Posted on May 27 2020
Susan Skelley is a Southern abstract artist and certified color chaser. Every painting of hers feels like a party, an explosion of color, a burst of expressiveness that viewers interpret and internalize in a manner unique to them. Her art is at once playfully lighthearted and luxuriously elegant. Like you’re enjoying endless, fancy cocktails with your girlfriends in a plush, intimate sitting room that’s been impeccably decorated by a famous interior designer, and there are absolutely no filters on your conversation.
Susan’s paintings have quirky, amazing names like Grass Skirted Van, Dirty Blonde Martini, and Aristobird that arise from real-life events, conversations, and points of inspiration that drive her to create. Each piece holds a secret to uncover, an inside joke, or a moment of absurdity to smile about once you’ve learned the true origin of the painting’s name. Her canvases are extremely vibrant and beautiful to behold.
“I get joy from creating art that makes people smile.”
“I never have a problem letting go of any [painting]… imagining it making someone else’s space a joy for them drives me.”
We chatted with Susan about her life and art and what inspires her to create:
How did you begin your career as an abstract artist?
Susan: I never picked up a paint brush until I was 44. I used to sell antiques and began painting on furniture. When I was going through my divorce, I needed a creative outlet, and I began painting funny things that depicted someone’s characteristics. For instance, I once painted a piece for a friend that was a cat lover, addicted to Mountain Dew, and owned a nursery… so I painted her as a cat, drinking Mountain Dew with lots of plants around… I guess this was the beginning of my style, because this led to naming my pieces after funny inside jokes or “you had to be there” moments with friends and family.
How do you work? What is your studio like?
Susan: My studio is set up in “stations”… computer and administration, shipping, couch for sitting and meeting with clients, and lots of room to paint. While I’m painting, it’s a complete mess, but at the end of the day, I wind down by putting everything back in its place.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?
Susan: I don’t have a favorite one that I’ve painted, but “Group Hug” stands out as one I really loved.
Do you ever have trouble letting go of your paintings once you’ve sold them?
Susan: I never have a problem letting go of any… imagining it making someone else’s space a joy for them drives me.
Do you do commissioned artwork?
Susan: I do and have done many commissions. It helps when a clients show me an image of the room it will be in and/or when they show me things such as rugs, pillows, comforters, etc… for a color scheme. I work intuitively, so the more leeway I have in the composition, the better.
Do you have any advice for creatives who are looking to make the leap into a career in art?
Susan: I can’t really give advice for creative people that are afraid to start, because Nike already said it!
Where can we purchase your art?
Susan: My website is susanskelley.com, and it will take you to my Etsy shop where you can purchase my art. I do have a limited number of prints. If anyone is interested in purchasing a print of a certain piece, inquire and I will see if it is available.
Susan has produced more than 1,000 original pieces for hundreds of clients across the country. She lives by the philosophy that your home is your sanctuary; you should fill it with art that makes you happy. Her art can be found in homes, galleries, boutiques, and other business establishments.
Susan Skelley’s artwork has been seen on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing and featured in Elle Décor Magazine.