ART SPEAKSIn matters of creativity and faith, Lynita Motes lets her art do much of the talking.
By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison
Birthday celebrations Shelby County artist Lynita Motes plans are no ordinary celebrations.
Beyond the obligatory cakes and candles, Lynita lets her creativity roam free, creating themed adventures to make her honorees feel special, even spoiled.
Her husband, Stewart, and their children know what she’s capable of orchestrating.
“My husband has enjoyed 35 years of super creative birthdays, from being delivered a message from a pirate to board a dinner cruise, to a golf putting course being set up in the living room, to Cousin Cliff the magician showing up at our apartment, to being kidnapped for a surprise camping trip, to being served dinner with friends by a waiter in our dining room while a violinist plays in the corner,” she says. “Creativity combined with hospitality has affected how I host things, wanting others to feel like they have been given a gift by being here, wanting them to feel loved, like they have a place to come.”
One of her favorite parties to host was a mystery murder dinner theatre for a bride and groom and their wedding party. Lynita turned the family’s barn into a saloon to set the scene. Everyone loved it.
“This might sound overwhelming to most people, but it is just how my mind is wired,” she says. “It is natural to do things in an uncommon way.”
And so it goes for every part of Lynita’s life. A look inside her home studio – a small, inviting room across the hall from her bedroom – reveals evidence to support her claim that “art and creativity spill into almost everything,” right down to the studio’s door: The glass reads, “The Artist is In and Out (Body & Mind).”
Lynita’s earliest artwork, two Paint By Numbers paintings she completed as a 6-year-old in the ’60s, hang on a wall in her studio. The boy and girl looking back at her from the paintings are reminders of her first taste of art, a taste she has cultivated into a seasoned career. The paintings are a part of what she calls her art testimony.
“I paint because it is what I know, what I’m good at, and what I have been doing since fourth grade,” she says. “It snowballs. Every piece of artwork I create makes me long to do another one. I always feel I have yet to create the ‘topper,’ the best one. It is still waiting to be born.”
For fans of her work, this is a relief. For Lynita, this is her lifeblood.
Lynita’s paintings revolve around a concept called photorealism. She can take the details from a photograph and present them in a painting. Even the most minute details––the fuzz on a tennis ball, for example––aren’t lost in translation. And she excels at painting the human figure.
“Specifically in portraiture, I have learned that no matter what first impression I have of a subject (person I’m painting), by the time I am finished I am in awe of the beauty and majesty of that person. This is because I study them intently and deeply. God has made no mistakes, and each of us is made in His image which produces in me a response of wonder and honor toward my subject.”
Grounded in her faith, Lynita’s art has led her to new ventures as an art teacher.
This summer, she has taught a weekly art class at her Montevallo home for women from her church, Evangel Church PCA. On Friday mornings, about five women have gathered in Lynita’s basement for two hours of group discussion, instruction and friendly conversation.
“She makes it so much fun,” class member Betty Harrison says of Lynita. “She gives you the confidence that you can do it. She’s so down-to-earth, so complimentary.”
Harrison tried to schedule her summer trips around the class so she wouldn’t miss the lessons. The class started with drawing exercises and moved into other topics, like pastels.
Harrison signed up for the class to learn more about art in a comfortable, encouraging setting. That’s exactly what she found.
“I’m so glad I did it,” she says. “We’re getting such an overview of art. We’re learning perspective. I’ve learned to observe things more than I ever have.”
Lynda Blackwell, another member of the Friday women’s class, was in a similar boat as Betty. She had little experience with art aside from coloring in coloring books as a child.
“I’m having a wonderful time, and I feel like she (Lynita) is just a great teacher,” Lynda says. “Her creative abilities enable her teaching skills to just flow. She teaches from a spiritual perspective which makes things come alive. I’m having a wonderful time, and I feel like she’s just a great teacher.”
Lynita has spoken to groups of women about how God’s word has changed her life and approach to art. She calls this developing platform Art Speaks.
“I actually haven’t entered many competitions because what I have accomplished mainly over all these years is commissioned work which is sold and therefore gone. However, now that I am entering a new stage in life with my last child a senior in high school, I have launched a business plan of a parent company, lynitamotesart, with several subsidiaries underneath. These include commission work (portraiture especially), fine art, my Art Speaks (where I use art as a platform to speak to women) and teaching lessons.”
She has painted professionally for more than 25 years and has created oil portraits for numerous clients.
She loves to use oils mostly, but admits her art classes have made her experiment with more media in the last five years.
“I did a collage piece last year that I thoroughly enjoyed, which sold, and I am planning on doing another piece soon that I will be using in a seminar I am speaking at in November,” she says. “I have ideas constantly.”
Just as her creativity spills over into most areas of her life, the lessons she has learned in art can be applied to anything, regardless of whether she’s holding a paintbrush in her hand.
“It’s valuable. It’s important. It affects how I see the world, others. It is emotional. It requires patience. Like so many things in life, it takes time, investment, appreciation, deeper thought. Perhaps these are just a few of the reasons it should be valued. How many professions have museums honoring them? That alone says something of its worth.”
The inherent value of art keeps Lynita coming back for more––more of others’ work, and more of her own.
“Art, good art, has a certain mystery about it that draws me in, that causes me to stare at it, study it, digest it,” she says. “It can satisfy like a good meal. Perhaps this is because it gives me just a glimmer of the beauty and satisfaction found in the ultimate Creator.”