(by Annette Verna)
Our featured artist for June is Sue Parker. She is one of the original members of the Berkeley Arts Council’s Artists at the Works co-op, which started in 2013.
Sue spent her school and work life in the Washington Metro area. She painted seriously, but only briefly during college. “I was always attracted to art and the meditative nature of the creative process, though I opted not to make art my career.” Sue chose a career in social services and court administration, which left “little time for art during my ‘middle period.’” She returned to art in 1998 and it is now her primary activity.
Sue works in a variety of media: oil paint, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, etc. She studied watercolor for 4 years with Irene Sylvester, artist-in-residence at Montpelier Arts Center (Laurel, Maryland), and received additional instruction in watercolor from Frank Webb (AWS), Lynn Ferris (NWS), Kent Roberts, and Fritz Briggs (AWS). She also studied classical oil painting for 2 years with Michael Davis, and studies on an ongoing basis with David Buckley Good. The latter three artists are instructors, or have been trained at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sue chooses her subjects, either as they occur to her spontaneously, or in the case of landscapes, she sees something that captures her imagination. She usually starts by sketching her ideas. She chooses the medium for executing her ideas based on the subject and her mood. Looking at Sue’s paintings, it’s obvious that she loves color, and the depth and richness she achieves through its use, especially in her oil paintings, is striking. Her training has taught her to look deeply at her subjects to see carefully what is really there, as well as what isn’t — both equally important.
What does she try to achieve in her work? “My goal is to focus attention, if only briefly, on the beauty (and quirkiness) in the things around us that often escape our notice as we rush about our daily lives. I love capturing quirkiness and, occasionally, more serious messages in my art, though in general I prefer the pacific and the humorous.” Aside from art, Sue’s other passion is history. “I’m fond of saying that I don’t think most people become interested in history until they have some themselves.” She loves thinking about the narrative — real or imagined — that an old object or scene evokes. “For me, a painting is all about the story it draws from the viewer. The story may not even have words, just the emotion evoked by the image.”
It is typical for Sue to have multiple pieces in progress concurrently in each medium. She likes shifting from one medium to another. She currently has 4 oil paintings in progress: 3 landscapes and a carousel, and a series of small watercolors of woodland stumps, each with a different “personality”, that she’s seen on her regular hikes.
Sue is very active in her local arts communities. She always has a variety of work on display at the Berkeley Art Works gallery and you can also see her work at the Valley Art Association Mansion House in Hagerstown, Maryland, the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative in Charles Town, and also through the Potomac River Artists’ Guild. Her work has been accepted in juried shows at the Washington County (Maryland) Museum of Fine Arts, the Washington County Arts Council, the Delaplaine Art Center (Frederick), Art at the Mill (Berryville, Virginia,) and the Morgan Arts Council Ice House and Art in the Park in Berkeley Springs, WV.
In addition to her busy exhibits activities, Sue also serves on the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Arts Council, and the Board of Trustees of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. She was also involved in the planning and development of the Hagerstown Cultural Trail, which connects Hagerstown’s downtown Arts & Entertainment District with City Park and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. She and her husband make their home in West Virginia on a farm her family bought in 1952.