For artist Holly Lee, many of the works featured in her new solo exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum hold a special significance.
Catherine Suttle’s paintings encourage audiences to appreciate the little things that are all around us but sometimes fail to notice.
“My paintings reflect my conviction that beyond the obvious, there are nuances and subtleties to be seen and appreciated,” Suttle said. “They give my paintings their character, their personality. I enjoy the unexpected and the awkward, and my paintings are experiments in seeing how I can figure out ways to incorporate those qualities into a satisfying whole.”
The title reflects her most recent abstract work which combines atmospheric areas – spaces – with elements that appear solid and opaque – structures. It also refers to the subject of a series of small landscape paintings that feature shed-like structures, Suttle said.
Her oil and oil pastel painting “Green and Blue Shed” is one example of this space and structure relationship. It’s part of a series of works that convey her impressions of the old wooden sheds and barns that she has seen from Maine to Florida. “There is something about their architecture and their relationship to the landscape that has been imprinted into my visual memory,” she said.
Suttle enjoys working with oils because the color is luscious and rich. She often pours or rubs the paint onto the canvas because “it feels like a more natural way of working with it,” she notes. This approach results in nuanced color and surprising accents that she enhances with line and more intense color.
Suttle hopes viewers of her show will develop a new appreciation for abstract compositions and will experience color in a new way, not only as an element that sparks a feeling, but also as structural.
“I hope people look beyond what they often first respond to – the peacefulness conveyed by my paintings – and see the tension within them,” Suttle said.
Suttle received a master’s degree in ceramic sculpture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and affiliated Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. During this time, she taught beginning ceramics to adults and college students at the University of Tennessee.
After graduation, she worked as a studio artist in Knoxville for many years and exhibited locally and across the state. She also helped found a cooperative art gallery, 200 East, in downtown Knoxville. She currently serves as the director of cultural resources at the Hunterdon Land Trust in Flemington.
The exhibition runs until March 3.
Image Credit: Catherine Suttle, Interior 1, 2018, oil & oil pastel on linen. 30 in. x 24 in., Courtesy of the artist.