By Ginny Fite
Sue Parker dabbled when she was a kid and then decided that there was no surer path to starvation than a career as an artist.
But 15 years ago, even as her career in social services and court administration was going full tilt, art still called and she dived into painting and hasn’t come up for air since. Her luminous watercolor and oil paintings are part of the members’ exhibit at the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative gallery in Charles Town, WV.
Parker is not shooting from the hip. She began with watercolor instruction at the Montpelier Art Center in Laurel, MD, then got back into oil painting with a course in at Hagerstown Community College. Since then, she has studied regularly at the Waynesboro Studio Club with instructors from the Schuler School of Fine Art (Baltimore) and now is studying oils with Michael Davis, a professional artist and former Schuler student, in Martinsburg, WV. A full-time resident of the Eastern Panhandle since 2005, Sue Parker expects that she will always be taking instruction, adding to her technique tool box.
How long does a painting take? “Fifteen years,” she quips. Every painting you do is an accumulation of all the work you’ve done before.
Parker sees a common thread running through watercolor, pastels and oils. Pieces in all these media are based on values –the contrasts between lights and darks, and design –how the parts are arranged. This is true for all art. “I try to work out all the problems in the sketch,” she says. “Even with an abstract, I’m not a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ painter.” And for watercolor, she says, “You have to plan like a tortoise and paint like a hare.”
A visual person with a strong sense of humor, Parker picks her subjects accordingly. “No artist worth her salt hasn’t done a pig or a sunflower,” she says. She has the whimsical paintings of pigs to prove it.
Sue Parker is not only immersed in making art, she’s active in three art groups (Valley Art Association, Potomac River Artists’ Guild, Washington Street Artists’ Co-op), the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Hagerstown), on the Planning Commission in Morgan County, and a member of both the Berkeley and Morgan County historical societies.
But art, says Parker, is a calling. She loves painting. A day is not complete unless she has painted. “I’m not a mystic,” she says, “but there is a kind of Zen to painting. You get into it and it flows. Things happen when you paint.”