When artist Sue Sneddon moved to Shallotte Point from Durham, NC in the spring of 2003, a childhood dream of living near the ocean finally came true. Another dream—to have an art studio in close proximity to water—also came true. The Brunswick County beaches, rivers, and marshes provide endless inspiration for Sneddon’s paintings and drawings, and some of her most recent work is now on display at the Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash, NC.
Sneddon grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania, but became familiar with the Myrtle Beach area on family vacations in the 1960s and ‘70s. In 1976, after college, she stopped in Durham, NC on her way to live at the coast and somehow ended up there for the next 27 years. But from that home base she travelled to every coastal town in North Carolina, from Corolla to Sunset Beach. Although she still enjoys visiting all the different islands and sound-front towns on her travels delivering paintings to galleries, Brunswick County proved to be the best place for her to finally settle.
Sneddon has converted an old 1,000 square foot workshop into her studio. From there she has a view of the Shallotte River and the marsh. Shrimp boats bring in their catches at the end of the road, and the ocean is only ten minutes away. “I love living in the canopy of the live oaks on Shallotte Point and studying the stillness and currents of changing tides,” Sneddon says.
Of course she finds the ocean compelling, as well. “To be able to stand in that wet sand where land meets the power of the Atlantic Ocean brings me such joy. I don’t believe I’ll ever tire of the wonder and beauty of it all.”
Over the past 37 years Sneddon’s work has continually evolved, and she looks forward to many more years of productivity in her Shallotte River studio. The southeastern area of North Carolina is full of the natural beauty that draws her attention, and Sneddon is committed to capturing as much of it as possible—the water, the sky, the light, the trees and birds, the reflections.
Reviews & Comments
A Durham critic has said: “Her scenes, which are so similar but so different, are about the light and the shapes; the water and the land are just the means by which she finds their essence and abstracts them into something much more than a traditional landscape….(Sneddon’s) views change with the tides and with the moon. She shows us the many infinite patterns the water makes as it moves to and from the shore. She considers it from every angle, in every light, and in many different mediums.”
The same critic earlier observed: “While dealing with familiar subjects—nature—in a realistically simple fashion, the artist leads us into new territory. Things are not as they seem. Nothing is easy. The work takes more than a quick look.”
From a show held at Moonshell Gallery in Hilton Head, SC a reviewer said: “Characterized as a realist, even surrealist or photorealist, Sneddon favors an approach to the re-creation of her subjects that is uniquely hers. Her special spin, her angle, her view and her interpretation amount to far more than the images in question…Sneddon offers equal doses of detail and of mystery.”
A show held at Carteret Contemporary Art in Morehead City led gallery owner, Charles Jones, to observe, “What’s interesting about a lot of Sue’s work is people’s reaction to it. People will see a piece, walk away, then come back to see it again. Art is often like that, but her pieces are very much like that. It’s as though people have a delayed emotional response to her work.”