Ancient to Abstract

About The Artist

“Although I have lived most of my life deeply committed to the ancient art form of Estofado, the spirit that leads me through the world of art has taken me into the modern realm of the abstract.  I now follow my heart using happiness as my guide letting yellows pinks greens and any vibrant colors display my love for life. I hope all of you let this emotion enter your soul as you see my paintings so we can share this beauty together.” 

-Susanna Chavez 2020

I was born in El Paso Texas and at a young age, my New Mexican father took our family to my mother’s home country of Mexico. I grew up in Guadalajara, a city of contrast in art, very modern and very traditional. I remember when I was six years old I asked my mom if I could be an artist like her. She taught me Estofado, an ancient technique of gilding and polychromatic painting on carved wooden statues. This art form became my livelihood.

I spent my young adulthood in Germany where again I was exposed to the contrast of modern and traditional art. I’ve always been fascinated by how well they go together.

I spent time in Spain where I was inspired by Miro and Picasso. After mastering my craft of Estofado at the Centro de Estudios de Restauracion de Obras de Arte in Madrid, Spain, and studying in Florence and Paris, I returned to my father’s beloved New Mexico. While in Corrales I used the modern influences I found in Spain to begin abstract painting, leaving my traditional art form.

I returned to my colorful Mexico to Ajijic where my inspiration was set free. I did several series in Fresco painting and canvas paintings poured out of me.

My modern expression very much reflects my culture. My colors are bright and happy like the people of Mexico. When asked what is the inspiration for my paintings, I say happiness is what creates my design. I will always carry inside my heart, wherever I go, Mexico, its’ Music, its’ Love, its’ Passion. All of that goes into each one of my paintings.

Once more I am living in Corrales, New Mexico. With my husband and daughters, I am farming chile and other essential foods to make up for the shortfalls of the pandemic…oh yes I am always painting for the love of fun and happiness.

Find Out More About Susanna Chávez



1971- 1977 High school , Guadalajara , Jalisco, Mx.

1977 – 1979 Escuela de Artes Plasticas de la Universidad de Guadalajara.Mexico

1993 – 1997 Academia de Pintura con Carlos Valencia, Guadalajara, Mx.

1997 -1998 Especialidad Policromado con Carlos Valencia – especialidad Encarnaciones al Oleo

2003 – 2004 Universidad C.E.R.O.A. Centro de Estudios Superiores de Restauracion de Obras de Arte. Madrid, Spain. Specialidad en Reintegracion Italiana –Brandi. (Rigatino,Tratteggio,Puntillismo).

2003 – 2004 Master in Policromado (Original Gold Leafing techniques back to the XIII century)

2004 Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Mural – Paper – Wood – Textil – Gold Leafing. Temple over Gold Leafing.

2005 Frescos Mural painting in Florence, Italy



2001 Univision 41 Albuquerque N.M. USA / 28 march/01

2002 Chanel 13 Albuquerque .N.M. USA / 9 march/02



2000 Harvest Fest, Corrales, N.M. USA / Oct.

2000 The 12th Annual Fine Crafts show, Old San Isidro Church

Corrales, N.M. USA / Dec.

