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Take a special video tour of the exhibition with Sue Sneddon!
FROM MEMORY: PAINTINGS & DRAWINGS BY SUE SNEDDON
July 20 – September 5
Sue Sneddon showcased the exhibition via a special Facebook Live event featuring jazz pianist Alison Weiner-watch the video of event HERE.
From Memory is Sneddon’s 14th exhibition, over a 25 year period, at Craven Allen Gallery. The title refers to the artist’s process of letting her memories of scenes and events distill over time, as she contemplates the perfect way to capture an experience through her artwork.
“Even as a child I would say to myself, if I can paint the joy I feel in this moment, I want to be a painter,” says Sneddon. “Regardless of the time period, the paintings in this show represent pivotal moments throughout my life to remember and share.”
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Working from memory has been a practice of mine since I was very young. There are times when something I have seen brings me to my knees and I must paint it immediately; more often, images stay in my memory and are distilled and aged before they are painted.
The idea for this body of work has been forming in my mind for about 30 years. Some of the paintings are recollections of times spent in nature with family members (including both grandmothers) that I believe have set me on my creative path. Other works are memories of shared experiences with friends from high school and college, through just last year. And some, of course, are from my solitary times in nature.
One painting that I have been working on in my mind since I was about 13 years old is “Pawley’s Island Pink” (oil, 48 x 30). My mom (an artist herself) and I are standing on a bank of oyster shells at the south end of Pawley’s Island, SC. We are discussing whether the pink of the oyster shells is a reflection of the pink sunset or in the oyster shells themselves. We decide the pink was from both (plus little sister Nance kept showing us pink shells). I remember saying to myself, “If I could paint the joy I feel in this moment, I want to be a painter.”
This show includes ocean pastels that were done from memory as my morning ritual while on a solitary painting retreat on Lopez Island, Washington last year. This time by myself recharged my creative soul after over 2 years of not painting due to necessary caretaking of loved ones. On Lopez, I said, “So we begin again.”
ABOUT SUE SNEDDON
Sue Sneddon grew up in Uniontown, PA, with an artist mother who early on fostered an appreciation of nature, light, and landscapes. After completing her B.S. in Art Education at Edinboro University of PA, Sue moved to Durham, NC in 1976. Within 2 years she had visited every NC coastal town from Corolla to Sunset Beach, knowing that eventually she would move closer to the ocean; that dream was realized in 2003, with the completion of her home and studio on the Shallotte River. Sneddon had numerous solo exhibitions at Craven Allen, as well as galleries throughout North and South Carolina.
LIFE SIZE: PAINTINGS & DRAWINGS BY SUE SNEDDON
One of the gallery’s most popular artists, Life Size marks Sneddon’s 13th exhibition at Craven Allen over more than twenty years.
Shells, rocks, fossils, leaves, feathers — for Life Size, Sue Sneddon paints these found objects to conjure a visual journey of her travels and experiences, both alone and shared. These talismans of nature come from all across the country, including her coastal North Carolina home, as well memorable locales on the east and west coasts, the Southwest, Hawaii, and several national parks.
Life-size literally means “of natural size” — and many works are exactly to the scale of the original. For these small pieces, Sneddon works in a variety of media, including pencil, pen and ink, oil pastel, pastel, watercolor, gouache or a mixture of these.
Also featured are Sneddon’s signature panoramic oils of landscapes and seacapes, which suggest the context in which many of the small Life Size pieces were discovered.
Sneddon says of this show: “Sometimes the smallest landscape can evoke the larger setting, the feeling of the expansiveness of the environment. The whorl of a shell, a hurricane, a galaxy—how similar these shapes are. How odd, I’ve always thought, are the square and rectangular borders placed on two-dimensional art. There are choices to be made on how to convey the reverence and emotion inside these boundaries. I’m still in love with trying to figure it all out.”
Many years ago I began thinking of this concept for an exhibition after a conversation with my friend, Sharon. Why do we pick up shells on the beach and then take some home? We talked about solitary walks along the shore and the conversations you have with yourself—figuring out problems, making decisions, giving yourself a good talking-to about how to do better and be healthier. You see this little treasure. It is in perfect light, and in this moment it speaks to you of what you are experiencing and the beauty around you.
My studio is filled with boxes and shelves of shells, feathers, rocks, leaves, fossils. Some have notations on them or attached to them with names, places, and dates. Some still bring back a very clear memory, both visual and emotional. Life Size is an exhibition that attempts to conjure these objects and ideas, by exploring size and scale in works ranging in size from 1-1/2” to 60”.
For example, holding a rock from Yosemite, I hear our guide talk about the glacier carving out this valley, and I wonder, from this small rock, how will I capture the enormity of Half Dome or El Capitan? How to relate the dramatic cliffs of the Napali coast of Hawaii to this tiny sand dollar? How could this jar of red dirt and gravel suggest the grandeur of Cathedral Rock in Sedona?
In doing this body of work, I have been reminded of how much I love to draw.My numerous sketchbooks are filled with drawings done in-the-field, the old-fashioned way, making a “hand-frame” (thumb-tips touching, index fingers extended) to find composition and measure scale. My hand-frame measures 4 3/4 inches between index fingers, and there are many smaller works done to this size.
Sometimes the smallest landscape can evoke the larger setting, the feeling of the expansiveness of the environment. The whorl of a shell, a hurricane, a galaxy—how similar these shapes are. How odd, I’ve always thought, are the square and rectangular borders placed on two-dimensional art. There are choices to be made on how to convey the reverence and emotion inside these boundaries. I’m still in love with trying to figure it all out.