Susette Billedeaux Gertsch M.F.A. - Plein air and Studio Artist - Midway, Utah, USA.
Bachelors and teaching certificate - University of California, Humboldt
M.F.A - Master of Fine Art - Drawing and Painting - Brigham Young University
Co-founder and past president of the Midway Art Association, Midway, Utah
My outdoor painting adventures started long before I ever heard the term "Plein air". It was in the 60's when our family, moved to Williamstown Australia. My spouse and I taught school and enjoyed two remarkable road trip adventures while traversing the outback with our 18 month-old son. We loved the Aussie people and their exotic, diverse country. A few memorable stops on those trips gave me opportunities to capture scenes in the great 'down under' and I think that's when my gypsy spirit really began to emerge.
Fast forward to 2009 and again in 2011, I traveled to Europe planning to paint on location and to visit as many museums as possible. On each trip I carried my (nearly indestructible) Soltek easel and a bundle of pre-gessoed pieces of canvas. My favorite painting locations were in the rural countryside or even better, the historic open-air museums where costumed hosts tended animals, authentic cottages, barns and old time business.
During the 2009 travels, I had the pleasure of meeting and painting with Jon Hall who encouraged me to create a demanding personal contract with myself. This turned out to be a life changing committment when I returned home. It was like creating a personalized masters degree program that demanded everything of me for a full year. The first weeks were frustrating because, surprisingly, I did not really recognize my true voice as a painter. But eventually I discovered the Limness, my inner muse. And with her help (I'm talking about intuitive, spontaneity here) I painted 300 Plein air paintings, or "sketches", in acrylic and oil. These were primarily done on my home turf in Utah, but I also painted wherever I traveled and that included wonderful road trips through Arizona, California, Idaho, and Montana.
Part of the Limness contract required that I carefully journal and document the year's adventures and post them on the Internet. And since people would often approach me while painting, I would invite them to take my brush and paint a little. I would snap a photo of them at the easel and later post on the day's blog. It was great fun. You can read about my wonderful 'shiners' on Limness Contract blog. The written responses to this journey through the blog, created even more motivation to paint. The momentum carried me through all extremes of weather and misadventures, some of which were pretty hilarious.
The Limness project was indeed life changing, humbling, and enlightening. It has opened doors to gallery shows, museum exhibits, Plein air competitions, and overall, produced some very gratifying results. The "Best of Show" in Escalante, Utah Plein air Painting competition, and the 2012 "Invited Artist" award at the Springville Museum of Fine Art, and the Oil Painters of America juried event in Denver are a few of them.
I should mention that besides Plein air competitions and my year with the Limness Contract, I have always painted figural and still life subjects, as well as larger 'museum' paintings in the studio. I have come to believe Plein air sessions and studio work significantly enhance each other.
A few years ago I opened small studio/gallery in my home for occassional week-end openings and by appointment visits.
The Internet has also added a new opportunity to share my paintings and vision with unseen friends around the world with an online art gallery.
And most recently I have embarked on an ambitious plan to develop community art festivals here in Midway. In 2021, following the lock-down year for artists, we have enjoyed 3 "Art Around The Square" events featuring a wide range of visual and high end craft artists at the Midway Town Square held Memorial Day Week, July 4th week an the 24th of July Week. A parade, community contra dances and public art activities were additional highlights and it appears we have a winner! See ArtAroundTheSquare in spring 2022 for next years events.
I warmly invite you to give your personal feedback on the painting blog or with individual painting pages, or if you like, send me an email. And please do sign up for the newsletter. This will give you up-to-date information about new work, show events, special opportunities to buy, and invitations.
Your thoughts and impressions are very valuable to me.
Susette - updated October 2021