Aritst Susan McCarty has been able to incorporate her life experiences into her artwork.

The portrait artist has the ability to capture the spirit of her subjects; painting and drawing compelling narratives of the themes by outlining the features of her work with a sculpture's precision.

However, it was a gift from a family member that helped start McCarty on her odyssey, one that has seen her combine her two passions: art and horses.

“When I was 5-years-old, my grandmother gave me a paint by numbers,” said McCarty.

The versatile and talented artist, who seems to be able to paint any living subject with equal talent, skill and authority, works in several media including graphite and oils.

“I'm addicted to the smell of oil paint,” said the artist.

McCarty isn't only an artist, but an accomplished skier and horseman.

She's lived all over the country, and received a degree in biology from UCLA.

“I received a degree in illustration at Kendall Art and Design, and a fellowship in art from a Rockefeller Foundation in New York City,” said McCarty. “I continued my art study at the School of Visual Arts (New York City) and the Art Student League.”

The CSRA resident studied privately while living in New York, and was an advertising art director, while teaching art classes at night.

McCarty teaches figure drawing and portraiture at the Art Institute in Augusta, and has private students.

“Mainly I do horses and portraiture,” said McCarty. “There's not much that I really can't paint.”

The artist has a number of pieces hanging at the Ridgecrest Coffee Bar in Aiken, featuring a number of her equestrian sport pieces, with an emphasis on polo, both English and Western disciplines.

However, it's McCarty's experience as a horseman that sets her apart as an artist.

“There's a difference in wrapping your hands around a horse's skin and bone structure, while you're brushing a horse, as opposed to having to work off photographs,” said McCarty. “Your subject in this type of detailed work doesn't stand still for you. I have to know because a photograph is very limited.”

To learn more about the artist, you can access her website at