Transcript: Portrait of Sue Todd - Artist | Nov 09, 2017

A woman in her fifties works on a piece of art in her studio.

A caption reads "Portrait of Sue Todd. Artist."

Sue has short wavy white hair and wears glasses, jeans and a red blouse.

She says I'VE HEARD, AND I THINK
IT'S TRUE, THAT THERE ARE
REALLY ONLY SIX STORIES
IN THE WORLD, AND THEY'RE
JUST RETOLD OVER AND
OVER IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
WHAT I LIKE, ESPECIALLY
IN THIS DIVISIVE WORLD
THAT WE LIVE IN, THAT THE
UNIFIED IDEA OF THEM,
THE FACT THAT YOU CAN
GO ALL OVER THE WORLD
AND FIND THE SAME
STORIES WITH JUST
DIFFERENT CHARACTERS, AND
IT'S WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER.
I WAS ONE OF THOSE KIDS
WHO WAS BORN WITH A CRAYON
IN MY HANDS.
I DREW ALL THE TIME.
AND READ.
I WAS AN AVID READER.
I WAS VERY PARTICULAR
ABOUT COLOURS.
MY FAVOURITE COLOURS
AT THE TIME WERE MAGENTA,
SIAN, AND EMERALD GREEN.
MY DAD USED TO TAKE
US ACROSS TO DETROIT
TO THE DETROIT INSTITUTE
OF THE ARTS OCCASIONALLY.
AND I REMEMBER JUST BEING
BLOWN AWAY BY THE GAINSBOROUGH
PAINTINGS OF PINK
GIRL AND BLUE BOY.
THEY'RE ENORMOUS, JUST
OF THESE LITTLE KIDS
PAINTED IN THOSE COLOURS.

(music from the Swan Lake plays)

Sue says ABOUT THE SAME AGE OUR
SCHOOL TOOK US ON A TRIP
TO THE BALLET TO
SEE SWAN LAKE.
AND THE SAME THING.
I WAS JUST BLOWN AWAY.
FOR MAYBE ONE OF THE
FEW TIMES IN MY LIFE
THAT I WAS ENTIRELY
IN THE MOMENT.
AND TO ME TODAY
IT STILL RESONATES.
AND JUST SET ME UP FOR A
LOVE OF ART AND MUSIC.

In her studio, Sue works on a piece of carving.

She says I TOOK ART IN HIGH SCHOOL,
AND THEN IN GRADE 13
IN OTTAWA THERE WAS,
WHICH NO LONGER EXISTS,
THE HIGH SCHOOL
OF COMMERCE.
AND I TOOK A DEDICATED
ART COURSE THERE.
AND THEN THAT SENT ME
TO WHAT WAS THEN OCA,
ONTARIO COLLEGE OF
ART, IT'S NOW OCADU.
I NEVER INTENDED IT
TO BE FINE ART
BECAUSE I KNEW I HAD
TO MAKE A LIVING.
AND BACK THEN COMMERCIAL ART
WAS A VIABLE CAREER OPTION.
I USED TO WORK IN EATON'S
IN THE HARD GOODS DEPARTMENT,
WHICH IS EVERYTHING
BUT FASHION.
AND FOR ALL THE CATALOGUES
AND FLYERS, WE DREW THE
ENTIRE THING.
WE WOULD HAVE THE COPY,
AND WE'D GO TO A BOARDROOM
AND LOOK AT ALL THE
MERCHANDISE, AND THE
BUYERS WOULD COME DOWN
AND TELL US WHAT WENT WHERE.
AND THEN, IT'S LIKE A PUZZLE,
YOU WOULD JUST LAY IT OUT
SO THAT IT'S A NICE DESIGN.
AND THAT WAS BEFORE COMPUTERS,
AND DESIGNERS DIDN'T SET
THEIR OWN TYPE, SO IT WOULD GO
TO THE TYPESETTING DEPARTMENT.
AND THAT WAS MY LIFE
FOR ABOUT TEN YEARS.
I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING
A LITTLE MORE CREATIVE.
AND MY HUSBAND, JOHN,
HE'S AN ARTIST, TOO,
HE'S A SCULPTOR AND
A WOOD CARVER, AND SO
HE INTRODUCED ME TO
A PIECE OF LINOLEUM.
AND I JUST STARTED CARVING
AND JUST KEPT GOING.
SOME FRIENDS OF MINE CAME
OVER AND I SHOWED THEM,
AND ONE OF THEM SAID
YOU SHOULD USE THAT AS
AN ILLUSTRATION STYLE.
AND I WENT
'OH, GOOD IDEA'.
SO I MADE A PORTFOLIO
AND THEN TOOK IT OUT
TO ART DIRECTORS.
AND SO THE FIRST THING I DO IS
I DO A VERY, VERY ROUGH SKETCH,
A TINY THUMBNAIL, AND
THEN I BLOW IT UP
AND DO A TIGHTER
RENDERING.
THEN FROM THAT I TRANSFER
IT WITH CARBON PAPER
ONTO THE LINOLEUM, AND THEN
I JUST START CARVING AWAY.
I ROLL IT WITH INK, AND THEN
I PUT THE PAPER ON TOP.

She puts everything on a press and rolls everything through it.

She says I WAS RAISED CATHOLIC, AND
THERE'S A LOT OF MYTHOLOGY
IN THE RELIGION, AND I'VE
ALWAYS LOVED THE ART
IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AND THE ICONOGRAPHY.
THOSE ICON PAINTINGS
AND MEDIEVAL WOOD CUTS.
I'M CRAZY ABOUT
THE IMAGERY.
I'D DONE A LOT OF
EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING,
AND I WAS OFTEN GIVEN
FOLK TALES AND MYTHOLOGY
AS THE SUBJECT MATTER.
I GUESS MY STYLE KIND
OF SUITED THAT SUBJECT.
AND SO I DECIDED TO FOCUS
ON CHILDREN'S PUBLISHING.
FOR INSTANCE, THE
INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES
OF MARY JANE MOSQUITO BY
OUR OWN TOMSON HIGHWAY.
IT'S ABOUT A LITTLE GIRL
MOSQUITO WITHOUT WINGS.
THE FIRST TIME I
READ IT I CRIED.
AND EVERY TIME I
READ IT AFTER THAT
I STILL TEAR UP AT THE
STORY OF THIS LITTLE GIRL.
I DO FEEL A CONNECTION TO
HISTORY WHEN I'M DOING THIS,
AND I'M INSPIRED BY
ARTISTS FROM LONG AGO.
FOR INSTANCE, GIOTTO...
I LOVE BOSCH AND BRUEGEL.
THIS WAS A SEMINAL PIECE
OF LITERATURE IN MY LIFE.
THE LITTLE ENGINE
THAT COULD.
I LIKE THE IDEA
THAT HE OVERCAME
THIS CHALLENGE, AND IT
BECAME A MANTRA IN MY LIFE.
I THINK I CAN,
I THINK I CAN.
I KNOW I CAN.
[chuckling]

A slate appears with the caption "Portrait of Sue Todd. Artist. Created by Kate Jaimet. With thanks to Sue Todd and Tomson Highway."

Watch: Portrait of Sue Todd - Artist