Suzette Boulais

Suzette Boulais thank you for sharing your story, your fantastic work and for allowing us to publish all you have shared.

Our Spotlight this month turns to Suzette Boulais, a painter from Illinois, that specializes in abstract.

Take Five Q & A with Suzette Boulais
.What’s your background in art?

   I don’t have any formal background in art. I didn’t study it in high school or college and so am a bit of a late bloomer. I was raised in a household with two very artistic brothers, however, one who received a scholarship to attend Indianapolis’ Herron School of Art and so I have been surrounded by art for much of my life. I was well into my 40s when I decided to experiment with art and pursue it on own. Right from the start, with my very first painting, (which I still keep for sentimental purposes) I could see my style was leaning toward the contemporary and abstract and so have followed this path ever since.

2. What does your art aim to say?

   My art aims to communicate universal, abstract concepts like peace, hope and serenity, and by doing so, offer a sense of calm to the viewer. My paintings are often abstract landscapes that use light to reflect hope, as light for me is always a spiritual, not just physical dimension of my work. With a strong interest in graphic design and a love of symbolism, my paintings are in many ways symbolic graphic designs set to color and paint. When I paint a circle, for example, I’m using it as a symbol to represent the unity of life. The sun and moon are symbols for the light of God. Birds in my paintings reflect the spiritual journey throughout our lives and water reflects the symbolic, unconscious life force.

3. Who is your biggest art influence?

   My biggest influence to date is abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. I find his work with basic color schemes simple, yet sublime. On my best days when I feel my own colors and shapes are working together in harmonious ways, I hope my paintings express a small element of the sublime, too.

4. How have you developed your career?

   I can’t say that I have developed a career in art. What I have developed is an avocation in art. Creating art is my joy, my passion, my therapy, my prayer, my meditation, my contemplation, my connection to Source and my soulful expression. Creating art for me coincides perfectly with the Joseph Campbell quote, “Follow your bliss.” It’s my joy and my bliss to enter the quiet and private sanctuary of my art room and see how each and every piece of art takes on a creative life all its own.

5. How do you seek out opportunities?

   As a member of CIAO (Central Illinois Artist Organization) I like being aware of various opportunities to show my work along with the works of fellow CIAO artists. I have also found that promoting my art on Facebook and using my art as a backdrop to my Facebook Thoughts That Soar series where I put quotes to art, is a great way showcase some of my work. Facebook has also come in handy when making community connections when I do callouts to businesses or organizations to see if they might be interested in showing my work at their facilities. After a recent public callout I made on Facebook about some of larger pieces that were available for display, for instance, I received word from Methodist College that they would like to hang these pieces in the waiting room areas at their main campus. I was thrilled about this opportunity because it is gives the College an opportunity support local artists by displaying our work. And we artists have an opportunity to show our art in a public setting where someone can see it and make a possible purchase. And what artist doesn’t appreciate an art purchase? I certainly do. I’ve yet to get over the thrill when someone likes one of my paintings enough to buy it.
   And finally, while speaking of opportunities, I’m delighted that my two friends and art colleagues, Rebecca Draland-Doyle and Jaci Willis and I will have an opportunity to present a combined art exhibit at Studios on Sheridan that opens on the First Friday of August 2020. It’s follow-up to a combined exhibit we held there several years ago and so we are over the moon about coming back to Studios on Sheridan again!

The Art of Raising Awareness

Yesterday morning at the Farmer’s Market we had the privilege of meeting a few members of the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind family. The volunteers are survivors who shared their stories with us and touched our hearts. Our time was spent primarily with a fantastic gentleman who has survived two brain tumors in less than 10 years. His story moved us, listening to his battle. The emotions, fear, courage and strength. He is a warrior and shared his excitement in being a survivor, member and volunteer. Raising awareness is vital for the community to know about this condition and how to help those in need. We asked permission to write about the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind and to publish events and information surrounding this great organization. We were thrilled when we received a resounding yes!

About the Organization:

Every year over 79,000 Americans are living with a primary brain tumor. Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males aged 20-39 and the 5th leading cause of death in women aged 20-39. They are also the 2nd most common solid tumor in children. 

Mark was only in his 20’s when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A Peoria native, he graduated from Richwood High School and then Southern Illinois University in 1997. He completed his studies for a Masters degree in Industrial Occupational Psychology in 1997 from Western Kentucky University.

