Susan Burnham Neilson, creates figurative, botanical, and lyrical paintings integrating precise realism in detail with abstraction, calm energy, and symbolism.

In her studio at the edge of a forest, Neilson’s art is inspired by connections with nature, thanks to parks that help to protect wildlife corridors in British Columbia. 


Neilson's roots as an artist began as a constant obsession in childhood and continued with Fine Arts studies at McMaster University and at the University of Toronto. 

She became an art education specialist, and taught students of all ages and at all levels, while always continuing to exhibit her own art. The transition to full-time work as a painter, was made at the end of 2016 


In 2014 Susan moved with her family to a home next to the protected Woodhaven Nature Conservancy in Kelowna, where Forest House Studio was built. 

Working here by the forest changed the direction of her artwork.  She learned about the subtle balance and intricate connections in ecosystems right outside her door. 


Living by the forest fence line, the artist gained new appreciation for the resilience of wild survivors. 

In her art, there was a new focus on the importance of conservation and the pleasure of spending time immersed in nature. In 2019 Neilson joined the international Artists for Conservation group, to share that interest with others.


Neilson loves all direct hands-on processes for making art, and she explores ways to integrate classical skills with innovation and experimentation. Drawing from life has always been a priority in her daily practice, but she also loves improvisation inspired by rhythms, patterns and geometry in the forest and garden.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Open Studio Morning - Kingsbrae Residency
Work in Progress - Back Deck
Sketching in Woodhaven

Susan Neilson’s artwork always begins with curiosity, compassionate observation, and empathy. As often as possible, she heads outdoors with sketchbook in hand, observing and drawing plants, insects, birds, and animals at the wildland-urban interface. 

Inspirations come from noticing universal connections: seeing patterns, beauty and power in wild surroundings and in human interactions with nature.