Peoria Painter Suzette Boulais – “The Arts Set my Sprit Free”

Peoria painter Suzette Boulais, Executive Director of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois

By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks

By day, Peoria painter Suzette Boulais is the Executive Director of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois. Her day is filled by discussions with artists and the people who generously support the arts. Ideas are exchanged, goals are set, and plans are created and shared. As a result, Central Illinois enjoys a robust and vibrant arts community. But when the sun is setting and the paints come out she creates her own art – and the creative process sets her spirit free.

Suzette was born in Connecticut but raised in Indianapolis. Her father was a semi-professional photographer who excelled in architectural and portrait photography. Her brothers were both artistic as children, and one even majored in art. But Suzette never considered art for herself. Her after-school focus was the high school newspaper where she spent her free time writing and editing. She even ignored a college aptitude test that suggested a career as an art critic.

Her journey into art began when she started creating newsletters on a personal computer. She enjoyed the graphic design aspect of the process, especially creating logos. Suzette says she’s “always been appreciative of color blocks, schemes and patterns.” She took a beginning painting class at Lakeview Museum but struggled to find her style.

Eventually, after hours of roaming the web, she discovered the work of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.  “There’s the guy that I am instinctively attracted to,” she said. “I was painting in his style, but with a little more light. I always try to put light or sun into my paintings. They are always, to me, a symbol of hope – a symbol of the life force.”

When Suzette starts a painting, she has a basic idea of the color palette and the topic. She might be inspired by a scene or a picture she’s seen somewhere and want to build a painting based on that color. She describes her style as, “Like a logo with color; simple shapes – mostly colors with some shapes.”

Suzette says, “As I get older, I’m looking for a more peaceful life, and to be a reflective, peaceful person. I’ve had people tell me that when they look at my paintings there is a calming element to them, and that’s what I’m going for.”

For Suzette, it’s the process as much as the result. “The creative process is a deep thing. It’s wonderful to get in touch with that,” she says. “For me, it’s just been a joy. It lifts my spirits and sets my spirit free.”

Learn more about Suzette and her art at or contact her by email at You can also see her work at a variety of locations, such as the Cornerstone Building in downtown Peoria and at Emerson Creek Pottery in Peoria Heights. Learn more about ArtsPartners of Central Illinois on their website at, on Facebook, or by calling (309) 676-2787.

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About Craig

I have a passion to create, and I'm fascinated with the tools and technologies of creativity. My process is to interpret the scene through a combination of camera position, light and post-processing to present my unique vision and share the emotion I feel.

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