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Su Warburton brings the ocean to Utah in her oil paintings

Jun 28, 2018 09:42AM ● Published by Holly Vasic

A 16x20 oil on canvas, “Reflections,” 2018, Su Warburton’s latest piece. (Courtesy of Su Warburton)

By Holly Vasic | h.vasic@mycityjournals.com

Su Warburton brings her two homes together by painting oceans in Utah. After living in Hawaii for 14 years, there is a comfort and connection between Hawaii and Utah that she cannot shake. Though art was always around her, Warburton found her expression of oil on canvas later on in her journey.

Warburton has many fond memories of living in Hawaii, going from a newlywed to raising children there. She and her husband had gone on a whim; a friend invited them to come. “We got married in June and at the end of August we moved,” Warburton said.

 They stored their wedding gifts at her grandmother’s and planned on staying for a short time, but fell in love with Hawaii. She taught school there and immersed herself in the culture, even giving her children Hawaiian middle names when they were born. Her daughter Kaira’s middle name is Lani, meaning “heaven” in Hawaiian, her son Cameron’s middle name is Ikaika, meaning “strength,” and her other son Justin’s middle name is Maleuha, meaning “peace.”

They adored the island life and the different aspects of Polynesian culture not found on the mainland. Important events, such as funerals, kept calling her back to Utah and eventually she decided it would be best if she and her family returned.  

Warburton never thought of herself as an artist, but she had created pen-and-ink drawings on cards.

Warburton also played with art in other ways. As a school teacher in Hawaii, she used the game Pictionary to get her students interested in learning other subjects. Art was constantly around her, even from the beginning of her childhood because her father was an artist. “He could pick up a pen or pencil and just draw,” Warburton said. “He could sketch people — nothing formal, it was just kind of a gift that he had.” Technically he was an entrepreneur, but he created logos and many other projects. Warburton’s brother was a jeweler and an artist and her sister is a potter.

Art is around her in other ways as well. When she was previously a case manager at a drug rehabilitation treatment centers, she saw how much the clients loved art therapy.

A 16x18 oil on canvas, “And So It Is,” 2017. (Courtesy of Su Warburton)

 But art finally grabbed hold a few years ago when a friend convinced her to try an oil painting class taught by local artist Susan N. Jarvis.

“It really is a form of meditation for me,” Warburton said. “The only thing you think about when you’re painting, at least for me, is the canvas and your paint brush and what you are painting.” Warburton loves to paint the ocean and all the dimensions, colors, shapes that come with recreating water. The connection she feels with water, meditation, and painting all comes full circle for her and feeds her soul in ways nothing else can.

She also enjoys sharing her passion with her 7- and 11-year-old grandchildren and has created a space in her home to do just that. Yet, sharing and admitting are two different things, and Warburton is still hesitant to respond “yes” when asked if she is indeed an artist, though with time her response is getting quicker and more self-assured. A quote by Leo Tolstoy, which Warburton shared, says, “Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement. Art is an organ of human life.”  


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