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By Julie DiNisio
Alright, let’s be honest with ourselves: fairies are not actually real. However, at 320 Hull Street in Richmond, VA, fairies come to life in painter Terry Lynn Smith’s art studio and gallery. Smith began painting in 2002 when she started taking lessons at John Tyler Community College. She experienced this creative surge when she became very ill with a staph infection that caused to her lose some function in her muscles and hands. This former government worker said, “When I got sick, I wanted to do one last thing – learn to paint.” This late-in-life artist paints within two genres: fantasy/fairies and surreal. She went on to say, “Once I started painting, I couldn’t stop.”
Terry Lynn Smith’s medium of choice is either oil or acrylic paint. The names of her art galleries reflect her interest in the fantastical and surreal, such as Faerytopia, Essence of the Soul, and Feelings of the Soul. However, a gallery entitled Eyes of the Soul truly represents Smith as an artist. Smith’s paintings often feature women with exaggerated and beautiful eyes. When asked what she focuses on in her art, she replied, “I try to capture mystery and expressiveness in the eyes. I think that you can really see a person when you’re looking into their eyes.” On her website, Eyesofthesoulart.net, Smith has written this about her paintings: “I wanted to paint humans in a surrealistic way, representing the face in an emotional, unique, and evoking way.”
With the daily pain Smith experiences, she uses painting as her escape. “Painting keeps me focused and makes my life easier,” she said. When asked about her free time, she good-humoredly responded “What free time?” In essence, though, she spends her days visiting her doctors and taking art classes at John Tyler Community College in Central Virginia, as she has been for nine years now. Reflecting a true devotion to painting, she spends an astounding five to six hours a night perfecting her craft.
At the close of the interview, the artist fondly said, “I’ve created a dream here." Clearly she has created a dream for both herself and viewers of her art.