Su Knoll Horty, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Su Knoll Horty, Essence 6, oil, 36″ x 40″, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Essence Landscape Perspective in the abstract, Su Knoll Horty, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

“’Just be so good that you cannot be ignored.’ Su Knoll Horty uses this quote from Steve Martin as daily inspiration when working on her paintings. Working primarily with oils, using a palette knife to layer on the color, then scraping or rubbing it off. This creates the transparent layer of color and shaped ‘stains’ Su uses to build her color relationships, focusing on the effects that adjoining colors have on one another.” –  Su Knoll Horty

“After a successful career in sales and marketing, Su Knoll Horty began to paint, pursuing a lifelong ambition. Her love of bold colors and abstraction has been inspired by the work of Nicolas de Staël, Josef Albers, Richard Diebenkorn and David Hockney. In 2012, Su completed the CE Core Curriculum Program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Su’s interest in the purity of color is evident in her bright and bold compositions. Exploring the power of color to elicit emotion, Su sees it as her task to convey the exuberance she feels when working with the pure colors in her painting. In addition to exploring the emotive power of color, Su also is interested in the spatial dimensions, which can develop through the relationship of colors and the visual interest that can be achieved through the combination of organic and geometric shapes. Su is a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club and received two Honorable Mention awards for her entries in the Absolutely Abstract shows, in 2012 and 2013. She has participated in two, two-person exhibitions at Gallery 919 Market in Wilmington Delaware (2009 & 2012) and has had a solo show at Margot & Camille Optique in Philadelphia (2011). Su has also participated in several juried group shows at The Biggs Museum of American Art, Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, Hopkins House Gallery of Contemporary Art, and Cheltenham Center for the Arts, among others. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections, including the Camden County Art Bank in New Jersey. Su is represented by Bluestone Fine Art Gallery in Old City Philadelphia.” –

Su Knoll Horty, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Su Knoll Horty, Essence 4, oil, 40″ x 30″, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

The walls of Bluestone Fine Art Gallery are filled with large abstract landscape paintings, rich with color stained into the canvas. Over and over I heard visitors to the gallery say, “I love it!” Love may be an overused word but the colors and shapes on the canvasses are indeed lovely. In an era when art may be difficult or disconcerting to gain attention, Su Knoll Horty‘s artwork is calm, peaceful and full of grace. The artist explores the picture plane with geometry, color ways and depth of field that is easy on the eyes. The paintings on the lower level of the gallery are similar in style but the paint is thicker and the shapes are more fluid. I had the opportunity to talk with Su at her well attended opening at Bluestone Fine Art Gallery November First Friday and asked her about the difference in styles.

“I switch back and forth, but the three blue ones down below, the Perspectives, I had been working a lot with transparent layers and I didn’t want to limit myself with the transparent paints with tape, etc. That was my chance to use opaque, translucent, transparent, use any paint I wanted. But I still wanted the tonal effect with the blues. It was more of an exploration, you might say. I like clean lines, that’s probably a bit of stretch for me because I like nice, linear things. It really was an experiment.”

I detect a sense of depth perception in your work. Is that something you’re seeking?

“In the beginning I didn’t know that I was but as I started playing around with it more, yes. In my latest works it became more about one point perspective. In a sense the whole show is about perspective. My looking at paintings, getting a different perspective on ‘blue’, which are the ones downstairs and upstairs became more about looking at perspective as in finding the distance. There is one painting that is very static and that is more about the color, I wanted to keep it a very flat surface without any perspective. Because I wanted to convey color more than anything else I kept it purposely flat. Perspective is definitely an interest. I just finished a painting the other day, it looks like the pink one and I really am enjoying that one point perspective. It’s fun to work with.”

Su Knoll Horty, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Su Knoll Horty, Essence 3, oil, 30″ x 40″, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Would you describe your art as abstract?

“Definitely. Usually people will say, ‘Do you paint such and such?’ and I’ll say, ‘Well. If I did, you wouldn’t recognize it.’ So, yes. It’s interesting because you start doing things a certain way for so long and then all of a sudden you want to mix things up a little bit and sometimes it throws you and then you bring yourself back to it and get settled, so to speak.”

I notice that you limit your palette. Is that a conscious decision?

“Usually, yes. I have a tendency to want to explore certain colors, like blues. Now, I have to say, I’m into the pinks. I went from the blues to a lot of yellow and blue, now I’m leaning a little more towards the pinks. I do tend to limit myself, maybe it’s a comfort level, I’m not sure.”

What is the medium you’re using with the oils?

“It’s oils and turpenoid painted in very thin layers. I put the paint on and then I rub it and I basically leave a stain. It’s what I do. It’s a stretch for me to do a value sketch but I have recently started doing it more. I usually only do one, I kind of wing it. When I plan things out…”

At this point we realized a crowd of Su’s friends had formed around us and the interview ended. Visitors to Bluestone Fine Art Gallery repeatedly said, ‘I love it!’

“Established in 2011 by Pam Regan, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery has been operating in the Old City District of Philadelphia on the corner of Second and Quarry streets. The gallery features original works by contemporary and traditional artists in a range of mediums, including painting, ceramics and sculpture. Our artists’ hail from Philadelphia and around the country – many of the city’s most well-known and emerging artists have exhibited their works in group and solo shows. Each month, we host new exhibitions that kick off during Philadelphia’s popular First Fridays that bring hundreds of art lovers into the neighborhood for special events and openings year round.” – Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Essence Landscape Perspective in the abstract, Su Knoll HortyBluestone Fine Art Gallery, 142 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106, 
through November 28th.

Su Knoll Horty artwork is also available on with free shipping.

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewerexcept where noted.

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