Jennifer Terry’s "Mountains Majesty" shows the artist’s love for rich, bold colors and the outdoors. (Image courtesy of Jennifer
Jennifer Terry's "Mountains Majesty" shows the artist's love for rich, bold colors and the outdoors. (Image courtesy of Jennifer Terry)
Cancer changed the life of Park City resident Jennifer Terry

In December 2004, Terry was diagnosed with breast cancer. Beginning in early 2005, she underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation which ended 2011.

During those six years, Terry rediscovered her first love, art.

"Before the cancer, I was like everybody else," Terry said during an interview with The Park Record. "I took my hopes and dreams and put them on the back burner. I would always think that I'd get to them someday, but I blew them off because I had a family and kids.

"When you have a brush with death, you realize how unbelievably short your lifespan is and priorities change," she said. "I remembered that I was going to be an artist, but I hadn't touched a paintbrush in 10 years. So it was time for me to get to it."

Unlike some people who decide to find a new hobby after a near-catastrophic event, Terry had been on the artist track since she was a child.

"My mother put me into some art classes in third grade because I was drawing more than doing my homework," she said. "Instead of scolding me she facilitated me and positioned me closer to the thing that I wanted to do. For me, there was no other thing in life I wanted to do more."

Terry attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and graduated with a B.A. in fine art with honors.

"But I didn't really make use of my art degree until after cancer," she said. "Unfortunately, it takes a huge life event to straighten things out.


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Although Terry worked with all types of medium in college, she discovered encaustic painting five years ago, during visits to various galleries.

"Every time I walked in, my knees would get weak," she said. "It's so cool to see what people are doing with encaustics. It's a rich and lovely medium that is translucent and flexible."

The encaustic medium is beeswax infused with damar resins, Terry explained.

"You melt the beeswax to 200 degrees on the stone and put in some damar crystals," she said.

Encaustic painter Jennifer Terry rediscovered her love or art after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. (Photo by englishphoto.com)
Encaustic painter Jennifer Terry rediscovered her love or art after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. (Photo by englishphoto.com)
"At that point, the wax becomes a painting medium, and it's much more durable and rigid. So when it dries, it becomes hard, strong and is not melty anymore. That way, the painting won't melt on you."

Terry, who is a member of the Park City Professional Artist Association, likes the versatility of the medium.

"You can remelt it," she said. "You can layer it. You can scrape into it and it can be transparent."

"It's also very textural, at least the way I use it," Terry said. "Other artists make it smooth and glossy, but I don't. I try to use the wax to stack it up."

Terry said her art is a true expression of what she wants and likes.

"I love rich, vibrant colors," she said. "I love organic shapes in nature. I love having fun with different patterns. I love twisting reality just enough to make the real unreal."

Many of Terry's paintings are of the scenery in and about Park City and Summit County.

"When I take a walk in a natural setting I 'see' the painting before I paint it," she said. "My paintings take a long time to produce but I enjoy the process. It's not a race. I know when I'm finished with a painting when I love it."

For the past seven years, Terry has shared her love of art with the students at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, where her two children attend.

"I have seen some wonderful transformations of kids in the school," she said. "Many of their moms and dads won't let them do art at home because it's too messy. So I've worked with kids who have never touched a paintbrush in their lives and let them have an opportunity to explore that."

The main reason she wants to introduce kids to art is because art isn't a priority in school.

"I have always believed that there is a ton of emphasis on math and reading and doing things correctly and on time," she said. "It's like go, go, go and work hard, but there is hardly a creative outlet for kids."

The creative element is a big deal for Terry.

"Creativity, in my opinion, is the highest form of intellegence," she said. "If someone can think of something brand new, [come up with an] original thought and those creative ideas are useful to others then we all benefit. Freud, Darwin, Steve Jobs, J.K Rowling and many, many more were all orginial, creative thinkers.

"You can take the best mathematicians in the world and put them together, and it will be the most creative mathematicians who will be the most successful," Terry said. "It's not about doing right or wrong, but about finding the new idea. You have to have that creative element in place."

Terry will also be one of the featured artists in this year's Park City Kimball Arts Festival in August.

"I feel such a huge sense of accomplishment being in the Kimball Arts Festival this year for the first time," she said. "My dreams are coming true."

For more information about Jennifer Terry and her art, visit www.jennyterryfineart.com.