‘Artist of the Month’

Tolliver built her confidence in art

Her business in faux painting
opened the door to artistic work

ANCHORAGE, Ky. (April 2013) – Until several years ago, artist Susan Tolliver did not plan to take up oil painting. But a renovation at her home sparked a new career path that she is happily treading down.


She actually began her artistic career as a faux painter. Tolliver launched her own business in 1990, creating exclusive one-of-a- kind wall finishes and custom murals. “I worked for 60 designers,” she said.
During this time, Tolliver, 60, learned she could paint just about anything a client requested. “I became confident that I could paint across the board, painting different subject matters.”
But, she also felt she was doing “very commercial work. I felt I needed to get off of the assembly line mentality.”
This is when the transition to oil painting came. She chose this medium because oil painting “is a little more forgiving than watercolor,” she said.
“I like the manipulation of the paint, the way you can layer it. You can see through the layers of oil. You can’t do that very well with other mediums.”
Tolliver will be the April Artist of the Month at Gallery 104 in La Grange. Her works will include Louisville landmarks, equestrian-themed paintings, figurative studies, landscapes, still lifes and paintings from a new series she is working on titled, “Highways and Byways.” An opening reception will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at Gallery 104.
“Susan is an exquisite painter,” said Kathy Dowling, Executive Director of the Arts Association of Oldham County and Gallery 104. “Her work seems predominantly bright and impressionistic, working with Matisse-like form and color often sprinkled with textural spots and dashes for effect.”
Tolliver received her Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from the University of Kentucky in 1975. Before beginning her faux painting business, she had a brief stint with a Fortune 500 company, thinking she might prefer a corporate career. After a while, she wanted to have more of a creative outlet, and opted for a career in faux painting.
“I like to have real-life examples to paint from,” Tolliver said of her current art form. When creating her works, Tolliver said she is inspired by light, color and texture. “I like a nice blend of warm and cool.”
Tolliver admits she is a “pretty versatile artist. I like to combine texture, translucent and opaque images.”
Tolliver said she is past the technical portion of oil painting and concentrating on finding which way she should go with her work. “I have a huge collection of ideas” to draw from, she said.
In addition to exhibiting her work at Gallery 104 in La Grange, Tolliver has her work on display at Damselfly in Midway, Ky., the Anchorage Café, Impellizzeri’s Pizza (across from Louisville Slugger Field), the Prospector in Prospect, Ky., and Higgins Gallery in Westport Village in Louisville.
“She is also a talented plein air painter,” Dowling said. “I love that she isn’t afraid to work big-creating drama in size as well as image.”
Tolliver plans to offer workshops during the summer. A class on “Color Theory is good for beginners and practicing artists as well,” she said. She is currently offering two classes a week for eight weeks for eight students on the fundamentals of perspective.

• For more information, visit www.SusanTolliver.com or contact Gallery 104 at (502) 222-3822.

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