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Lovejoy woman paints into retirement

By Justin Boron

Around each corner of Heide Ussery-Truax's house, framed treasures of personal and family pride hang on the walls. Even the wall paint has some of her artistry in it.

Portraits of family members, backyard flowers like her violet clematis, and southern landscapes grace the Truax home in Lovejoy.

The house is an archive of paintings, and a tour is an exercise in art appreciation, with every room containing at least one artifact of her love for creativity.

"I've always loved painting," she said.

The 62-year old is an artist. But much of her life has been spent working as a supervisor in a local factory and raising children.

Ussery-Truax came to Clayton County in 1962 from Germany. Her accent is intermittent, applying an immigrant pronunciation to some words while coming close to Southern on others.

She had painted off and on over the years. But Ussery-Truax has come into her prime after she retired from her job three years ago.

She said she works on two or three pieces at a time, and her studio is cluttered with easels and works in progress.

Regardless of her German heritage, Ussery-Truax's subject-matter is deeply Georgian.

Some of her work hangs at the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro as part of a traveling exhibition called Georgia Through Artists Eyes.

In one piece, she captured the re-enactment of the Battle of Jonesboro.

Truax's work is "impressionistic" and the style fits with her bubbly, full-of-life personality, according to her teacher Norma Poulos, who owns a studio in Forest Park.

The inspiration for many of her pieces comes from her backyard garden.

"You want to (paint) your own," she said. "You don't want to take it from someone else."

Ussery-Truax said her favorite medium is oil paint.

But she often relies on alternative mediums, like tea leaves to give her pieces more dimension, and deeper colors.

She said she has just picked up the tricks over the years.

"You always keep learning," Ussery-Truax said. "You have to."