I've been fascinated with the "story" behind some of my favorite bloggers, and today it is my pleasure to post an interview of a very kind southern belle and artist, Terri Smith of Dimples and Dragonflies. The interview continues on a second page. Click on "Read The Rest of This Article". Next week, one of my etsy favorites, Tali of Tush, Tush.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Today I Consider Myself Very Much A Southern Girl. But Early On, I Would Have Called Myself More A Transitional Girl Than Anything Else. I Was Born In Memphis, TN, and even though I was on Southern Soil At The Time..I Was Very Much In Transition, And Remained In That Orbital Spin Until Permanently Settling On Georgian Soil In 1992. To Clarify..Both My Daddy And Husband Were Career Naval Officers, And I Was Simply Part Of Their Respective Military Packages Until My Husband Reached Retirement in ‘92.
Why Georgia? After Years Of Relocating For My Husband’s Career, He Gifted Me With The Choice Of Our Permanent Retirement Location. My Daddy’s People Are All From Surrounding Counties Here, So When Asked Where I Would Like To Go, It Made Perfect Sense To Reconnect With Family. After Years Of Living An Unattached Gypsy Type Existence In The Military, Georgia Felt As Close As It Gets To A Real Home. Today I Feel As If My Life Actually Began And Will Possibly End For Me As Well ~ Here In This Glorious State.
Creating ~ Using Two Different Mediums:
I Initially Took Up Painting As A Form Of Therapy…Distraction You Might Say. Simply Burned Out From Countless Days Filled With Disease And Illness As An O.R. Nurse, I Sought Comfort And Relief In The Act Of Creation. Making Something Beautiful Seemed Immediately To Heal What Had Turned So Sad Within My Spirit. And Time In The Studio Sure Smelt A Lot Nicer Than Time Spent In The O.R., I Can Tell You That. I Chose The Medium Of Oil At The Outset Because It Interested Me More Than Other Mediums At The Time. The Only Formal Training In The Use Of Oils Came Through A Few Undergraduate Courses At S.C.A.D. (Savannah College Of Art & Design) Where I Learned Traditional Application Methods And
Technical Drafting Skills. I Also Learned That A Particular Style Cannot Be Taught. It Has To Be Developed. First From The Heart And Later From Repetition In The Daily Use Of A Particular Medium.
It’s Only Been Recently That I Became Curious In Metal Work And Soldering After Seeing A Few Cross Bottle Displays In An Atlanta Boutique While Visiting A Cousin One Weekend. My Cousin And I Were Floored By The High Prices Of These Pieces And Once I Got Home I Began Researching Soldering. As Much In An Effort To Save Money By Making These Beautiful Pieces For Myself As Well As For The Shear Enjoyment Of The Process. Ironically, It Was My Cousin That Later Encouraged Me To Offer My Glass Pieces To The Public Much In The Same Way That I Had Originally Offered My Oils.
Why I Paint Young Girls And Mature Women:
I Was Blessed In 1974 With An Only Child, A Daughter. During That Time “Holly Hobbie” Was All The Rage, And I Remember It Seemed Everywhere I Shopped There Would Be Something Relative To This Delightful Female Character. Anyway..I Just Really Liked The Vintage Styling Behind The Happy Faced Holly Hobbie. I Liked The Different Hats She’d Wear. The Way She Was Positioned With Baby Buggies, Dolls, Kittens, And Every Day Settings That A Young Girl Might Find Herself In.
When I First Began Exploring Figurative Painting, I Always Felt Emotionally Drawn To Try And Replicate That Same Type Figure I Had Seen In Holly Hobbie. The Young Female In The Early Stages Of Development. The Young Female Enjoying A Happy And Carefree Existence. The Young Female Standing Proud In Her Colorful New Frock And Hat…Happily Dancing, Lunching Or Shopping With Her Girlfriends. The Ideas For Compositions Are Endless And Each Revolve Totally Around The Life Of A Female So I Know This Life Quite Well. You Should Paint What You Know..And I Know Female Intimately. (Big Southern Grin) Of Course I’ve Also Done My Share Of Landscapes, Farm Animals Like Roosters And Cows. Even Architectural Pieces Like Old Cottages Hold My Interest From Time To Time. But I’m Always Compelled Right Back To My Girls.
Do You Use Reference Photos Or Models?
Yes, I Use Photographs Religiously. I’m Forever Tearing Out Magazine Ads For Children’s Clothing And Similar Pages From Mature Women’s Fashion Magazines. I Have Two Of The Sweetest Nieces (And Cutest But Of Course I’m Bias) In The Whole State Of Georgia Who Sometimes Pose For Me. I Try And Catch Them In As Natural A Setting As Possible..Just To Get A Visual On How A Leg, Foot, Or Hand Would Be Properly Positioned Within Any Given Circumstance.
I Have To Confess..I Have Been Told I Paint A Really Good Face..Both Of Young And More Mature Women..But The Good Lord Knows I Have A “Real” Difficult Time With Hands. Those Darn HANDS Get Me Every Time. A Thorn In My Side I Can Tell You For Sure. But I Learned While Training, That Hands Are The Most Dreaded Feature For Any Artist. Knowing This Helps Sometimes..But Not Every Time.
How Wonderful To Have Your Paintings In A Gallery. How did That Happen For You?