2000 Zia Arts & Crafts Festival, Albuquerque, N.M. USA / Nov.

2000 Gallery Santos of New Mexico, Algodones, N.M. USA / Nov.

2000 Gallery Rey Montez, Santa Fe, N.M. USA / Dec.

2001 Actividades culturales Consulado de Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA / March.

2001 Indigo Crow, Corrales, N.M. USA / March

2001 Copper Tree Gallery, Corrales, N.M. USA/ April

2001 Open Studios Corrales, NM USA/ May

2001 Corrales newspaper for Magguie Norman Foundation / Jun.

2001 The Santa Fe Catalogue/ Summer ed. Pag 84

2001 Tradition Revista. The Journal of Contemporary & traditional

Spanish Colonial Art & Culture pag. 6 / Summer

2001 Wine Festival at Rancho las Golondrinas. Ponderosa N.M. / Jul.

2001 Spanish Market Santa Fe NM

Spanish Colonial Arts Sociaty 50 th . Jul

2001 Harvest fest , Corrales N.M. Oct

2001 Polychrome technique at The Museum of NM, Albuquerque. / Nov.

2002 Juliana Kirwin Gallery/Feb 02.

2002 San Felipe Neri Museum / March 02.

2002 Sign Post Newspaper Bernalillo, N.M. / March 02

2002 Revelations Gallery Albuquerque, N.M. / Nov 02

2002 Patricia Desing Gallery, Albuquerque, N.M. / Dic 02

2003 The Polychrome statues of main Altar

Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church / Arizona

Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, Ph. D. Pastor

2003 Collaboration with father Thomas J. Steele, S.J.

writing in Tradition Revista Magazine over Estofados New Mexico. USA

2004 Restoration Studies in Madrid. Spain

2005 Polychrome Corpus Main Altar

Saint Anthony of Padua Church

/ Catholic Church/

Wickenburg / Arizona

Father Brian Bell. Pastor

2010 The Polychrome statue Cristo Muerto

Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church / Arizona

Fr. Kieran Kleczewski , Ph. D. Pastor

2012 Susanna Chavèz Gallery Frescoe Exhibit

Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico

2012 Exposicion Museo Ferocarril

Arte Sacro

Chapala, Jalisco Mexico

2013 Polychrome Crucifijo

The main altar, San Yisidro Church

Corrales, NM

2014 Susanna Chavez Gallery

Exposicion de Arte Contemporaneo

Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico

2015 Susanna Chavez Gallery

Exposicion de Arte Contemporane

Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico

2016 Exposicion de Fresco

Gallaria La Una

Ajiji, Jalisco Mexico

2017 Exposicion de Arte Cocntemporaneo

Gallaria La Una

Ajiji, Jalisco Mexico

2018 Art Exposition

Old Church

Corrales, NM

2019 Polychrome Statue of San Antonio

Main Altar, Templo de San Antonio

Zacatecas, Zacatecas Mexico

2020 Pandemic Series Oil Paintings

Gallery de Susanna Chavez

Paintings By

Susanna Chávez

Why I Paint Saints

I grew up in a culture where pictures of Saints were part of our homes and our lives. At the age of six, I would help my mother do her Estofados, I’m the only one of ten siblings who wanted to continue with this family tradition. Estofado is a Beautiful art in extinction.

Today I feel the responsibility to pass it on…I invite all of you to continue this tradition. I would love to help in any way I can:

  • Teaching the Estofado technique
  •  Teaching about the tradition of Saints in the Hispanic Culture
  • As an Artist having an art exposition of my Estofados
  • And I’m open to any other ideas to expand the ESTOFADO TECHNIQUE
  • As an Artist with Frescoes, oil painting, and painting conservation

The technique for Our Lady of Sorrows

The statue is made out of wood by the excellence of Nirvardo Rodriguez. The Polychrome technique is followed by those artists in Spain who did the Retablos during the XV and XVI centuries.

The foundation of the painting on the statue is the traditional rabbit skin glue ( a strong organic adhesive) and several layers of white gesso. Then the red clay to give support for the gold leaf.

Our Lady of Sorrows is polychromed with oil pigments. Her robe has a special work depicting the Gold Leaf. Her skin is oil colors with a matte finish.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Find Out More About the ESTOFADO TECHNIQUE

XVI to XVIII Century

Estofado on wooden Sculptures

The foundation of an oil painting is the base, which serves to isolate the support from the actual paint layers and make it more receptive to paint. For this function, I use an animal hide glue such as rabbit skin glue, a strong organic adhesive. This size isolates the fibers of the wood from the acidic action of oxidizing oil paint, this size also seals the wood from the destructive action of moister.

The second component that I use is the actual prime coat itself, white gesso that I apply directly over the size. These paint layers serve as a reflector of light needed especially for oil colors.

The third component that I use is red clay. I use it in its original consistency, making even coats to have the best support for the Gold Leaf. Much patience is required in this process since each layer must be dry before the new one comes.

Once the support is prepared the Gold leaf works begin. Without a doubt, the work of the Gold Leafer is one of the most delicate and time-consuming steps. Alter applying a special glue, the gold leaf is applied, cotton and silo fabric often assist the gold leafer in pressing the leaf to the glue.

The object (saint figure), is now painted with oil pigments. Details, Duch as flowers and leaves often detail the fabric areas to give an impresión of brocade style to the clothing. Susanna Chavez finds that the eyes of her “Santos” are of particular fascination, where she puts most of her energy to give the final touch to her pieces.

Finally, the bladder of a sheep is used to give luster to the skin of the saint. Rubbing the skin elements of the bulto, the artist brings forth the various layers which translate into a Master Artwork, that was the inspiration for the Spanish use of “Estofado”.

This technique is almost extinct.
I would love to help to keep it alive…

Previous Galleries & Shows

Móntez Gallery
125 E. Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, N.M.

Indigo Crow
4515 Corrales Rd
Corrales N.M.

Consulado de México
400 Gold SW, Suite 100
Albuquerque , N.M.

Traditional & Religious Art
601 West Frontage Rd, Suite 450
Algodones, N.M.

John Isaac Gallery
Old town
Albuquerque NM

Copper Tree Gallery
4514 Corrales Rd
Corrales, N.M.

National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th St. S.W.
Albuquerque, N.M.

Juliana Kirwin Gallery
1019 Camino del Pueblo
Bernalillo, N.M.

San Felipe de Neri Museum
2005 N. Plaza N.W.
Albuquerque, N.M.

The Albuquerque Museum
P.O. Box 1293
Albuquerque N.M.

Bettina Carroll Gallery
Po Box 130983
Carlsbad, CA

Old Church
Old Church Rd.
Corrales, N.M.

Revelations Gallery
Central & 6Th
Albuquerque NM

Patricia Design Gallery
Gold st
Albuquerque NM

San Miguel Árcangel Studio
Corrales N.M.

Get In Touch

Susanna Chávez

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt