Former billboard painter comes from generations of artists

CRAIG COUNTY – Tom Spence, of the Barbours Creek area of Craig County, has downsized his work quite a bit in the last few years. He made his living painting huge highway billboards all over the United States. Now he paints oil portraits, original oil paintings and wall murals under the name Lazy S Art.

He and his wife, Linda, moved to Craig County from Chattanooga, Tenn., two years ago. “Someone in every other generation of Tom’s family paints, and there are several generations of artists in the family,” she explained.

Tom Spence and his wife, Linda, moved to Craig County two years ago. The former billboard painter now paints oil portraits, original oils and wall murals under the name Lazy S Art. Photo by Ann Harrell

Tom gets his inspiration for many of his original paintings from the local scenery. He paints portraits and wall murals from good photos (with the emphasis on good) that are furnished by his clients. Many of his original works feature wildlife, birds, the scenic outdoors and pets.

One of his oil paintings that has attracted a great deal of attention at the Craig County Artisan Center is an oil of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in three stages of his life.

Tom’s work may be seen in the Craig County Artisan Center on Main Street in New Castle where his wife frequently volunteers.

He is originally from Clifton Forge, and he still has family in Roanoke and Salem. There were many gatherings in Craig during hunting season and for holidays, so the couple was familiar with the area.

Tom and Linda have three children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, who live in New Castle, Roanoke and North Carolina.

The Artisan Center has expanded its hours for the holiday season and is now open on Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

As a trail site on the Western Highlands Artisan Trail, the Craig County Artisan Center provides a location for local artisans to display and sell their handmade works of art. The center is advertised on the Virginia Artisan Center’s web site, and on Also, the center’s Facebook page displays photos of the artwork and gives information on special events at the center.