Spring is in the air at the AIR Gallery where Portland artist Suzanne Vaughan is exhibiting her newest series entitled “Colorscape.” This series showcases the artist’s bold style and vibrant energy as well as her dedication to her work. “I’m putting myself into the experience,” she says about her bright and colorful oil paintings. The series high- lights the artist’s technique and her ability to communicate with her audience on an emotional level. “Painting is a release of energy,” she says, and a tool that provides her a valuable outlet for self-expression.
“I was going through a lot of difficult changes in my life,” says the artist about her previous series entitled “Portals,” “My new work represents this transition.” Characterized by bright colors and loose movement, Vaughan’s newest project sheds insight into the human psyche and invites her audience to engage in self-reflection. For Vaughan, engaging with her audience on both a visual and emotional level is an important element to work. “I’m a very emotional person and painting is a release,” she says, and cites her decision to move from realism to abstract painting as a significant turning point. “I wanted to paint what makes me feel good,” says the artist.
Utilizing a large-format approach to the paintings in “Colorscape,” this series denotes a tonal shift from that of her previous work. “These have a different kind of intensity,” she says about the evolution of her creative process. The result is a full-bodied collection of artwork that is a compelling representation of an artist’s personal growth and maturity. “When I think about my new bodies of work, they sit in my head for quite a while,” she says. The fluidity that emerges from Vaughan’s paintings as a result gives them a sophisticated quality that distinguishes her from other artists. “I like experimenting with new ideas and returning to old ones,” says Vaughan, “and different tools allow for different forms of expression.”
Formerly a New Zealand native, Vaughan draws inspiration from the natural landscape and through her personal connections with others. “Coming from New Zealand,” says the artist, “the quality of the light there is more intense than it is in the Pacific Northwest.” As a result, her current series emphasizes the influence of the environment on the artist’s work, as well as the process behind it. “They have a lot of layers,” Vaughan says about her paintings. “It’s very physical.”
Previously, Vaughan has exhibited her artwork at a number of local galleries including the Benwill Gallery and Basic Space Gallery. As the AIR Gallery transitions into a new period, she says she is eager to reconnect with other artists who have contributed to making the space a haven for local talent. “And besides,” says Vaughan, “we are the gallery.”
The artist’s upcoming exhibition will be held during First Thursdays in October in the Pearl District, and Vaughan says she is currently working on expanding her series. “You have to stay true to your own space.”