February 16, 2006

Theft of nautical painting throws SP artist off course

A commissioned painting marking the upcoming visit of the Queen Mary II was stolen "in the blink of an eye."

Daily Breeze
In the few minutes it took her to brew some coffee and cook some eggs for a neighbor, San Pedro artist Susan Vought was robbed of more than just a painting last week.
"I'm booked through April, but I'd put all my work aside to finish this," she said of the long days and hours it took to finish her 4-by-3-foot oil painting of the Queen Mary I and II. "I had a deadline. I painted nonstop, day and night, I was exhausted. It really is like birthing a baby."
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Commissioned to do the painting for next week's visit of the Queen Mary II, Vought, 57, worked from pictures of the two ships, staying up until 3 a.m. Wednesday to put the finishing touches on her painting.
Later that morning, she took the completed canvas downstairs to take some photographs in the sun. It was propped up against a retaining wall dividing her apartment building from the property next door when an 88-year-old neighbor appeared, ready for their daily late-morning chat over coffee and eggs in Vought's upstairs apartment.
She was gone only "a blink of an eye" -- less than 20 minutes, she estimates -- during which time a thief apparently snatched the barely dry painting.
Vought said she was stunned when she came back down the stairs of her apartment building to find her painting missing.
"It's like when you go to Kmart and come out and your car is gone," she said. "I came screaming up the stairs."
Mostly, she was mad at herself, she said.
"I was just beating myself up," she said. "But you've got to let it go. You've got to get over your losses."
Katherine Gray, owner of Trans-Oceanic gift shops in Long Beach, commissioned Vought to do the painting for her shop onboard the original Queen Mary. She estimated it would have sold for $2,500 to $3,000.
"This (Queen Mary II visit) is going to be a huge event and I wanted the painting so badly to do posters, but it's not to be," Gray said.
Vought, who specializes in large murals and signs all her work with the signature "Suz'n DOVe," is feverishly working on a replacement painting this week, working off photographs of her original.

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