When oil painter Susan Hale speaks of her career in art (and by the way, she’s been an exhibiting artist for more than 30 years!) she exudes a playful, exaggeratory attitude. So, it’s not unusual her paintings mimic her charismatic, fun-filled take on life.
“From dancing corn stalks to popcorn clouds, I always see a painting in the landscape,” she says.
See what I mean? The Wisconsin-based artist’s rural upbringing is a constant inspiration, and she views paint (and colors) as magical, applying it thick and “juicy,” as she likes to say. Her work represents how she feels, and it’s safe to assume that much of the time, she feels joyful and carefree!
Fall colors hijack the canvas in Pumpkin Hill Farm below. Various fields weave in and out of the knolls, and pumpkins—plump and begging to be picked—lie atop gorgeous green farmland.
Susan’s strokes are what give this painting dimension and depth. Light orange ribbing forms the pumpkins, which are nestled deeply in ribbons of grass and leaves, into their spherical shape.
Wavy rows of crops direct our attention toward the rural farm setting in the background, where a silo and multiple barns add to the painting’s rustic appeal. Full-leaved trees finish out the harvest scene, while clouds drop like tic-tacs above them in the heavy heat of mid-afternoon.
In another scene, Autumn Sail celebrates the season in full-fledge while reminiscing of bright summertime days spent sailing in a soft breeze.
Die-hard sailors remain in the water as choppy waves carry them further away from the orange, red and yellow falling leaves that are perhaps a sad reminder of the rapidly approaching winter.
What I find delightful is that the trees have a pumpkin-like resemblance—I’m not sure if Susan did that on purpose, but I really enjoy that symbolic tribute to autumn.
I also admire the crisp white of the sailboats, homes, and high steeples sprinkled throughout the beautiful scene. They seem to add an orderly conduct to the chaos of fall foliage shrouding the town.
And finally, I’m a big fan of the repetitive strokes, colors and objects in Poppies in the Pasture below. It’s such a great impressionistic look at rural farming at its best—overzealous fields of poppies give way to dairy cows finding their way back home for dinner.
In the distance there’s green as far as the eye can see, until the horizon gives way to the falling sun. Even the decorative black and white checkered pattern on the silo keeps with the theme.
Living in a pastoral community, myself, I especially love the way Susan created the distant sky. Different dots of pastel hues mix into one another, and the cloud-like array skims past the sun, creating the haze I so often see at dusk here in Nebraska.
It’s a beautiful representation—the grouping of poppies is mesmerizing, with individual flowers up close that gradually turns into a red/orange blanket of petals as we scan across the scene to the grazing cattle in the distance.
I had a difficult time choosing just three of my favorite paintings, so make sure you head out to Susan’s website to see her full range of work. One painting you won’t want to miss is Lunch Time at Lily Bay, a bright summertime piece found in the “Water Paintings & Up North” series on page of her website.
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