The Old-Time Herald Volume 10, Number 11

Hurrying Slowly with T.J. Worthington
By Dale Caveny
Paintings by T. J. Worthington, photos by Dale Cavney

A paint-splattered easel stands in the corner of a small music store on a side street in Sparta, North Carolina. The easel is flanked by a Mason jar filled with various sizes of paint brushes turned bristles up to dry. The smells of mineral spirits mingle with oil paints. Clawhammer banjo music rolls from a system in the opposing corner, the tune alternating from A to B parts in tight circles. On the easel is a weathered board from which a musical scene slowly emerges.

The artist glances briefly at the photograph pinned above the board and raises his brush. The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers are emerging, their raw, unyielding energy exploding into a vivid, Indian red background that is barely contained on the board. Before the musicians are even recognizable, the painting has captured the true feel of the band. He returns to the feminine, ghostly image leaning into a washtub bass and in a one deft stroke adds the missing clothesline string to the bass. He steps back to survey the scene satisfied with what appears to be minute progress. A customer enters the store and the artist rinses the brush, leaving the painting. The start/stop pace of the progress of the painting is reflective of his view of life: “hurry slowly.” . . .

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