FRANKFORT - Mary Lou Hall is a master story teller.
The stories she shares are vibrant and descriptive, recalling the life and character of those she depicts.
Her subjects range from those she knows and loves to the historic figures she pays homage to.
She shares these stories, not through the written or spoken word, but through the pictures she composes in paint.
In 2006 the Governor’s Office of the Kentucky Commission on Women took notice of Hall’s unique ability and she was selected to paint nine portraits of outstanding Kentucky women to be hung in the west wing of the Capitol in Frankfort.
The Kentucky Women Remembered collection began in 1978 when the first portraits were commissioned to bring attention to the contributions women have made throughout the commonwealth.
For many years the collection of water color paintings hung in the commission office or traveled around the state on exhibition.
In 1996 the portraits found a permanent home in the Capitol, offering a more appropriate balance to the statues and oil paintings of men who have impacted the states history.
Hall, who has studied water color under renowned artists, painted her subjects from photographs provided by the commission on women, spending a great deal of time getting to know each of them through extensive research.
Carefully planning each portrait, she strove to render not only their likeness, but their character, which was no easy task.
“It was interesting trying to portray these women in a way that was visually pleasing, but it was a challenge,” she said.
Hall was given three years to complete the paintings.
In 2008 her ninth and final work was hung in the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit, cementing Hall’s place in state history as only the third artist to contribute to the collection.
“My husband makes a point to tell anyone who will listen,” she said laughing.
Several of her works have been the subject of solo exhibitions and two of her portraits have won top prizes at the Kentucky State Fair, but as Hall will tell you, contributing to the Capitol’s permanent Kentucky Women Remembered collection has been the highlight of her resume.
“It’s definitely a point of pride,” she said.
Hall began painting when she was a child taking lessons from a friend of her mother’s, but it was her mother, Mary Jane Trunnell Moser, who first exposed Hall to the visual arts.
Moser, a Bullitt County native, painted and instilled an appreciation of the arts in her children.
As Hall grew into adulthood she took more pleasure in painting and began pursuing water color and pastel, which have since become her favorite media.
Hall earned a degree in elementary education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and got married. Between teaching, maintaining a household and raising four children, painting took a backseat for several years.
As life became less hectic, Hall returned to college to take art foundation classes at the University of Louisville.
Eventually she was able to set up a studio in her Elizabethtown home, where she has produced countless works of art, most of which have been portraits, often featuring her four grandchildren.
Though Hall grew up in Elizabethtown, she spent a great deal of her childhood in Bullitt County with her mother and her Auntie Frances Trunnell, who lived in Shepherdsville during most of her life.
“I guess you could say Bullitt County helped me become who I am,” Hall said.
Hall continues to paint from her home studio and she has no intention of hanging up her brushes anytime soon.
“I’ll keep painting as long as I can,” she said.
Hall is a member of the Kentucky Watercolor Society and Central Kentucky Art Guild, of which she is a founding member, past president and former Artist of the Year.
For more information visit marylouhallfineart.com.