Cleburne resident Barbara Lane is what you might call a social artist.
“I don’t like to paint by myself,” she said. “I’m a group person. So I’ve been going down to classes at Studio Two and taking from an artist named Tom Connors.”
Lane doesn’t require detailed input, but what she gets from Connors she accepts humbly.
“Tom lets me come pretty much any time I want because I’m not a problem to him,” Lane said. “I go in and do my thing. I’ve gotten into painting my grandchildren’s portraits, and every once in a while Tom will stop and say something like, ‘I think that jaw needs to be a little bit smaller.’ I say, ‘All right, all right, I’ll fix it.’
“It’s really hard for an artist to see their own errors sometimes. You have to put it down against the wall and leave it for a week or two. Then you can turn it back around and see what you’ve done wrong. But if you’re doing something, and you want to finish it, it helps to have someone else there who will say, ‘That doesn’t look quite right.’ ”
No fixing is needed in a large oil piece Lane has donated to the annual Cleburne Rotary Club Art Exhibition and Auction on April 8 at the Cleburne Conference Center at 1501 W. Henderson.
Lane’s depiction of a South Texas landscape, complete with rock wall and a girl with a baby lamb, will go to one of the winners of the event’s raffle.
There’s a story behind the painting. Like much of her work, it began life as a photograph and ended as an oil.
“Annette Hodges and I were coming back from an art show, and I pulled off on the side of the road when something caught my eye,” Lane explained. “I took the photo, painted it, and put the little girl in it. I did it in oil. I work mostly in oil now. Previously, I used acrylic a lot and watercolor. I’ve dabbled in a little bit of everything.”
She doesn’t necessarily prefer oil as a medium.
“I think I’m just in that phase of my life,” Lane said. “It’s easy to cover a canvas with. It’s not as hard to make mud. I also went through phases in acrylic, prisms and watercolor. I started in oil, so I’ve come back around.”
Lane began painting some 35 years ago with children underfoot. They were large children, to be sure, future Cleburne basketball post men Sam and Tim Lane.
“I started taking lessons and painting at home,” she said. “I’ve always liked art. In high school at Graham, I was in art class. When we lived in Arlington, I needed something to do away from the children for a little while, so I took tole [decorative] painting lessons. Well, I did each class, and then I never did tole painting again. We moved to Mount Vernon, and a lady there taught art, and I started painting oils. Then I went to home interior parties and thought, ‘I’m not paying this much money for artwork. I can do this.’ So I did, and my house is decorated with what I’ve painted.
“I have what I call my flower room that I sit in. I have different artwork in different rooms.”
Lane’s first medium of choice was pencil.
“I met Annette here and started doing prism pencils with her,” Lane said. “She wanted to go to workshops, and so did I. We went to South Texas every summer for 10 years and took from a guy named Bob Wygant. He’s an acrylic artist. He was a big influence on both of us.
“Annette paints like he does, really nice stuff. Mine is a lot looser. I like loose. But taking from Bob, his whole thing was to take a picture and paint from your own work. Then I took from Doug Prine, and he was the same way. He said, ‘Take photos of what you’re going to paint because you’ll feel more for it.’ That’s how I got into photography. I think I’m actually a better photographer than painter.”
Wygant influenced her understanding of composition, Lane said.
“Then I met a lady in Joshua named Irene Davis, a nationally known watercolorist. I started taking from her and got into watercolors almost exclusively. If you ever want to learn composition and design, watercolor classes and workshops are the places to go.”
Lane paints what she wants and when she wants.
She’s not limited by time, though she painted a commissioned mural depicting life in the East Texas community of Longview.
“Right now, I’m painting portraits of my grandchildren because they’re at a cute age,” Lane said. “The only problem is, my children’s walls are getting kind of full. I also loved flowers when I was doing watercolors. Landscapes are not my favorite. They’re a little bit hard to me. Green is a nasty color.”
Lane has exhibited in only a smattering of shows through her adult life.
She had to balance raising kids and dripping paint on a canvas.
“I had three sons who played basketball, and I had a choice of painting or devoting more time to their activities,” she said. “I kind of put art on a back burner. When the Bosque County Conservatory started its national show, I was one of the four runners-up. I had to paint four major pieces for that show. At that point, I had to decide if I wanted to be consumed by art or by my children’s activities. I went for my children’s activities.
“I consider myself a professional. It’s just that I’m not a particularly active professional. I think I’m a really good teacher. I’m a really good critic. I can look at anybody’s work and say, ‘That’s not right.’ I’ve got a good eye for design and composition.”
James Haddock, a decorated member of Johnson County Art Guild, encouraged Lane to donate a piece of her work for the Rotary Club show.
“I had two pieces, the one of the little girl and another from a photograph I took coming out of Colorado,” she said, “I think I’m going to keep the Colorado painting.”
Other artists in the Rotary event include Jackie Cunningham, photography; LaVelle McDougal, print; Haddock, original painting; and Pat McHale, photography.
For information about the show, call 817-641-6785.