PROCTORVILLE — Rachel Stephens is on the road to discovering her niche in art.
But along the way, the business owner from Proctorville has been creating with a variety of media.
“I’ve got to zoom in and find my knack,” Stephens said. “I haven’t quite established who I am.”
Her latest works are created using an unusual medium — the leaves from Bibles, song books, and classic literature. She doesn’t know why she began using the pages, she said, the idea just popped into her head.
“I really don’t know,” Stephens said about how it came about. “I just wanted to do something different.”
In her “page art,” she uses glue and putty to form the pages into images that leap from the canvas.
One of her pieces, which is called “Transformed by the Word,” is made with pages from the Bible. The background uses pages from the Old Testament and in the foreground is a three-dimensional vessel made from pages of the New Testament. The vessel is painted with gold on the bottom. She said the piece was inspired by a song from an old gospel hymn with the lyrics: “When God gets through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold.”
In a work titled “The Faith of Our Fathers,” the image is made with the pages from a song book, with each song being about a father. She repeats that in her piece “In the Morning,” which is an ocean sunset constructed with the pages containing songs about morning.
Stephens also creates vases and containers using the “page art.”
“I really don’t have a focus,” Stephens said.
Stephens, 62, has enjoyed art or has been artistic her whole life. She started with drawing.
“From when I was a little girl, I’ve always liked to draw,” she said. “That was just something I always loved.”
Although Stephens has always enjoyed art, she studied science and taught it for the Public Schools of Robeson County. With her lessons on cells in Biology, she found a way to incorporate her creativity.
“When I was teaching, I would always draw on the bulletin board,” she said. “When everybody got the white board, those dry-erase boards, I kept my chalkboard.”
When students would come in class, they were surprised by the vibrant colors on her chalkboard art, Stephens said.
“They would ask, ‘How did you that?’” Stephens said.
Stephens’ daughter also has an artistic eye. Sadarryll Stephens said her mom would help out and teachers would look forward to seeing what the two created next.
“I had the best project out of all the kids,” she said. “My teachers would save them.”
It wasn’t until after she retired in 2008 that Stephens took her first art class and began painting.
“I took some community classes on water coloring,” she said. “Back then, they didn’t offer classes like they do now.”
Most of the watercolors Stephens paints are of landscapes, which is one of her favorite subjects. After learning watercolor, she broadened her knowledge by teaching herself to do acrylic paintings. She said she would go on YouTube to learn different techniques and blending.
“In water coloring you start light and get dark. In acrylics, you start dark and go light,” Stephens said. “It’s completely different.
“It took a little bit but I’m still working on it.”
Stephens now teaches painting classes and wants to incorporate pottery painting at her store, A Holy Portion, at 208 S. Main St. in Fairmont.
Her art has always been a place of refuge for Stephens.
“It’s a place of relaxation. It’s a place of rest.” Stephens said. “When you do something you love, it calms, soothes.”