She Penciled in 30 Years of Drawing Time

Teresa Pennington makes many good points.

Teresa Pennington is a colored-pencil artist who renders exquisitely detailed drawings of Western North Carolina vistas, flora, and fauna. For more than three decades, she’s been a licensed Biltmore Estate artist, drawing the house and gardens. She also enjoys drawing Victorian-style pieces depicting St. Nicholas, and she operates her own gallery in Waynesville.

Are you a self-taught artist?

Yes. I didn’t know I had a gift for it when I was a child. What got me into it was being really sick with my pregnancy when I was in my early 20s. I had to quit my job to stay home and I got really bored. I started out [using] watercolor and had no idea what I was doing. 

How did you transition to pencils?

When you’re self-taught, you don’t know where to go next. It has to come to you. A friend gave me a set of colored pencils, and to get the hang of what they could do, I went to the Blue Ridge Parkway to draw. Then I said to myself, “I will never be able to do anything with these!” I packed it up and went back to painting. But those pencils kept calling me.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

What did they say?

There’s a little voice inside you that whispers, and it kept telling me, “You’ve got to get back to those colored pencils.” I was dissatisfied with my painting. I wanted to do more detail. Colored pencils are a perfect medium for that. 

Was it a quick transition from paints to pencils?

Once I followed that voice, paint was history; I never picked it up again. I just love the control you have with a pencil — it does exactly what you ask it to do. I don’t use any solvents or anything to blend colors, just colored pencils and paper.

Clockwise from top:
Grandfather Mountain Overlook, 
Santa Visits Biltmore
, Cardinals in Snow

You draw scenery, closeups of plants and animals, Biltmore, and St. Nick. How did you land on those particular subjects?

I only draw what I love. 

Don’t you always include a Lady’s Slipper wildflower?

Yes. It was my mother’s favorite flower and she was my biggest fan and always wanted me to do one. I said I would but never did. You think your mother is going to live forever. Now that she’s gone, I put one somewhere in every drawing. 

It’s rare to find an artist who works only in colored pencil.

When I started, I didn’t realize how unusual it was. But I haven’t met another artist who does it the way I do. For one thing, it’s time consuming. I can only do four large pieces a year. But I can’t give up the medium. It’s who I am, and it rejuvenates my soul.

Left to Right:
 Linville Falls, Santa

Teresa Pennington, TPennington Art Gallery (15 N. Main St., Waynesville). For more information, call 828-452-9284, see tpennington.com, or e-mail tpennart@gmail.com. On Friday Dec. 7, Waynesville’s concludes its Art After Dark gallery crawl series for the year. Pennington will demonstrate colored-pencil work in her gallery from 5-9pm (waynesvillegalleryassociationnc.com). On Saturday, Dec. 8, the town hosts A Night Before Christmas, with horse-drawn-wagon rides, a live Nativity scene, caroling, and all Main Street shops staying open till 9pm (including TPennington Art Gallery). For more information, see visitnc.com.

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