Sue White sees things from a different point of view, and the local artist strives to make that evident in her work.
Her pieces depict everything from Central Kentucky landscapes to animals, foliage and even portraits.
From friendly faces and wagging canine tongues to electrifying floral pieces, White likes to take a different approach to her work. Whether that means literally looking at her subjects from a different angle or experimenting with color techniques, White said she is constantly growing and learning as an artist.
White has lived in Winchester with her husband, Doug, for more than three decades. She taught English at George Rogers Clark High School for 32 years and then developmental courses at Bluegrass Community and Technical College for eight years.
She traces her passion for pen and paint back to her own high school days in Knox County.
The Barbourville native said she took her first art classes from college students who offered private lessons. Her school didn’t offer art classes, so she and a friend signed up for the private lessons where she learned things like gesture drawing and developed an enlightened sense of color.
“You know, art is always the last thing to come and the first thing to go in schools,” she said. “It was in those classes I learned about a sense of color. I don’t just see black. I see every color.”
She painted her first oil piece while attending Midway College. With this piece, she put her knowledge of color into practice.
“A house mother named Mrs. Jones sat for me, instead of using skin tones, I did almost pure colors,” she said. “It ended up being a very vivid painting.”
She entered the piece into the Lexington Fair in the 1970s and earned an honorable mention, which was enough to boost her confidence and keep her going.
White said she enjoys working with oils, but also uses acrylics and pastels. She used to paint while sitting, but modern technology has allowed her to try new things with her art.
“Now, I work mostly using photos,” she said. “I will do some sketching, but I don’t paint things that I have to sit to finish anymore.
“Once I discovered the camera and the computer, it made things much easier.”
She can now crop images to find the best composition and preserve those shots to be painted later. These quick snapshots also allow her to capture poses that reveal as much of the subject’s personality as possible.
White studied art at Midway, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky. She lacks just an art history class to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
“I just don’t want to have to write those papers,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll go back any time soon.”
Instead, she spends her time working with a group of the county’s most dedicated artists in the Winchester Art Guild, an organization of which she has been a member for about 10 years. For the last three years, she has served as president.
White’s work is displayed at the Guild’s gallery, located at 18 W. Lexington Ave. There, patrons can find her vibrant depictions of horses, honeybees, roses and dogs.
White has original canvasses, prints and even notecards for sale at the gallery.
She recently finished a series focused on flowers she grew herself. An avid gardener, White takes great pride in her tiered rose beds and enjoys painting flowers from a different perspective.
“I focused on unusual views of flowers,” she said. “Instead of the traditional point of view for flowers, I tried some with flowers spilling off the canvas or fading or even a side view.”
White said she paints a portrait of each of her family’s dogs, and especially likes capturing colorful and charismatic canines.
“I guess I especially enjoy painting dogs because they are so loving themselves,” she said. “They have so much personality, such sweet natures. It’s fun to try to capture that personality in the painting.”
Other works are on display at the Winchester Opera House gallery, where owner Vanessa Ziembroski provides studio space for White.
This space makes it possible for White to separate her art from her home life, and makes it easier to work on large-scale canvasses, which she enjoys.
White shows and sells her work annually at the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, but has also shown at the University of Kentucky Arboretum, Damselfly Galleries in Midway, First Vineyard in Nicholasville and the Carnegie Center in Somerset, among others.
For more about White’s art, to purchase or to inquire about commissions call 859-606-6556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I always feel like my art is in progress,” White said. “I’m always learning. The hardest part is marketing myself and my artwork. That’s really as much work as the art itself. But, I enjoy it.” §