New Work Blog

2018 Winter Art for Bend’s Old Mill District

“Old Mill District Waxwings”, is painted with acrylic on canvas and is by Susan Luckey Higdon

Almost a year ago the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon asked me to create the art for their annual Winter branding. It was a huge honor to be asked and I knew that the art would be used from mid-November through the winter in all of their marketing efforts. So, the pressure was on to come up with something different than had been done before, and that could be both very small for the Christmas ornament they send to 1,000 friends and very large for billboards and banners lining Bond Street which winds around the Old Mill District.

The 2018 Winter Art by Susan Luckey Higdon on banners in Bend Oregon’s Old Mill District.

Through the winter and spring I researched and solidified ideas. I wanted the image to fulfill all of their needs but also be true to my artistic style, which is strong, somewhat compressed composition and bold colors. So, rather than showing a panoramic of the area I focused in on the iconic smokestacks from the vantage point of below a tree. And, because there is lots of wildlife in the urbanized area right by the river, I wanted to show a bird or animal. Initially I considered a Red-Winged Black Bird because of its bold color, but had also seen the Waxwings noisily filling up trees in the winter. Slowly some ideas came together and in early June a design was chosen. I was painting the bright blue of winter sky with fresh snow and Waxwings in a Hawthorne tree, in at the height of summer. Anyone who has produced seasonal artwork or advertising knows this drill.

Now the art is being used in all of its formats and I get to see it as I drive to Tumalo Art Co., my art gallery in the Old Mill District daily! Pretty cool.

The original art is hanging at Tumalo Art Co. through December and will then join the Old Mill Districts growing art collection.


2018 Deschutes River Conservancy RiverFeast Signature Art

“Magic on the Upper Deschutes” is a 60 x 30 Acrylic on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon    


My May 2018 show at Tumalo Art Co. features the signature art for Deschutes River Conservancy’s 2018 RiverFeast event, “Magic on the Upper Deschutes”, along with other new works of the Deschutes River. The original acrylic painting is 60” x 30”, and I am donating 25% of the proceeds from its sale to the Deschutes River Conservancy. The show will open May 4, from 4-8pm and be up all month.

I have had the honor of creating the signature art for RiverFeast for 11 years and finds the Deschutes river an endless source of imagery that I am drawn to paint. Over the years I have painted many landscapes of iconic Central Oregon scenes, particularly water. I’m drawn to unusual and dramatic composition and my new works often focus in on the patterns and colors of larger scenes.

The scene that inspired “Magic on the Upper Deschutes” is an area where the upper Deschutes River plays hide and seek along Century Drive in the high Cascade Mountains, as it begins its long journey from its headwaters to the Columbia River. I’ve painted the area where the Deschutes River flows out of Little Lava Lake extensively, including the Kokanee that spawn just downstream. I find this area to be a spot of incredible calm and peace. “Deep Calls to Deep” is also a new painting in my May show at Tumalo Art Co. and is from an area just in from where the Deschutes River starts. In the autumn, when the grasses have turned amber, it is so quiet and contemplative. Fallen, twisted roots of huge pine trees add tremendous detail and texture to the river banks.

Also newly painted for the show is “Roaring River”. This large (48 x 24) painting is of the area just up from Tumalo State Park, where the Deschutes River flows through a canyon. The winter waters are crystal blue and raging.

I am a working member of Tumalo Art Co., an artist-run gallery in the heart of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon, open seven days a week. My work can always be seen in this jewel of a gallery.


10th Year of creating signature art for Deschutes River Conservancy

In the middle of one of the hardest winter’s in recent history in Oregon’s high desert, it was good to have a motivating reason to paint—the signature art for the 2017 Annual Deschutes River Conservancy’s RiverFeast event. And, I realized that it’s the 10th year in a row that I have had the privilege of DRC using my art as the signature artwork for the event.

“The Source”, an acrylic on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon, is the signature art for the Deschutes River Conservancy’s 2017 RiverFeast.

