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Susan Lucas never set out to become an artist. She enjoyed painting, but never imagined she’d one day make her living as artist.

“I don’t really think I knew that I was a creative person,” she says. “My best friend in high school was an incredibly gifted artist, so I could look at what she created and what I did, and felt like that probably wasn’t going to be my thing.”

But through a bit of determination, curiosity and a desire to learn, Lucas found her niche. The Kentucky native didn’t study art in college, originally, but found herself taking painting classes. Lucas ultimately decided to go back to school to study art at Virginia Intermont College and East Tennessee State University.

“I was probably in my 40s before I had the courage to say, ‘I’m an artist, and this is what I want to do,’” she says.

Lucas, who was honored as Visit South Walton’s 2004 Artist of the Year, paints contemporary landscape paintings in the tradition of the impressionist and post-impressionist movements. 

“If you look at Monet and his brush strokes, and the way the landscapes look, that’s the tradition in which I paint,” she says, “although sometimes I’m a little more abstract than that.”

The Santa Rosa Beach-based artist draws her inspiration from nature, whether it’s the Gulf of Mexico, Choctawhatchee Bay or tree branches making a pattern in the sky. In South Walton, she says, inspiration can be found around each corner.

“I came here for the first time when I was three years old, so when I look at places, I can see them as they are now and as they were,” she says. “When I look at things now, I can view them through the filter of my memory and through the lens of my happy feelings of the times I’ve spent here with my family.”

Lucas displays her work in her home studio/gallery. Open to the public by appointment, Lucas says she loves having a personal space to display her work.

As you walk through her studio and gallery, your eyes follow the varied projects hanging on the walls, sitting on easels or tucked away neatly -- some complete and others still works in progress. That’s the beauty of working from home.

“I can get a cup of coffee in the morning and wander in and see what I painted the day before, I can sit in my chair and consider what it is I’m going to do for the day’s work,” she says. “If I have 15 minutes, I can do something quick then go out. I learned that you can’t do the laundry while doing a painting day.”

With a deep passion for all things art, Lucas is constantly evolving her technique. She spends two weeks each year in California painting with a mentor, and she also serves aspiring artists locally as an art coach and mentor herself.

“I love to teach and I love to share the joy of making art,” she says. “I love enabling people to channel their inner artists.”

When she’s not in the studio, Lucas likes to spend her free time reading, hiking through the state forest, walking the beach and catching up with friends while enjoying good conversation and a great meal.

To learn more about Susan Lucas, visit her website at susanlucasart.com

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