Shallotte River / oil / 30 x 24


Comments from reviews of
Sneddon’s work over the years:


A Durham, NC, critic has said:

“Her scenes, which are so similar but so different, are about the light and the shapes; the water and the land are just the means by which she finds their essence and abstracts them into something much more than a traditional landscape. . . . (Sneddon’s) views change with the tides and with the moon. She shows us the many infinite patterns the water makes as it moves to and from the shore. She considers it from every angle, in every light, and in many different mediums.”


The same critic earlier observed:

“While dealing with familiar subjects —nature — in a realistically simple fashion, the artist leads us into new territory. Things are not as they seem. Nothing is easy. The work takes more than a quick look.”


From a show held at Moonshell Gallery in Hilton Head, SC, a reviewer said:

“Sneddon favors an approach to the re-creation of her subjects that is uniquely hers. Her special spin, her angle, her view and her interpretation amount to far more than the images in question. . . . Sneddon offers equal doses of detail and of mystery.”


A show held at Carteret Contemporary Art in Morehead City, NC, led gallery owner, Charles Jones, to observe:

“What’s interesting about a lot of Sue’s work is people’s reaction to it. People will see a piece, walk away, then come back to see it again. Art is often like that, but her pieces are very much like that. It’s as though people have a delayed emotional response to her work.”


Another gallery owner who represents the artist (and it is an observation heard over and over from many viewers of Sneddon’s work) commented:

“Sue Sneddon's work has changed the way I look at the world every day. I used to go to the beach. Now I see it.”

