Originally created 09/25/98

Teen-ager planning to study in business program



WRENS, Ga. -- Each delicate stroke of a tiny brush brings Jace McTier's canvas closer to life.

There are angular boughs of leafless trees, distant field edges and, up front, an eager crowd of horses, foxhounds and uniformed hunters.

"I just try to paint what I see," said Jace, who, at 17, has crafted an artistic style already in demand from wildlife art collectors as far away as Alaska.

This fall, he is painting -- on commission -- a scene from McDuffie County's Belle Meade Hunt, where realism is as rigidly traditional as the fox hunters' scarlet attire.

"I'd like to get a lot more into wildlife and sporting art," he said, concentrating on the scene before him, where each hunter and hound must be given its own expression.

The home-schooled teen-ager works from a studio in his home in Jefferson County, painting between sessions of academic study and Christian worship -- and finding a few minutes each day to slip away to hunt or fish.

"I spend a lot of time in the woods," said Jace, who has portrait and painting commissions lined up for the next two years. "And I've always been interested in art."

His calling was no surprise.

His mother, Lucy McTier, has painted professionally for almost two decades for clients and subjects including Ronald Reagan and Olympic equestrian team gold medalist Bruce Davidson.

Jace's 11-year-old brother, Ty, also has taken up the brush, recently having sold his first painting to a Hilton Head homeowner. Between the two, they are their mother's toughest critics.

"You can have a career and children -- and part of it is involving them in what you do," Mrs. McTier said. "They've seen how the paintings progress, and they've really developed an eye for art."

Their father, David McTier, doesn't paint. But he's delighted to be the only one in the family who doesn't.

"I don't see things like they do," he smiled. "I remember words, or directions, not what something looked like."

Jace plans to attend the University of Georgia next year and is enrolled in independent study programs at home.

Although he will work as an artist, he likely will study marketing, or business, to fine-tune other skills.

"I guess you could say I want a career, not just a job," he said.

Jace's first painting was of a dolphin.

"It sold to a collector, up in Alaska," he said. That collector has already commissioned another work. "Every one I've done has had at least one more to come from it."

Next in line is a 3-by-4-foot portrait of two teen-age boys with their younger sister.

Speculative paintings are more fun. Commissioned works are a little different, often imposing a deadline for completion -- easier said than done for a teen-ager who also happens to be a perfectionist.

"When you're just starting something, you want to be as perfect as your mom or your teacher," he said. "Sometimes it really puts you on the spot."

Jace paints nearly every day, with little prodding necessary.

"We call it the incentive plan," his father said jokingly. "Paint or cut grass."