(Respite II Dillion Falls, acyrlic,16×40 by Sue Lion-Manley)
Sue Lyon-Manley is well known in our community as a plein air artist and art workshop coordinator through her business, Cascade Fine Art Workshops. When the pandemic arrived in 2019 and shut down everything, including her workshops, she also experienced some life-changing events, such as family issues and illness, that could have brought her creativity to a standstill. Happily, she was able to focus on the positive outcomes of these events and find ways to refresh her approach to art. Red Chair Gallery is showcasing her new paintings this month.
“I believe that we have to keep trying and confront our problems with constructive solutions or our lives will continue to be miserable,” Lyon-Manley says. The pandemic did have some positive effects, she notes, such as families and friends learning to support one another. “We had to figure out what was really important to us and how to protect it.”
During this trying time, Lyon-Manley was able to focus on the positive side of having painting in her life. “And lucky me, I can simply walk out my door and be inspired by the Central Oregon landscape.” As a member of Plein Air Painters of Oregon, she joined other members to paint together on location throughout the pandemic with everyone staying at least six feet apart. She also participated in some Zoom workshops, “to keep the creative juices flowing.”
Plein air paintings are traditionally on the small side, due to the difficulty of using large supports (canvases, boards), and carrying other equipment into the field. Now Lyon-Manley is bringing her outdoor work back to the studio and enlarging it while capturing the emotion that drove her to paint the scene in the field. Pastel was her sole medium for years, but today she is experimenting with other mediums including oil and acrylic. Along with working bigger, she is “pushing my plein air work to a more impressionistic or abstract tone,” she explains.
For many years, Lyon-Manley has invited noted artists to Bend to teach workshops through her business, Cascade Fine Art Workshops. After a hiatus during the pandemic, she cautiously resumed hosting in-person workshops this summer after the guidelines were relaxed in July. The atmosphere in the first workshop was charged with optimism and excitement, she says, with participants connecting with one another and immersing themselves in their painting, even when working six feet apart and wearing masks when necessary. Now with Oregon’s stricter rules, she is requiring participants to show proof of vaccination or of a recent COVID test in order to partake in person, like other local event organizers are doing. Others may be able to join via Zoom. Overwhelmingly, the artists are thanking her for protecting them, she says. “It’s heartwarming to see that the pandemic isn’t going to stop these creative people from getting back to their work!”
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