The Source is painted from the headwaters of the Deschutes River, which flows out of Little Lava Lake in the high Cascades. Little Lava Lake is fed by underground springs as well as run-off from the mountains. I love to visit this spot in the autumn, and in October of 2016, there was sufficient water. The year before the water had been very low, so it was wonderful to see it clear and flowing peacefully through snags and waving golden grass and over smooth stones. As the Deschutes River begins it’s long journey to the Columbia River, it barely resembles the wide river we see at it’s mouth.

This paintings is a 30″ x 40″ acrylic on cradled birch board. It captures the feeling I have when I visit this place where a river is born. Attendees of RiverFeast will be bidding on the work and it will be sold May 6, 2017. But, before that I will showing the painting during the May 5, First Friday Gallery Walk at my gallery, Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon. Please stop by and see it.

During the 10 years that I have been working with DRC on the RiverFeast art I have visited many beautiful places where the event was going to be held to paint that specific view. There have been a few years where archived images of mine were used because it fit their theme. And in the last couple of years I have both painted from an aerial photo of the Deschutes River taken by Marisa Hossick, and also from my own photos. So, it’s been a process, and always a joy to give back to the river that brings so much life to all of us.

Please plan on supporting the Deschutes River by attending RiverFeast on May 6, 2017!

Susan Luckey Higdon opens show at Tumalo Art Co. October 7


"September Spawn", acrylic on cradled birch board. Spawning kokanee in Oregon's Deschutes River.
“September Spawn”, acrylic on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon. Spawning kokanee in Oregon’s Deschutes River.
"Morning Song", acrylic on cradled birchboard by Susan Luckey Higdon. A Yellow Breasted Black Bird sings it's distinctive song among the waterlilly's at Hosmer Lake in Oregon's High Cascades
“Morning Song”, acrylic on cradled birchboard by Susan Luckey Higdon. A Yellow Breasted Black Bird sings it’s distinctive song among the waterlilly’s at Hosmer Lake in Oregon’s High Cascades

Susan Luckey Higdon is fascinated by swirling layers of water, reflections, the fish that live below the surface and the birds that wade and fly above, and the stones and fallen leaves and needles along the bottom. She explores this theme in her October show of new works at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon, opening October 7, from 4-8pm during the First Friday Gallery walk.

Using acrylic on cradled birch board, Susan’s paintings capture the complex interactions of color and pattern in what she describes as natural abstractions. “My actual rendering style is impressionistic and fairly representational. But I like to abstract the image using composition. By framing the scene in an unusual way the viewer becomes caught up in color and pattern.”

Susan was recently featured in the spring 2015 issue of Italian fly fishing magazine H2O and Bend Magazines 2016 spring issue. She is the signature artist for the Deschutes River Conservancy’s annual RiverFeast event. This year two of her paintings were accepted into High Desert Museum’s Art of the West annual exhibition and auction of exemplary Western art. Tumalo Art Co. is an artist-run gallery in the heart of the Old Mill District. 541-385-9144 or

Susan Luckey Higdon creates signature art for RiverFeast

"Deschutes Serpentine", an acrylic painting on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon
“Deschutes Serpentine”, an acrylic painting on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon

I have just completed the signature artwork for the 2016 Deschutes River Conservancy annual RiverFeast Dinner & Auction to be held July 30, 2016. The idea for the image came from a photo taken by Marisa Hossick at Deschutes River Conservancy, of the middle Deschutes River in Central Oregon, looking south from a helicopter. The image shows the serpentine twists of the river as it makes its journey north to the Columbia River.

Painting in acrylic on cradled birch board, I started by working in the color and then rubbing it out creating a stain that becomes the under painting for the composition. This process goes on as the detail is layered in, creating depth and subtlety. The grain of the birch board is so wonderful that I like to use it as part of the overall effect.

Enjoy supporting the river and join Deschutes River Conservancy for a delightful evening of irresistible food, spirits and music. This year, they are combining the best of their two fundraising events, Tight Lines and RiverFeast into one great evening. Bid on this custom art, exclusive adventures and experiences, and other wonderful packages.

I am honored to be the ongoing signature artist for RiverFeast, and event that supports the work of the Deschutes River Conservancy, who bring together the people that use the river, creating solutions for the health of the Deschutes River.