From childhood, artist Bill Suys was nurtured with a simple principle: have no excuses, work hard, and the rest will come. His mother and father, who both triumphed over deafness to live full and fruitful lives, were loving embodiments of this powerful message. Suys has continued this legacy, which has led the painter from S.C. Johnson to the walls of top galleries and private collections.

Although Bill Suys has taken many turns and paths to his current position as one of our nation’s most talented painters, art was a constant. “I’ve always been an artist,” he says. “From my earliest days I always drew a lot. If I was watching TV, I would be laying on the floor with some kind of scratchpad or whatever I could find. I would fill page after page of little drawings. It was simply what I did — what I always did.” Be that as it may, the art world of the 1960s and 1970s wasn’t conducive to Suys’s artistic vision, which centered on tradition, representation, and works from Andrew Wyeth, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.

Bill Suys, “Anvil at the Ready,” oil on linen, 14 x 18 in. (c) Bill Suys 2016

As a result, Suys earned a business degree after he completed his art major at the University of Minnesota. A pivotal moment in the artist’s career was his employment with S.C. Johnson, beginning in the art department and then on to a number of other roles, which is where Suys really began to hone his artistic philosophy, one built on the importance of awareness and preparation. “I felt that if I could develop my craft, then my artistic vision could freely and fully manifest itself.” 

Bill Suys, “Buds,” oil on linen, 24 x 48 in. (c) Bill Suys 2016

Suys says, “Key to artistic improvement is ‘paying attention,’ or awareness. Artists must build their visual awareness of the world around them while becoming ever more sensitive to its translation, such as edge, color, and shadow, while also building emotional understanding; both of which form an individual and singular aesthetic. What do brush pressure and speed do to edges, form, and presence? It’s not just about understanding surface, but also understanding oneself. The second factor is preparation: developing the skills, techniques, and processes to execute a vision to the fullest.” 

Bill Suys, “Reverie,” oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in. (c) Bill Suys 2016

Suys’s works are characterized by their diverse subject matter, which includes still life, figurative, landscape, plein air, wildlife, and portraiture — evidence of his ability to recognize beauty all around him, extending well beyond his home in the picturesque Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin. Indeed, no subject seems to escape Suys, who feels compelled to “capture and re-present the beauty and spirit in all things,” he says. “My goal, and really my challenge, is to visually leave a spirit that speaks on its own. I hope to create works that illuminate a greater depth that exists in our world, perhaps a bit of soul.”

Bill Suys, “The Storyteller,” oil, 12 x 16 in. (c) Bill Suys 2016

As his illustrious career continues to ascend, Suys will undoubtedly continue to probe the mysterious beauty of our natural world. He suggests, “I try to dig down to my core principles and work from my heart to create a painting. The more I paint and the farther I get down this path, I hope to be able to do that better and more effectively.” There can be little doubt that Suys has already mastered — to a degree — this principle as his resume and list of gallery representation and awards continue to lengthen.
To learn more, visit Bill Suys.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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