“Water Over Stone” opens April 2021 at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon

Umpqua River
“Hot & Cold/Umpqua Summer Afternoon, 24 x 24, acrylic on cradled birch board.

One year after my last show at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon, I am opening another exhibit there with paintings of the water I looked deeply into during a summer visiting rivers and lakes in Oregon. Last year Tumalo Art Co. was actually closed during April and May, but I had my show on the walls anyway. So this year, having survived one of the most difficult years our country has ever experienced, it is a positive milestone to mount a show again in April with a grouping of paintings that represent breaking through to new territory in my work.

These paintings have taken me further along the path of depicting the patterns water over stone. Water—as it flows over rocks of varied colors and sizes. The reflections shimmering on the surface. I am mesmerized by the both the design complexity and simplicity of these waters. The yin and yang. The song. The dance. Above and below. Creating abstraction through composition, slightly losing context, is challenging and thrilling to me. To render the scene my marks remain impressionistic but fairly representational.

Several of the places I visited in the summer and fall of 2020 were visited by catastrophic wildfire, all in one weekend in September. As a life-long Oregonian these watersheds are dear to me, so having been able to be at these places just weeks before is even more precious. The upper South Santiam river, which I have now painted many times, was spared, while the North Santiam watershed bore huge losses. The geology of the area, giving the creek and river beds a mosaic of multi-colored stones is marvelous to me. We discovered Soda Creek on a warm July day. A hidden gem down a logging road. The gentle undulations of water-grooved peach-colored sandstone with water turning the color of celadon as it flowed over took my breath away.

It took me awhile to figure out how to approach painting these places. Finally I came up with the compositions I wanted to bring to life— from the South Santiam, Umpqua River, Odell Lake, and another crystalline stream, Jamison Creek in the Sierras.

“Water Over Stone” opens April 2 from 4-7pm at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend Oregon’s Old Mill District with a Covid-safe reception and continues through the month.


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Susan Luckey Higdon

Susan Luckey Higdon makes fine art in Central Oregon that reflects the natural beauty all around her. She paints landscapes, native fish in their underwater habitats and bird life. Painting large whenever possible her work is semi-abstracted using composition, loosely impressionistic and colorful.