Painting Paradise

For painting big skies and blue seas, artist Susan Sugar finds endless inspiration for her artwork in Key West.

Sweet Spot

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Sweet Spot

Susan has been summering here since 1980, when she first came to Key West with her late husband, architect Manfred Ibel. “I’m completely in love with Key West,” Susan says. “The whole town is blooming and aromatic, especially in summer.”

Avalon

George Murphy

Avalon

24” x 36” oil on canvas

“This was inspired by my dream to live by the edge of a lake with my own canoe, moving through light, reflection, and solitude,” Susan says.

Backcountry

Backcountry

24” x 48” oil on canvas

“A fisherman took me through the flats one summer eve,” Susan says. “We went in and out of waterways near Sugarloaf Key, Florida. I loved the journey past small islands and shorelines that appear and disappear.”

Dragon Dawn

Dragon Dawn

38” x 46” oil on canvas

“Before the light is completely up, the coastline has a life of its own―like a wild animal, uninviting and sacred,” Susan says. “I’m not interested in the red ball,” she says of the sun. “I’m interested in how the ball of fire has an effect on everything else.”

Hidden Angels

Hidden Angels

38” x 46” oil on canvas

“I painted this after a perfect day with classic cottony clouds that both catch and mask the light as the sun is rising,” Susan says. “Heaven!”

Dancing Sky

Dancing Sky

23” x 29” oil on canvas

“I’m a painter of sea and sky,” Susan says. “I’m interested in light and movement. I used to be a dancer, and I still see and think as one.”

Nightfall

Nightfall

23” x 29” oil on canvas

“I painted this image of the dark ocean and luminous sky just before nightfall. Everything was moving,” Susan says.

Windsong and Roses

Windsong and Roses

23” x 29” oil on canvas

“I was trying to capture the movement of clouds passing clouds,” Susan says. “I’m always intrigued by the symphony of light and motion. I can’t get away from it. It’s completely entrancing.”

Sofia in the Clouds

Sofia in the Clouds

23” x 29” oil on canvas

“I painted this as an ethereal poem for a friend,” Susan says. “I think my paintings evoke a memory of a place that you’ve been, or a moment in time.”

Pier at Dusk

George Murphy

Pier at Dusk

36” x 48” oil on canvas

“I’ve painted this particular view hundreds of times over the course of 14 years,” Susan says.

Ghost Ship

George Murphy

Ghost Ship

60” x 72” oil on canvas

“One summer I used architect Tom Pope’s warehouse just below his office on Stock Island to make a very large painting he commissioned,” Susan says. “After finishing his painting I stayed on in the wonderful work space to produce Ghost Ship. I was captivated by the mysteries of the boat basin just outside the garage doors of the warehouse.”

Dark Wing/Light Wing

Dark Wing/Light Wing

29” x 48” oil on canvas

“This is one of my early paintings,” Susan says. “In it I played with the wind and passages of darkness and light shifting across the horizon at dusk.”

5/13/08

Luis Santiago

5/13/08

5” x 9” watercolor

“I painted these four in the summer of 2008. All were created onsite at dawn or dusk, and I titled them by the date they were painted,” Susan says.

6/14/08

Luis Santiago

6/14/08

5” x 10” watercolor

“Usually I paint while I’m sipping my café con leche on the beach and watching the birds fish,” Susan says.

6/10/08

Luis Santiago

6/10/08

6” x 9” watercolor

“I always keep one eye out for sudden squalls as my ‘subject’ continually morphs with each glance down at my paper, with each brushstroke,” Susan says.

5/14/08

Luis Santiago

5/14/08

5” x 9” watercolor“

Painting for me is like dancing―very swift, playful, and reactive,” Susan says.

Gathering Storm

George Murphy

Gathering Storm

23” x 29” oil on linen

“I have a spot I got to paint at dawn near the airport,” Susan says. “There is a small jetty and a little strip of beach where I can set up. This oil is a composite of various watercolor studies of this particular spot.”

Orange Dusk

George Murphy

Orange Dusk

60” x 78” oil on canvas

“This is another view facing east from the pier I frequent,” Susan says. “The shoreline is the White Street Pier before sunrise. I have done many, many paintings of this particular view, and I never tire of it.”

The Lamplights

The Lamplights

4” x 11” watercolor

“This is the same view as Pier at Dusk, but it’s so different relative to the time of day, weather, and my own mood. I love repetition, but they’re never really the same,” Susan says.

Dawn at Fish Camp

Dawn at Fish Camp

32” x 48” oil on canvas

“A dear friend often invites me to paint at her magical property in Big Coppitt. This is her view of the mangroves,” Susan says. “It is sometimes so still in summer that I can hear the fish jumping.”

Dark Heart of Evening

George Murphy

Dark Heart of Evening

30” x 40” oil on canvas

“This is a view of Shark Key at dusk from the Fish Camp in Big Coppitt. I like to skirt the edges of abstraction, especially when the land begins to disappear into the dark night,” Susan says.

Wind and Pearls

Wind and Pearls

24” x 30” oil on canvas

“I love the summer sky when the haze is so thick that the horizon is obliterated and all you see is this Neverland of sea and sky,” Susan says.

6/21/97

6/21/97

4" x 6" watercolor

"This was the inspiration for Dancing Sky," Susan says. "It's a great example of how I travel from on site watercolor as study for larger oils."

Inlet

Inlet

18” x 24” oil on linen

“I was inspired to paint Inlet after a trip to Cape Cod last summer,” Susan says.

Prices for Susan’s oil paintings range from $2,500 to $12,000. Watercolors range from $400 to $1,200.

For more on Susan’s work visit susansugar.net.

To purchase her art call, click, or visit:

Lucky Street Gallery
1130 Duval Street Key West, FL 33040
305/294-3973

Birnam Wood Galleries
52 Park Place East Hampton, NY 11937
631/324-6010 or birnamwoodart.com

Nabi Gallery
137 West 25th Street New York, NY 10001
212/929-6063 or nabiarts.com

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