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 tumaloartco.com.

McKenzie River art for Clearwater Gallery Wild River Show

Olallie Creek Rushing to the Mckenzie, soft pastel by Susan Luckey Higdon

Clearwater Gallery in Sisters, Oregon will open the second show in their series on Wild Rivers of the Northwest on February 26 and I was asked to contribute some art. Along with a soft pastel painting of Clear Lake, where the magical McKenzie River begins, I just completed a painting of Olallie Creek, a tributary to Oregon’s McKenzie River. I photographed the creek years ago on a day when winter snow run-off had swollen the creek to a raging torrent. The light fell through dense forest highlighting yellow green mosses. I think this soft pastel painting captures the movement of the stream as the crystal clear water races to the McKenzie River.


Soft Pastel of Broken Top from Sparks Lake

I was struggling to decide what to paint and happened on this photo taken in late autumn at Sparks Lake. Broken Top is mirrored flawlessly in the water. The colors are vibrant. It was late afternoon and there wasn’t another soul around. It was that moment before winter when the very air feels like it’s poised on tip toe. I love to paint Broken Top with just this amount of snow….the terracota color of the rock is so different from the other mountains.

soft pastel painting of Broken Top from Sparks Lake

Soft pastel landscape from near Smith Rock State Park

"Soft Morning at Smith Rocks"

I love the juxtaposition of these contented cows in a pasture in front of the majestic rocks formations at Smith Rocks in Terreboone, Oregon. This area is before you get into the park and it’s surrounded by farmland. The mellow light of morning gives the rock a pearly look. This is a medium sized soft pastel painting. See it on the Landscape page.