WINNSBORO — The Painted Picket lives up to its name.
Christy Buchanan’s vibrantly visible studio space is adorned with a wide variety of multicolored media. The explosion of color stands in stark contrast to its surroundings on Newberry Road, and this is by design.
“This is my big billboard,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan is an architecture instructor for Midlands Technical College who has found balance between her left-brained and right-brained endeavors.
“I teach architecture at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, and I am an artist as well,” Buchanan said. “The art lets me break the rules of architecture.”
Buchanan said her passion for art has been lifelong, and she has had her own studio for years, but the Painted Picket, complete with its SHE Garden and bottle house, is a more recent endeavor.
“I’ve always had it,” Buchanan said. “In college, I sold hand-painted T-shirts to go to Europe for grad school.”
Buchanan also recalled painting the floor of her childhood home funky colors.
“For some reason my parents didn’t fuss,” Buchanan said.
The SHE Garden was made possible with a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, as well as an artistic passion.
“It was a one-time grant for a structure and I got it,” Buchanan said. “The folk art garden started about a year-and-a-half ago.”
The folk art garden, known as the SHE Garden, contains plant beds made of re-purposed materials, where herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables grow.
“It produces everything you need to make you happy,” Buchanan said.
Near the garden is the bottle house, which as the name suggests, is a building made of bottles. Openings face the outside of the house allowing for the placement of encouraging messages. The bottles are connected with mortar, and soon it will be topped with an environmentally friendly green roof.
“What’s great about the green roof is it will help with the temperature,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said the bottle house was a passion project inspired by earth houses found in California.
On the inside of the bottle house, sunlight is projected in blues, greens and browns against the wall.
The multicolored glass and mortar structure is not only a singular site in Winnsboro, but a rarity statewide.
“I think I’m the only bottle house in South Carolina,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan’s noticeable blend of artwork and gardening has placed The Painted Picket as a Fairfield County stop in the 2015 Catawba Regional Ag+Art Tour.
“I think I’m the one that kind of ties it all together,” Buchanan said.
Terry Vickers, Fairfield County Ag+Art Tour Planning Committee Chair, said this is exactly what The Painted Picket and Buchanan bring to the tour.
“Christy is very creative,” Vickers said. “She’s got the ag, and she has the art.”
Buchanan said her art’s recent focus on sustainability has been compatible with recent trends in architecture.
“Nowadays, everything in architecture is sustainability,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan received her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Architecture from Clemson University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree. Her studies briefly took her abroad to Italy, but Winnsboro, where she moved to in 11th grade, remained home.
“Winnsboro’s always been where I call home,” Buchanan said. “I like the local, small town.”
Buchanan said she enjoys providing a bright, colorful alternative to her hometown’s typical color scheme, which is open most Saturdays or by appointment.
“It makes me happy,” Buchanan said. “It really does.”