“Stillness”, May 2024 exhibit at Tumalo Art Co.

Susan Luckey Higdon painting plein air and Nancy Becker creating hand-blown glass.


Stillness, is the title of my May 2024 exhibit at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon. Once again glass artist Nancy Becker and I have teamed up to show our work together.

With a similar sensibility for color and a shared awe of what is communicated by nature, we enjoy seeing our work displayed together. Designing the gallery’s exhibit space with 2D and 3D pieces leads to a stunning synchronicity as the artworks ‘speak’ to each other. For both of us, natures hush and deep stillness has inspired this art.

Susan Luckey Higdon and Nancy Becker’s May 2024 exhibit at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, Oregon.

This body of my new work comes out of a summer and fall of exploring mountain lakes, creeks and rivers near my home. Camping allowed me to contemplate spots again and again in different light and weather,leading to deep connection and moments of awe. Sifting through sketches and photos, and deciding which compositions called me the most, I began the process of bringing these moments in time to life in the studio. Color, light, texture, shapes…I am drawn to complex interactions and want to communicate what I see in a way that captures the spirit of the place, showing accurate mood and detail, but working toward simplicity. All of these paintings challenged me. But in pushing through there is a sense of arrival. Like seeing a dear friend.

The exhibit is up through the end of May in Bend’s Old Mill District at Tumalo Art Co.  The artist-run gallery is open seven days a week, from 10am-7pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-6pm on Sundays. It is a beautiful space and the show is well worth seeing in person as a whole. Nancy and I worked together to place the art so that it can tell its story. This in itself is a work of art.

Most of the work in this exhibit is available in the Tumalo Art Co. online store.

November 2022 exhibit with Nancy Becker at Tumalo Art Co.

Hand-blown glass artist Nancy Becker and landscape painter Susan Luckey Higdon combine their similar love of color and shape in Dreaming of Water. The show opens November 4, 2022, from 3-7pm, during Bend Oregon’s Old Mill District First Friday Gallery Walk.

Finding an affinity that resonates for both artists about the mystery and movement of water, Nancy and Susan have joined forces to create art in their respective mediums—2D and 3D—for this November exhibit.

Glass becomes liquid when heated, swirling with color that Nancy shapes with mastery and wizardry into vessels, vases and platters. She is inspired by the natural world that surrounds her, creating colors and shapes that remind her of rivers, lakes, a gust of wind or the shades of autumn reflections.

Two sides of Nancy Becker's "Reflections on Sparks Lake", hand-blown glass.
Two sides of Nancy Becker’s “Reflections on Sparks Lake”, hand-blown glass.

Some of Nancy’s vessels are dense with color and others are transparent with notes of color swirling loosely throughout. The making of glass is challenging all the way through the process. Hand-blowing the glass using the furnace is only the beginning—each piece must be annealed, meaning it needs to cool very slowly so that it doesn’t crack. Only after the annealing is complete are the true colors of the piece revealed. The last step, polishing, must be handled with extreme care.

Painting of Tyee Creek by Susan Luckey Higdon
Susan Luckey Higdon’s painting of Tyee Creek, which feeds Devils Lake in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.

Susan is transfixed with the movement and color of water, capturing it’s layers—the pebbles on the bottom, the creatures in the stream, the continually changing reflections. For the past few years she has been abstracting her work using composition, cropping in closely to find the essence of the scene. Her rendering is impressionistic but representational to capture the sense of place that moved her to paint. The chaos of pattern existing in nature is fascinating to her. Painting it so that it can be experienced is her goal.

Steelhead in Steamboat Creek by Susan Luckey Higdon
Susan Luckey Higdon paints the Steelhead holding in Oregon’s Steamboat Creek.

Both artists have been working in their chosen mediums for over 30 years. They continue to challenge themselves to interpret nature in a way that connects emotionally, intuitively and joyfully with the viewer.

Tumalo Art Co. is an artist-run gallery in the heart of the Old Mill District, open 7 days a week. 541-385-9144; tumaloartco.com.

“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.


Susan Luckey Higdon shares April show at Tumalo Art Co. with Tracy Leagjeld

“Interlude”, is a 24 x 29 acrylic on cradled birch board by Susan Luckey Higdon and is from an area near Sparks Lake in Central Oregon.

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.

“Devils Lake” by Tracy Leagjeld is a 14 x 11, framed monotype on board,

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.

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.