Utica teen’s artistic talent put on display|[2/12/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

JACKSON – Peter Parker of “Spider-Man” fame discovered he had special powers after he was bitten by a spider.

Amber Carraway of Utica can identify – even if she can’t spin webs from building to building. After she was bitten by a tick, the 17-year-old discovered a talent of her own.

The tick bite gave her Lyme disease, which kept the then-12-year-old in bed for months and left her sensitive to light and sound. During her months-long recovery, she began sketching as a way to pass the time.

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“I was amazed,” her mother, Elizabeth Carraway, said of the sketches. No one else in her family is particularly artistic. “I can draw crooked stick figures,” the mother said.

When Amber picked up a paintbrush, her talent became even more apparent. Awards followed, and now her work is on display at the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson through the end of February. An opening reception will be Sunday. The exhibit showcases Carraway’s wide range, including works in oil, watercolor and colored pencil.

Portraits in oil are Carraway’s favorite works.

“I try to capture their likenesses and character on canvas,” she said.

Getting the coloring right is the most difficult part, she said.

The home-schooled Carraway is almost entirely self-taught. She estimated she took five lessons total. However, she is an avid reader of art instruction books.

“I read all the time, anything I can get my hands on,” Carraway said.

Although Amber is the one who hoists the brush, her family plays a major role in her work.

Her younger brother Joshua, 12, is one of her favorite models. Working from pictures, she created two award-winning paintings with him as the subject. Both paintings, which depict her brother holding tomatoes and in a tomato bath after being sprayed by a skunk, are on display at the exhibit.

Her older brother, 21-year-old David, helped her get copyrights for the cards with Bible verses she sells from home.

Carraway hopes to study art education in college. As for now, she enjoys cooking, photography, sculpture and “keeping my brother straight,” she said.

Elizabeth Carraway said her daughter’s artistic talent is only a partial reason for her success.

“When I saw the drive she has for art, I knew she would go a long way … I feel very blessed,” the mother said.