Family Tree

Susan Kattas’ painting FamilyTree was selected by the author Dr. Margaret Newman as her book cover.

Health as Expanding Consciousness was published in the US and in Japan.








The inspiration for the painting FAMILY TREE began with looking at a Box Elder tree at a family cabin in North Dakota. One arm of the trunk grew almost horizontally and was broken off at the end. The combination of the two thick trunks reminded visiting children of a horse which they mounted as a pretend horse during lake visit.

My interpretation took on the color challenge of working with “complementary” colors to create the appearance of overlapping parts of the trunk. In art, color theory identifies opposite colors on the color wheel as complementary colors that are helpful for managing the intensity of a color (its vividness). If the outcome is executed poorly a muddy color will result.

For Family Tree, I used my expertise as a colorist to primarily use “yellows” in the vertical trunk and “blues and violets” in the horizontal trunk being careful that overlapping the pigments as “wet on wet” would not allow the color flowing behind to cancel and become dull. The warm and cool colors in Family Tree interact like a dance of opposites; a balance to integrate but not to loose the distinction of the individual trunk forms.

Of course, the beginning inspiration, the studio creative process and the multiple interpretations by others add to the longevity of the artwork.

Margaret Newman, PhD, RN

University of Tennessee Health Sciences
“Memphis native Margaret Newman, PhD, RN, was a world-renowned nurse theorist who earned her nursing degree at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She went on to earn her master’s degree in medical-surgical nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, and her PhD in Nursing Science at New York University. Her published books related to her theory include, “Health as Expanding Consciousness,” “A Developing Discipline,” and “Transforming Presence: The Difference That Nursing Makes.”
She was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Newman died in 2018.”