Representational oil painter Bill Suys especially loves bringing life to ‘people and other animals’ and is known for his sensitive treatment of both, but loves the occasional still life and can also be found at plein air invitationals as his schedule allows; each feeds the others.
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 stand the test of time. Bill takes a ‘no excuses’ approach to both life and career and works hard at continual improvement in order to make grateful use of the gift he was given.
Bill and wife Kristin live in Wisconsin’s picturesque Kettle Moraine and often visit their cabin on Door County’s Washington Island as well as other parts of the US and the world where Bill finds inspiration. The couple’s blended family includes four children, three sons-in-law, five grandchildren and 4 dogs.
Recent notable accomplishments, events, accolades
2022: Bill’s class ‘Bringing Animals to Life’ at Scottsdale Artists’ School brought together another great group of eager students early this year. Bill was a Featured Artist in the July/August issue of Art of the West magazine, and his painting ‘The Immigrant’ was featured on the magazine’s cover. Bill will also be a Featured Artist in International Artist magazine in 2022. ‘The Sketch’ was juried in to the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition and the Easter Regional Exhibition, and Bill painted again in the Door County Plein Air invitational in July.
2021: Due to COVID, Bill didn’t teach his January Scottsdale Artists’ School class, but he did manage to be juried in to the 30th Annual Oil Painters of America National Exhibition and to win First Place in the BoldBrush painting competition for March 2021. In October, Bill’s painting ‘Awakening’ was awarded First Place in the Richeson75 International Figure/Portrait competition.
2020: The year began again at Scottsdale Artists’ School with another great class of students in Bill’s ‘Bringing Animals to Life’ class. Then things fell apart due to the pandemic and plein air invitationals were cancelled, Door County and Forgotten Coast among them. Though shows were held, there were few attendees, but Bill’s juried entry into the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition sold and also 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.
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. (Read about it here.) 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.
Personal perspective: Suys balances his time between invitationals, teaching, plein air and studio painting; he continues to distill his vision toward primarily figurative work – human and animal – as well as conceptual realism and the occasional surprise. If Bill goes missing, he might have snuck off to a plein air event or could be out prowling the countryside for animals and architecture he’d like to paint, but most of the time, Bill can be found in his studio, music playing, at the easel.
“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
“Artist William Suys is clearly able to capture a wide range of emotions. I’m drawn to the fantastic portraits he has done of various people — he does not hold back when capturing sorrow or joy on a surface. Additionally, William’s work involving animals is some of the best that I’ve seen… he skillfully captures their personalities — revealing that there is more to an animal than ‘just’ an animal. In my opinion, William is a master painter… he is also a master of conveying emotion.”
~ Brian Sherwin, art critic and editor of Fine Art Views
“I have had the privilege of running well over 100 art workshops. William A Suys, Jr is in the top echelon of Artist/Instructors. He unreservedly shares his extensive knowledge of technique, history and materials. He is completely professional and able to put his students at ease no matter what their skill level. Bill has a talent for identifying the individual students’ needs and easily adjusts to each as he provides at-the-easel instruction. His demos are informative and fun. The students in Bill’s workshops at Richeson’s have gone home happy with their progress and without exception provided excellent evaluations at workshop’s end. I cannot provide a stronger recommendation for a workshop instructor. William A Suys, Jr. is talented at both painting and instructing. He willingly participates in marketing his workshops both through his extensive mailing list and on social media. He effortlessly accommodates students’ needs and those of the facility in which he is teaching. I am confident you could not hire a better instructor and will be very happy with your decision to host a Suys workshop.
“For students: As an art school director and as a professional artist, I have come to both know and study with William A. Suys, Jr. Bill has a tremendous knowledge base in painting techniques, materials and art history and is most generous in sharing that knowledge with his students. He has a talent for homing in on individual students’ needs during his ‘at the easel’ instruction, and his demos are fun and informative. His critiques are spot-on and he suggests solutions to any issues he sees. Bill puts students at ease with his personable, professional manner and many of his students return to study with him again and again. I highly recommend studying with Bill Suys and I am confident you will come away very happy with your experience.”
~Terry Stanley, Founding Director, Richeson School of Art & Gallery and Founding Director, Richeson75 International Art Competitions
Gallery information as well as press and other info is available at williamasuys.com. Find Bill Suys on Instagram and YouTube, and on Facebook at Bill Suys and William A. Suys, Jr. OPA, PSS
Read Bill’s essay published in the August 20, 2018 edition of the Oil Painters of America blog.