Sue Steele Thomas
Sue works in gouache on watercolor board.
Sue explains: “My paintings are built on my intrigue with reflections of natural shapes such as clouds, flowers and trees, really anything that grows or that is found in nature. The focus of each painting is the automobile. The shapes that reflect upon the metal body and chrome create a complexity of movement and energy; this helps me to find solutions to each composition.”
During her early career as an automotive illustrator, Sue was working mostly in black and white producing technically accurate renderings of cars that were published in Road & Track magazine over a period of 16+ years. Later she provided the magazine with full color images such as this McLaren racer rendered in gouache on watercolor board. This painting is one of her last hyper realistic works prior to her introduction of natural vegetation or clouds or other non-automotive subject matter in her work.
This new imagery was first introduced in a gouache painting, Car-Art, The image reflected tropical plants and flowers onto her personal BMW Z3 Roadster. Public reaction was tremendous because it separated her work from those auto art painters who were mostly just painting “portraits” of the automobile either at rest or at speed. This new and vibrant work went beyond a mere veristic rendering of the vehicle and added a dimension heretofore unknown in this genre of art. In other words, women adored it for being aesthetically pleasing and men loved it because it was historically and mechanically accurate.
Biography - Sue Steele Thomas • STEELE THOMAS STUDIOS
Associate Member, Automotive Fine Art Society
Member, National Association of Women Artists, NYC
Sue is a Professor of Art at Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, Virginia
Sue received her M.F.A. degree in studio art from Radford University and holds a B.A. degree in art from SUNY, Fredonia. Sue has been painting automobiles for over thirty years and has participated in and won awards in many Concours d’Elegance Automotive Art shows across the country. Her paintings have been exhibited in numerous juried, invitational and illustration exhibits. She contributed spot illustrations to Road & Track magazine from1990 to 2006. Sue has been a free-lance illustrator/painter since graduating from college in 1981.
• WDBJ-TV Channel 7, Roanoke, VA, Featured story, Sue Steele Thomas: Local Artist’s Auto Art seen Worldwide, by Anchor/Reporter, Jean Jadhon, January 16, 2012, 6 PM news.
• One Woman Exhibit, Chuck Mathena Center, Princeton, West Virginia, Rotunda Art Gallery, November 2011-January 2012. Thirty-one works exhibited.
• Pump Artist, AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) “Pumps on Parade” selected as one of six automotive artists from the United States invited to paint an image of their artwork directly on a three-dimensional gas pump. Award: artist name on an 8” X 8” brick at the entrance of museum for their contribution to the “Night at the Museum Gala & Auction”, October 2010
• Poster Artist, CCCA (Classic Car Club of America) Concours at Hickory Corners, MI, June 2010, designed and painted a 36” X 24” original gouache painting used for the poster, program cover and tickets for the event. Maple Leaves Upon the Classics was purchased by a patron and donated to the CCCA Museum’s permanent collection.
• Featured Artist, designed and painted the original painting for the Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, Cincinnati, OH, June 2010, featured in Cincinnati Magazine
• Guest Artist: (AFAS) Automotive Fine Arts Society, Amelia Island, FL, March 2009 and at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, 2013 • Elected to Membership in AFAS
• Award: Chairman’s Award at the CCCA (Classic Car Club of America) Hickory Corners, MI Automotive Art Show, June 2009
• Award: Distinguished Award for Turning Through the Clouds gouache painting at Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, Cincinnati, OH, June 2009
• Award: Best Essence of Design for Jag in the Clouds gouache painting, Canton, OH, 2009
• Featured: ASCOMAXX, premier automotive magazine in Indonesia, 8 pages, Eleven images of paintings published, September 2009
• Featured: Octane Magazine, UK, 2 pages, 7 paintings published, August 2009
• Featured: AQ Automobile Quarterly, 12 pages, cover, 15 images of paintings published, August 2009
• Award: 2nd Place Award for Car-Art, Will Sherman Automotive Art Show, Ault Park Concours d'Elegance, Cincinnati, June 2008
• Award: Best Vision of Design for Jag in the Clouds gouache painting at Louisville (Church Hill Downs) Concours d’ Elegance Automotive Art Show, 2008
• The lIIustrators Club of Washington, Maryland and Virginia, Fourteenth Juried Exhibition, Award: Certificate of Merit in Editorial Category for Turning Through the Clouds
PhD, The University of Texas at Austin
MA, Highlands University, New Mexico
BFA, The University of Texas at Austin
JURIED EXHIBITIONS • EXCERPTED FROM ABOUT 300 EXHIBITS
Seybold, 1997, New York, NY • Macworld, 1997, San Francisco, CA
Macworld, 1996, Boston, MA • Siggraph, l996, New Orleans, LA
Fractal Design Art Expo, 1994, 1995, 1996, Aptos, CA
Venice Biennial, Swiss Pavilion, Italy
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico, D.F.
National Exhibition Centre, Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, Canada
9th Annual Texas Watercolor Society Exhibition, San Antonio, TX, AWARD
Arizona National Painting Competition, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, AZ
Northwest Watercolor Society, 32nd & 33rd Annual, Seattle, WA
Beaumont Art Museum Annual, Beaumont, TX
Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, MN
Library of Congress, 19th National Print Exhibition, Washington, DC
Tucson Festival Art Exhibition, Tucson, AZ
Witte Memorial Museum, 29th Annual, San Antonio, TX, AWARD
Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, TX
Butler Institute of American Art, Mid-Year Exhibition, Youngstown, OH
Sun Carnival Exhibition, EI Paso Art Association, EI Paso, TX
Everson Museum of Art, NY
Tri-State Painting & Sculpture Exhibition, Amarillo, TX
Laguna Gloria Art Museum, TFAA Annual, Austin, TX, AWARD
River Art Association Annual, San Antonio, TX, AWARD
Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Annual, Houston, TX
West Texas Museum, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Dallas Museum of Art, 21st Texas Annual, Dallas, TX FIRST PRIZE FOR PAINTING, PURCHASE AWARD Witte Memorial Museum, 30th Annual, San Antonio, TX
Sun Carnival Exhibition, 5th Annual, EI Paso, TX
Witte Memorial Museum, 31st Annual, San Antonio, TX, PURCHASE AWARD
PERMANENT COLLECTIONS • SELECTED
Dallas Museum of Art
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Oakland Museum of Art
Simon Fraser University Museum, BC, Canada
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian, DC
Smith College Art Museum, MA