Beth Sutherland

The subjects of my paintings and prints — urban/suburban architecture, and landscape — are for me potent reflections of the lives we live. My works provide a way of seeing what’s right under our noses. This is, naturally, both pleasurable (or I wouldn’t be making them), and not. As I spend more and more time on a subject, the underlying abstraction of shapes and surfaces becomes clearer as does any larger meaning that might be lurking in a particular place.

I look for sites that speak of those who occupy them, that evoke a physical transformation over time. Transitory factors, such as light, weather, a new paint job or even partial demolition, make what at first seemed solid and stationary more complex and alive. I sometimes think of myself as a location scout without a film. Wherever I am, Iā€™m always on the lookout for places of visual and psychological interest. As I sit and draw a chosen spot from my car, the particular grouping of buildings upon a landscape or an odd embellishment suggests an unarticulated imaginary narrative of the occupants and passers-by.

My watercolors are done from direct observation only. I think of them as drawings, a very direct translation of what’s in front of me. It’s a way to absorb the details ā€“ formal as well as human ā€“ of places that interest me. My larger watercolors, done on very rough and not strictly squared paper, pit geometric shapes and exacting color against an unruly surface.

My prints are created with a more involved process. I go out and draw on the spot, doing multiple pencil drawings and watercolors. Then I go back to the studio, make drawings from memory as well, and finally edit all this into what I hope looks like a fresh, concise, composed image which retains the initial mystery that attracted me to the subject in the first place.

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