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.


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.


Artist Residency at Clearwater Gallery Studio

The studio in the courtyard at Clearwater Gallery in Sisters, Oregon
The studio in the courtyard at Clearwater Gallery in Sisters, Oregon

I just completed a weeks artist residency in the lovely and peaceful courtyard area of Clearwater Gallery and the Open Door restaurant in Sisters, Oregon. The cozy studios in the courtyard were built by artist/owner Dan Rickards with a vision of bringing artists from all over to enjoy painting where they vacation—in Sisters!

Painting in the studio at Clearwater Gallery in Sisters
Painting in the studio at Clearwater Gallery in Sisters

For me, going to Sisters is only a short drive, since I live in Bend, but it was still a break from my normal busy life. I found that working in the studio, surrounded by lovely flowers, hummingbirds and the gentle background hum of people enjoying their meals, was quite relaxing and helped me focus on ideas in a different way. It was the perfect respite for me and I even got a few small paintings completed!

2015 RiverFeast Art for Deschutes River Conservancy Completed

Metolius Meadow w/ Three-Fingered Jack, and original painting by Susan Luckey Higdon
Metolius Meadow w/ Three-Fingered Jack, and original painting by Susan Luckey Higdon

The Deschutes River Conservancy is having it’s 2015 RiverFeast event at House on the Metolius, on Oregon’s wild and beautiful Metolius River, August 8. I was asked again this year to create the signature art for the event and am very pleased to do so!

The area where the House on the Metolius is, on the spring-fed, fly fishing only, Metolius River in Central Oregon, is where the river widens out into a beautiful meadow, after flowing through a narrow gorge. It is a peaceful place. The last time I painted from here I showed the river with Mt. Jefferson in the background. This time, I am facing the other way and Three-fingered Jack shines in the background. Looking down from the hill above, the meadow with it’s golden grasses and willows, forms an arc above the river, which is a gorgeous shade of blue in the afternoon sun.

This painting is 24 x 30, acrylic on cradled birch board. When it sells I will donate 50% of the purchase price to the Deschutes River Conservancy who is doing great work  with their mission—to enhance waterflow in the Deschutes River watershed. We need it now more than ever!

The painting, Metolius Meadow w/ Three-fingered Jack, will be in my June show at Tumalo Art Co. in the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon, which opens Friday June 5, from 4-8pm