“Winter Snow, Jacksonville,' an oil painting by Sue Bennett

Steve and Sue Bennett

After 37 years of marriage, Steve and Sue Bennett continue to paint side by side for the sake of pleasure and profession. The two artists moved to Jacksonville from Bend in 1995 and set up a studio and gallery at their home, 240 S. Oregon St.

Sue first started working in oils about 35 years ago before settling into watercolor. As she and her husband made yearly European pilgrimages to paint, she found watercolors to be much more travel-friendly, and she appreciates the medium's immediacy and "sparkliness." In the past three years, she also has taken a renewed interest in oils.

Along with teaching workshops, Sue taught watercolor and drawing classes through Bend Community College's Community Learning program for 12 years.

About 22 years ago, Sue was pining to take a printmaking and woodcutting class through the college, but the class was short one person. Steve, either voluntarily or involuntarily, signed up. The class marked the beginning of his painting pursuits.

A retired dentist, Steve prefers more tactile pastels. Although pastels tend to be messy, Steve is seduced by the medium's unadulterated pigments and brilliant colors.

"I like color," he says. "Sometimes, I even have to tone it down."

For some of his works, he applies watercolor loosely underneath the pastels to set the framework for the piece and to create texture.

While both Sue and Steve demonstrate similar styles and capture similar content in their work, they each approach the process differently.

"I put puzzle pieces together on paper," explains Sue. "I'm more of a shape painter, so I work all over the rectangle of paper ... Whereas he (Steve) would generally be sweeping across the page. His strokes are bolder."

For the past 20 years, the couple has made annual trips to Europe where they meet with other groups of artists and explore the area's timeless landscapes: villages, old mills, rivers, paths and — their personal favorite — France.

"I love to be in the little countryside villages and get the flavor of them with cobblestone streets and the architecture," says Sue.

"Every time I go, I fill a book with small paintings. We also paint larger paintings while we're there too."

Steve looks for landscapes with water. Enamored with water's musical notes, rhythms, motion and reflections, he strives to capture those elements in his work.

Locally, the pair enjoy painting at Lithia Park, nearby waterways, the Jacksonville woodlands and Louise Hueners' old pioneer ranch just outside Jacksonville.

Steve's work is currently displayed at Art & Soul Gallery in Ashland. Sue's work is on display at Freed Gallery in Lincoln City. To see additional works by either artist, call 541-899-1179 to make an appointment to visit their Jacksonville studio.

For more information, see www.artsbennett.com.

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