Painters often find inspiration in daily life.

Maryville resident Jessica Newman drew on her years in the recovery community to create “The Thin Blue Line,” which she donated July 3 to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.

It features a white silhouette of a peacock orchid plant against a black background with a blue stripe, symbolizing the dangers law enforcement sometimes face on and off the job.

“Flowers are kind of fragile and all humans are fragile,” Newman said. “They can break and they need care, but police officers are fragile too.”

Newman, 39, moved to Blount County 13 years ago from her native Annapolis.

An incident scared her into getting straight, she said.

“I was heavy into drugs in my early teens,” Newman said. “I just remember this one time that my friends and I got high. I was sitting in the back of my friend’s car and she was driving through every red light.”

Watching other friends and relatives, including a schizophrenic older sister, deal with addiction also inspired her to quit, she said.

“I didn’t like what happened to her and I didn’t want to be like her,” Newman said.

Like many relatives of those in the recovery community, Newman also questioned if her sister’s illness caused her addiction or if the disease was a byproduct of her drug use.

Bright colors and nature imagery are prevalent in her work, which she displays online at

BCSO spokeswoman Marian O’Briant said the department sometimes receives artwork drawn by children, but this was only the second time she knew of an adult making a donation.

Newman hoped it encouraged police when times are tough to know that their work is appreciated, even when a situation doesn’t seem positive.

“You might feel sometimes like somebody doesn’t like you but you are really helping people,” Newman said.

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