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Lust for life


Award-winning artist has passion for pastel paintings

Valley Morning Star (07/28/03)
By Christy Espinosa

Terry Smith concentrated on oil painting for about 40 years before discovering her current passion — pastels.

Since falling in love with the medium during a workshop eight years ago, she has built up a collection of more than 1,000 pastels.

Smith, 64, said she paints whatever catches her eye. Some of her favorite subjects are roosters and doors and windows.

“ Wysteria and Adobe,” a 24- by 18-inch painting of the rear entrance of a hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., won Best of Show at RioFest this year.

Smith also delights in depicting landscapes.

“ You can’t beat God’s beauty,” she said.

Smith passed on her love for painting to teenagers for 24 years as an art teacher at Raymondville High School — the same place she delved into art in the 1950s. She said her high school art teacher, Marjorie Medland, inspired her to study art.

Smith went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in art education from Southwest Texas State University and a master’s degree in art education from Texas A&I University in Kingsville.

Now retired, she spends three to four days a week, four to eight hours a day, painting from slides in her at-home studio. She paints about a third of her pieces outdoors — at the site of her subjects. She created about 50 paintings in 2002.

Every January, Smith gives a weeklong workshop in Raymondville. Throughout the year, she travels the state to give workshops and travels the country to participate in art shows. She said she’s grateful to her husband of 45 years, Gary, a retired farmer, for supporting her in her endeavors.

Terry Smith of Raymondville is surrounded by pastel paintings as she works on one of her many projects at her home. After concentrating on oil painting for about 40 years, Smith discovered a passion for pastels during a workshop eight years ago. Photo by Christy Espinosa

Smith’s pastel paintings have won more than 50 awards, many of them in national and international shows. Local awards include RioFest’s Best of Show four years in a row and first place in the pastel category at Brownsville Art League International two years in a row.

Smith is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America. To achieve that distinction, she had to be accepted in three shows in five years and meet other qualifications. As far as Smith knows, she is the only signature PSA artist south of Houston.She sells her pastel paintings out of her home and two local galleries — Nuevo Santander Gallery in McAllen and Monrho’s Gallery in Brownsville. Her prints and small originals start at $150. Her originals run up to $2,500. Smith said her artwork brings in enough money to pay for her expenses, but not much more than that.

She gives her favorite paintings to her three grown children and sells the rest — carefully.

“ I like to sell (my paintings) to people I know because I know where they are going.”

Smith said she doesn’t paint for economic or political reasons, but “for the beauty of painting.”

“ God made a beautiful world. … I’ve got more that I want to paint than I could ever finish in a lifetime.”