Susan Loy

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Susan Loy
Susan Loy 2009.png
Artist, calligrapher and author Susan Loy pictured, 2009
Born (1951-02-26) February 26, 1951 (age 72)
EducationArt history and literature
Known forWatercolor painting and calligraphy using steel pens and brushes

Susan Loy (born February 26, 1951) is an American artist, calligrapher, and author best known for her "Literary Calligraphy" watercolor paintings of the Language of Flowers and the White House Easter Egg Roll. These paintings combine hand-lettered classic quotations from William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Biblical sources, etc. with finely-rendered illustration done with steel pens and brushes.


Loy was a 1969 graduate of Midpark High School in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. She graduated in American Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her art was included in an exhibit at the Miami University Dolibois European Center in 2018. [1] Loy’s graduate studies included art history, [2] literature, and geography at Ohio State University. [3]

She worked as a research associate at the Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Fine Art and as a geographer at Battelle Memorial Institute, [4] also in Columbus, Ohio.

Loy took a calligraphy course in Columbus in 1978 and was captivated; she later explained that the pen was like a magic wand when she picked it up. [5] She felt that her research background in cognitive geography and art history brought her into the art world “through the back door,” rather than gaining entrance through studio classes as is typical for most artists. [6]


It was during the 1980s that Loy developed the circular mandala combined with calligraphic hand-lettering that has become her style. [6] [7] The art columnist for The Roanoke Times dubbed Loy’s works a mix of “magic circles, calligraphy, and philosophical texts.” [8] Loy told a reporter that she had adopted a “commercially refined style for the calligraphy.” [9]

In 2000, the coordinator of the Yankee Peddler Foundation in Medina, Ohio stated that, "Ms. Loy’s Literary Calligraphy demonstrates how type blossoms into art in a calligrapher’s hand.” [10] Her style has also been described as, "poetry meets flowers, meets artistic script." [11]

In 2008, Loy estimated that she had completed 150 modern mandalas. [12]

Language of Flowers[edit]

Loy has completed numerous paintings and authored a book on the Language of Flowers. The March, 1994 edition of Victorian Sampler magazine featured Susan in an article entitled “The Language of Flowers.” [13] [14] Loy wrote an article for the Emily Dickinson International Society where she described her artistic process for painting a suite of Dickinson poems.[15] In 2001 Susan Loy’s book on the Language of Flowers, Flowers the Angel’s Alphabet, was published. [16] [17] It won the 2002 Benjamin Franklin Award for the Gardening and Reference categories and was named Outstanding Book of the Year from the Independent Book Publishers Association. [18] In 2008, Loy estimated that she had completed 150 modern mandalas. [12] In 2018, Susan wrote a book chapter connecting the Victorian flower language to modern emojis. [19]

White House Easter Egg Roll[edit]

A highlight of Loy’s career was her 3-year relationship with the White House Easter Egg Roll. In 1997, Loy was chosen as the Easter egg artist for the state of Virginia whose painted egg was displayed at the White House. [20] [21] Loy was chosen to serve as 1998 Artist-on-the-Lawn and to create the program cover for the 1998 White House Easter Egg Roll and to capture impressions of that event. [22] [23] As Artist on the Lawn, Loy painted “The White House Easter Egg Roll, 1878-1998” as the official poster for the 1999 event, [24] and presented it to the President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. [25]

Constitution Project[edit]

Loy’s hand-lettering of the U.S. Constitution project began after the September 11 attacks in 2001 when she was stopped by the police of three separate occasions beginning in May 2002. [26] She began her Constitution paintings with the preamble. [27] Susan spoke to several school classes on Constitution Day, September 17, 2007. [28] [29] According to her web site, "THE CONSTITUTION PROJECT – Constitution prints by artist Susan Loy". Retrieved March 4, 2019. Loy spent over 2500 hours to complete the seven paintings that comprise her hand-lettered and illustrated U.S. Constitution. She also completed paintings of the Declaration of Independence and The Gettysburg Address to complement the Constitution Project.

American Arts and Crafts Festival Artist[edit]

Susan Loy began exhibiting her art at outdoor art festivals in the early 1980s at her local “Art in the Alley” in Bedford, Virginia. She founded Literary Calligraphy in 1983, and was joined by her husband in 1990. [3] Together, they increased their number of shows and festivals, expanded the company and built a shop to accommodate cutting custom mats, picture framing, and selling reproductions and stationery. In 2003, Literary Calligraphy estimates that it sold 3,000 reproductions per year, had a mailing list of 35,000 and employed up to seven full- and part-time persons. [3] According to their web site, Loy and her company traveled widely to art festivals in the eastern United States including (for example) Ann Arbor Art Fairs (Ann Arbor, Michigan), St. James Court Art Show (Louisville, Kentucky) and Three Rivers Art Festival (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). In addition, they sold at crafts shows ,[12] flower shows including the Philadelphia Flower Show (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (Seattle, Washington), as well as at selected conventions, including the American Library Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.

