibited in Los Angeles for over a decade.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.


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