William A. Suys
“Every day of my life, I’m striving to create work with its own heart and soul; work that compels those who see it to go beyond the surface and to become personally, intellectually and emotionally involved. I am committed to artistic excellence, lifelong improvement, and to creating a body of work that will stand the test of time.” ~ Bill Suys
William A. (Bill) Suys, Jr. OPAM, PSS (Born 1955)
Representational oil painter Bill Suys especially loves bringing life to ‘people and other animals’ and is known for his sensitive treatment of both. Suys’s ready appreciation for the nuanced personalities of individuals – both human and otherwise – has brought him inspiration as well as recognition, and his passion for lifelong learning keeps him devoted to building a body of work that will, in his words, “Stand the test of time.”
Bill drew constantly as a kid, covering all paper surfaces and grade school test margins with airplanes and helicopters. He once escaped a scolding when the nun instead tapped his 'art'-covered notebook and whispered, "Keep that up!" He has.
Though painting nights and weekends as long as he can remember and taking his classical art education into his own hands after college (Suys wishes he'd known about the atelier system when he was attending the University of Minnesota; art majors in those days received scant classical training) Bill did temporarily veer away from formal art employment by leaving the S.C. Johnson Wax art department – his first job after college and a coup at the time he was hired – by transitioning to 'Corporate' and finishing a second degree in business management, with graduate work in Finance. Suys admits to wearing wingtips for a number of years and credits 'JWax' and its relentless quest for excellence with teaching him the importance of quality and the value of providing an outstanding product.
In 1995, Bill left corporate life to become a full-time painter but almost immediately found himself a single parent to his three children, giving him a priceless role but delaying his fulltime painting and art career-building until the kids had fledged. In 2008, after his youngest was safely tucked into her dorm room at college, Bill hit the ground running and has treasured every second of what’s become a great adventure.
Bill Suys takes a ‘no excuses’ approach to both life and career and he works hard at continual improvement in order to build a body of work that makes grateful use of the gift he was given. Bill and his wife Kristin live in Wisconsin’s picturesque Kettle Moraine and often visit their cabin on Door County’s Washington Island. The couple’s blended family includes four children, three sons-in-law, three grandchildren and 5 dogs.
Recent notable accomplishments, events, accolades
2021: “Awakening” was awarded First Place in the Richeson75 International Figure/Portrait competition and was also juried in to the 30th Annual Oil Painters of America National Exhibition. “The Benevolent Master” won First Place in the BoldBrush painting competition. The pandemic canceled Bill’s plein air invitationals and teaching assignments…
2020: The year began again at Scottsdale Artists’ School with another great class of students in Bill’s ‘Bringing Animals to Life’ class. Also, Bill’s juried entry into the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition won the ‘Most Creative’ Award of Excellence (4th Place) in the show. Bill was again honored to be a finalist in the ARC Salon. Also, Suys was awarded ‘Best Painting of a Living Artist’ in Fine Art Connoisseur’s Artists and Selfies competition. The pandemic canceled the year’s plein air invitationals.
2019: Again this year Bill taught his 5-day ‘Bringing Animals to Life’ workshop at Scottsdale Artists’ School. In April, Bill’s painting “Settling In” was chosen to hang in the 2019 Oil Painters of America National Exhibition and at that show Bill was honored to receive the Dorothy Driehaus Mellin Fellowship Award, given by Dorothy Mellin – through the generosity of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation – to a painting by a Midwest artist. Plein air invitationals on the calendar this season include: Door County Plein Air Festival, Paint Grand Traverse, and En Plein Air Texas. Bill’s painting ‘Plaza Night Timbre’ was accepted into the annual American Impressionist Show at the Salmagundi Club in NYC in September; Bill attended the show prior to traveling to Pennsylvania to teach a 4-day workshop at the Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Also notable in 2019 is that Bill delivered a terrific and crowded demo on portraiture and figurative painting at this year’s Figurative Art Convention and Expo in Williamsburg, VA.
2018: The year kicked off with Bill teaching a 5-day workshop in January at Scottsdale Artists’ School in January 2019. In April, Bill was inducted as a Signature Member of the Portrait Society of America then headed to Atlanta to participate in the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational (see below), and then on to Florida to paint in the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational and teach at Plein Air South. In August, Suys painted in the inaugural Paint Grand Traverse plein air invitational. Notable awards as of June 2018 include: Finalist and Honorable Mention in the ARC International Salon 2018; Finalist, January 2018 Boldbrush painting competition; Second Place, Richeson75 International Small Works Exhibition; two huge honors at the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational in April: the Matisse Award (Second Place overall) and the award for Best Body of Work, given by esteemed judges Tim Newton of New York’s Salmagundi Club, Seth Hopkins – Director of the Booth Western Art Museum, and painter Kenn Backhaus. Also in June, at the Oil Painters of America National Salon Show, Bill was awarded the Silver Medal. Other notable awards in 2018 include: Second Place plus Triple Finalist, Richeson75 International Figure/Portrait Exhibition; Dual Finalist and Finalist as well as Ninth Place, Animals, Portrait Society of America Members Only competition; Dual Finalist plus Dual Meritorious, Richeson75 International Animals, Birds & Wildlife Exhibition; Finalist, Richeson75 International Still Life and Floral Exhibition; Second Place, Richeson75 International Portrait and Figurative Exhibition; and an Award of Excellence, National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society Fall International Online Exhibition.
In 2017, Suys had two award wins at the OPA National Exhibition as well as wins from Richeson75 International’s Animals, Birds & Wildlife (First Place) and Still Life (Second Place) competitions, and the Portrait Society of America’s Members Only competition, and was again a finalist in the ARC Salon. Also in 2017, Cincinnati’s Eisele Gallery was added to Bill’s gallery roster. In 2017 Suys also put together a busy plein air season including these highlights: the Maynard Dixon Country Campout plein air invitational, the Door County Plein Air invitational, and the En Plein Air Texas Invitational. (Suys loves plein air – he feels it informs his studio work – but tries to accept only a few plein air event invitations each summer season to conserve time for his other work.)
2010 through 2016: In addition to a President’s appointment to New York’s venerable Salmagundi Club, numerous group and one-man gallery shows, event invitations and juried show acceptances, Suys’s work was chosen to hang in 7 OPA National Exhibitions between 2010 and 2017 and in 2013 he became an OPA Signature Member. In 2013, Suys won “Best in Show” at the Salon International by judge Max Ginsberg and was a dual finalist in the ARC Salon. In 2014 Suys added the prestigious Trailside Gallery to his roster of galleries. In 2015 Suys received the Judge’s Award from Plein Air magazine editor Steve Doherty at the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational, again had two paintings chosen as finalists in the ARC Salon, and Suys’s Official State Portrait of former Wisconsin governor Scott McCallum was unveiled. 2016 began with a pair of great awards: The Award of Excellence – Best Sense of Mystery at the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational and the Award of Excellence – Animals at the OPA National Exhibition. Suys was again a finalist in the ARC Salon in 2016, and in addition to judging the First Brush of Spring Plein Air event in New Harmony, Indiana, and the Cedarburg, WI Plein Air Festival, Suys participated in the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational, the Door County Plein Air Invitational, was chosen to participate in the Plein Air Texas Invitational, and had a one-man show.
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