The featured exhibitor at Butterfield Garage for June is abstract painter Susan Smith.
Smith is currently intrigued with texture and line. She paints without brushes, using scraping tools, which adds to the tactile surface of her work.
Line plays an important but often hidden component, as each painting begins with many lines and gradually, as they are refined and eliminated, a composition emerges. A thought or feeling emerges to speak to the viewer.
Self-taught in an abstract style, Smith painted in the ‘70s until children intervened. Raising both them and most of their food for many years, Smith took a detour into spinning, weaving, dyeing and going so far as creating handwoven clothing that she sold wholesale and retail.
A cancer diagnosis and treatment led her to examine her life and ask, “What do I really want to do?”
The answer was easy: paint.
Smith chose watercolor because its transparency is similar to dye. After a few years of creating loose, still lifes and scenic images, she yearned to return to a more abstract style. Despite many classes with other artists, it remained a struggle.
Eventually, collage with handmade-painted papers helped guide her back into abstraction. Collage morphed into mixed media and lately she has been letting go of a reliance on collage and using pen, pencil and crayon with acrylics. The freedom of mixed media has set her on the open-ended path she had been searching for.
Butterfield Garage Gallery is located at 137 King St., St. Augustine. For information, go to butterfieldgarage.com.
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