A graduate of Bowdoin College, Susan Williams has long been inspired by the landscapes of Maine – both real and imagined. The artist’s fascination with nature—from the evanescence of the ocean to the dynamic character of coastal landscapes to the effects of climate change—pervades her work. Williams experiments with color, time, and technique in her pieces to evoke strong connections to places, and memories.
“Honestly, I’m best off when I follow instinct and emotion,” Williams said in an interview. “When I leave behind the clutter, chatter, and academics.” While her work honors traditional landscape paintings, Williams is not afraid to mix established depictions and imagery with more innovative techniques. The artist employs razor blades and sable brushes to create desired effects, mimicking coastal grasses and waves.
As her work evolved, Williams began to challenge herself to look beyond physical and literal realities, pulling inspiration from memory and imagination. A recent body of work entitled “Swimming at Night” explores the depths of the ocean, juxtaposing a delicate figure diving below the surface with the weight and expansiveness of open water. Other works depict rocky beaches, blue skies and misty island silhouettes off of the coast of Maine. Many of her pieces introduce unexpected pops of color or overarching shadows, scenes reminiscent of re-encountering a forgotten memory.
While her landscapes may look familiar, William explains that many are the manifestations of her mind and dreams—not literal locations. In this way, the artist encourages viewers to transplant themselves from their own reality and allow the work to act as a guide of sorts.
Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Gerald Peters Gallery in New York City as well as in galleries around Maine, including the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland and Hopkins Wharf Gallery in North Haven. She has worked with art advisors including Kate Bellin and numerous consultants over the years. Williams resides in Camden, Maine, and Mill Valley, California.