Susan Lyon grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. Her initial interest in art was sparked by a television show on Georgia O'Keefe. "I hadn't seen art like that before. Her work touched me emotionally and seemed so personal -- I saw a television program on her life and that inspired me to take drawing classes. Lyon studied painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and was an active participant in Chicago's 100 year-old Palette and Chisel Club. It is there she first began exhibiting and selling her work; at twenty-three she was the youngest winner of the prestigious Gold Medal which she won two consecutive years in the annual Oil Painting show plus a third place in the Silver Medal Watercolor show. She entered the Oil Painters of America show once and got 7th place. In 1998 and 2000 she won an artist choice award in the Northwest Rendezvous Show.