Shirley Rackley adds a touch of magic to the back of the Andrews Public Library with her vibrant mural “Fairy Fence.” Photo by Ben Katz

Artist puts a little magic into the air

    Shirley Rackley’s imagination has added a touch of magic to the back of the Andrews Public Library with her whimsical Fairy Fence.
    Over the past week, fairies, flowers and even a dragon have appeared on the mural, bringing vibrancy to the barren fence.
    “I love to paint things like that because they’re magical,” Rackley said. “There’s so much darkness in the world, and people need something to lighten their spirits.”
    Rackley, who was born and raised in Andrews, already has left her colorful imprints around town. Some of her recent work includes the flame-colored flower mural behind the Andrews Garden Club and the patriotic painting in Andrews Post Office.
    Since childhood, Rackley said she has never stopped creating art. Before she was given tools to draw with, she would sketch pictures in the dirt from just her imagination.
    “I’ve always loved drawing,” she said. “I remember in school, when the teacher would draw a stick figure, I’d think, ‘That doesn’t look like a person. I can make it look like one.’ ”
    At age 15, she took a few lessons on how to mix colors. Today, she still uses the mixing method, starting off mostly with primary colors and creating her own hues.
    When Rackley paints, she enters a meditative state, dreaming up the images she wants to display instead of looking at a picture or photograph. All of her paintings include a myriad of bright colors. She believes in color therapy, and the different hues help put people in a positive mood.
    The artist doesn’t have a confirmed finish date for the mural, but she plans to work on every sunny day until it’s done.
    Rackley said her next artistic project includes illustrating a book about fairies and little people from Cherokee and Irish culture. Through her book and town murals, she hopes to leave “happy tracks” as her legacy.
    “Art helps you deal with the things in life that are not so pleasant,” she’s said. “By doing so, I also can create something that can make other people feel good. I owe it to society. If you have a gift, you need to use it.”

The Andrews Journal

Mailing Address:
995 Main St., Nantahala Suite
Andrews, NC 28901
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