In the Czech Republic[edit]

In the autumn of 2017, Susan and her husband announced that they were leaving the American arts and craft show circuit, closing their custom framing operations, and moving to Prague in the Czech Republic. Loy explained that, “I had a junior year abroad in Luxembourg and always wanted to return and live in Europe, but the lifestyle and rewards of a touring artist kept me in Virginia.” She chose Prague because it is a “world-class city and affordable.” They continue to sell reproductions and stationery in the United States at [11]

Loy was granted a 2-year cultural visa, sponsored by the Czech Unitarian Church to commemorate the Flower Communion introduced by Norbert Čapek in 1923. On June 14, 2020 Loy unveiled a watercolor painting, titled Czech Flower Alphabet, so detailed that it took her two years to complete. Loy presented the painting at the annual Flower Communion in Čapek Hall in the Unitaria on Anenská in Prague 1. [30] [31] [32] A video recorded an interview of Susan Loy in her Prague studio, conducted by art historian, Jana Ticha. The interview covers Loy’s connection to Čapek’s Flower Celebration, the research that she conducted in order to plan the watercolor painting, and the technique she used to create the painting. "Flower Connections: An Interview with Calligrapher Susan Loy" on YouTube


  1. ^ "The Shape of Luxembourg (7–12 October 2018 AALT Stadhaus Exhibition Catalog)". Art Exhibit at Miami University Dolibois European Center. Differdange, Luxembourg: Miami University Dolibois European Center. 2018. pp. 24, 25.
  2. ^ "Focus 3". Fourth Annual Invitational Art Show. Middleburg Heights, Ohio: Southwest Arts Council. 1989. p. 4.
  3. ^ a b c Tinder, Melody (January 22, 2003). "Meet Your Neighbors". Smith Mountain Eagle.
  4. ^ Hoy, Bill (September 7, 1983). "Couple combines hi-tech careers, rural lifestyle". The Bedford Bulletin Democrat: 5A.
  5. ^ Murray, M (January 2000). "This is fine artist Susan Loy". Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. Gaithersburg, MD: George Verdier. 16 (1): 1.
  6. ^ a b Willis, Linda (February 2, 1987). "Working in Circles: Loy Uses Mandalas To Convey Artistic Message". Franklin News-Post. Rocky Mount, VA: 1, 6B.
  7. ^ Bennett, Michelle S. (January 1990). "On The Cover". Hear and Now. Roanoke, VA: WVTF Public Radio: 3.
  8. ^ Weinstein, A (January 17, 1988). "Artemis exhibition compares favorably with Roanoke museum's biennial show". Roanoke Times and World News. Roanoke, VA: E9.
  9. ^ Scherba, M (March 28, 1988). "Lake Helps Inspire Couple". Franklin New-Post. Rocky Mount, VA: 6–7B.
  10. ^ "2000 Yankee Peddler Foundation Crafter/Artist of the Year" (Press release). Yankee Peddler Foundation. April 29, 2000.
  11. ^ a b Pinto, C (November 24, 2017). "Czech Mates". Wset-Tv. Lynchburg, VA.
  12. ^ a b c "Featured Artist: Calligrapher Susan Loy". Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival Program. Manchester, VT: Craftproducers: 11. August 1, 2008.
  13. ^ French, M, ed. (March 1994). "The Language of Flowers". Victorian Sampler. St. Charles, IL: Denise Boba: 70–71.
  14. ^ Lyon, R, ed. (December 8, 1993). "Magazine to feature Moneta Artist". The Smith Mountain Eagle. Wirtz, VA: Womack Publishing: 5A.
  15. ^ Loy, S (November–December 1997). "Painting the Flowers of Emily Dickinson". Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin. 9 (2): 6–7, 22–23.
  16. ^ Loy, Susan (2001). Tapp, Rosemary (ed.). Flowers, the Angel's Alphabet (1 ed.). Moneta, VA: CSL Press. pp. 212. ISBN 0-9702113-1-7.
  17. ^ Dickinson, B (November 25, 2001). "The calligraphy of flowers". The Roanoke Times. Roanoke, VA: Horizon 6.
  18. ^ Marriano, G (June 2002). "Susan Loy Wins Two Major Awards for "Flowers the Angel's Alphabet"". City. Roanoke, VA: 34.
  19. ^ Loy, Susan (2019). "The Spread of Flower Symbolism from the Victorian Language of Flowers to Modern Flower Emoji". Handbook of the Changing World Language Map. Lexington, KY: Stan Brunn, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky: 1–24. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-73400-2_59-1. ISBN 978-3-319-73400-2.
  20. ^ Lyon, R, ed. (March 26, 1997). "No 'yolk' -- Easter egg White House-bound". Smith Mountain Eagle. Wirtz, VA: Womack Publishing: 1.
  21. ^ "Area calligrapher's work on display at White House". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, VA: D3. March 28, 1997.
  22. ^ Patterson, K (April 14, 1998). "The White House Hosts Area Artist for Easter". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, VA: C1.
  23. ^ Poindexter, J (April 10, 1998). "Moneta artist on roll at Easter-egg event". The Roanoke Times. Roanoke, VA.
  24. ^ Lyon, R, ed. (March 31, 1999). "Artist 'egg'-cited about Easter trip". Smith Mountain Eagle. Wirtz, VA: Womack Publishing: B1.
  25. ^ "Loy presents commemorative poster to President and First Lady". The Bedford Bulletin. Bedford, VA: 5A. April 7, 1999.
  26. ^ O'Neill, B (June 12, 2008). "Embracing the Constitution, one letter at a time". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA: A-2.
  27. ^ Lyon, R (September 15, 2010). "U.S. Constitution becomes a work of art". Smith Mountain Eagle. Wirtz, VA: Womack Publishing: 5A.
  28. ^ Desrets, C (December 18, 2007). "Constitution Art". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, VA: A1, A8.
  29. ^ Jackson, R (September 19, 2007). "Artist shares Constitution calligraphy". Smith Mountain Eagle. Wirtz, VA: Womack Publishing: 9A.
  30. ^ "American Artist Unveils in Prague 2-Year Art Project "Czech Flower Alphabet"". Prague Morning. Prague, Czech Republic: June 6, 2020.
  31. ^ Literary, Calligraphy (June 12, 2020). "American artist unveils painting of Czech flower alphabet". Prague Monitor. Prague, Czech Republic: V6 Ventures Limited.
  32. ^ "The American calligrapher Susan Loy". Forum 40: Journal of Letter Exchange. Powys, Wales UK: Letter Exchange: 29. September 2020.

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