Come As You Are
Vanicka Terhune Paints Her Art Out
Artist Vanicka Terhune diligently works on an abstract painting in her studio. The piece isn’t quite turning out the way she wants it to, so she decides to splash paint in two different areas on the canvas. Suddenly, she sees a face emerge from her painting. She grabs a pencil and sketches out her vision.
Terhune’s experimental painting process allows her creativity to shine through. She enjoys using unconventional methods to create her art. Her paintings can range from abstracts to figural work.
In four years, Terhune has gone from a stay-at-home mom to an artist who consistently sells out of paintings with her own studio and gallery space.
To her, this career change is nothing short of a miracle. The series of events that took place allowed her to discover a passion she never knew she had.
It all started when Terhune and her mom decided to purchase a 16,000-square-foot antique mall in Shreveport. Vendors could rent space there to showcase and sell their products.
Terhune said the space was so big they needed to put something large up to help draw attention to the store so people would come in. She painted two pieces on large canvases. One painting simply said, “Come As You Are.” The other painting was an abstract piece showing a woman in desperation.
“At the time it was just me doing what I like,” Terhune said.
One day Myron Griffing, a Shreveport designer, came to the antique mall. He wanted to buy the “Come As You Are” painting. The two immediately began a friendship. Griffing and Joseph (Joey) Guin, a salon owner in Shreveport, started backing Terhune.
“Both of them are just miracles in my life,” Terhune said. “They have a reputation in this city, and from the very beginning they started backing me. It legitimized what I was doing. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
As Terhune’s paintings began to sell, her mom told her she would help her financially. She knew that buying canvases and paints would be expensive. She also said she would take on more responsibility at the store so her daughter could focus on painting. Terhune’s husband also contributed to her success by building her giant canvases for her largescale artwork.
“I have a husband that is willing to put up with my craziness,” she said. “It’s a big deal. Most people would say, ‘What are you doing? You have four children and this huge store, and now you want to paint.’” With the support of her friends and family, Terhune began building her reputation as a painter. She started traveling three times a month to Dallas looking to sell her paintings. She found a store that agreed to sell her artwork. Things began to take off, and Terhune couldn’t believe how successful her paintings were.
“It’s just indescribable. I have no background in it. I paint things that I like. It’s good that it resonates with other people.”
About five months ago, Terhune had a big decision to make. She was working three fulltime jobs—taking care of her four children, helping her mom run the store and painting. She knew it was too much.
She prayed that God would show her what to do. That day she ran into Guin. He offered the upstairs space above his salon to Terhune to use as her studio and gallery space. Other people had rented this space before, and Guin had even offered it to her previously, but Terhune felt like now things were clicking into place, and the timing was perfect.
“I knew that wasn’t just him [Guin] talking to me, but God was also speaking to me.”
Terhune and her mom decided to sell the store so she could move forward with her painting. People told Terhune to be prepared for the store to be on the market for at least a year. It sold within a month.
“It was just another miracle.” Now Terhune gets to make a living doing what she loves. She says she has always been artsy, but she didn’t grow up painting on canvases. In fact, painting was not in the plan she had for herself at all. Terhune has an English degree and a master’s in liberal arts. She originally wanted to be a college professor, but she believes God had other plans for her.
She has built a business for herself through her artwork. Terhune gets a lot of commissioned work from all over including Dallas, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She even had “Commission paintings are what allow me to do this for a living.”
The best part about creating works of art for Terhune is seeing people’s reactions. Everybody sees something different. She says art should be conversation pieces. They should make you feel something.
“Artwork should never blend into a wall.
The goal of a piece of art is to make somebody have an emotion to it—whether that’s good or bad.”
Terhune creates paintings that evoke expression and emotion. Her painting called “I Am Here” tells the story of a girl that wants to be understood. She started the piece with a plan to paint a beautiful girl, but after getting to a certain point she stopped because she loved what she saw. To some it might look like an unfinished piece, but to her it was perfect.
“That painting represents how you want people to know you’re still here even when everyone has busy lives. It’s like when somebody sees you and gets you.”
This artist feels a lot like the girl in the painting at times. Guin saw her art and understood what she was doing from the beginning, and it has made a huge difference in her life.
“I’m just gonna go with this for as long as I can,” Terhune said. “Four years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom, and in four years from now I might not be doing this. I just kind of go where God leads me. Every day I wake up and I can’t believe I’m going downtown to paint for a living.”
can see Terhune’s paintings at her studio and gallery in the Guin
Building located a woman from North Carolina reach out to at 711 Texas