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Lady of the house at Cherokee has a lifetime love of art

The lady of the house at Cherokee, Gayle Merrill, is an artist who developed a love for art from as far back as she can remember.

“Instead of being social in school, I would just go to my room and draw and paint,” she said. “My mother used to complain that I needed to go outside and make friends.”

Born in Washington, D.C., she grew up in Alabama and Northern Virginia, and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art with a minor in education at Virginia Tech. This training led to teaching art and art history at the high school level for 10 years in Chesapeake. All the time, Merrill was also painting, mostly in watercolors, and exhibiting.

Marriage, two sons and moving around, finally residing at Smith Mountain Lake, Merrill began painting with oils and said she “started painting with oils and loved the smooth thick texture of the paint and the vibrant colors” and finding this medium “a completely different experience than with water and paint. With a studio at the lake and also a s...

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