Northern Pocahontas County Artist Brings Local Churches To Life Through Her Paintings

Green Bank, WV – The Bible tells us to use our gifts and talents to share, help and uplift our fellow man. Northern Pocahontas County artist Dorothy Sutton lives those words every day, in her work with the American Red Cross, and in sharing her beautiful singing voice, much in demand by local churches. Now she’s adding another talent to her ministry – painting lifelike watercolor paintings of local churches.

Sutton has painted four churches – Arbovale United Methodist, Baxter Presbyterian, Boyer Community Church and Liberty Presbyterian. The paintings are all on display at the Green Bank Artisans Co-op. A reception was held earlier this week at the gallery to show off the paintings and hear a little bit about the history of each church. Sutton explains how she got started doing watercolors.

“Well I started taking classes last fall from Kay Gillespie, so it’s been a little over a year that I’ve really gotten into it,” she says. “Every once in a while I take some workshops, and when I was in college I minored in art. I probably took one watercolor class and one oil painting class; you know you got to paint a few pictures.”

“Once I got out of school and was a teacher and had children of my own, I just didn’t have time to continue it. So when I retired I got to get back into it again and I love it.”

She says watercolors have a certain unpredictability about them that appeals to her.

“You start painting and you never know exactly how it’s going to turn out, and you look at it and you think oh wow, look how the water moved the paint and what can I do with it now and it’s just kind of full of surprises sometimes for you,” she says. “I also like how you can still when you let the paper dry you can put in lots of detail and I like painting with detail as well as being real loose and impressionistic, so it suits both the styles that I have.”

And you certainly see that attention to detail in her work, whether it’s the Boyer church wreathed in autumnal splendor, or Liberty caught in sun-dappled shadows. She explains how she goes about producing her very meticulous and accurate paintings.

“I take a photograph and then I just start looking at the angles; and I use rulers sometimes I mean,” says Sutton. “I want my church to look so much like it so people will recognize it, that I really take time to put a lot of detail and trying to get the measurements just exactly right.”

The minimum bid for the framed and matted pictures is $50.00 each. An ongoing silent auction for the paintings will run through December 16th.

“That’s the night of our open house here at the Co-op, and I thought that would be a good night to end it so people can bid, they can come in here, they can call the phone number [304] 456-9900,” she says. “Tell them what their bid is, or they could email me at and I’ll come down to the co-op and put their bid in.”

She says all the proceeds from the auction will go directly back to the four churches. When asked if this is the beginning of a series, Sutton says she’s not sure yet.

“Oh I don’t know,” she says laughing. “I have thousands and thousands of pictures on my computer that’s begging me to paint them. I went to Ireland and I’ve got lots of pictures from over there, and there’s so many things I want to paint right in Pocahontas County because I love the county I was born and raised in and there are just so many beautiful things around here.”

Sutton says she’s just grateful to have a talent that enables her to serve God and her fellow man at the same time.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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