“New York is exciting to the point where it’s often over-stimulating for me,” Susan Zises says. “It’s a completely different lifestyle in the Hamptons.” But for Zises, it’s not just about slowing down away from the city, her second home in Water Mill, New York allows her to tap into a different side of herself.
In the mid-eighties, Zises began to look for a space outside the city. “The ocean calls to me,” she says, so it’s no wonder she ended up in the Hamptons, purchasing what was once a carriage house with many original details.
Back in Manhattan, Zises hadn’t touched a paintbrush in fifteen years; ensconced in her weekend home, she began to paint again. Zises works in residential construction and there’s not a ton of room for artistic exploration when you’re managing a construction team in someone else’s home.
Though painting started as a hobby, it’s now become a second career. Loading up the car on Friday afternoons is when the transition begins. “I start to peel off the formality of Manhattan,” Zises says of her weekly pilgrimages. Driving from Manhattan gives her time to think about her practice and what pieces she’ll work on over the next few days. Upon arriving, the studio beckons and she ditches heels and fine jewelry for her artist’s uniform of painted splattered jeans and flip-flops.
Zises now shows her work locally and internationally, but Water Mill is her artistic home base. “I only paint in the Hamptons,” Zises says. “I need the aloneness to be creative and there’s nothing quite like winter in the Hamptons for that.” Contemplation in the cold, quiet months fuels her artistic visions.
In the warmer months, she draws inspiration for her large floral paintings from Water Mill’s bounty of greenery. Zises’ painting space was designed so that the back wall opens with a push of a button. In the summer, this feature allows the beauty of en plein air painting with the ease of a studio.
Zises is the first to admit that the Hamptons’ summer offerings are too tempting to skip out on entirely. There’s tennis, art openings, and parties to attend. “Water Mill is so wonderfully small,” Zises says. “I pull in on Friday and often don’t use my car until I’m going back to the city. You can always walk into town for a coffee and a pastry.” A walk on the quaint little streets is a great way to clear her head between sessions in the studio.
As summer turns back into fall and weekends quiet down, Zises picks up her pace. Away from the City’s frenetic buzz, she taps into her creative reserve. The weekly trip from Manhattan to Water Mill isn’t just about a change in atmosphere; Zises’ Hamptons retreat gives her the space to find another side of herself.
Susan Zises’ Hamptons Shortlist
My favorite restaurant is Red | Bar Brasserie in Southampton. The staff has been there forever, they have great food, and they’re always so welcoming.
Saturdays start with tennis. I’m a member of the East Hampton Tennis Club, so I meet up with friends each weekend to play. And as the summer progresses, I often play on Friday mornings, too.
My favorite beach is my local spot—Flying Point.
I knew I’d found the perfect house when I saw the spiral staircase—originally from the London Underground. From that point on I fell in love with the home.
View more of Susan Zises’ work by visiting susan-zises.com.