Susan Bourdet grew up in western Montana, learning early to love nature. Her luminous watercolors combine realistically detailed birds and animals with soft, impressionistic backgrounds, a technique that has evolved through her twenty years of painting. She discovered watercolor at age twelve, being captivated by a local artist’s demonstration. She majored in art and biology, her two great loves, while at Montana State University. After graduation, she struggled to find a way to combine her two interests, working as an artist for a ceramics company and later as a pharmacy technician. For years, she taught watercolor at a local community college in Oregon, where she moved in 1974.
Susan’s career as a professional artist didn’t really begin until 1980, when she was raising her two children and needed to work at home. Trying to find her place in the art gallery scene, she joined a support group of nature artists and began to show her work in local galleries. In 1989, her paintings were discovered in a Portland gallery by Wild Wings. She now has over sixty limited editions and her work is featured in a yearly songbirds calendar published by Bookmark. She is the author of Painting the Allure of Nature, published by Northlight Books and is working on a second book for that company. Her newest instructional venture is a video entitled Bold and Beautiful, Backyard Wildlife in Watercolor, produced by Creative Catalyst. Her paintings have been featured in shows and exhibitions all over the country, including the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s Birds in Art and the Society of Animal Artists’ Art and the Animal.
Susan lives with her husband Jim and children Rachael and Dan on several acres of wild woodland, which provide settings and subjects for her artwork. She is an avid gardener, so she combines this interest with her art by planting her yard with favorite flowers and creating a pond and waterfall to attract wildlife. She enjoys sharing her unique methods and insights with other artists and nature lovers in watercolor workshops and seminars.
Raised in a family that loved the outdoors, I have always sought wild places, feeling that nature is central to my way of life. No piece of my art has ever seemed complete to me without an element that could fly or dart from the page. I moved with my family to Oregon in 1974, where I discovered watercolor. I specialize in this temperamental medium because I enjoy contrasting soft-edged, luminous background areas with delicately detailed birds and animals. My paintings don’t attempt to duplicate what I see in nature, but rather to capture a fragment of the wildness and beauty we could so easily destroy.