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Suzanne Olson

What sparked your interest in painting?

I became interested in art during my elementary school years when I watched an older cousin pick up a pencil, open a magazine and reproduce a photograph on tablet paper.  When holding the photo and drawing side-by-side, it was hard to distinguish one from the other. Throughout my high school years, I enrolled in all of the art classes offered. Drawing and painting were put aside while my husband and I moved to Ohio and started to raise a family. We were living in Gahanna and a friend invited me to attend a ceramic art class in New Albany. After a class or two I was hooked. I later worked for this teacher.  

Why did you want to start a painting club and How did the name Heart of Ohio Tole come about?

We moved from Gahanna in 1975 to a farming community, where I started my own ceramic business. One source of supplies for my shop was from Thelma Hulet who owned a ceramic shop in Gahanna.  While picking up supplies, Thelma invited me to attend a meeting with local artists who intended to form a club where ideas could be exchanged. At that very first meeting Diane Capoccia was elected President and I was elected Vice-President of this new painting organization. It was at that first meeting when the name Heart of Ohio Tole (HOOT) originated. I think the name was chosen because we were located in the center or heart of Ohio and we were tole painters.

Do you remember the first piece you painted? 

Being a “Tole Painter or Decorative Artist” implies that the artist can paint on any surface using any medium. My first painted piece on wood was a picture of an apple in three stages: whole, partially eaten, and the core. I used oils which was what most beginners started with in the mid 1970’s. Since that early start, I have painted on nearly every surface that ‘stayed’ still long enough for me to put a loaded brush to it.

Favorite medium, surface and subject?

My preference today is to paint with water-based colors. I love painting with watercolors and drawing with colored pencils. Most of the classes I take now are in those two mediums. 

What keeps you painting today? 

In my business, I teach ceramics and tole painting. The biggest challenge for me is to keep ahead of my students so that I can provide the most help. The biggest joy in my teaching is to see the delight on a student’s face when they see their finished project that they thought they could never do.

What inspires you to paint today?

When I am working on a project of my own, ‘time-stands-still’ because I am concentrating on getting everything ‘just right’. I love the challenge of learning new things and continue to take classes for that reason. If I had a motto, it would be: Share your excitement about Decorative Painting by creating, sharing, and teaching.