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New York-born artist celebrates desert surrounding Henderson

They say every picture is worth a thousand words.

For artist Eileen Raucher-Sutton, her job is to share these words through paintings.

“I try to capture the energy of nature because I believe we’re all one,” Raucher-Sutton said. “Each painting has a story because it’s what inspired me visually, and it’s what I want to capture and share with the viewer.”

The Henderson artist is set to display about 15 paintings through Sept. 30 at the Sun City MacDonald Ranch Community Center, 2020 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway.

After approaching art organizer Elizabeth Brown, Raucher-Sutton was selected by the community’s art committee for a three-month display.

“We’re pretty excited because she’s one of our more professional artists,” Brown said. “She has beautiful paintings, and she’s quite a professional gal.”

Born and raised in New York, Raucher-Sutton, 71, attended City University of New York for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art and teaching certificate.

“I was born in a time when a woman’s goal was to get married and have children,” Raucher-Sutton said. “I really had to fight my parents to let me go to a university to do art. And the teaching degree, that was because my mother thought I would starve to death as an artist.”

Raucher-Sutton began showing her work in galleries and exhibits in New York City in 1970. She also worked as an art specialist in special service schools for underprivileged children.

“We did all kinds of stuff,” she said. “We painted boarded-up buildings. We built stage sets. I had a clay and a photography program. They learned all sorts of stuff through art.”

In 1976, Raucher-Sutton opened an art school and taught individuals such as Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator Brian Selznick how to paint and draw.

“I teach people how to see and find their creative core,” Raucher-Sutton said. “I love to teach and inspire other artists.”

At 42, Raucher-Sutton had a spiritual calling to paint in the Rocky Mountains. She moved west to Edmonton, Alberta, strapped on a backpack and started hiking.

“I knew I had to do it,” Raucher-Sutton said. “I would go on 15-day wilderness trips and just live out of my backpack while I painted.”

Raucher-Sutton was selected by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society to join 21 other artists in the “Endangered Spaces” project, which focused on bringing awareness to places endangered by commercial building.

After the project, Raucher-Sutton traveled and painted on her own, completing about 250 miles each summer.

“I would go on at least six hikes during the summer,” she said. “Very commonly, I would come home, do the laundry, unpack and repack.”

To paint on location, Raucher-Sutton sometimes uses a combination of smaller paintings and photographs in order to create larger paintings in the studio.

“I never paint from a photo, but I use it to give me details,” she said. “Then I use my smaller sketches to give me inspiration of what I originally wanted to capture.”

After 28 years in Canada, Raucher-Sutton felt drawn to the desert and moved to Henderson in October.

“I ran my own art school in Canada and lived in a 4,000-square-foot house on 3½ acres by myself,” she said. “In 2007, I got sick with cancer, so I wanted to make my life a little easier.”

Although Raucher-Sutton has no intentions of running an art school in Henderson, she plans to continue to paint on location around the valley at least once a week.

“My plans are to keep doing what I do best,” she said. “I love the desert. I love the shapes, the lines, the shadows, the light and the pristine emptiness. It’s incredibly beautiful and spiritual.”

For more information, visit eileenrauchersutton.com.

Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.

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