By Ann Nichols

Visits to the Tennessee Aquarium, hikes and nature walks serve as the triggers for Terri Zitrick-Dennehy to begin a painting or drawing.

"I actually get very excited about seeing the beauty of what is created in nature," she said.

A solo exhibition of her work is on display during July at My Color Image Gallery in North Chattanooga. "The Gift of Nature" is composed of charcoal, colored-pencil, pastel and art marker drawings plus paintings in oil and gouache. The artist is also exhibiting her new collection of jewelry.

Ms. Zitrick-Dennehy says she has always been an artist in her heart and found her passion when she was 8 years old.

"That summer, professional artist Angela Mayo saw my interest in art and invited me to her home for lessons," she said. "She first showed me a charcoal drawing of a lone palm tree on the beach and asked me to replicate it."

The young artist accomplished this and Ms. Mayo continue to work with her throughout the summer -- exploring charcoal, watercolor and pastels.

Ms. Zitrick-Dennehy studied art primarily on her own until 1989 when she enrolled in the Art Institute of Seattle for Interior Design. There, she learned a lot about drawing.

Now, she says she looks at the natural world for inspiration and at books for guidance. She admires the art of Georgia O'Keeffe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Claude Monet.

In May 2009, Ms. Zitrick-Dennehy opened My Color Image Gallery and has been showcasing the art of artists who live within a 60-minute drive of the gallery.

"I want the gallery to be known as a destination spot for local artists' products, such as painting, sculpture, jewelry and other original work," she said. "I also want the gallery to be a site for teaching various mediums."

A closing reception for "The Gift of Nature" will be held on July 29 from 4 to 7 p.m.

The gallery, 330 Frazier Ave., Suite 100, is open 10 a.m-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 598-6202.

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