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Lake Wylie woman’s watercolor painting takes first prize in Southern Arts Society exhibit

A Lake Wylie painter called her first-place win from the Southern Arts Society both exciting, and in her words, “validating.”

Lynn Schilling of Lake Wylie received a first-place award for her watercolor painting “Sienna.” The award was presented at its “I AM WOMAN” exhibit in Kings Mountain on May 10.

“I never thought I would enter into any competitions,” Lynn said. “It was about two years ago that I was encouraged to do so by my friend and mentor, Barbara O’Neal Davis. Since then I’ve won several awards, but this is the first time I’ve won first place.”

Hank Foreman, the director and chief curator of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University, judged the artwork.

“I found the person in the work to be overwhelmingly compelling,” Foreman said about Schilling’s painting. “This piece is very intimate in a way that does not seem voyeuristic but instead relays to each of us a bit about those tiny moments of the human condition.”

Schilling began painting later in life, about 10 years ago, and has become more serious about it in the last five years.

“In my mid-40s, I pursued an interest in black-and-white photography,” she said. “As my printing processes became more painterly, I began using watercolor paper. This was my introduction to paper and paint. I was hooked.”

Schilling is self-taught. Constantly learning, she says she spends more time learning about painting than actually painting. Schilling has painted using many techniques, but she loves watercolor.

Schilling has had several other pieces accepted into local and national exhibitions. She said national exhibitions are the most difficult to get in. She said in choosing a piece “something happens as I am painting. There is an emotional connection. It is usually the eyes I am drawn to, as was the case with ‘Sienna.’ The eyes tell the story.”

When Schilling is not at an exhibition, she can be found every Friday painting with her fellow women painters at Arts on Main in Gastonia.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing, if not painting,” Schilling said. “I love it!”

The exhibit continues through Friday, June 20, at 301 N. Piedmont, Kings Mountain.

Wendy Dimitri is a freelance writer in Lake Wylie. Email Neighbors at the Lake column ideas to