"In the interplay of colors, sometimes you will get something that you never would have done on purpose."

"Cooler Weather"
Pastel on paper
17"H x 22.75"W

Bill Suttles
Bill Suttles, a graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, began his career as an illustrator, but now devotes his time exclusively to painting. He uses uninhibited color and masterfully expressive strokes to transform rural landscapes of the Southeast into irresistible escapes of magical beauty that captivate and have restorative effects on those who view them. Borrowing from his enhanced vision, one seemingly possesses a window into a world more beautiful than our own.

Following is a detailed description of how he creates his paintings. He credits Coralie Tweed for teaching him the technique of combining gouache and pastel.

If working on Strathmore 400 (a drawing paper) or Reeve's BFK (a printing paper), he applies gesso thinned to the consistency of coffee cream to both sides and an additional coat to the front side. If using Wallis (a sanded paper), he does not apply gesso.

He begins each new work with a slide, a line drawing, and a value study as references. Using the line drawing as a guide, he makes a sketch on his paper with a sepia Conte pencil.

"Trail Side"
Pastel on paper
10"H x 13.5"W
He then loosely applies fluid gouache with inexpensive hardware brushes. While referring to his value study, he applies strong, uninhibited color. He emphasizes that thinning the paint, rather than adding white or yellow, works best with the pastels. When the entire paper is covered, he must then wait for it to dry. He confesses that he often accelerates the drying process with a hair dryer.

Once the underpainting is completely dry, he is ready to add the pastel. Working with every color in front of him, rather than a limited palette, he lays in large broken applications of color with the side of a broken pastel. Working from the background to the foreground and from dark to light, his movements are loose and his color choices intuitive and experimental. A tree in the foreground starts with Prussian blue branches and lavender foliage. He admits that accidents often lead to better and more exciting creations than do purposeful executions. Moreover, he finds his method of working to be very forgiving. He says that simply brushing away an area with a bristle brush or spraying it with a workable fixative, is all it takes to correct an area. He intentionally brings out the most of every color by placing it beside its complement, using Prussian blue in the shadows of a mountain and red-orange in its foliage. He then softens these bursts of color by going over them with a more neutral tone, but still allowing them to come through. As he approaches the foreground and areas of greater detail, his applications become linear scribbles possessing energy and movement. He then softens their edges where necessary by lightly going over them with a harder pastel (for example, NuPastel over Rembrandt).

When Bill Suttles has finished his painting it is difficult to discern where the gouache ends and the pastel begins. He explains it is the mat finish of the two mediums that allows for their perfect union. Yet, it is the contrast between the fluidity of the gouache and the definitive line of the pastel that gives his paintings such vitality.

You may contact Bill Suttles at:
Bill Suttles
1295 Roxboro Drive
Atlanta, GA

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Image copyright © Bill Suttles.
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