Local artist paints for a global stage

By Destiny Brown
Posted 6/21/17

Susan McCollough’s paintings wow crowds in museums and galleries across Europe, Asia and North America. She has won numerous awards around the globe for her contemporary pieces.

Luckily, Baldwin …

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Local artist paints for a global stage

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Susan McCollough’s paintings wow crowds in museums and galleries across Europe, Asia and North America. She has won numerous awards around the globe for her contemporary pieces.

Luckily, Baldwin County residents can relish the beauty of her artwork after a short car ride since McCollough, and her studio, call Gulf Shores home.

McCollough has been an artist for as long as she can remember. Her mother was a self-taught artist and as she created her works, McCollough was always close by, creating her own drawings, even as a small child.

Born in Bronx, N.Y., the family moved to Dothan when she was very young. She went on to attend the University of Alabama as a theatre and speech major. At the beginning of her sophomore year, she decided to take a course in ceramics and never left the art department.

Soon after college, McCollough's husband, a nationally known plastic surgeon, took on a fellowship and the couple traveled from New Orleans to Boston to Beverly Hills, where they almost decided to settle down. McCollough had a studio and painted at every place they traveled.

Family drew the couple back to Alabama, and they eventually settled in their favorite vacation spot, Gulf Shores.

Susan had many paintings that she had completed over the years that were just sitting in storage. Her husband suggested she open a gallery in the empty space at his clinic in Gulf Shores.

“The gallery I have now at the institute was previously a fitness center and I did the interior for it,” McCollough said. “My husband said he had space at the institute and that I could hang my art there. I hung my paintings and it was incredible how it went off from there and it's been a business and a pleasure ever since.”

Once the gallery was opened, McCollough began painting every day.

“There were a few people contacting me about my art work and I didn't know which direction to go,” McCollough said. “A friend of mine in Mobile suggested I entered the Florence Biennale. They had 36,000 entries and only 600 were selected so I was very fortunate and that began a lot of the European awards I've received.”

The Florence Biennale is the major contemporary art exhibition in Florence, Italy, and is regarded as an outstanding showcase of the international contemporary art production.

That is just one of McCollough’s dozens of awards. This year her artwork was also chosen as the front cover for one of her favorite magazines, Art Tour Internationals Top 60 Masters of Contemporary Art 2017.

“I would follow it and then I got a phone call from the magazine out of Florence, Italy and New York and they wanted to do a spread on me,” McCollough said. “They selected one of my paintings, New York, New York, and it became the cover of their magazine. They gave an artist of the year award for the first time and I received that this year in Florence. It was a competition where they selected 60 art masters of contemporary art, so it was special and I'm very honored and blessed.”

The upcoming edition features the top 60 masters of contemporary art for 2017 and will be released June 20, 2017. The highly respected magazine is read by over two million readers in more than 200 countries. It can be purchased in Barnes & Noble stores.

Currently, McCollough has five paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Las Vegas. She is shipping a painting to South Korea, two to Ontario and many more. McCollough says it has been a very busy year.

As for the process for her art work, she says she is very fortunate that art comes easy to her.

“All of my ideas for art are all in my head and I know it sounds strange, but there's so many of them in my head and I just paint them as they pop and a lot of times as I'm falling asleep I will think about a painting or dream about a painting and the next morning I'll write it down and start from there,” McCollough said. “Everything I see makes we want to paint.”

She chooses oils for her paintings and loves the work and finished product.

“I love the work ethic that you have to have in order to paint,” McCollough said. “Even though it flows very easily for me, I love what I do.”

McCollough not only paints, but also displays her sculptures in her gallery. She said the Gulf Coast has been a rewarding support system for her art and gallery.

“My favorite thing about being an artist in this area is the support from all of the people around in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach,” McCollough said. “And the feedback I get when they walk into my gallery whether it's from small children or adults.”

To tour the gallery, visit 350 Cypress Bend Dr #105, Gulf Shores Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. or visit McCollough’s website at www.susannmccolloughart.media