Designer Snapshot: Marvelous Murals

November 9, 2011

By Paula Bodah

It probably comes as no surprise that muralist Susan Harter finds inspiration for her pastoral murals from real-life landscapes she comes across. She often paints what she sees in watercolors, which then become studies for her mural designs. Susan, whose work is featured in our September/October issue, talked recently about landscapes she loves and other influences that spark her creativity.

Landscape painting by Susan Harter

Susan Harter: Pastoral, mural panel

“I painted the landscape picture while sitting on my car’s tailgate in a driving rain, looking out to sea at Fort Hill on Cape Cod. I wanted to capture the wonderful subtlety of the soft mist and rain and the freshness of the marsh grass. I had to give up when the rain washed half the painting away, but it gave me my idea. Back in the studio I began experimenting with mural panels that would have the same softness and radiance. Pastoral is one such design.â€

The Cotswolds, England

Susan Harter: Cotswolds, mural panel

“The mural Cotswolds was inspired by a five-hour walk my husband and I took through the Cotswolds one perfect spring day. This sort of English landscape corresponds pretty closely to my mental idea of heaven. Several of my murals were inspired by this trip.â€

Thomas Rowlandson: The Amorous Gardener

Susan Harter: Rowlandson, mural panel

“I keep several volumes of European landscape paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in my studio, and thumb through them when I’m feeling stuck. I always seem to notice something different in them. Most recently it was the delicate, animated pen work of the background trees in this landscape by Thomas Rowlandson, an English artist and caricaturist who lived from 1756 to 1827. As old as this piece is, the freshness of the line work seems distinctly modern.â€

A room by Boston designer Eugene Lawrence; photo by Sam Gray

Susan Harter: No Green in It, mural panel

“The wonderful interiors created by the designers I work with often inspire my work. My mural No Green in It was inspired by Eugene Lawrence. He has an unusual, subtle and painterly color sense, and I always learn something from walking through one of his interiors.â€