JONES COUNTY, Mississippi (WDAM) – Terry Bustin cannot read or write, but he can paint.
“Somehow I decided to try a toothpick, and I’ve been using it ever since,” said Bustin.
He has been painting for over 40 years, and the themes of his paintings range from wildlife to Civil War era, to anything in his imagination, all using a toothpick.
“I just like drawing,” said Bustin. “There’s another one I’m going to start on after this one.”
His sister-in-law, Karen, said he spends all day painting, sometimes even working through meals.
“I think he knows he’s pretty good, but I don’t think he realizes how good he is,” she said.
Bustin paints mostly on poster board. He’s tried canvas, but he doesn’t like the texture. Each project starts off as a pencil sketch, then he outlines it in black and then puts the color.
“To me, it’s a miracle,” said Jones County Sheriff Chief of Operations Jamie Tedford. “It’s not a painting, it’s truly a miracle to look at that.”
Bustin has spent a lot of time at the sheriff’s office, coming to work with his sister-in-law after moving in with her and his brother. He’s become a buddy to the deputies and even has a painting of the department framed in the lobby.
“What’s been most moving to me has been spiritually,” said Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge. “I think this is a God-given talent.”
Each painting has intricate detail- waterfalls traveling through forests, stars in the galaxy and reflections of boats in a lake.
“He’s just amazing,” said Karen. “It is a blessing for us to have him. I love him, and he is just special.”