Mark’s goal was to create a place where brain tumor survivors and those still fighting the battle can come and support one another in this battle. In an effort to reach out to other brain tumor survivors and to help raise funds for brain tumor research, Mark founded the Walk for the Mind in 2003. The Walk is a way to unite those individuals and their families as well as to raise funds to support brain tumor research in hopes to find a cure.

Sadly, Linder lost his battle in 2005 at the age of 31 but not before he got to see his vision making a difference. Re-named after his death, the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind now attracts over 800 participants from all over Central Illinois.  For the eighth year, all net proceeds will be donated to the “Brain Tumor Research Program” at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Information shared from

Be a presence in Central Illinois to promote awareness of brain tumors and raise funds for research. Information shared from .

Continue an annual walk to raise awareness of brain tumors and their impact on those in Central Illinois. There are many misconceptions about those who have or had tumors. Many people are not aware of their tumors, blaming symptoms on other possible causes.

Additionally, funds will be raised for research into treatment and cures for the various know brain tumors. Research currently includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, medication, and other possible treatments and therapies.

We also will remember and honor those lost to brain tumors, their families, friends and loved ones and celebrate those who have survived. Information shared from

If you or someone you know would like to be involved in the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind, please visit the website at You can make a difference. The walk is 17 years strong and helps to support research, awareness and to provide support for those diagnosed, friends and family.

Calendar of Events:

Date(s) – 08/05/2019
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Peoria Pizza Ranch

Come and Eat Pizza and Fried Chicken with us!

Date(s) – 09/01/2019 – 09/30/2019
All Day

All 3 locations of Eli’s:




Date(s) – 09/11/2019
All Day

All day at Kep’s Sports Bar & Grill, a percentage of food for dine in or carry out will be given to Mark Linder Walk for the Mind for brain tumor research!

Kep’s Sports Bar & Grill

313 Muller Road

Washington, IL 61571

Date(s) – 09/28/2019
7:00 am – 11:00 am

17th Annual Mark Linder Walk for the Mind

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Peoria, IL

Date(s) – 09/30/2019
All Day

Come to: East Peoria Avanti’s
2320 E. Washington Rd. (309-694-6200)

On: September 30th, 10:30AM-10:00PM

Present this flyer to the cashier upon payment for tracking purposes
and 20% of proceeds will go to support:
On Dine-In/ Delivery or Carry Out orders

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tax, gratuity and alcohol sales are not included in donation

Thank you to the survivors and volunteers for allowing us to share your information and calendar of events. We also want to send a heartfelt thank you for sharing your stories with us and for raising awareness. We appreciate all you do.


The Mileurs

The Art of the Riverfront Farmer’s Market

It may have been a hot day in Peoria, but the Hottest place to be was at The Farmers Market on the riverfront. The crowds braved the heat to find the hottest deals on fresh produce, but the best seller this morning was the load of fresh peaches. They were sold out and packed up within an hour of the opening, but never fear there will be more next weekend. The produce offered for sale is the best produced locally, sweet corn ripe and juicy, tomatoes, potatoes, beets and more ripe and ready for your dining pleasure.

We love going to the market on Saturday mornings. There are so many wonderful things to see and do, and so many friends to visit. We always have to stop for a great cup of coffee from Zion Coffee Co. or watch Carol at The Spot serve up her delicious drinks. Heather and I often stop to get a hot pretzel from Swanee’s Soft Pretzel Co. and then stroll thru the market to visit various friends, like Robert Martinez. He is an excellent leather worked and like to check out his new leather creations. Then a visit with the great folks at Popcorn Heaven and sample their new flavors.  Our next stop is to check out Tony and his wife at Grandma & Grandpa’s Farm for the latest farming news and produce. Such  wonderful people.

As we wander around we love to stop at The Brakers Dozen for the amazing treats. Today we chose Pumpkin bars, a favorite of mine, and a loaf of freshly baked Blueberry Bread. I wonder why I gain weight every summer. Before we left for the morning we enjoyed a delicious cool strawberry cheesecake from Harold Webster of Triple Dipple’s. A fitting treat on a hot day, to cool off. The cheesecake is so delicious, it is melt in your mouth good!

