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travel bucknerJust mere feet from a bustling South Main Street in Waynesville resides a cocoon of creativity. With a steady stream of vehicles rushing by, one enters Jenny Bucker’s studio as if to step into a portal of a calmer ambiance. Vibrant, intricate paintings hang from any available wall space, while the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” echo throughout the cozy abode.

Meandering around the rooms, the source of the song is not only located, but so is the person immersed in the melody, who faces a blank canvas ready to be adorned with the colors of the imagination.

“Art is the one thing I get so excited about that I forget to eat,” Buckner laughed. “I’ve never enjoyed anything that much, and believe me — I love to eat and cook.”

As a painter, she constantly changes up her technique, almost as if to cover up her tracks before others can find her and pigeonhole who she “really is” as an artist. It is that unrelenting work ethic and internal drive of “catch me if you can” over a course of years which has resulted in Buckner becoming one of the most sought after painters in the Southeast. 

“A painting creates an emotion just like a story does,” she said. “As long as your emotionally involved somehow, you’re going to keep on reading, you’re going to keep looking, keeping being drawn into the story, into the painting.”

Bucker was 33 when she began putting paint to a blank canvas. Atop either winning or placing high at regional and national competitions, she recently entered a floral painting contest put on by International Artists Magazine, a prestigious worldwide publication. To her surprise, Buckner’s painting “Timeless Pink III” was chosen as a finalist to be featured in one of their issues.

“There were finalists from Ontario, California, Iceland, France, New York and British Columbia, and then you turn the page and there’s little Jenny Buckner from Waynesville,” she chuckled.

Even though Buckner never had any formal training in terms of learning how to paint, her story is a testament to the will of those who push ahead with their dreams, no matter the situation they’re in, no matter the judgment by others, no matter if at first you have no idea what to do, and how to go about doing it.

“You don’t have to go through the motions to get to a certain point. It’s a freedom to know that everyone has that chance, that you don’t have to go to art school to become an artist,” she said. “With anything in life, the hardest part is simply getting out the door.”

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