Artist Info

Why I Paint

Water, boats, fish, birds, rocks, mountains…these are the subjects that surround my life and invest my art. Working in acrylic, the joy of color and the intensity of unique perspective and composition form the basis of my paintings.

Susan Luckey Higdon Plein air painting at East Lake as the sun goes down.

Over 30 years ago painting became my creative outlet from a demanding career as an art director and mother of two toddlers. It was clear to me that if I didn’t begin my own path of expression soon, I would never begin. I chose soft pastels as my medium because they were quick to set-up and put away. This choice, based on practicality, proved to be a good creative choice as well. The vibrancy, adaptability, and immediacy found in soft pastels fit perfectly my desire to work quickly and intuitively and to throw color around for the joy of it.

About 15 years later I realized I wanted to paint much larger and do work that didn’t require glass. So I began perfecting my own technique using acrylic paints. Working on cradled board I paint on a heavy layer of tinted paint and then rub-out fiercely. Acrylics dry quickly, even with mediums, so once I start I have to go for it. Continuing this process with color, then rubbing out, scratching and adding other texture with whatever comes to hand, an image appears that is both representational and impressionistic. Rather than “painting on” using a reductive process I achieve a more organic form for grasses, branches and rocks.

My subjects other than landscapes is native fish in their underwater world and birds in their environments. Borderless landscapes. Capturing the quicksilver flash of fish in the water or a heron in takeoff is part of understanding the mystery their world.

A native Oregonian and 40 year resident of Central Oregon, I love the diversity and drama found in the landscape surrounding me. After a full career in the creative field of graphic design, being a working artist is a dream come true. From the years in advertising and publishing I bring a sense of composition and strong design that flavor all of my work. As my work evolves I am pushing composition to abstract images by removing easily recognized boundaries. This is fascinating to me as a scene of a river can be rendered truly, but without the river banks showing it also becomes pure design.

As a grapic designer I developed a love of the printed image, so it was natural to start a card and print line. My Homeland Images card line has been active in Central Oregon since 2000. The 18 x 24″ Another Day in Paradise limited edition print is available as well. Almost all of my work scanned and ready to custom print as limited edition giclée reproduction.

My work has been included in many juried shows, both nationally and locally including the prestigious Pastel 100 by such iconic artist/jurors as Wolf Kahn. McCormick & Schmick Seafood Restaurants used my series of “chic” fish in their restaurants nationwide, beginning with their Manhattan location. My paintings are in private and corporate collections.

As the owner and a working member of Tumalo Art Co, a fine art collective in the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon I get to meet and talk with people who love art. The collective involves some of the most accomplished and exciting artists in our region and together we support and inspire one another.  Tumalo Art Co. was open through all but two months of the COVID pandemic, keeping us all active and vibrant through an otherwise isolating and dark time.

Check out Susan on OPB’s Oregon Art Beat