Culture » Visual Arts

Sallie Knox Hall lets intuition guide her colorful style

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One of the greatest challenges for artists in all mediums is silencing the inner critic that hampers creativity. Manitou resident Sallie Knox Hall knows that well.

“I love to doodle with a tiny Sharpie — I could do that all day long and be very happy,” she says. “But when it came time to sit down in front of a canvas... I used to be frightened that it wasn’t going to look right, or that it wasn’t going to be sophisticated enough.”

Originally from Monroe, Louisiana, Hall holds a BFA in art education from Texas Christian University. She also took many painting classes, giving her a strong technique background. But the work she’s become known for has less to do with the lessons of the old masters and more with folk art or children’s books.

The change came when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“[That] totally hit me like a ton of bricks and changed my life,” she says. “I had this time I needed to take to recover, and I also gave myself permission... to stop and just take care of myself. And I just started painting again.”

She ignored that inner critic and simply painted what felt right at the time, and in that, she found a sense of freedom and wonder. She’s been cancer-free for eight years, and she now paints mostly on commission, lauded for the way she captures personality.

“Most of the time, people are asking me to do families and dogs and hobbies and things,” she says.

When we speak, she’s painting a piece involving Charity Hospital in New Orleans that closed after Hurricane Katrina. As part of the project, she’ll depict shackled prisoners, a nod to Louisiana having more people incarcerated per-capita than any other place in the world. It’s different, a little darker, and that has Hall excited.

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