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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

We believe in connecting directly with the artists and designers.

William Suran



About William Suran
William Suran was born in Chicago in 1974. He lived there until attending the Kansas City Art Institute at age 18 where he studied painting, drawing and printmaking. Bill returned to Chicago and later moved to Brooklyn in 2003 where he currently resides. He makes watercolors from photographs that he takes of peonies.
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In conversation with William Suran

Erin: What are you curious about?

William: Life and the origins of it. David Attenborough, Richard Fortey. Trilobites. I have a fossil collection.

Erin: Describe your art and describe your process.

William: Currently I make watercolors from photographs that I take of peonies. In May and June I don't sleep much as I shoot photos in my apartment after the sun goes down from 9 to 3am every evening. Then I work up the compositions in Photoshop paint from the image. Previously I've worked on large scale oil paintings for years at a time building many layers and reworking compositions figurative and otherwise. Adding layers of pattern and multiple glazes. Outside of applying glazes, they were all painted with a dull half inch exacto blade.
Erin: You mainly worked on large format oil paintings. How did make the shift into small scale watercolors?

William: Mostly circumstances. I'd been working on long term paintings since art school, but couldn't afford both a studio and home rent after a breakup. I'd played with the watercolors a bit before, but after completing one at home it felt like the correct thing to be doing with new situation. Plus the more instant gratification thing of weeks/months compared to years.
Erin: You are surgical when it comes to detail. What is the longest time you’ve spent on any one painting?

William: About 7 years. When I was 25, I decided to stop showing and just work on a 7' X 13' for 5 years. 5 turned to 7, though I started another large painting and work it alongside the first in the sixth year.

Erin: We know you admire the classicists- who’s work most inspires you?

William: I stopped looking at art as a habit about two years ago, but those that relate to what I'm doing now that I've loved in the past would be artists like Zurbaran/Cotan, Chardin, Claesz... Generally my books reflect artists, mostly painters, from the 13th - 19th centuries. Old Master drawings are well represented as well.
Erin: If you could speak to someone who is no longer alive, who would it be and at would you say?

William: I'm not much for conversations with dead people myself, but I really like scary movies.

Erin: You play guitar in the band, Cathy. Tell us about it!

William: My friend Jeremy Willis and I had been friends for awhile. We have similar taste in music. He said he wrote songs and then we played together and it sounded like something we wanted to do more than once. That was about 5 years ago now. We just put out a single on White Iris Records and are currently working on our third album.
A photo we took of Bill playing a gig with his band Cathy
Erin: How does music affect your artwork and what are you currently listening to that inspires you?

William: Well it's always on. Harry Bertoia's sound art has been on the turntable recently as well as other left field shit, but I have a varied collection of records.. New York minimalists, avante classical/neoclassical, lots of ethnic stuff and ambient music. I sold most of my rock records a couple years ago as I tend to listen to moody instrumental stuff. I make ambient music every evening, excluding Peony season, from 9 to midnight and I usually start painting by listening to the previous evening's composition.
William's passions collide - music and plants
Erin: Did you ever feel like giving up painting? Why didn’t you?

William: Nah, but there have been extended periods of time when it just sucked doing it. I still did it, but it wasn't fun.

Erin: You have an insane amount of books and an extended knowledge of plants. What have you loved that you have read and what do you enjoy growing?

William: That list would be too long, but currently I'm reading The Turning by Tim Winton, Life by Richard Fortey, and I Will Bear Witness by Victor Klemperor. Rex Begonias are what I grow here at home. There are an amazing variety of Begonias.
William's bookshelf
Erin: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

William: Flying.

Erin: You haven’t shown your artwork in 14 years. Why now?

William: I feel good about things these days, painting and otherwise, and I feel I've had enough alone time to sort out my thoughts about making art. Nobody has really seen this stuff outside of my close circle of friends and it's been nice getting positive feedback from people such as yourself.