Artist Profile: Amanda Talley

Thom Bennett Photographs

As an undergraduate art major at Mary Baldwin College, artist Amanda Stone Talley concentrated on still-life oil painting. While pursuing a master’s in painting from the Savannah College of Art & Design, she honed in on her medium of choice. “I took an abstract painting class, got inspired and never looked back,” she says. For the past 13 years, Talley has been working as an abstract expressionist out of a Lower Garden District building that serves as her home, studio and gallery. Her signature style of swirling lines is recognized by many.

At the heart of Talley’s work is the energy of emotion. During graduate school, the Baton Rouge native struggled with the transition of traditional representational art to abstract painting and simultaneously confounded in her efforts to teach a class of disrespectful fifth-grade students. The “ah ha” moment came when she began translating the anger and frustration from the job onto a canvas for the class. “That painting was pure expressionism,” she says of the work, which was purchased by SCAD when she graduated. “It was like a therapy tool in a way.”

Art lovers have responded positively to Talley’s work, which is more ebullient than angry, ever since. After graduation, she moved to New Orleans and landed a job at Bremermann Designs and gallery representation at Cole Pratt Gallery. “I didn’t know anything about the gallery scene in New Orleans,” she recalls of the day she brought her portfolio into Cole Pratt without an appointment. “Cole was there, and he offered me a contract on the spot.”

For Talley, the creative process is spontaneous – less about angst and forethought and more about getting out of her own way. “Something else works through me,” she says. “I don’t really have a lot of intent when I start something. I just let things happen. I let my hands do what they want to do. Everything I do, I finish in the time I start. Even a really large canvas will take me three hours or less.”

Gratitude motivates her. “I can be inspired by the smallest thing,” she says.

A couple years ago, she began using high-resolution images of her paintings to create digitally printed fabrics and wallpaper. She currently has a fabric rep testing the market response to 10 fabric patterns and seven wallpaper patterns. “Not everybody can afford a painting,” she says. “A wallpaper is another way for someone to enjoy having my art on the wall. You get to see so many details you wouldn’t notice in the painting.”

As her work evolves, it continues to garner favor in the five cities in which it’s shown: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston and Charlotte, N.C. “For a while, it was about what’s acceptable or sells. Now that I don’t worry about [what’s acceptable], I think that’s what people fall in love with.”

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