Playing With Paint

Both a fine artist and studied architect, Susan Greene turned her passion for painting into a full-blown industry that has fueled her creativity for more than 32 years.

By Jeanne Delathouder

Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Since she was a child, decorative artist Susan Greene has been fascinated with creating art through the medium of paint. She often sat for hours playing and experimenting with textures, colors and the effects of shadows and light. Some pieces looked good, and some did not—but that was okay. She was learning.

“Art and decorative painting have always been my passion,” Susan says, “but growing up, I was told by everyone, including my parents, that I could not make a living doing what I loved. So, I chose architecture, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, and worked in that field for 11 years. But it wasn’t creative enough for me,” she notes. “I didn’t get to climb ladders and scaffolding—which is now a daily occurrence—and mostly, I didn’t get to have glazes and paints between my fingers.”

Susan’s desire to keep “playing with paint” inspired her to create her own business—Paint Imagery—which she established in 1989. From there, she continued to experiment and hone her artistic skills. Her company was one of the first to provide original and creative methods of applying painted finishes and textures to walls, ceilings, furniture and canvases. Because her professional background had already introduced her to many of the area’s prominent interior designers, builders and architects, she immediately became busy. The combination of Susan’s artistic ability and an understanding of how to operate a business has kept Paint Imagery thriving for more than 32 years.

“When collaborating with clients or interior designers, there is a very intentional process,” she explains, “and the process stays the same whether it is a decorative/specialty finish, a mural or a commissioned work of art. A meeting takes place so I can measure the space, discuss the desired effect and brainstorm about texture, colors and technique. Specialty finishes are priced by the square foot based on these items,” she adds. “I love exploring ideas with all the interior designers who have asked me to assist them in creating beauty for their clients.”

While creating murals, graphics and other works of art for residential, commercial and corporate designers, Susan has developed some highly unique techniques as well as traditional effects. Her broad repertoire of design styles ranges from Chinoiserie motifs, landscape scenes and Tuscan vineyards to crazy digital graffiti, whimsical repeating bowties and ombré jellybeans.

“Once the collaboration and planning stage is complete, the best part of any project is the actual painting,” says the artist. “I become completely immersed and get into a rhythm and flow that is pure happiness. It is difficult for me to call what I do ‘work’ because I love it and am passionate about it.”

Some of Susan’s unique “outside-the-box” projects include a digital-style mural of an African woman with Nepal-like graffiti, a hand-painted Chinoiserie dining room and a complete historic renovation of the Barnett on Washington. When doing her own art for shows and galleries, light is her inspiration.

“Its elusive quality can transform a building, a figure or a landscape,” she says. “I prefer oils because actual light plays off of it in a magical way, but I often use mixed media, acrylics or watercolors to create my works of art,” she sums.

Over the last several challenging months during the pandemic, Susan has been more focused on her commissioned projects and admits to not having much time to get art ready for a gallery showing.

“At this point in my career, the art I do is commission-based and is created specifically for my clients’ wants, needs and desires,” she explains. “The decorative arts, murals and graphics have been extremely important for me, and my clients have been excited about living and working in a place they love. They are not just following design trends but doing what they actually want to do and what makes them happy.”  To view an extensive gallery of Susan’s work, visit