This coming October, we will be hosting world-renowned artist Susan Lyon in a masterclass in Provence, which is fantastic news for anyone who wants to study with a true master. But the best-kept secret of this masterclass is that Susan’s equally-renowned husband, Scott Burdick, will be joining us and painting right alongside her.
Scott Burdick, Author
Scott Burdick, like any artist of his caliber, has an incredible story—and interestingly, storytelling is part of what he does. In addition to being a constantly in-demand painter, instructor, and speaker, he is also a widely-sold author, his latest being Truth Conspiracy.
Although he’s better known as a painter, he actually started off doing both. “Since I was very young, I’ve always liked writing and painting,” Scott says. “I’ve always done both my entire life.”
Scott’s journey began with books. As a child, he spent a great deal of time in hospitals and at home recovering from operations. Because of his keen interest in art, his mother would bring him books on how to draw, which he read voraciously and enthusiastically practiced. He read other books as well, and began writing, combining his talents into illustrated stories.
Filmmaking or Painting?
Apart from painting and writing, Scott discovered he also had a keen interest in filmmaking. When he got into high school, he actually looked into schools for writing and filmmaking, but couldn’t afford them. Then he discovered that the American Academy of Art in his hometown of Chicago offered a scholarship for graduating seniors.
Because he came from a family with limited income, he knew that his only route into the Academy would be to win that scholarship.
Hence, he dedicated himself to attending drawing classes throughout his junior and senior years of high school—attending every Saturday during the school year, and every day during the summer. Those two years of solid commitment paid off. To compete for the scholarship, an applicant had to go in and do life drawing and still life drawing for a whole day.
Scott won the scholarship.
Finding Direction: Chicago’s Palette and Chisel Club
At first, Scott didn’t think he would be able to make a living as a professional artist. But at Chicago’s Palette and Chisel Club, of which he became a member, he met other professional artists such as Richard Schmid and Irving Shapiro, and realized prospering in such a profession was possible. Scott had originally set his sights on being an illustrator, but the type of illustration he wanted to do didn’t exist anymore—the province of masters such as Howard Pyle, Normal Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth. But he began to realize he could paint those sort of narrative works and make a living at it. This became especially clear when he attended exhibitions of artists such as John Singer Sargent and Anders Korn. In their works, he could see the influence of illustrators such as Montgomery Flagg and Haddon Sundblom.
Scott never left his other passions far behind. He tells us, “A few years after the Academy, I was making enough money as a painter that I went to Columbia College in Chicago for three years part-time, to study writing, photography, and cinematography.” He did do a few films and writing projects after that, but painting took the lead in his life. “I decided to concentrate on painting since it gave me far more artistic freedom than working for a film company.”
As an artist, he was fascinated with the color and flair of other cultures. Not being well-off, however, he could only travel as far as his local Renaissance Faire, where he would recruit models dressing up as gypsies and the like.
“Waiting”, oil painting. Scott Burdick
But then Scott married fellow artist Susan Lyon, and Susan turned out to be a genius at organizing trips to faraway lands on a shoestring budget. Scott was then able to paint people in richly colored native attire, in places such as India, Russia, Guatemala, Mexico and many others. Back home, he rediscovered Native Americans and their array of amazing colors, which are often subjects of his work.
Bottom line: Scott loves painting people who create their own art in the way they dress.
Love for Writing
Scott never forgot his love for writing though, and continued to write stories for himself. He describes his process. “Most of my stories start with a ‘what if’ premise, which I then use as a narrative structure to explore the philosophical ideas that interest me.”
In 2015, he finally published his first novel, Nihala. It was originally a sci-fi film he wrote for DreamWorks, that he expanded into a novel, published 15 years later.
He describes the plot: “In Nihala, the ‘what if’ explores the ramifications of advances in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and virtual reality over the next one thousand years—and what this might mean for humanity.”
His next book, The Immortality Contract, explores the question of what might happen if everyone in the world were given the chance to become young again—but only if they forswore any financial support from organized religion. “The core of the story is nature of truth and the impossibility of certainty,” Scott explains.
Scott’s most recent novel, Truth Conspiracy, takes a completely different approach to story creation. “It contains many backstories of people I’ve met and recorded for use in the story. I used a lot of their own words as those characters tell their backstories—which are so wild, I could never have made them up. This is the first time I’ve tried this with a story.”
You can find Scott’s book, Truth Conspiracy Here
His work is consistently thematic. “All of my stories focus on questions of religion, morality, truth, and technology,” Scott says. “I try and balance the thrilling action and adventure with the themes, to create something that is both enjoyable to read, but also thought-provoking. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but just writing them makes me look at these issues far more deeply than I would have otherwise. I love research!”
Scott has also kept his hand in his other passion, filmmaking. He says, “I’ve always loved filmmaking, but I am most interested in writing them, though I have made a few documentaries that were fun. The best part of them was interviewing some pretty interesting people, both the famous and the not famous. Some of my favorite famous people I’ve interviewed have been Richard Dawkins, Ray Comfort, James Randi, Adam Savage, Eddie Izzard, and way too many others to mention.”
Scott’s current life includes both of his major pursuits. He describes his daily routine. “Generally, I get up at four o’clock, write for about three hours, then spend the rest of the day painting or whatever else. I’ve done this for many years and have many stories in various degrees of finish. It was only about seven years ago that I decided to start finishing some of them into novels polished enough to publish. They take about two to three years to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until I feel they’re ready to put out there.”
“Mostly, when I finish a painting or a novel all I see is how much better it should have been, and then I get depressed,” Scott concludes. “The only cure for this is to start a new one in the hopes that this time it will be perfect. The only solace is that I learn a lot each time, so even if no one buys the painting or likes the book, there’s that.”
Scott Burdick’s Paintings
Susan Lyon in a masterclass in Provence, is happening in Provence October 22 – 31, 2020. This is fantastic news for anyone who wants to study with a true master. Again, the best-kept secret of this masterclass is that Susan’s equally-renowned husband, Scott Burdick, will be joining us and painting right alongside her.
Find out about this remarkable workshop here.
Blogger: Julie Snyder
Julie Snyder is a professional artist and also the programs director of Workshops In France. A native of Scotland, she is a seasoned traveler who splits her time between California and France. You can learn more about her role with Workshops in France here.
This year at Les Carrières des Lumières, the famous underground quarry is once again transformed into a theater of mind-blowing proportions through the wizardry of technology, showing projected masterworks from Venice as well as the work of Yves Klein in Infinite Blue onto its limestone walls.
Occasionally we meet a non-painting partner whose own work inspires the rest of us. The photographs by George Howard are immediately identifiable for their graphic color and beautiful light, the same qualities that artists seek in our work.
Yellow ochre is a naturally mined pigment used by artists everywhere. One of the must-see villages in Provence is Rousillon, where this multi-hued pigment was mined. You see it as orange, pink, and red on the walls of all houses and the red rock faces for the surrounding hills.