Susi Havens-Bezaire

Included in this backgrounder are a brief biographical overview, an outline of my artistic vision, some of my thoughts about social action, and links to my social media pages.

Biographical overview

Susi Havens-Bezaire

Painting at Bridal Veil Falls near Valdez, AK

Although I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1951 and lived my entire life in the Midwest (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio), I love traveling, and in many ways I think of myself as a “world citizen”. My husband of 37 years, Dave, is my greatest supporter. As partners, our shared passions for Habitat for Humanity, The American Red Cross and travel frequently overlap with my enthusiasm for painting as we lead teams of volunteers to build houses and community around the world and occasionally respond to disasters – with my unique paint box and camera always in hand.

Throughout my careers as family therapist, full-time mother, and volunteer community organizer, I have always experimented with different art forms in my spare time—including metal sculpture, pastels, and stained glass.

I began formal art training at the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2002, where I discovered a passion for oil painting—particularly in the plein air format—as I continued classes through 2006. Since then, I’ve participated in many short, intense workshops with highly regarded plein air painters including Kenn Backhaus and Marc Hanson. (See my links page for a complete list.)

I joined the Ohio Plein Air Society in early 2004 and found a strong support group of painters willing to share their expertise and knowledge. I’ve enjoyed helping organize paint-outs, and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of this diverse group and have been a board member for 5 years.

I’m pleased that some of my works have been shown in juried shows at local gallerys and the Springfield Art Museum.

Artistic vision

I believe that a successful painting demonstrates nature’s glorious subtleties of light and color, leading the viewer’s eye through the scene again and again to fully explore the rich depth and fine details.

Plein air painting, a form of representational art executed on location, requires a keen sense of memory and focus. As shown in this slide show at Mt. Edith Cavell, the painter continually struggles to remain true to the artistic vision that first captured her eye as daylight moves quickly across the scene.

Susi Painting with Children

Painting with the children in Botswana

For me, plein air painting on location is a wonderful way to immerse myself in a community. Throughout my travels, I have built personal bridges while painting, such as among these inquisitive children in Botswana, or with fishermen mending their nets at Iraklion harbor in Greece, or with the Ecuadorians proud of their extensive Malecon river park in Guayaquil.

Having experimented with many art forms, I find myself happiest when I take my pack off the beaten track to paint en plein air. Climbing a mile and a half to paint with mountain goats at Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park was as delightful as listening to a pride of lions serenade our camp as I painted on safari in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. Being on location fosters intimacy, and by capturing some truth of a place and time in my art, I hope to convey to others my love and respect for our natural world.

There are times when I revisit a plein air field study to produce a more finished piece. In the studio, I can enhance composition, color and value to create a stronger visual statement. The studio also enables me to explore traditional Technique Mixte methods of the old masters, applying layers of various glazes to capture vibrant colors and luscious depth in my work.

Social action

Community service has been an integral part of life since I was a youngster. In fact, as I finished my second degree at Purdue University, I met my husband Dave at a crisis center where we both volunteered!

Both Dave and I have been recognized as Volunteer of the Year by Habitat for Humanity MidOhio, and as local Jefferson Award recipients through the Columbus Dispatch.
Looking back on 35 years of marriage and two happy adult children, I appreciate that volunteer experiences have so warmly enriched our lives.

Susi on a Habitat for Humanity site in Ecuador in 2009

Working on a Habitat for Humanity site in Ecuador

Dave and I are extreme examples of how deeply volunteers can become infected with Habititus. From a start in 1989 in Columbus, Ohio, we have reached out to work in and lead teams to Michigan, Mississippi, Arizona, Costa Rica, Ghana, Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Botswana.

In the winter of 2009, Dave & I volunteered for three months with one of Habitat’s first disaster recovery affiliates along the Katrina-impacted coast of Mississippi. In 2010, 2012, & 2013 we worked during the winter with Habitat in Tucson, Arizona. Visit our Columbus Global Village Team web site for more details, or maybe even join us on an upcoming Global Village trip.

Susi weaving kente cloth in Ghana in 2005

Weaving kente cloth in Ghana

Working with and becoming a part of many communities–throughout the world–has also provided me with rich opportunities to learn about art in other cultures. I love that plein air painting keeps me outside among the people, where relaxed conversations connect me in wonderful ways far beyond what a traditional traveler might experience.

Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Since 1976, over 1 million houses have been built around the world, providing more than 5 million people in 92 countries with safe, decent, affordable shelter. To accomplish these goals, people of all backgrounds, races and religions are invited to build houses together, in partnership with families in need.

Dave & I recently became Red Cross Disaster Responders as we began to see the huge impact that weather can have in our communities and world.  The Red Cross provides food, shelter and clothing to those who have experienced a disaster – either home fire, natural or otherwise.

Social media

I’ve collected together links to my identities on some of the major sites here. Although I do post activity somewhat regularly on Facebook, my accounts on the other services are really just placeholders for now.

Facebook

You can find find me on Facebook at Susi Havens-Bezaire, where I occasionally post updates about art and travel. Please use the Follow button to keep up-to-date.

Google+

You can find me on Google+ at Susi Havens-Bezaire (which also has a “Contributes to” back to this site). You can use the Follow button if you like, but I rarely post anything there.

LinkedIn

You can find me on LinkedIn at Susi Havens-Bezaire.