Laura Dean Bennett
A prolific photographer, potter, painter, jewelry maker and seamstress, Liz Sutton, the artist, has more than enough to keep her occupied.
She and her husband, since they moved back to Pocahontas County, have been establishing their small family farm and growing their family.
Sutton is a wife and a mother to three little boys – ages seven and a half months, three and five years old.
That alone would be enough to keep anyone busy.
You might think that with all that on her plate, her art might have had to take a back seat.
But Sutton says that her busy family and farm life out here on the back roads of Pocahontas County is what inspires her to create.
The young wife, mother and artist who was born in Oklahoma, said she grew up learning how to draw, paint, create pottery and make jewelry.
“I guess you could say that I really did inherit my interest in art,” Sutton said. “My parents were both artists.
“My dad taught art at a college and at a community art center, and Mom is a painter and graphic designer.
“I spent a lot of time helping my dad while he was teaching art classes. I was always watching and learning. So being creative is just second nature to me.”
Sutton took photography classes at the University of Kentucky. She graduated with a degree in education, with a double major in psychology and secondary English education.
She and her husband, Pocahontas County native Chris Sutton, a math teacher at Pocahontas County High School, live on their family farm, named Sutton Farm, on Buffalo Mountain, near Arbovale.
They were married in 2008 and came “back home” to build a house and make a life on the Sutton family property with Chris’s mom, Dorothy Sutton.
The couple enjoys gardening and growing as much of their own food as they can. They sold vegetables at their farm stand last summer and hope to do it again in the coming year.
“We have a small herb garden, which I want to expand to a bigger garden because I use the herbs in cooking, to make medicines for my family, and I use them in some of my bath and beauty products,” Sutton said.
“We had about a hundred chickens at one point, until we lost most of them to predators. But we don’t give up. We just keep figuring our way around the farming problems.”
The Sutton family shares the farm with an elderly mare named Frosty, who keeps the yard mowed, several cats and two dogs – one, a Great Pyrenees, who is infamous for his walkabouts.
“One time he ended up all the way down in Green Bank, actually in the pet food aisle of the Dollar Store,” Sutton reports ruefully. “Thank goodness for understanding neighbors who have a good sense of humor!
“Nature is so much a part of my family’s life. I just love living out here in the mountains where the air and water are clean. We love animals and we really enjoy being outdoors.
“Chris and I are really blessed to be bringing up our boys here where every day offers us a new outdoor adventure.
“The whole family likes to hike, so if we aren’t gardening or doing farm chores, or traveling to Kentucky to visit my mom, we’re out there hiking. I have been hiking with some of the high school teachers, and I’m also doing yoga up at the observatory.
But, after her family, Sutton’s first love is her art. Juggling all of her interests and keeping three children and her home organized is a challenge.
Sutton tries to keep her artwork confined to one room in her house.
“I usually work on my art in our guest room, where I keep my craft, art and sewing supplies and my creations in process,” she said.
“Sometimes it gets interesting because the boys like to help me when I’m working on something. But I found that they like to work on their own creations when I’m working on mine, so that has been a pretty good solution for us. I love making pottery and drawing and am looking forward to the time when I’ll be able to focus a little more time on those things.
“And I really enjoy photography, too. I like to photograph nature and I really love old barns. Right now, of course, about ninety-five percent of what’s in my camera are pictures of my boys. They are irresistible subjects.”
But, as any mom knows, the boys take a lot of energy and attention.
Fortunately, she has a lot of help.
“Honestly, I couldn’t do what I do with my artwork and the bookkeeping if I didn’t have such a supportive husband,” she continued.
“My husband, Chris, is just great to help out with the boys when I’m into something and just need a little time to focus.
“Being a high school math teacher and keeping our farm going keeps him pretty busy, but when he’s home and he can, he always pitches in.
“I couldn’t do it all without him!”
Sutton displays her photography, including framed pieces, magnets, cards and slates and a variety of crafts at the Green Bank Gallery and at This That and The Other in Boyer.
She makes jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, hair pins, metal purse charms and bookmarks.
Sutton also sells her Sutton Farm bath and beauty products, including soaps, salves, scrubs, baby powder, body butter, lip balm, bath fizzies and hot/cold rice packs.
She sews beautiful baby gifts including blankets, bibs, burp clothes and teething toys. She also sews scarves and other fabric accessories.