One of my first memories of drawing was trying to figure out how a dandelion flower turned into a ball of small seeds with fluffy tops that could be carried by the wind. I was probably five at the time, and at that early age I was drawing what was in front of me—bugs, flowers, clouds, trees—realistically, so I could attempt to understand how nature worked.
I grew up in the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains and Laurel Highlands area of southwestern Pennsylvania, in a family where creativity was highly valued. My mother and her three sisters were all artists. My father studied as a classical violinist until drafted into World War II. He became a jazz enthusiast, along with my mother and our home was often filled with music. Dad taught me to play bongos to Harry Belafonte records when I was 3 years old. My fascination with Carolina landscapes began on childhood vacations to Southern beaches.
Cucumber Falls / pastel / 4 x 6
I had my first thought of being a painter was when I was 13 or 14. My mother and I were discussing whether the pink in a bank of oyster shells was a reflection of the pink sky or in the shells themselves. We were on the south end of Pawley’s Island, SC witnessing a glorious sunset. I said to myself, if I could paint the joy I feel in this moment, then I could be a painter.
Most of my work, as it turns out, is exactly that — fleeting moments of light in the sky, on water, or on wet sand. These moments do something to me that I can only express by trying to capture them on paper or canvas. I continue to realistically approach a subject at first, so that it gets filed in my brain somewhere, to be called on when I want to express how I feel about the moment of a sighting that has moved me.
Falling Water, PA / pastel / 6 x 10  >
I live for these moments of joy and wonder and reverence. Whether or not there is a human figure in the work I create, I may also be influenced by a conversation, visit, walk, or relationship associated with a particular moment I am trying to capture. And although water-related subjects are the ones I most frequently choose, there are other landscapes that I have painted over the years, particularly rural settings of trees, fields, and aging barns and houses.
Mixing a palette of colors for an oil painting is very intense for me. This ritual signifies the commitment of many days, weeks, or months of painting to capture this one moment. The application of a medium onto a surface can transport me to that first inspiration. I may hear the water, wind, birds, or a song I was humming. My senses are filled as if I were witnessing it for the first time.
Edinboro Snow / pastel / 4 x 4
I work from memory. My memory is sometimes sparked by the notes/sketchbooks that are filled with these moments that I don’t want to forget. There are a lot of notes and sketchbooks. Sometimes I do see something and immediately paint it. But there can also be a long process of distilling an experience to its essential elements and then working to capture those in my work.
Childhood View / pastel / 10 x 3  >
Oil, pastel, acrylic, pencil, gouache, watercolor, oil pastel, pen and ink, and mixed media all have a station in my studio. I like to have options in my choice of medium, and also in the music that accompanies my work day. My tastes there are eclectic, as well, ranging from jazz to rock-and-roll, to classical, to folk and other genres. All of my artwork seems to have a soundtrack.
I am fortunate to have a studio that gives me access to my main sources of inspiration and allows me to mark my time by sunsets, tides, moon phases, solstices, and equinoxes. My studio looks out onto the marshes of a tidal river, the Shallotte River. And a 10-minute drive takes me over a bridge to the Atlantic Ocean, the place I feel most alive, where that powerful body of water meets the soft sand, with the ever-changing play of light on water. There is no check-out time. I am so very thankful.
Ellerbee Creek / pastel / 4 x 4  >
  • Born in Uniontown , PA
  • 1971-1975 — Edinboro University of Pennsylvania – BS in Art Education
I took studio courses in drawing, design, painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, textiles, printmaking, woodworking, and independent study in portraiture and figure drawing. During this period of conceptual art and “happenings,” two art professors in particular provided encouragement for me to pursue my own artistic vision--Donna Nicholas (ceramics) and Mary Jane Kidd (drawing). Their support and interest led to lasting friendships.
  • 1976-2003 — Resided in Durham, NC, working as an artist, freelance graphic artist and illustrator, and teacher, and starting in Feb. 1984, full-time artist
  • 1976-1978 — Travelled to every coastal town in NC
  • 1980-1984 — Graphic Artist at NC Museum of Life and Science
  • February 1984 — Full-time artist
  • 1977-present — Concentrated stays at Emerald Isle, NC (2-8 weeks per year, timed around the September equinox)
  • 1978-present — Drummer/percussionist, currently playing with Lise Uyanik and the Mobile City Band
  • 2003-present — Moved to Shallotte, NC, built home and renovated an existing workshop space to become my 1000-sq. ft. art studio.
New Wave / pastel  >
  • 1979 — First public one-person exhibition at Somethyme Restaurant, Durham, NC. No show title, but I refer to it as “Dance” (American Dance Festival takes place in Durham).
  • 1983, April — “Coasting” – Somethyme
  • 1984, December — “Painting the Hurricane Blue” – Somethyme
  • 1985, December — “Dance of the Broken Whelk” – Somethyme
  • 1986, June — “Night After New” – Horace Williams House, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 1986, November — “Different Shores” – 9th Street Gallery, Durham, NC
  • 1989, July — “Small World, Big Sky” – Seventh St. Restaurant (formerly Somethyme)
  • 1993, April — “Half Moon in Full Sight” –  Moonshell Gallery, Hilton Head, SC
  • 1993, May — “Ear to the Moon” – Carteret Contemporary Art (CCA), Morehead City, NC
  • 1994, June — “Natural Rhythm” – CCA, with sister, Nance Lee Sneddon (
  • 1995, March — “There are These Moments” – first exhibition at Craven Allen Gallery ( CAG ), Durham, NC
  • 1995, June — “Out of the Blue” – CCA
  • 1996, September — “In Pools of Sky” – CAG
Sometimes Silver / pastel  >
  • 1996, August — “As We See It” – CCA, with mother, Lilli Sneddon
  • 1997, March — “Broken and Perfect” – CAG
  • 1998, August — “A Line in the Sand” – CCA
  • 1999, November — “Current in Still Water” – CAG
  • 2000, April — “Silent Sound” – CCA
  • 2001, June — “Twenty-Eight Twilights” (four weeks on Bogue Banks) – CAG
  • 2002, April — “Prayer for the Planet” – CCA, with sister, Nance Lee Sneddon
  • 2002, November — “These Three Trees” – CAG
  • 2004, April — “Sometimes Silver” – CAG
  • 2005, November — “True Blue” – CAG
  • 2007, November — “Flow” – CAG
True Blue / pastel  >
  • 2009, November — “New Wave 1979-2009” – CAG (30th anniversary of one-person exhibitions and 10th exhibition at this gallery)
  • 2010, July — “Coastal Views” – with Libby Cullen, photographer, WHQR Gallery, Wilmington, NC
  • 2012, April — Exhibition of new works, with sister, Nance Lee Sneddon – The Real Estate Studio Gallery, Charleston, SC
  • 2012, November — “Sea to Shining Sea / Shallotte to Seattle” – Craven Allen Gallery, Durham, NC
  • 2013, December — Selected for participation in Winter Gala show at Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art, Greensboro, NC
  • 2015, April — “Blue Dream of Sky,” with sister, Nance Lee Sneddon at Craven Allen Gallery, Durham, NC
Featured artist three times at Greenleaf Gallery in Duck, NC.
Paintings are continually on display in the offices of Emerald Isle Realty, Emerald Isle, NC, as well as in selected rental cottages.
There are other one-person exhibits through the years at restaurants, cafes, B&Bs, and an historic theater in Charleston, SC.
  • Durham (NC) Herald-Sun — December 16, 2007; March 13, 1998; March 24, 1995; April 26, 1992; August 20, 1989
  • Raleigh (NC) News and Observer — December 2009; December 2007; March 20, 1998
  • Independent Weekly (NC) — June 2-8, 2004
  • South Carolina Wildlife Magazine — March/April 1999 issue
  • Kinston (NC) The Free Press — July 30, 1998
  • New Bern (NC) Sun Journal — July 1998
  • Carteret News-Times (Morehead City, NC) — June 11, 1995; June 17, 1994; June 10, 1994; May 21, 1993
  • Hilton Head (SC) Island Packet — April 30, 1993

Copyright © 2015 Sue Sneddon