Everywhere contemporary artist Sue Burkett looks she finds inspiration to paint: the bright red flowers on a Christmas Poinsettia, green tomatoes growing in her garden, or a view from her studio window of Green River Knob in western Pulaski County.
Burkett brings all of these things and more to life on canvas in a splash of color, strong contour lines, and brilliant shapes and textures in a collection of paintings on display in a holiday art exhibit at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.
In celebration of the holiday season, Burkett has dedicated her latest art exhibit, “Poinsettia,” to the holiday flower prominently featured in three of her 16 paintings on display and available for sale at The Center.
The exhibit, which will be on display through the holidays and remain open for public viewing through January, is presented by Lake Cumberland Performing Arts in partnership with The Center.
“My paintings are inspired by what surrounds me: my farm, my home and my community,” Burkett said. “I enjoy working with color, large shapes, and patterns.
“My art work reflects the use of line to define the edges and the contours of things I observe,” she added. “I study my environment to see the color my images must have. My creations reflect the nuances of overlapping edges and the character of what is observed.”
The mixed-media painting of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” hanging in the theatre’s front lobby, was created specifically for The Center and the Children’s Prime Time Theatre holiday performance of the timeless classic, which was presented as a musical play during the holiday season following The Center’s Spirit of Giving community tree-lighting event.
If you look closely at the painting, you’ll see such recognizable places as The Center for Rural Development, new Pulaski County judicial center, Carnegie Community Arts Center, Pulaski County public library, and other popular community businesses, like Pine Cone Primitives and Baxter’s Coffee, and even the home of Burkett’s mother-in-law, the late Molly Burkett, on Vine Street.
In this painting, Santa can be seen riding his sleigh pulled by tiny reindeer over the rooftops of these buildings and night sky of Somerset and Pulaski County.
During the summer, Burkett’s vegetable garden provided the inspiration for another mixed media painting, called “Green Tomatoes,” the centerpiece of the art exhibit in The Center’s visual arts gallery.
Other pieces demonstrate Burkett’s creative use of simple, everyday objects, including buttons, as design elements in her paintings.
“Through repetition and color variations, buttons are another medium used along with canvas, house siding board, acrylic house paint, acrylic tube paint, wax pastel, and permanent marker to create art that reflects the Faubush community where I live and the commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Burkett, who lives and paints from her studio on the family farm in western Pulaski County, is a self-taught and trained professional artist with a bachelor of fine arts from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is a juried member of the Sheltowee Artisans Guild.
To view Burkett’s “Poinsettia” holiday exhibit or purchase any of the pieces, stop by The Center for Rural Development, located at 2292 South U.S. 27 (at Traffic Light No. 15) from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during special events when the facility is open to the public.
Other pieces of her work may be viewed online at www.sueburkettart.com, at her studio, SueBurkettArt, or at Sheltowee Artisan Cooperative Shop in the Carnegie Community Arts Center in downtown Somerset.