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Artist Joan Liles

La Grange artist’s paper doll art
becoming a fashionable item

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(May 2002) LA GRANGE, Ky. – “I thought it would be interesting,” said Joan Liles of her latest artistic endeavor, a paper doll set entitled, “Changing Fashions at the Kentucky Derby.”

Joan Liles

Oldham County resident
and self-taught artist
Joan Liles displays some
of her recent artwork on
the wall of her home.

This self-taught artist has created a new look for an old art form. No doubt many who see her paper doll collection will have fond memories from childhood of playing with paper dolls.
Her set spans the years 1875 to the 1990s, depicting outfits men and women might have worn to the Derby. Also included are many interesting Derby facts.
“This was a learning experience for me,” she said.
Liles began creating paper doll art after her and her husband crafted a few of people they worked with. The idea that began as an office joke has now turned into a serious career for her.
In addition to paper dolls, Liles also specializes in pencil and colored pencil portraits of people and animals. She has designed many breed specific watercolor paintings of dogs and cats.
Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Liles moved to La Grange in 1997 with her husband, Michael, and son, Joel.
In summer 2001, Liles assisted in painting horse-inspired murals on one of the black barns at the Oldham County Fairgrounds. The mural, which won first place, depicts a group of five horses running toward the viewer.
“My mom was crafty,” said Liles about her talent for the arts. “I have always loved drawing, painting, crafting and writing poetry and stories.”
Liles has also designed 10 book covers for Slosson Educational Publications Inc., located in East Aurora, N.Y. She has previously taught art to home schooled children as well.
Sandra Graves, president of the Oldham County Arts Association, said Liles is “very technically accurate. She has a sense of humor,” that shines through in her artwork.
Liles revealed that she prefers to draw animals because she has “always loved animals.”
She obtained two dogs from the Humane Society, she said, after seeing how many needed homes. Penny and Sherman influenced her art and encouraged her to become involved in Humane Society projects.
As a result, she will have a booth set up on May 19 for the Paws for the Cause walk, formerly known as the Doggie Derby. This one-mile walk will be held on the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park in Louisville.
Up until the last few years, most of her work remained in private collections of more than 65 individuals and families in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Nevada, Michigan and Florida.
Herb Head is a La Grange resident who has commissioned Liles to do work for him. Learning of her work by word of mouth, he contacted the artist to create a cultural keepsake for him and his wife, who is from India.
“She combined a map of the U.S. and India, showing the key places we have lived and visited,” Head said. “I would recommend her to anyone.”

• To view the artist’s work, visit her website: www.joanliles.com.

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