In the Studio With Sue McNally

Buckets Of Color

A just finished painting (foreground) hangs in the studio, near an older one, which features an abstarction of puddingstone. The egg-yolk yellow horizon is an atypical color in McNally’s palette.

From her studio in North Kingston, R.I., painter Sue McNally conjures fantastic, large-scale landscapes drawn from real life but layered with imagination and magnificent, vivid colors. (The New York Times calls them “psychedelic.”) McNally splits her time between R.I., where these photos were taken, and rural southeast Utah, where she and her husband own 80 acres of land and live off-grid in a yurt. The pair spend stretches of time road-tripping across America — McNally intends to create a work for each U.S. state — and various waypoints from these excursions become the origins of her artworks. For some people the journey may be the destination, but in McNally’s paintings, the destination is where the journey only begins. You don’t sit and back and regard her creations as much as you fall into one; quickly, the familiar becomes otherworldly, and the viewer is always placed center stage.

Intermittently, McNally also draws self-portraits on paper, a collection of which is currently on view at the Auxiliary Projects gallery in Brooklyn. These reflections of her visage, which she sketches quickly from a mirror that sits on a desk in her studio, could be considered the artist’s analog version of selfies. These works are more snapshots of self-reflection than of vanity, however, and, as a collection, draw an interesting portrait of not only the woman herself, but also of our culture at large. –Meaghan O’Neill

Sue McNally's painting pants

McNally wears her heart on her pant legs, instead of her sleeve.

All photos by Jonathan Clancy. Click any photo below to launch the gallery.


sue-mcnally-artist interview

Jonathan Clancy is a writer and photographer who enjoys learning about the lives and passions of other people. Always looking for the story behind the story, his career as a journalist began with a concert review of Delta Blues legend David "Honeyboy" Edwards; it was one of his final performances. His work, which has appeared in Newport This Week and other publications, focuses on the arts, fitness, food and beverage, and lifestyle sports, but he’s happy to write about anything where he sees a unique twist.

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