VAAL’s Sumners has passion for painting

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

LaGrange’s network of artists who regularly show their work in the area reaches into surrounding counties, with groups encouraging artists young and old to exhibit their work and grow.

As a member of the Visual Artist’s Alliance of LaGrange, Mary Sumners is one of these artists.

Sumners graduated from the Lamar School of Art at the University of Georgia in 1981 with a bachelor’s of fine art in drawing and painting. Following graduation, life intervened with children and responsibilities, and she has only recently been able to return to painting. Her art has already been featured in a variety of art shows across the state.

“I live on a farm south of Americus but north of Albany,” Sumners said. “It is in Leesburg, Georgia. I am from Atlanta, but I’ve been married to a farmer and living down here 32 years. So, I’m a city girl moved down to the country.”

Her location in the country has proved to be an ideal location to do what she loves best — create.

“It is a joy to create something that wasn’t there,” Sumners said. “I mean there was nothing, and then there is something, and other people want to look at it. There is just not anything else like that in any other part of my life.”

Over the years, her art has changed partially for practical reasons.

“In college, I would do these huge oil paintings,” Sumners said. “They were like four feet by five feet, and just because of my life now and having to piece together times to do this and that and the other, I am working much smaller. There are wonderful new mediums like there is a water based oil paint now, and so you are not having all the fumes and things that you probably wouldn’t want to be in your living environment. You would want them to be in a studio outside or whatever, but you can just do something on your painting then go into the kitchen and start dinner and then come back.”

In fact, most of her paintings are created in the living space of her home, which she said is a shock to many people.

“My house is mostly glass, and it is out in the woods, and it is just full of light,” Sumners said. “I’ll say, ‘well, no we sort of live in my studio.’ It is our house, but it is a studio first. We live around in it. I really don’t need a studio. I have the most wonderful environment in which to paint.”

Her abstract paintings are inspired by emotions, shapes and actions, and the titles of her works generally reflect that.

“I think like thinking, diving — to me because they are abstract, that just lends to feelings of action,” Sumners said.

For Sumners, the artistic community has proven to be invaluable to her work.

“I have found through different artist collectives — here, in Thomasville, Shellman — a great, supportive environment that just encourages exhibitions and social interaction with other artists,” Sumners said. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the breadth (of) ability to connect with people who are artists.”

She has also found encouragement in the feedback that she receives on her work on Facebook.