I Pulled Out Of Nursing In 2002, And Shortly Afterwards Found Myself Enrolling In Art School. Somehow My Purpose In Learning To Paint Was Altogether Different Than Most Of The Students In My Classes. I’d Hear Their Excitement Talking About Building Their Portfolios And One Day Getting Gallery Recognition. I Felt So Detached From That Kind Of Talk. Friends..I Just Wanted To Paint. Plain And Simple. Wanted To Be Able To Put Something Beautiful Together To Lift My Spirit From The Unhappy Memories Of Surgical Procedure. And If One Day I Created Something Worthy Enough To Hand Down To My Grandchildren, Then That Would Be Enough.
Guess You Could Say I Settled Comfortably Into My Original Mindset For Ever Attending Classes To Begin With. You See..Nursing Had Hardened Me..Had Changed My Once Carefree Nature Into One Easily Able To Rationalize The World And Our Humble Human Condition In A Very Real Way. Guess What I’m Saying Is I Have A Very True Sense Of God And His Universe. How He Is Completely In Charge Of Everything That Happens Or Doesn’t Happen To Us Down Here. I Had Seen It Go In Either Direction Too Many Times In The O.R. To Think Otherwise.
Spare Bedroom And Pulling One Whenever The Need Arose. Every Christmas, Birthday And Special Occasion..EVERYBODY In My Family Knew Precisely What They’d Be Getting From Terri.
Okay, Fast Forward To 2008. As Fate..Or Heaven (I Prefer To Say) Would Have It.. Things For Me As A Painter Were About To Transform. I Guess You Could Say Jesus Looked Down On This Now Settled And Contented Southern Girl And Decided It Was “Her Time”. I Get This Call One Morning From My Cousin, Donna (Beside Me Above) Telling Me That A Local Artist In Macon (A Town 45 Minutes From My Front Door) Had Just Opened A New Downtown Gallery. Donna Had Already Visited The Place And Some Of The Work Displayed Was Similar To Mine. She Suggested I Take Some Of My Work In Just To See What Would Happen.
At First I Thought The Suggestion Was Silly. Why Would Anyone Want To Walk Into A Gallery And Buy Something Of Mine That I Had Been Giving Away For Years? My Cousin Has Always Recognized My Strengths At Painting..More Than I Ever Recognized Them In Myself. She Persisted And I Eventually Gathered A Few Canvases And Headed To Macon. It Wasn’t An Easy Decision Because I Truly Thought I
Was About To Be Embarrassed Beyond Comprehension. But As I Drove That Day.. Getting Closer To Macon And The New Gallery, My Heart Relaxed In A Way I Can’t Define. It Was As If This Was A Trip I Was Supposed To Be Taking. Like Brushing My Teeth That Morning Had Felt So Routine And Normal..This Too Felt Normal. Natural. Like It Was Meant To Be.
Lorraine Shelko, The Owner And Artist Extraordinaire Of Shelko Gallery, Took A Look At My Canvases And Things After That Really Began To Move. That Very Day, She Placed Two Of My Canvases In The Front Windows And They Both Sold Within That First Week. I Could Not Have Been More Stunned! I Remember The First Call I Received Telling Me Of My First Sale..I Think I Literally Screamed Out Loud And Perhaps Damaged Lorraine’s Hearing! Then Something Remarkable Was Said..Lorraine Explained That Following The Sale, I Could Now Consider Myself A True Artist. That Once You Actually Receive Funds For Your Work It Places You In An Entirely Different League, Both Professionally And Legally.
What Other Dreams Or Goals Do You Have Next?
My Time With Shelko Gallery Changed My Entire Life As An Artist. Lorraine Has Since Relocated To Taos, New Mexico, To Further Expand Her Talents As An Artist, But I Will Forever Be Grateful To Her. She Opened My Eyes To Bigger Possibilities Beyond What I Had Grown Too Comfortable With. Lorraine Had Actually Become My Mentor..Someone I Very Much Wanted To One Day Emulate. First By Reaching Her Level Of Expertise In Painting Skill And Also By One Day Having My Own Gallery.
I Took My First Steps In The Fall Of 2008 In Creating My Dream By Establishing My Own Brand And Company, “Dimples & Dragonflies Studio & Gallery”. And Today In Between Caring Daily For My Mother Who Is Stricken With Alzheimer’s Disease, I Paint (And Solder) And Scout Local Real Estate Looking For The Perfect Property To Either Lease Or Buy To Take My Work To Another Level.
Simply Not Meant To Be. But I Believe God Was Letting Me Know I Was Still In His Thoughts. But When He’s Ready To Take Me To The Next Floor In This Adventure…I’ll Be Right Here Waiting. Painting Every Day Until He Comes For Me. Life Truly Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This. Even If God Leaves Me Right Where I Am..Then I’m Blessed. If He Lifts Me To The Next Level..Then I’m Blessed. Do You See Where I’m Going With This? I Can Be Happy Now Where Ever I Am As Long As I Have Art In My Day. I Just Hope I Bring Happiness To Others With It Along With The Process.
Thank You Sweet Diane For Offering Me This Opportunity To Help Others Know Me A Little Better. It Has Been A Sincere Pleasure Having Met You Through Blogging And An Even Greater Pleasure Having You As A New Painter Friend. Your Work Is Phenomenal. Maybe Some Day I Can Interview You And Hear Your Story. Sending Love & Georgia Sunshine To All Who May Have Shared In My Walk Today, Terri Smith