Susan Luckey Higdon and Tracy Leagjeld team up for a stunning show at Tumalo Art Co in Bend Oregon’s Old Mill District, featuring their new work of lakes, mountains and streams in Oregon’s high Cascade mountains. Both artists love exploring and sketching or painting in the outdoors are drawn to many of the same places. Their color sense and desire to paint loosely and of their impressions of a scene are similar.
Tracy and Susan had admired each others artwork for some time before finally meeting while hiding in a hallway during an fund-raiser where both of their art was being auctioned. They became friends and were part of an art mentoring group, which eventually led to partnering as owners of Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon. The idea of doing this show together came to them during a camping trip in the Cascade mountains last fall. There weather was wet, but they still went to their favorite places at Sparks and Hosmer and other lakes, and the Deschutes River.
Tracy primarily spends her time doing monotypes on board, but can also be seen painting small plein air studies all over the Northwest, from coast, to gorge to mountains. Many of these small paintings are later made into larger monotypes. Her distinctive style of creating her marks with printmaking rollers keeps her images loose, energetic and colorful.
Susan uses acrylic paints and works on cradled birch board. She paints intuitively in an impressionistic style, painting color on thickly and then wiping it off, building up layers. Using composition as a tool to narrow and refine the view, she focuses on pattern and color, which makes many of her images feel semi-abstracted. “This approach to seeing nature has limitless possibilities,” says Susan.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, Tumalo Art Co. will not host an opening reception for the April, “Shared Vision” show, and is temporarily closed to the public, but the art will be up on the walls at the gallery through April. Art may be purchased using Tumalo Art Co.’s online shopping cart. Contact Susan by email to see the art…it can be arranged by appointment in person, or virtually.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”