Artist Spotlight with Sue Marion
The overused cliche, “a picture says a thousand words,” proves true within the walls of The Groton Station House. Many guests ask our waitstaff questions about the dozens of art pieces we have displayed throughout the Bar, the Lounge, and the Main Dining Room. Some of our framed pieces picture The Groton School some fifty years ago while others picture historic McElroy family memorabilia. The Groton Station House is lucky enough to have developed a friendly relationship with the artist behind many of our most beloved pieces. I sat down with Sue Marion and learned the stories behind her murals that we proudly display around the restaurant.
To understand the art, we must understand the artist. In order to better appreciate her work, Sue and I discussed her past experience as an artist and how it led her to where she is today. Growing up, art was a core value within Sue’s family. Sue painted her first watercolor with her dad at the age of 10. Early on she was inspired by her father’s ability to draw just about anything and her uncle’s oils and watercolors which adorned the walls of his Nantucket studio. It was clear to Sue from a young age that she wanted to follow her family’s passions/talents and become an artist. She learned about color, value, perspective, and composition while painting side by side with her father for several years. Sue studied art abroad in London, Paris, and Rome, graduating with a BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts. Her professional career began painting furniture for a company called Pieces. Many pieces were commissions from overseas. Sue also talked about the fun she had going to Fisher Island, Florida with a team of artists to paint murals for Russian NHL player Ilya Kovalchuk. Another memorable job was painting flowers on the seats of dining room chairs for the former wife of Patriot’s coach, Bill Belichick. After Sue became a mother, she branched out on her own. She painted a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ mural and a Dinosaur mural on all four walls of her children’s bedrooms. Family and friends soon wanted a splash of something unique on their walls, so Sue continued to create custom artwork for friends and friends of friends. Although she created a website for Murals and More, most of her work is attained through word of mouth.
Becoming a full-time artist has been a winding road for Sue. She’s had several jobs to support her passion, such as teaching from her home-based studio, doing Art Therapy with the elderly, specifically working with those in memory care facilities. Sue also served as a long-term substitute art teacher in public schools for grades 1-12 throughout the years. She’s currently a Color Consultant for Colorworks, assisting people with colors for their homes. She’s held this part-time position for the past 10 years. It compliments her well as an artist, often leading to commission work for people. This is how she met Dan McElroy which eventually led her to be part of the Station House. Sue painted four pieces for The Groton Station House. The first one is a mural of the McElroy’s beautiful farmland which greets customers right when they enter the restaurant.
“Groton Center Farms”
The McElroys invited Sue to explore the grounds of their property in order to capture the peace, serenity, and sense of history one feels while walking around the land. After some collaboration with the family, Sue began the process of painting the mural. She started this canvas at home, beginning with the basic elements of drawing the barn, the road, the trees, and the hillside. Once she had the foundation of the painting down, she rolled it up and transferred it to the wall at the restaurant. Sue likes to paint large pieces in the actual space they will be displayed in. She sees it important to take into account the color of the floor, the wood tones of the furniture, and any fabrics and wall colors in the room. She likes to incorporate the surrounding colors subtly throughout the painting so it sits well in the space. Compositionally this mural was created so one’s eye looks to the large barn on the left then follows the road towards the right and is lured back into the painting with the large shadow of the tree on the right. Sue begins most of her large pieces in acrylic and finishes them in oil. The acrylic gives her the flexibility to easily change things, as it is opaque and dries quickly. The oil gives her the advantage of tweaking colors where needed, making them much richer if necessary, and adding detail with greater control.
As guests continue their walk into the restaurant, they are presented with two more of Sue Marion’s paintings. Upon entering the Main Dining Room, look towards the windows on your left and you will spot Sue’s painting above the stand-alone two-person table.
“November” oil on canvas
Sue was continuously drawn to this spot located across from Hayden Road in Groton, MA. She sees this as a birdwatchers dream, full of bright-colored wings and the sound of a million peepers. At sunset, the salmon sky is reflected in the water, in the winter, the berries are brightly glistening in the white snow. Sue has painted this area in every season. The Groton Station House is lucky enough to house Sue’s late Fall rendition of the Hayden wetlands. Sue chose a pale blue sky to represent the cooler temperatures and the ochre, warm/brown tones of the grass to offset the sky. She wants the viewer to be drawn into this wetland, down the small channel until their eyes meet the horizon line. She hopes this painting brings a sense of peace, while representing a day in November, after the leaves have fallen, but before the snow.
Guests who are sat in the Main Dining Room booths that line the far right wall have the best view of Sue’s third painting.
For years, Sue took her family to a quintessentially beautiful Groton landscape located on Farmers Row. The Marion family would park their car on the road and watch the sunset over beautiful fields and trees. The abandoned farmhouse depicted in Sue’s painting always caught her eye. One day, Sue brought her easel to this sight and began painting this scene out of the back of a pickup truck. Before she could complete it, the farmhouse was torn down leaving only a concrete slab. Sue finished painting her mural from memory. Her main focus of this piece was to capture the warmth of the sunset. Sue reflects the color of the sky in the blades of grass which helps marry the ground to the sky.
Lastly, guests who are seated near the private events room staircase have the perfect view of Sue’s final painting.
“Late September” oil on canvas
This last painting was commissioned by Dan McElroy. It portrays an image his daughter shared with Sue, a photo she’d taken in the fall. Sue enjoyed painting this piece. She explained to me that she loves how strong the sunlight is in this picture, illuminating the landscape. Sue explained to me that “[she] wants the warmth of the leaf tones to envelop the viewer and bring a sense of how peaceful it is to walk down a country road on a beautiful fall day.”
Authors: Kathryn Preston & Sue Marion