In 1983, the Edmonds Arts Festival first began making posters featuring images by local artists. In the ensuing 38 years, one poster has stood out as the most popular ever, and that is the 1994 poster featuring Susan Waite’s painting of Haines Wharf.
But who is the artist behind the painting?
Susan Waite’s roots in the Pacific Northwest run deep. Her grandfather was a diamond driller who helped build the Skagit dams. Her grandmother’s parents ran a dairy farm that delivered milk to the dam workers. Waite herself was born and raised in the Mountlake Terrace-Edmonds area. The oldest of five, she loved exploring beautiful places during her family’s summer camping trips in Western Washington. Growing up, Waite had planned to become a forest ranger so she could be in the great outdoors all the time.
Waite’s passions evolved, but she always retained her love of the outdoors. Fortunately, Waite’s husband and children were also outdoor enthusiasts, which allowed her to take advantage of creative opportunities on their hiking, camping, and wind surfing trips. “Painting on site and from life encourages the most inspired brushstrokes and vivid colors in my work,” Waite wrote in an artist’s statement. “And painting outdoors on site is pure delight.”
When her children were teenagers, Waite returned to school and obtained a BFA in painting and printmaking from Cornish College of the Arts in 2001. Since then, she has taken workshops from Charles Emerson, Tom Hoffmann, Mitch Albala, and Kimberly Trowbridge at Gage Academy in order to further improve her painting skills. She also studied with Pam Ingalls Cox, Jennifer Diehl, and Michelle Usibelli.
Waite gives back to the community through teaching to others. She is currently sharing her love of art by teaching at the Lifelong Learning program with the Seattle Parks department, the “Seniors Creating Art” program at various retirement venues, and in classes at the Cole Gallery in Edmonds and at her private studio in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Susan Waite is still actively working, and her favorite type of painting is plein air. “I love the way light, color, and atmosphere play upon everyday objects, neighborhood scenes, and wide open landscapes,” she said. “I paint to tell these stories.
Waite’s paintings can be seen at the Women Painters’ Gallery in Seattle’s Columbia Center, the Salty Dog Pottery Building Showroom in Ballard, Cole Gallery in Edmonds, and at arts festivals throughout the Northwest. She has served as a juror for the Edmonds Arts Festival and the Lake Chelan Art Festival.
The 2021 Edmonds Arts Festival will take place Aug. 27-29 at the Frances Anderson Center on Main Street in Edmonds. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Festival visitors will have the opportunity to visit more than 160 juried art booths in the field and see award-winning art in the Gallery at the Frances Anderson Center. Student art will also be on display at the gallery, including works by winners of Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation scholarships. There will be food for hungry art patrons and free live entertainment during festival hours. Every artwork purchased at the festival helps to fund scholarships and grants for community art projects and public art. Free admission and parking. Learn more at www.edmondsartsfestival.com.
The Edmonds Arts Festival has grown from a small community art fair to one of the most prestigious in the Pacific Northwest, attracting artists from across the nation and Canada. The festival provides a unique opportunity for patrons to meet artists and purchase their work in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking Puget Sound. For more information and festival updates, sign up for our email list at www.edmondsartsfestival.com/subscribe/, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.