In this episode of Art on the Island, Maureen Bader interviews pastelist Susanne Muir. Susanne has lived on the Island since 2001, but has been visiting Cortes Island since the 1980s after her parents moved here. 

Maureen Bader
Susanne Muir on Art on the Island


Susanne has engaged in artistic activities since childhood, and was inspired by her Grandfather. She started out with pencils and crayons and always had her crayons and paper along with her on long drives. Susanne is self-taught, learning primarily from books.  

Susanne saw a watercolour painting in a gallery window and decided she would make her own. As with many things, she later realized it would have been much cheaper to just buy the painting, especially now that she is working in pastels, as her main artistic activity today is pastel painting, mainly in the winter. Susanne also makes dried bouquets for the winter markets. 

Light and atmosphere define Susanne’s style, which has been heavily influenced by watercolour. Susanne’s paintings are usually 9×11 inches and smaller and she works primarily from photos and sketches she collects while out in nature. The effects of light and atmosphere fuelling her imagination. 

Susanne tends to accumulate supplies given the remote nature of our island, but the local art store supply has a limited supply, especially in pastel. When Susanne goes to Victoria she stocks up, as well as buying online and having supplies shipped here. 

Pastel is a dry media that artists typically apply to paper. Susanne tends to use moderately textured paper that allows her to use the texture to create light effects. She is branching out into sanded paper now. 

Susanne doesn’t currently market her work but is thinking about showing at the Cortes Craft Shop and has exhibited in the past in the Schoolhouse Gallery. Susanne advises artists to remember, it is only a piece of paper so don’t worry about spoiling something. True, these papers are sometimes expensive, but still, it is only a piece of paper.