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Local artist commissioned to paint gift for delegates

Jan. 02, 2009 @ 09:50 PM

Through the years, as Heather Lee Hodges was honing her skills, she didn't realize that she would become a sought-after artist.

Hodges, who lives in Wayne, was recently commissioned by West Virginia House Speaker Richard Thompson, D-Wayne, and his wife Beth Thompson, to create an original piece of work and several framed prints for West Virginia delegates.

The chosen work was presented by Thompson to the delegates at a reception on Dec. 6 in Charleston. Hodges attended the reception where she also met the delegates and their spouses and autographed her work.

"It was very exciting," Hodges said, of the entire experience. "The Speaker of the House (of Delegates) contacted me about doing an original piece of commissioned work that would be a framed piece for all of the delegates. I got to meet them and their spouses, which was nice.

"It was all very special. The opportunity was unbelievable, and I'm very appreciative."

Hodges said she didn't anticipate getting the opportunity to attend the event and autograph the piece, which was a pastel work of a barn in Mason County.

"Some of the delegates did recognize it (the barn), so that was nice also," she said.

Hodges, who is a self-taught artist that first became interested in art as a child, said Thompson had purchased some of her work before.

"He just contacted me and told me what he had in mind and that planned to get something for each of the delegates," she said. "He thought it would be good to work with a West Virginia artisan to have something unique that relates to the state."

Hodges had a great deal of freedom in what she chose to create. She said Thompson told her to come up with some things for him to choose from.

The Mason County barn was the first and only piece she needed to show him.

"That was the first one I did, and he decided to go with that one," she said. "I was real pleased."

Hodges, whose works are pastel, pencil and watercolor, specializes in portraits, landscapes and wildlife. She said she prefers to draw from the beauty of this area. Hodges also does commissioned portraits.

She is a member of the Tri-State Arts Association and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

For more information about Hodges' work or to contact her, visit her Web site at http://heatherleehodges.com/index.html.

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