It all started with a visit to her friend Barbara Cassell’s farm to see some horned Dorset sheep.
“I went there to photograph the sheep and the farm,” said local artist Kay Sutherland, who likes to use local scenery as inspiration for her paintings. “Then she started showing me photos of skies around the farm. It hit me like a thunderbolt. When I saw her photos, I thought why have I have not focused on that before?”
So she did. The result is a series of paintings she calls “Wythe Skies,” which brings to life the vibrant blues, pinks, reds and orange seen so often among the mountains and farmlands of Wythe County.
“I just went out there to take a picture of her sheep. I went home and started painting,” Sutherland said. The signature element in each painting in the Wythe Skies series is a red barn.
Sutherland’s work will be for sale during May at Local Artists and Sellers art gallery on Main Street. The gallery will host an opening night reception Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Local musician Adam Musick will perform, and Chau’s Bakery will cater the event.
In addition to the Wythe Skies series, other paintings by Sutherland will also be for sale. The painting sizes range from 16x20 inches to 36x48 inches. Prices range from $375 to $1,500.
“Kay Sutherland is a well-known artist from this area and has the most experience with doing shows and painting. She has been painting for over 30 years, and I think that Wytheville should celebrate a successful local artist as Kay Sutherland,” said gallery owner Lily Formato. “She has won awards for her artwork as well as traveled to New York City and Atlanta to do exclusive artists shows.”
Sutherland, who has also sold paintings in Europe, has been painting for more than three decades. She uses a palette knife and sometimes her hands to create colorful, vibrant paintings with thick and creamy paint. Her subjects range from fruit and flowers to kissing couples and cows.
Her work resembles French impressionism.
Sutherland never drew or painted during her childhood; she discovered her passion later in life.
“A friend said, ‘why not paint with me?’ It started as a hobby and I just loved it,” she said in an 2014 interview with the Wytheville Enterprise. “It’s kind of crazy; I’m obsessed. It’s my passion, my way of life. I must paint. I paint because I have to, not because I want to sell paintings.”
Besides painting in her studio and at festivals, Sutherland is a “live event painter,” who paints an occasion, like a wedding, as it happens.
Sutherland’s studio is located at 345 E. Marshall St. For information, call 276-620-6615.
To reach Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, ext. 35, or email firstname.lastname@example.org