"Seasons" features New Paintings by Susan Wahlrab

West Branch Gallery
Jun 5, 2015 9:12PM

As a printmaker, Susan Wahlrab worked on huge chunks of limestone, experimenting with watercolor washes. Eventually she found the beauty of painting on claybord; wood layered with clay and glue, sanded down to a smooth finish. This afforded her a surface that would take color well, dry easily, and then allow her to play with the color over time. A painting could take her several months to a year. “I’m getting more comfortable and now can anticipate how to get the clay surface to work to support my intentions,” Wahlrab said.

Susan Wahlrab’s new series of paintings titled Seasons are showing in the North Gallery at West Branch from June 12 through August 31. Her unique technique of watercolor is impressionistic viewed from a distance, alluding to the British Romantic landscapes of J.M.W. Turner and Monet. Their influence is clearly evidenced. Yet viewed up close, one is surprised to see tiny pools, miniscule etchings in the wash of color, like watery hieroglyphics. Almost encaustic in their layered density, the paintings look and feel wet from the coating of glossy clear varnish. “As far as I know, I am the only one doing varnished watercolor on this type of archival claybord.”

At the Rhode Island School of Design, Wahlrab received a MFA in printmaking. She spent three months as an Artist in Residence in Tuscany, Italy and has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums throughout New England. Her work is also in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi, Vietnam, as well as in Melbourne, Australia at Connie Kimberly.

Not only does Wahlrab bring extensive painting experience to her work, she also informs each piece with her years as a yoga practitioner and teacher. “Painting is all about my personal practice of yoga and meditation,” she said. “I search for the still point in presence that reveals the endless prana or life force that we are all interconnected to.”

In the painting, Stick Season, one sees forests and hills in the month of November, when all is soft and in transition. Green Grass, Right Here expresses full summer, a field drenched with the color of green, bathed in light. Color of Winter shows a tree-lined country road dancing with white yet filled with many subtle and vibrant colors. Spring is glowing with sunlight.

Susan Wahlrab’s landscape paintings reveal a rich, textured world of complexity and mystery. They are layered, sensuous in detail, rich in pools of color and light, energetic, emotional. “I am lucky that my studio is deep in the woods and a meander through them everyday inspires me completely. Nature is what connects my spirit and passion.”

"Seasons" is on view at West Branch Gallery Jun. 12 - Aug. 31, 2015. 

West Branch Gallery