Five Questions for SUSAN SORRELL HILL

An interview with painter and illustrator Susan Sorrell Hill.
When I was little, the illustrations in certain books gave me so much pleasure I would pore over them for hours, and the characters became almost as real as friends. Did you have books like that? What were they? Which artists have inspired your work?
Head Tossing
There weren’t many picture books around when I was growing up, so my exposure to imagery and stories came from comic books, the Sunday funnies, a dry encyclopedic set of folk tales illustrated with line drawings, and magazine features like National Geographic’s spreads on Egyptian artifacts and the Bayeux Tapestry. I did love libraries though, and I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. It wasn’t until college that I discovered—a revelation!—the world of picture books, where words and pictures are so delightfully intertwined. Much later, because of an interest in Jungian psychology, I began reading folk and fairy tales and understanding that they were much more than simple entertainment. I have stories that I pore over now as an adult, and the majority of artists that I admire are from what has been called the Golden Age of Illustration: Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Beatrix Potter, Aubrey Beardsley and others. There are contemporary illustrators that I am in awe of too, including Lisbeth Zwerger, Gennady Spirin, Angela Barrett, Maurice Sendak and Edward Gorey. On the Fine Art side of influences, I’m drawn to artists who have used line, color and composition masterfully to tell stories on a larger scale, including Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Gustaf Klimt, and Andrew Wyeth. There are so many past and present narrative-inspired artists working in both intimate and large scale…truly a feast for an artist’s soul.

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