COLUMBIA — When Sue Reed was 16, she took a ride with her boyfriend at sunset. It was a conventional act. But Reed is unconventional, and she discovered it that day.
“We were looking at a beautiful yard, and the sunlight was shining on the grass. There was a lot of color, and I said, ‘Look, don’t you see all those colors?’— but he couldn’t see it at all,” Reed said. “People don’t look at details and patterns, and that’s when I knew I was born an artist.”
What: Fall into Art festival
When: From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Parkade Center, 601 Business Loop 70 W.
For information: Fall into Art
She grew up in a conservative, Baptist home in Fulton. Since then, she has lived in states including New Mexico, California, Maine and Texas. Now, she's in Columbia — until the need to move shakes her again.
"I'm kind of a gypsy," Reed said. "There’s no reason I move a lot. I just wanted to experience different things.”
Reed considers herself lucky to be able to make a living off her art. The past two decades of her life have been spent perfecting her printmaking, painting, poetry writing and marketing skills. But she keeps a few secrets.
"I never talk about my age with anyone," Reed said. "Not even my best friends know. I’m more concerned with other stuff. One minute I’ll be 12 years old and the next a teenager. I’m rarely an old fogey.”
But she does disclose that she has two grown children living in Santa Fe, N.M., where she lived before she really started traveling around the country. It is among the communities she has found most inspiring.
Reed attended MU, and she returned to Missouri to visit family she hadn’t seen for 10 years. Surprised at the growing art scene, she decided to stay.
The mysterious artist is hesitant to reveal too much of the process that goes into creating her work. Reed can only work alone, after she has spent 15 to 20 minutes meditating and seeing visions of what to paint.
“I feel like the world is made up of many layers,” Reed said. "People are like that sometimes. When you scratch the surface, you can see who they are.”
Reed begins many of her paintings with prints she made from carving slabs of rubber. She works on two or three paintings at a time, ditches the easel and works straight on the floor. She even stomps on the print blocks to get the design how she wants it.
After the first pattern dries, she goes back and paints layers upon layers to build to the beauty of each piece.
“If people ask, I might not tell them how I do it," Reed said. "I’ll tell them it’s with a little brush from China.”
As for where Reed will be after she leaves Columbia, she doesn’t know yet. She has a feeling it might be the northeast coast.
“I’m open to whatever, wherever my art leads me,” Reed said. “I enjoy living in a place that’s in tune with me. I’d like to go to Ireland. But there’s certain things I have to do first, like sell a lot of paintings.”