Terri Waters Gallery

Artist Biography

Terri Waters in her home studio
Terri Waters painting in her home studio

Artist Terri Waters is best known for depicting realistic scenes of the Great Smoky Mountains in watercolor. She is a Gatlinburg native and direct descendent of the first pioneer settlers who came to the Smokies in the 1800's. Her family has lived, farmed and worked in the Smoky Mountains for over 200 years. Growing up in Gatlinburg, and interested in art since childhood, Terri found inspiration for her artwork every day in the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

A fine arts graduate of the University of Tennessee, Terri was exposed to many different styles of art. In college, painting and the use of color became her focus. Realism and Impressionism were her favorite styles. Terri then added oil and acrylic to her preferred medium of watercolor. Having been painting for over thirty years, her work continues to evolve. The one constant in her work is the daily inspiration of living in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains with their endless changing faces and seasons. Terri was honored to receive the Gatlinburg Fine Arts Council's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 for her contribution to the arts.

Terri Waters Gallery in the Fall
Terri Waters Gallery in the Fall

After graduating from college, Terri opened her first art gallery in 1983. It was located in Baskins Square Mall on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. She stayed at that location for over twenty years. With the passing of her parents, Terri relocated her gallery to her childhood home in 2008. The gallery sits at the corner of Buckhorn and Bebb Road in the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community. Here she offers originals, giclée and lithographic prints for sale. Her goal is to share her love of the mountains with as many people as she can through her paintings.

Besides being a fine artist, Terri worked for years at her parents' printing company in Gatlinburg doing graphic arts. Crescent Printing Company was owned by her parents, Bill and Blanche McCarter, and began operation in 1969. The company produced the first process color printing in the Smoky Mountain area and provided Terri with her continued love and interest in the graphic arts. Crescent Printing also published the monthly magazine "Our Smokies Heritage," which provided a look at early life in the Smokies. Terri was married in 1980 to Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters, and together they have two children and four grandchildren.

"If you hear a voice within you saying, 'You are not a painter,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."

A History of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

With the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934, thousands of visitors came to the Gateway of the Smokies, Gatlinburg. The resourceful and independent mountain people living in the area saw opportunity knocking. Suddenly, the things they had to make to live in this isolated area became handcrafted art. Here was a source of cash money that was hard to come by for mountain folks. So woodcarvers, chair makers, broom makers, and a whole host of artisans set up shop on the streets of the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.

After a few years, a local woodcarver named John Cowden, along with some of his fellow artisans, decided to let the people come to them and moved their businesses away from downtown. They opened workshops, studios and galleries, most of them right alongside or even inside their homes. As the visitors started finding them, other craftsmen and artists joined in and moved into the Glades, Buckhorn and Route 321 area. Thus in 1937, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community was born.

Today, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is over 100 members strong. It is the largest organization of independent artisans in the nation. The Community is located along an 8-mile loop which includes Route 321, Buckhorn and Glades Roads, which was designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail by Governor Don Sundquist. The Tennessee artists and craftspeople here create beautiful and useful products with techniques handed down for centuries.