Support Local Journalism


When Neptune’s Brewery’s new space opens on March 15, one of Livingston artist Kay Potter’s largest pieces will be unveiled. But the former raft guide and ski lift operator wasn’t always so public about her art.

“I was always doing art, it was just on the backburner,” Potter said in her Livingston studio last week. “I didn’t really show anyone or anything.”

For Potter, turning her focus to art came down to reflecting on inner fulfillment, on what would make her the happiest.

“I came to this moment where I was wondering what I was doing with my life,” she said.

So Potter made the leap, moving from Big Sky to Livingston five years ago after falling in love with the community and figuring she could afford the rent while working on her art. And work she did, starting with practical exercises to hone her skill.

“I’d wake up and paint a still life,” she said. “Then I’d paint another still life.”

Potter met with artists she respected to gain insight, but a real breakthrough came, like in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or “Karate Kid,” when she was painting a fence. Unlike oils, the housepaint was freeing for the artist. It led to a horse series she calls “fun and energetic.”

“It was a really good way for me to loosen up,” Potter said.

Rather than try to perfectly capture the world around her, Potter started painting with emotion and movement. She has since translated that style back into oils.

Though she loves the technique, Potter is not done growing and learning in her art, or helping others do the same in her growing teaching practice.

“I never imagined it would be such a big part of it,” she said. “I can touch people’s lives with art.”

In her own work, Potter moved from horses to various wildlife, and is now working on a series of landscapes blending into the edges of the canvas. A series of friend’s portraits also line the wall of her studio, a recent study.

“I feel like a lot of artists do tend to have one focus that they’re pretty passionate about,” Potter said. “...I just really like exploring all of the things.”

So when she was asked to do a mural that felt like summer all year long for Neptune’s, Potter was unafraid to experiment with a new technique and style. The whimsical under-sea panels feel like stained glass.

“It’s really, really big cheerful, celebratory art,” she said.

See Potter’s mural at the new Neptune’s TapHouse and Eatery at 232 S. Main St. in Livingston. She also has work at Bank of Bozeman through March and at her Livingston studio at 105 W. Lewis St. For more information, visit

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Rachel Hergett is the editor of Ruckus, the arts and culture publication of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She can be reached at or (406) 582-2603.

Rachel Hergett can be reached at or at 406-582-2603. Hergett is on Twitter at @hergett.