The sights, sounds, artwork, people, aroma of fresh baked goods and homegrown vegetables make the market a location filled with activity. Live music fills the air alongside the scent of produce, flowers and baked goods. Artwork, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, signage, antiques and more line the walkways. It is truly amazing the vendors and the energy at the market.

Please make it a point to visit all of the wonderful people who make the Peoria Riverfront Farmer’s Market possible every week during the summer.  You will not regret making the trip.

The Art of Donald Mason

Wow! What a wonderful evening at The Contemporary Art Center. The opening of the Donald Mason exhibit.

Kevin has known Donald Mason for several years and has always admired his talent in taking everyday objects and turning them into beautiful and thoughtful works of art. He is inspiring in his dedication to his art.

Tonight we were able to learn more about the artist and his journey thru life which brought him here with his amazing talent. I can imagine that Donald was an amazing teacher in District 150 and touched many lives with his art and his stories of his life journey.

Donald captures life and emotion in his work. His work is thought provoking and intense. We enjoyed listening to his story and experiences that shaped him into the artist he is today.

Mr. Mason is a resident artist at the Contemporary Art Center and a master of his art. He explained the story behind the artwork. Each piece has its own story that speaks to the viewer. It was interesting to hear of these experiences in his life that served as inspiration to his work.

A big thank you to William Butler, Ricky Traughber and the volunteers at CAC for organizing such a wonderful event. If you didn’t get a chance to see his work tonight, his work will be on display for the next month on the 2nd floor.

July 25th Opening Reception – Suzette Boulais

Mark your calendars for an Opening Reception with Suzette Boulais. Join Suzette at the new Gallery Homes in Peoria Heights, near Jim’s Bistro, located at 4610 N Prospect, Peoria Heights, Illinois. Opening reception is Thursday, July 25 from 6:00-9:00 pm. The exhibit will be on display throughout July and August. Come meet the artist and experience her extraordinary works of art!

The Art of the Pond and Pasture

Imagine driving on a long curvy country road. Trees guiding the way, tall and reaching toward the sky. The sun shining brightly between the branches highlighting leaves and birds in the trees.

Meandering along we spy small bodies of water and animals scurrying from one spot to another. Soon we are surrounded by fields of crops on either side of us. We turn onto the long gravel drive we know so well.

On one side a pond, on the other the pasture. The pond is alive with insects and life. We can hear the choir of frogs in the distance, the buzzing of insects and spot dragonflies. The dragonflies are flittering and fluttering from pillar to post all around the pond.

We walk along the dock and hear the sound of a fish swatting it’s fin on the water. A turtle across the way is sliding in to cool in the water. My mind goes back to my youth and my love of water. I find myself wishing I could dive in and let the water cover me as I swim and float in it’s cool embrace.

The two of us sit together on the dock listening to the world around us and the insects and frogs provide nature’s music. The day is warm and the sun is shining upon us while we relax to the sounds.

We decide after awhile to make our way to the pasture. Standing at the edge you see the treeline of the property. An eagle flying overhead. A chipmunk scurrying through the grass. Free range chickens walking and bobbing to eat on the run.

One post has a dragonfly that is still and posed. He remains still even as I approach and photograph him standing in place. We are amazed he doesn’t fly off. He remains for several minutes and I admit I take advantage of his time photographing his pose.

We feel our stress of day to day melt away as we wander in the pasture. The only sounds are birds and insectsGreen grass, the smell of flowers blooming and the chorus of nature envelope us on our journey. A masterpiece that touches our soul.

Road trips in summer to destinations we enjoy. At times we just drive and take in the sights along our trek. Still other times we have a destination and enjoy how it changes each time we stop. Art surrounds us each day from how we view things to what we view.

We hope you enjoyed our journey. Until next time take care and keep creating.


The Mileurs

The Spotlight – A Place for Artists to Share Their Stories and Their Work

Duffy Armstrong Farrell thank you for sharing your story, beautiful artwork and for allowing us to publish all you have shared.

Our Spotlight this month turns to Duffy Armstrong a multi media artist from Illinois.

