Nestled on a multiacre property off Old Fredericksburg Rd in Boerne, sits one of the most unknown, but highly polished art schools in the Hill Country. Ms. Sue’s Art Studio offers art classes for kinder up to adult; as well as providing an arts environment for painting parties, coupled with an exhibition space and teaching / learning opportunities for the greater South Texas art community.
Susan Burk (Ms. Sue) left the hustle and bustle of the California real estate market in 2007, and came back to her roots in the Texas Hill Country. Over the last decade she has been building her art school to accommodate more and more students; teaching more and more mediums, activities, lessons, and hiring guest artists.
“I have always been an artist,” she says. Burk holds a degree in graphic design, but her love for people and the arts led her down the road of where she is now.
“One day, after I moved back to Texas, I asked, ‘Lord’, How can I make a living?”, comments Burk.
And that is how this amazing story starts!
“I just began filling up large plastic bins with art supplies and would drive all over Kerrville, San Antonio, Boerne, and everywhere in between…going from churches to daycares, to nursing homes and retirement centers…and I would leave with $75.00 each time. Then one day a lady from my church asked me about giving private lessons to her young daughter.”
After about 6 to 8 months Ms. Sue was teaching 30 children. Her business was growing quickly. Word of mouth was driving traffic to her modest “studio”.
“My business grew quickly because I think there is a lack of creative outlets for kids. Creative thinking is on the decline, and I think it is important. It seems to me there is a vacuum of outlets for this kind…A lot of kids are not athletes, and these highly creative kids, those that come here, are starving to explore that side of the brain…I see these kids and my heart melts because as they take my art classes, I see an increase in confidence, in attitude, in pride of work. It’s amazing the turnaround that happens in this protective and safe place.”
However, with all success stories, comes the growing pains.
Ms. Sue experienced many pitfalls along the way. From bouncing from studio to studio and building to building, she finally settled into her current “school” and opened the doors to Ms. Sue’s in 2014. But, again she credits divine intervention in helping her acquire the homestead and grounding her. An unexpected call by a long-lost friend led to an unrestricted financial gift. Then, she was able to purchase of an ‘off-market’ property and begin building her dream.
The school is located on her property next to the main residential house; the lot is complete with tree house, tire swing, two cats named “Hue” and “Shade”– a parcel that overlooks several old farm barns, cattle, brush fields and an atmosphere of serenity. Large flat open cubbies line one of the back walls; enough accommodate over a hundred students’ artwork– each carefully labeled with ‘artist’ names. Large picture windows not only allow for a flood of natural light, but exposes the students to the picturesque scenery; offering God-given inspiration. There are still bins and bins of art supplies, but they now stay in the classroom in neatly arranged stacks, marked with contents. Tables upon tables line the interior, reminiscent of some school cafeteria, where students can spread out and create. There is also room for visitors. “I have families and moms come and hang out while their children attend class. It’s a creative environment for them too, they will bring lunch or a picnic and go outside and relax. Where else can you find something like this?”
“Teaching makes me so happy,” she says. But teaching is also what drives her 50-60 hr. work week. “I teach every class in every genre and medium. With over 100 kids and adults, that’s a lot of classes.”
By employing guest artists like, Pauly Tamez, a Boerne artist who is now teaching oil landscape painting class, and Laurie Gross doing portrait drawing –her schedule opens up a bit. “My hope is that I can free myself up and begin growing my business again. I have hired someone who has taken over the painting parties…I have a small studio of my own in the back of the classroom, I would love to be able to spend more time in there and create my own work, and have the school run smoothly with those that share my vision.”
“I never want to get so big that I jeopardize the quality of the art being made here. I don’t want to get to where I cannot connect with the students and the students’ families. This is a place of solitude; where students can unplug and think and be nourished.
“I try to challenge the students and allow them to make choices, to make decisions and push them with the ‘What if’ statements.”
“What if you did this?”
“What if I did this?”
“It can be about making mistakes, but it can also be about creating something.”
“Every child has their own way of learning, and they inspire me every day,” says Burk.
For more information about Ms. Sue’s Art Studio, visit: www.mssueart.com
Ms. Sue Art Studio, LLC
101 Old Fredericksburg Rd. Boerne, Texas 78015