As the Lake Anna community grows, so too does the diversity of its members. We have so many new folks that have each brought a story, a talent and a history with them. Our continuing Special People of LKA™ series has featured legacy farmers, developers, volunteers and many more LKAers that have been woven into the tapestry of this 51-year-old community. 

  This time we caught up with a somewhat new resident that has quietly made a name for herself as an artist, after she made a name for herself as an educator. This is her LKA story.

   Phyllis Tinsley Peters became a resident of Bumpass, Virginia in the Noah’s Landing community in 2011.

  “At the age of 81, I must say I finally found my beauty spot, here at Lake Anna. I have been a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Portsmouth, Virginia and Baltimore Maryland.”

   Peters was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia where she completed primary school and high school. She received her educational degree from Hampton Institute, “My home by the sea”, in 1966. 

   Looking back at what first helped her along the path to become an artist Peters recalls a specific day in elementary school.

  “As a very young student in second grade, my teacher had the class draw a picture of a teacup and saucer that she sat on her desk. Whenever someone came to the class, she always pointed at me and then my picture, so I got the feeling she really liked it.”

   As far as why she chose to become a teacher, Peters also points to a time in elementary school.

  “My fourth-grade teacher inspired me to become a teacher. I really liked how she used pictures and cooked food to help us understand the stories we always read. In high school I was able to do special projects for different teachers if I finished my assignments before others did. My main projects were doing monthly honor roll boards each year.  I did a special Virginia scrapbook and painted flower cans for my seventh-grade teacher.  I loved geometry because we had to keep a notebook that required very specific art skills and creative abilities. 

  “I also got to do my first watercolor painting in high school.  I was so excited to enter a contest open to all students. The only problem was that when I took my painting to our art department, there was a sign stating that the contest had been canceled. I was brokenhearted. My father told me to be proud of myself because I did something I always wanted to do and to remember I could do anything I wanted to do.” 

  Though Peters did have designs on becoming an art teacher while training in college she remembered an elementary school art teacher had told her not to become an art teacher because it would not be a good job. 

  “So, I became a teacher and was able to use all of my creative abilities to reach my students in everything I taught.”

  The Lake Anna resident taught school in some capacity from 1966 to 2009. She taught in Portsmouth, Lynchburg, Pittsburgh and retired after 23 years of teaching in Baltimore. She taught grades one through five, but her main focus has been grades K through one. 

  “During the 43 years of teaching, I always made sure work was seen as well as heard. As the time passed, I really became interested in art. Illustrating everything made it easy for students to learn and they were always eager to participate. Changing bulletin boards and seasonal decorations were always an important part of the job. My work always made children feel that they were in a happy place.”

   When Peters was in college, she noted that she spent all of her free time in art classes for extra credit. One of my instructors told me she was going to give me a failing grade so that I would have to stay and become an art teacher instead of just taking art for teachers. She was very serious and told me that I needed more instruction in order to complete the class. But remembering what my dad told me, I started looking at ways to correct what I didn’t know. One of the problems was drawing bodies and another was using light and darkness to make figures appear to be 3D on paper. I used charcoal as my first medium and liked the results.” 

   “During the Covid-19 confinement, I got lots of practice using acrylics and being able to accomplish a higher level of painting. I found it to be very relaxing and comforting. It was a very big challenge for me, and I was able to develop my skills while having a very satisfying and enjoyable time during the many days we were confined during COVID-19. When I had my first Zoom class painting, I found out that I had the ability to complete the paintings and really enjoyed it, so I continued completing several paintings and portraits, as well as landscapes of the lake.”

   Peters told Life & Times she does her special portraits by request now and detailed her first one. 

    “The very first time I did a portrait painting, it was just for fun and the person that I did it for was very pleased. So, I did a total of three for her.”   

  Next, one of my friends saw the portrait and asked if I would please do one for her.” 

  “I took the challenge and she, too was really pleased with it.”

   One day Peters’ husband had a meeting at the house and her paintings were on the wall in the room they were having the meeting in. 

  “One of the team members saw that I could do portraits and he asked me to complete a portrait of his two children. I accepted the challenge and completed it in a timely fashion, and he paid me a very gracious sum for it.  Since I don’t charge a fee for my work, I gave it as a donation to Mineral Christian School at Mineral Baptist Church. I have not received other payments for portraits that were done. My first painting of Lake Anna was also a request and there are two large paintings I was asked to do are now at Mineral Baptist Church.” 

     Peters says she’s willing to do more of her signature style portraits by request for donations. Future plans include a four-season painting of the lake.  

  Motivation for continuing with her painting include a special moment at the lake house in 2019.

    “A very dear friend changed her career and residence. I did her portrait as a parting gift and was really pleased with it. I decided to surprise her. She came to my house, saw the painting on my wall and was shocked to see it. That was when I decided to continue developing my talent.”

  Besides her artwork Peters really enjoys cooking; making decorative cakes from scratch for special occasions and potluck dinners. She also loves decorating and has volunteered many times for Vacation Bible School, weddings and parties.