Duffy’s Story – In Her Own Words

Drawing Photography Printing Painting

I grew up in the Chicago area. Music was my first “love.” I played piano and studied classical music for five years through the Sherwood School of Music until I was 12 and discovered I was unable to perform in front of a large audience. My focus shifted to visual art. I received a BFA from Bradley University, focusing on drawing, printmaking and photography. Minor White, while a visiting artist at Bradley, critiqued my first two-person show. To this day his encouragement and inspiration influence me. Others who have significantly and personally guided my art are Kim Mosley, Dow Mitchell, Nita Sunderland, Art Sinsabaugh, Luther Smith and Francois Deschamps. It’s only now, in these later years, that I have returned to making art. My daughter is grown and successful. My professions – museum education, gallery directing, corporate sales, financial advisement, marketing, public relations and fundraising – no longer consume my time. My work? Query what you see. Think. Talk. Have fun. Learn. I like landscapes, the figure and abstract or intuitive images. That said, I make human marks that can be interpreted anyway you like.


Duffy Armstrong Farrell Art, LLC/ Member of CIAO/ Studio at Contemporary Art Center of Peoria/ Exhibit A Gallery, Peoria Heights, Illinois

Here’s “Self Portrait” that I did the other night for fun.  My paternal grandfather used to hold the record for the largest Northern Pike. He taught us to fish.

Self Portrait

The Art of Learning a New Technique

Life and art are ever changing. We learn new techniques to challenge ourselves and to explore new avenues. As humans, we also learn techniques to deal with the changes in our lives. Learning is continuous and necessary for growth. I decided recently to learn bead embroidery. For as long as I can remember, I have loved embroidery. My grandma had embroidered pillow cases and I loved to feel the stitches. I remember watching her embroider quilt squares and faces on dolls. The time and love that went into each stitch was endearing. My goal is to embroider with beads and give the same love and attention as Grandma did to cloth.

Research on the topic was completed on Pinterest, Google and books on embroidery and beading. The images I found were amazing and some breathtaking. The artwork of Merrill Hickey has also inspired me on my journey. Her work is fantastic! I gathered beads, embroidery floss, stones, felt and crystals. My first brooch created was an insect. I used metallic thread, stones, crystals and beads. Paper and pencil were used to create my template to trace onto the felt. It was exciting and new teaching myself how to piece it all together. The finished product turned out close to the way I thought it would. The knowledge I took away was smaller beads and tighter stitches.

My love of dragonflies beckoned me to create more insect brooches. Each brooch is a little different and the stitching is tighter than on my first brooch.

Front and back are cut out of felt. Sample of future dragonfly, stones and beads.

Completed dragonflies.

Current Work.

Thank you for sharing your time with us and we hope you enjoyed our new technique. If you are interested in a copy of the template or guide to create please contact us at

Until next time take care and keep creating!


The Mileurs

The Art of Photography

This week I am writing about an area of art that I am most familiar with, The art of photography. As with all art, there is many forms in the art of photography. My experience with photography stated at a young age, watching my mother taking pictures of all of our adventures in life and watching the photo albums grow over the years with pictures of our vacations and holidays. We were always excited to see mom putting the film in the mail to be developed and waiting for two weeks to see what came back, very few people had access to darkrooms to develop their own. You spent a lot of time trying to make sure you did all you could on camera to make a good picture, and hope that when you did get the prints back they were good. Times have changed and now we have digital cameras and instant access to see if the picture we take is good or bad.

I started on 35mm film back in my day, where you bought a roll of 12 or 24 exposure film, and you worked hard to get things right the first time. You wanted to ensure that you had all the setting done properly and worked to get the right picture. Then once you shot your 12 exposures you sent them off to be developed. waiting two weeks to receive your prints to find out if you did it right, or did you just waste a little more money to throw in the trash. I never had access to a dark room, so my best friend was my notebook, where I logged down what ISO i was using, what was the film speed, what F-stop did I use and what was my shutter speed, keeping a log of what you did to compare to the prints you got in return, it was a hard learning curve. In doing this I learned a lot about the art of photography. The art of photography to me is capturing a moment in life, using the light and shadows to make a photograph come to life. A great photograph can be made of the simplest object, but by using the camera to its fullest and looking at things differently than others, you can make a great piece of art. Years ago I was exploring and shooting at my brothers farm, when I came in to look at what I had shot on the computer, my sister-in-law, saw one, and said it was beautiful and where did I find that photograph. I told her it was at the end of her driveway, and she drove by it everyday for several years without noticing it. In my way of looking at life, I see things differently than a lot of people. A good photographer looks at things, then looks at the way the light works, then ask themselves how can I get the best shot, do you adjust the shutter speed, or open up the aperture.

