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Susan Neilson

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for May, 2021

Susan Neilson is a Canadian artist in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Through art, she celebrates subtle balance of order and disorder in nature. Her work is inspired by the resilience of wild survivors, and by intricate connections in ecosystems right at our doorsteps. Art is Neilson's way to share hope for the future, where change begins with caring.

Neilson's meditative art combines classical and contemporary processes. She likes to draw and paint everywhere, and not just on traditional canvas or paper. Translucent oils are painted in subtle layers integrating with natural woodgrain, and subtle botanical watercolours are painted on panels or other surfaces. Intuitive energetic processes are balanced with precise realism in selected details. She loves art/science connections, noticing universal patterns, natural geometry, beauty, and power in our wild surroundings.

Susan has always been active in community arts, art education and nature advocacy. She is also very interested in personal and local choices that contribute to sustainability. Locally, in Kelowna, Susan Neilson is one of the founding board members of a "Friends of Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Society" that was incorporated in 2019. The group mission statement is "to preserve and enhance the overall wellbeing of Woodhaven Nature Conservancy through community stewardship and educational activities."

The Woodhaven Regional District Park is near Neilson's studio. This unique conservation area has four distinct ecosystems within a relatively small space surrounded by development, so there has been concern about its fragility, and its importance. "We have tiny Western Screech Owls, Pacific Skinks and other creatures raising families right by the fence lines. Many of the big cottonwood trees have fallen and there are concerns with water supplies, but the RDCO has some exciting plans to expand the park. There is potential for tremendous positive change."

For the spring of 2021, Susan started a new Open Window Art and Nature Sketch Club, as community project for the Friends of Woodhaven. This group met for online coffee conversations March, April, and May. They also connected with some creative practice challenges, and there is an "Open Window Sketches" Facebook group. The sketch club is open to anyone interested in establishing connections and sharing inspirations for nature stewardship through art. More information about the art club is at blog.foresthousestudio.ca. More information about the Friends of Woodhaven is at friendsofwoodhaven.ca.

Susan reflects on her membership in AFC, "The AFC community offers opportunities to contribute to a culture of caring, alongside like-minded artists supporting worthy causes. I am honoured to become a member of this group! I look forward to supporting conservation efforts and education programs for the protection of our natural environment and wildlife, through the sale of my artwork. I am also committed to participation and positive choices that contribute locally to conservation in my own community and in the Okanagan region."

Neilson originally studied Fine Arts at McMaster University, and then secondary school education with specializations in art and industrial arts at the University of Toronto. She continued in lithography at McMaster as well as with further professional training as an art education specialist at the University of Toronto. Elementary education, English literature, library, and technology studies were completed at York University, the University of Victoria, and the University of British Columbia. Catch up with Susan on Instagram at @susanneilson.art, or sign up for her news updates with hi@susanneilson.ca.

Learn more about Susan Neilson.

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(April, 2021)
(March, 2021)
(February, 2021)
(January, 2021)
(December, 2020)
(November, 2020)
(October, 2020)
(September, 2020)
(August, 2020)
(July, 2020)
(June, 2020)
(May, 2020)
(April, 2020)
(March, 2020)
(February, 2020)
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