Wilsonville resident paints memories
For Suzanne Lloyd, her artistic muse is somewhat spiritual — and deeply emotional.
The Wilsonville artist draws inspiration from the farm her grandparents owned in India and she chooses to brush colorful farm animals on canvases as her main subject matter.
Her grandparents lived alone on a small island. They had eight children and many grandchildren.
Being at the farm was Lloyd's "happy place" and she loved helping her grandfather care for the cows, chickens and goats.
"It was my escape, my refuge and the place I learned everything about life," she said.
She would paint and sketch farm animals, but more than anything, Lloyd would take her experience back home with her and use it as her artistic material.
"Until today, it still keeps giving," she said.
Lloyd's three paintings of a cow, rooster and hen are currently on display at the Corner Coffee Shoppe, 8269 A S.W. Wilsonville Road, through August — and it's the first time she's publicly displayed her art in Wilsonville.
"I've always been fascinated with cows (and) I've always been very at home on a farm so that's why I love Wilsonville. I love that we have all these farms nearby," Lloyd said. "I think that a cow should unify people because we all need cows and all over the world there are farms and there are cows and we need them for milk, for meat, for everything. We depend on them but they're so taken for granted. I rarely ever hear people say my favorite animal is a cow. It's mine and I wanted to give her some fame. I wanted her to shine; I wanted her to be recognized."
Lloyd, who moved to Wilsonville in 2006 from India, has been an artist since she could hold a pencil. But painting was in her blood. Her father was a shipping manager, but he was also a self-taught artist and painted as a hobby.
"I watched him paint and it was normal for me to see paints at home and draw all the time," Lloyd said. She also credits her art teacher in India who taught her a lot about art, a subject she claims she thrived in.
"I can't do anything else well. This is what I do best," Lloyd said. "I would be the kid in class that was always looking out the window, so this came very naturally to me. It was the only subject that was interesting to me."
And she always knew she'd be an artist.
Lloyd received her bachelor's degree and master's degree in painting from Karnataka Chitra Kala Prishat College of Fine Arts in Bangalore, India.
Lloyd initially painted with watercolors and during college, found a love for oil paints. Lloyd's art techniques are influenced by famous painters Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh, who used palette knives — a thin steel blade with a handle used for mixing colors, painting or removing paint — to apply paint instead of brushes.
"I fell in love with how the paint would move on the canvas with the palette knife and give that texture," she said. "I just had fun with it."
During graduate school, she led an art exhibition where she painted the bodies of volunteers and displayed charcoal sketches of people on the walls. The theme was from darkness to light and it conveyed her thoughts and feelings.
"It was spiritual. It was mostly my spiritual experience," Lloyd said. "It's very personal."
For many years after college, Lloyd's art had been put on the backburner while she raised three children.
"I really had only time to be a mom. … I would do small sketches and I didn't really have time to get my canvas out or didn't get time to do big paintings," she said.
Now that her children are older — ages 8, 10 and 12 — she has more time to herself and is stepping back into the art world.
Lloyd credits her friend, Suzy Syvier, who she said was responsible for helping her get her work up at Corner Coffee Shoppe. Lloyd chose to display the rooster and hen watercolor and ink paintings because she loves painting farm animals and using bright colors. She chose the acrylic on canvas cow with the continents painted at its center that uses the palette knife technique because she said it conveyed an important message: unity.
"I feel like people need to be more united," she said.
Though Lloyd doesn't prefer using acrylic, she said since she has children at home, she didn't want to use oil paints.
"I have to use acrylic because (oil) is smelly and difficult and I don't have my own studio yet. I hope one day I can afford a studio," Lloyd said. "There's no way you can get that off of anything. It's permanent."
While the three farm animals will be on display through August, Lloyd might fill up another wall in the coffee shop with more watercolor paintings.
For now, the mother of three plans to continue having exhibitions, pursuing art and painting memories with her children.
"They love painting; they love art," she said. "Every time I sit to paint, my youngest will come sit by me and start sketching."
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