Pine Grove Artist Captures Natural Beauty

By Drew Myron

Sue Moore standing behind an easel
Sue Moore blends realism with impressionism to capture the beauty and mood of natural places in and around Hood River, then interprets in paint what she has experienced.

Sue Moore sees in trees: alder, oak, fir, pine, and more.

“I like the woods, being around the trees and nature,” says Sue, a Pine Grove painter inspired by the natural world. “It’s where I find peace and serenity and the whole workings of the world. It’s where I lose myself.”

Working primarily in watercolor and pastels, Sue blends realism with impressionism to capture the beauty and mood of natural places. Her work has been shown throughout the Gorge, including the Columbia Gorge Center for the Arts and Providence Hospital in Hood River.

It’s no wonder Sue finds solace in a forest. Born into a timber family and raised in Corvallis, Sue grew up among trees. Those towering giants with strong limbs and lanky reaches were both natural beauties and workhorses providing jobs and food for her family.

From early on, nature called to her. As a child, Sue would visit her grandparents, who lived on a farm with a creek and woods along the Coast Range in the small town of Alsea.

“I would disappear to the creek while the other girls played with the babies and dolls,” Sue recalls. “I always loved being out in the woods or beside a stream. Most of my paintings are based on nature, probably because of all the hours I spent as a child by my grandfather’s creek watching light reflecting, water swirling around rocks, and alder leaves glowing when backlit by the sun.”

Her early curiosity led to lifelong creativity. As a child, she says, “I was told that I was always making something. Teachers encouraged me, and I took as many classes as I could. Growing up, I always felt like I wanted to create.”

Influenced by both the grandeur and small details of the outdoor world, Sue sketches and snaps photos while in the field, then draws from those images when she returns home. In the art studio nestled in the corner of her bedroom, windows provide natural light and a serene view.

Watercolor painting of mountains
Sue captures memories of Utah in this watercolor.

Sue draws on the beauty of the Hood River Valley, where she has lived for more than 50 years. She lives on a farm with her husband, Pat—a longtime member of the Hood River Electric Cooperative Board of Directors and a shareholder of Moore Orchards, a family farm for 85 years and four generations.

The couple has four children and nine grandchildren.

“Pat is a wonderful support,” Sue says, noting the studio he created for her and the perspective he lends to each of her works.

Sue is largely a self-taught artist who has built her skills and found support from years of art workshops. Though she has worked in oil, pastel, mosaic, and cloisonné enamel, her favorite medium is watercolor.

“I love the crispness of watercolor and the fun things that happen with pigments,” she says.

Watercolor is a form that requires an artist to “think backwards” to the desired result, Sue says, noting the challenge is matching her vision of the finished work with how the materials choose to wander.

“I can get tight and controlled about my work, but watercolor doesn’t let you do that. With watercolor, you have to go with the flow. You have to do what the watercolor wants you to do,” she says, laughing. “Art stretches your brain.”

Watercolor painting of a tree
Sue’s love of trees shines in the light and details featured in her watercolor work, “Matriarch.”

In addition to following her instincts, Sue says the support of other artists has deepened her work. She is a member of the Hood River Art Club—a group that meets weekly and is open to artists of all ages and abilities. The group shows their work at galleries and businesses throughout the Gorge and offers workshops with local artists as instructors.

“Sue Moore’s art is beautiful,” says Joyce Uczen, president of the art club. “She captures glowing light in her pieces. Her work is luminous, with feeling of depth and emotion.”

The group has been supportive and encouraging, says Sue. In fact, the art club helped resurrect her creative practice. Years ago, while caring for her aging mother, Sue had little time or energy to visit her easel. Her paints dried, her canvas curled and she did not paint for six years. When she finally returned to the art club, she felt a wash of enthusiasm and relief.

“Painting again was like coming home,” she says. “It was wonderful.”

Hood River Art Club

Founded in 1949, Hood River Art Club meets weekly at FISH Food Bank in Hood River. The club has 25 members with a range of skills, experience, and style. Artists from throughout the Columbia Gorge are welcomed and encouraged to join. The club offers art workshops, demonstrations, group exhibitions, and opportunities to mix, mingle, and learn. Membership is $25 per year.

“Most of all,” says club president Joyce Uczen, “we have fun, relax and draw on one another’s creativity.”

For more information, email Joyce Uczen.