When I switched to a digital camera, I retained the way I always took photographs, in which I look at the light, the background, the settings on the camera and try to take the right shot the first time. I never was able to figure out how to properly use photoshop, which I think is an art form unto itself, so i left photoshop to others to use. I always believed that God created the pictures, I just took them. I think that capturing the beauty in the world around us is an art form and I try my best to bring you the best I can.

I love going out with my cameras draped across my shoulders, I usually have a least two with me, sometimes I carry three. I set each camera up differently, so that i have the most options without having to change every setting for each picture. I enjoy being out in nature and seeing the beauty of the world around us, and then attending different functions to capture life in the city. With great photographers they see the beauty, the story, the life going on around us differently, than most people. Great photographers capture a moment of life and allows us to study and wonder about the life around us. In our fast pace lives, photography allows us to see the moments that we pass by, they force you to slow down and look and study and to understand the story behind the art.

The Art of Exploring

This weekend was the first 1st Friday, since 2015, that I haven’t worked at the Studios on Sheridan’s 1st Friday event, so we decided to start exploring other venues offered on 1st Fridays. I have always loved exploring new areas to see what beauty I can find. When I retired from the Federal Prison systems I set out with my cameras to find beauty where ever I could, I explored the back roads and country side to find things that would bring light, peace and beauty back into my life after close to 40 years of darkness and the ugly side of life. By exploring new areas I was able to find the beauty that I had missed out on. By exploring you can find many truly beautiful and wonderful things that you have missed in your life. Never stop exploring and looking for the beauty that life has to offer.

So on 1st Friday of June 2019 we explored, we started by going to Glazed and Confused out on Farmington Rd. to visit with Cyndi Merrill and Jeff, to watch them work their magic in clay. We entered their shop to find several visitors admiring their work. After they offered us drinks and snacks we watched them both turn to working. Cyndi was working a piece that she had already started and we watched as her hands worked their magic. Jeff started a new piece on the wheel and listened as he explained the process of what he was doing. It was neat watching these two artists turn out some beautiful pieces, it is a treat. So if you get the chance you need to visit these two artist and be inspired by what they do.

We were off to explore some more, our next stop was back to my old stomping grounds the Studios on Sheridan at the Sunbeam Building. I wanted to stop by to hear the awesome music provided by Random Strangers and to see the art work of Ken Hoffman on display. We strolled thru and visited the shops and met up with many old friends, Jon and Angie Walker, Steve and Michelle Rouland, and many more, watched the ladies at J. Draper Glass putting on a show for the crowd with their glass blowing talents, and visited with the different artists, Jaci, Beau Hart and others, but we didn’t stay long had more that we wanted to explore.

Now we head down to the river to visit CAC, on Water St. which was close to the truth with the flooding, but we went safely and stayed dry to the 3rd floor, to visit with the many talented artists who share space here. It is inspiring to see so much talent residing at CAC. We got to meet up with Duffy Armstrong as she was working on a new piece and enplaining her work to several admirers. I got to spend a few minutes with Kagen Masters who paints with coffee. I was shocked until she explained that she uses instant and decaf coffee only, which was a relief to me, I couldn’t imagine using my coffee that way. If you like you can smell her work. Then we ran into a long time friend Trish Williams, she is always a joy to talk with and shares some great hugs. She brings a light to a room with her smile and her clothes that she designs.

Time is running short for 1st Friday which ends at 9pm, so we are off again to explore a new venue, Casa de Arte, on Adams St. where Jessica Ball is having her exhibit for the month of June. We had a little trouble finding it at first, then realized we had passed it so around the block we go. I am glad we spotted it, being it is our first time to visit, we wasn’t sure what we were looking for. But we are so glad we did. Jessice Ball is a talented painter and lover of art, and this location is perfect for her. A large crowd is in attendance here for the drinks and tacos and the art. We had a great time, we met with several friends, Mike and Banu Hatfield, Tom Pries, Susie Flick and others. We enjoy visiting and discussing the many and varied forms of art we encounter in our lives and the people who share a passion for beauty and art in all its forms.

The night ended to soon for us, there are 17 exhibits listed for 1st Fridays, so we plan to continue exploring the many new venues over the next several months and meet with the artists and hopefully bring some of the beauty we see into your lives, till the next time, explore life and find the new adventures that await you.