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Kathryn Finegan Clark: By the Way--The Bucks County barn on canvas

Although a Bedminster artist soaked up the exotic beauty and brilliant colors of Pacific islands for several years, it is the plain old Bucks County barn that enthralls her.
When watercolorist Jane Ramsey looks at a barn she sees not just a farm building but a whole way of life.
As she studies the architectural features, the satin-y touch of a barn door, worn smooth by years of hands touching it, speaks to her. So does a slightly sagging roof exaggerated by winter’s unforgiving north light.
“I see all the work that has happened here, and I try to capture the spirit and tell that story,” the prize-winning artist said.
It’s a life she fears is disappearing and she is passionate in her mission to record for posterity barns, fields of corn and soybeans separated by dusty lanes, and the farmers who work them.
So, the bubbly and enthusiastic artist sets up her easel and paints barns in the early morning light, the full sun of noon, on cloudy days or at sunset as long shadows race across the walls. She works quickly, deftly, capturing a fleeting image in one sitting, preserving a moment in time.
Jane, trained in most media, said she loves working with watercolors and their “lovely translucent, playful qualities.” Her sketches are equally magical.
Her sketchbooks are stuffed with page after page of black and white drawings and lively, colorful little watercolor scenes. The size of postcards, they are nevertheless large in artistic impact.
An artist who paints en plein air, Jane is never far from her tools. She routinely carries two totes, one stuffed with brushes and paints and another with her pencils and sketch books. “I’ve often just stopped and set up my easel if I saw something I wanted to paint,” she said. “I’ve just called home to say I’ll be a little later than expected.”
Generally painting outdoors in a single sitting, she only occasionally finishes a work in her studio. She said, “Plein air painting affords peaceful outdoor moments of observation and opportunities to discover the extraordinary in what might at first appear ordinary.”
But it also often introduces her to strangers who stop to watch her work, often telling her their own stories about growing up in rural America. Snatches of those stories influence her paintings.
In addition to the scenes so much a part of rural life, she also records the years of work and worry etched on the faces of men and women who farm. They are, after all, the ultimate gamblers, daily facing off the vicissitudes of weather.
Jane has been studying old barns since her childhood in Lumberville when her father often took her on Sunday afternoon drives to visit the places he loved.
Growing up in the riverside community that was the home of so many noted artists also was a powerful influence on her life. Surrounded by art, she often babysat for the artists’ children while they escaped to their studios to work.
Both of Jane’s parents were teachers. Both encouraged her very early artistic abilities and interests. When Jane was a teenager, the family lived for several years on the island of Palau in Micronesia and in American Samoa, where her parents had accepted teaching contracts.
Jane holds a bachelor of fine arts in design with an emphasis on illustration from Cornish College of Arts in Seattle.
She and her husband and their daughter lived on a Bedminster horse farm for years, but she now lives on the old Ulrich farm – no fancy name here, just a serious working farm. Her studio, the walls plastered with her paintings and sketches, is in the farm’s charming old tenant house.
An active member of the New Hope Art League and the Bucks County Illustrators Society, Jane has illustrated several children’s books and won a number of prestigious awards at juried art events and galleries in the mid-Atlantic and New England. She will have work in the virtual sale planned for September’s 9th Annual Art for Preservation at Kirkland Farm in Springfield Township. “I’m excited about that because I’m interested in land preservation,” she said.

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