As the Memorial Day holiday approached, Aaron Sutton's grandfather was on his mind.
Sutton's grandfather, Clophas Sutton (1925-2012), was a veteran of World War II, and he died last year.
Wanting to do something to honor his memory, Sutton did what he does best: he picked up his paint brush and began to paint.
His grandfather had been a Navy man and worked on the ship's radios in the South Pacific. Sailing the high seas was different for him, as he had grown up in landlocked
"I thought about the water as something we had in common and decided to paint the ocean as a tribute to him. I believe he would have liked that. Being at the ocean is different for us," said Sutton.
But Sutton did not want this special tribute to be just another painting. He wanted it to stand out in a large way, as a fitting tribute to a special man in his life.
So, he took the work large scale. Using a multiple layering technique and acrylic paints, he finished five large 3-feet by 6-feet paintings of the ocean.
"That is painting a lot bigger than I have in the past," said Sutton.
Sutton said that tackling the task of painting on a larger scale made him rethink the process he has used in the past.
He used a different technique and layered different colors to give the paintings a luminosity of true colors, such as a purple on top of a yellow.
"I mixed blue and white. To get that kind of blue you have to build up lots of layers of colors," the artist explained of his technique. "So, instead of mixing colors to get a desired shade, I got the shade I wanted through layering; using thin, transparent layers. They are complimentaries. They cancel each other out."
In each painting Aaron, who is both red/green and blue/violet colorblind, struggles to discover the emotion of color in the ocean as he sees it in his own eyes and feels it in his soul.
Each layer had to dry prior to applying the next, so, Sutton was happy that recent days have been sunny, which helped the works dry faster.
"I wanted to finish by Memorial Day," he says.
Another thing that is different about this new body of work is the contemporary abstract style.
"It's a lot more expressive than most of the work I have done in the past," he said. "Most of my past work has not been so loose."
Each of the five paintings are different and done in different colors, but one thing they have in common is they all have elements of the ocean.
Sutton finished the project on time and had them at The Blue Giraffe in WaterColor to exhibit in time for Memorial Day. They are still there, and he said the WaterColor Inn has spoken of wanting to take them across the road to adorn their walls. But all would still be available to purchase.
"My grandfather and I were close," said Sutton. "He instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit. After he came out of the Navy, he owned grocery stores and never worked for anyone. I wanted to do these for the artistic challenge of it, to see what I could accomplish, and for him."