Oakcrest commissions artist Sue Braswell for a new painting in Head of School’s office

In its initiative to incorporate the work of local artists to promote an appreciation for the role of wonder and delight in beauty, Oakcrest School commissioned local Virginia painter Sue Braswell to produce a painting of “The Morning Ferry” for the office of the Head of School, Dr. Mary T. Ortiz. The oil painting depicts a ferry taking people to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine in the morning hours. 
The many parents, teachers and students who visit the Head of School’s office will have the opportunity to appreciate this work of art, which exemplifies the school’s person-centered education and its love for the True, the Good and the Beautiful.  

At her studio in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Mrs. Braswell is surrounded by a small town and vast fields — where the atmosphere inspires much of her work. In the Plains, much of Mrs. Braswell’s work is conducted en plein-air, or outdoors. Her portfolio includes still lifes, landscapes, and figures.

When asked about the connection between the painting and Oakcrest, Mrs. Braswell said that as she has come to know Oakcrest, the similarities between Monhegan Island and Oakcrest School have become quite obvious to her. 

“Both are beautiful, inspiring locations and everyone is there to learn from each other, and any competition or critique is to advance and benefit the whole community as the individual,” she said. 

Her favorite element of the painting, Mrs. Braswell added, is the light. 

“Its source is the morning sun rising over the cliffs on the eastern side of the island and rolling down the hill, across the wharf and landing on the boat,” she explains. “The light seems to stop at the boat with all its intensity. It says to those about to get off the boat that it’s a new day of adventure and discovery. To those standing on the wharf about to depart, it’s the last morning they will have on the island for a while, or maybe never, and it’s a moment to reflect and take it all in before they return to their lives elsewhere.”

As part of her artistic environment, Mrs. Braswell said that she often finds herself needing a calm, but energetic, and organized, yet beautiful setting surrounded by inspiring, encouraging peers, something she said she thinks she sees at Oakcrest. 

“I think my philosophy and school’s are quite similar,” Mrs. Braswell continued. “I enjoy the process and hard work of creating. It gives the product more meaning. Then to have someone appreciate that work and possibly learn something from it, or just enjoy it, is incredibly rewarding.”

Oakcrest is home to three additional landscape paintings done by Mrs. Braswell, which are placed in a gallery in the administrative conference room. To see more of Mrs. Braswell’s work, visit her website

In addition to Mrs. Braswell’s art Oakcrest School also features two original paintings by Virginia artist Henry Wingate.  According to Dr. Ortiz, incorporating beauty into its campus furthers the Oakcrest mission of educating the whole person.  “This personal, dynamic, integral education is the education of a trustee of humanity; it shapes a person who can go on to recognize the beauty and depth of each person because she has first been taught to discover this about herself.”
    • Victoria Bigliano, Dr. Mary T. Ortiz, and Sue Braswell pose with the painting, "The Morning Ferry." Oakcrest commissioned Mrs. Braswell to paint the painting for the Head of School's office.

    • "The Morning Ferry" by Sue Braswell

    • Sue Braswell has three other pieces of art in an administrative conference room within the school.

1619 Crowell Road, Vienna, VA 22182