Artistic Excellence 2014 | Honorable Mention: Sue Gombus


Sue Gombus, Snow Storm, pastel, 24 x 36.

Sue Gombus, Snow Storm, pastel, 24 x 36.

What inspired your winning entry? Several years ago I was on a photo-
reference trip to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico for the express purpose of photographing the migratory patterns and behaviors of the sandhill crane. While photographing the cranes, I was continually distracted by sounds coming from overhead. When I looked up, I saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of snow geese and Ross’ geese flying overhead in such a mass that the sky literally looked like a winter whiteout, while the sound made from the flapping of so many wings sounded like the wind during a blizzard. It was so amazing, I ended up photographing the geese more than the cranes. Nature decides what I will paint, and she certainly did that trip.

Where did you study art? I have painted with John and Suzie Seerey-Lester, studied wolves with Jan Martin McGuire, and traveled to East Africa with John Banovich.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Be one with the grass.” Because of the detail in my paintings, and because African wildlife is my specialty, I have to paint a lot of grass. Jan Martin McGuire gave me this advice, and as silly as it sounds, it changed my grass. Very Zen.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? A goat farmer with llamas, alpacas, and chickens—lots of chickens.

What are your goals for the future? I have one big one for next year—to participate in the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Western Visions show.

Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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