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franklin county times

Muralist Barbie Hester brightens area windows, doors

Russellville resident Barbie Hester has been keeping busy painting this holiday season, starting in November, creating murals on doors and windows in locations across Franklin County, as well as Lauderdale and Lawrence counties.

Recently painted murals can be found at Keith’s Automotive, Rhonda’s Pink Panda thrift store, Southside gas station in Russellville and Krystal’s in Florence.

“I’m just doing what I enjoy and seeing where it takes me,” Hester said.

Her works have included Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” Snoopy, Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Santa Claus.

“I enjoy drawing cartoon characters and portraits, and they tend to be popular subjects for a lot of people in terms of what they like to see on a mural,” Hester said. She said she uses craft acrylic paint readily found in many stores. “I’ve tried paint pens but found they don’t stick to the glass, and all of my murals so far have been on glass.

“Each one has taken at least three days. It depends on the design, but you have to allow time for the paint to dry between layers.”

Mother Regina Hester said her daughter showed her talent at a young age. “She used to draw scenes on the bottom of our concrete pool. I’m very proud of her and her work.”

So far, Hester said clients have pretty much given free her reign to paint what she feels likes. “I’ve always drawn,” explained Hester. “I can’t pull something out of my head and draw it, but if you show me a picture, I can put it on anything you want. I practice drawing images I find online, and I’ve done thousands. That’s what I do with my spare time.”

Tamara Hester, Hester’s sister-in-law and an employee at Keith’s Automotive in Russellville, said she and her co-workers “were fascinated to see her at work, free-handing all of that.”

“At Keith’s Automotive, we also love supporting local people however we can, and this was a wonderful opportunity to do that.”

Barbie Hester said while she loves drawing, she never intend to start painting murals – but she decided to give it a try when someone asked her, and it caught on from there.

“I find painting murals to be a lot more fulfilling than just drawing on a piece of paper at home,” she said, “and it’s nice to think about people going by and seeing my work.”

For Hester, drawing comes easily, and the more detail there is in a design, the more she wants to work on it.

“I find it much more engaging, and I enjoy the project a lot more,” she said. “The strange thing is that the more detailed a design is, the less time it takes me to do it.”

Hester, 43, said she has been drawing pretty much every day since she could pick up a pencil. “It just feels natural to me now. I feel like Bob Ross is coming out of my hands sometimes. There’s always going to be something different, but my favorite thing about drawing is working to make my art look identical to the subject.

“I’ve never really delved into planning. I just go and draw, usually from looking at images on my phone.”

“If there’s something I want to learn how to do,” she explained, “I look up videos and watch people showing the process. One thing I’m working on learning is 3-D drawings, like the sidewalk art where it looks like you’re going to fall into it.”

In two semesters, Hester will complete her associate’s degree in criminal justice, but she said she’s going to keep drawing and painting and see where all of it takes her. To contact her about a mural, look her up on Facebook under Barbie R. Hester, facebook.com/barbie.hester78.