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Lou Jene M. Carter
(Payson, Utah, 1933 - 2019, Springville, Utah)
Lou Jene Mountford Carter was born in Payson, Utah, on May 22, 1933. As a young child she enjoyed drawing, coloring, and modeling and always wanted to be an artist. Her parents encouraged her to develop her talents. In the ninth grade she studied with Floyd Breinholt at Farrer Junior High, and later she studied commercial art at Granite and Springville High Schools.
In 1950, Lou Jene married Richard C. Carter, and over the next 15 years, she devoted her energies to raising 4 children, which took all her time. Then in 1966, she began studying art at Utah Valley Community College (now Utah Valley State College) and at Brigham Young University, where she took night classes. While attending UVCC she studied with Kent Goodliffe, who encouraged her to take her art more seriously. However, Lou Jene continued to work full time and paint when she could. Then in 1979, an artist friend died suddenly, causing Carter to reevaluate her life, quit her job, and embark on a full-time career as an artist.
Since that time, Carter has attended workshops given by renowned artists, including Daniel E. Green-nationally famous portrait painter, Harvey Dinnerstein-well-known New York illustrator, and Albert Handell-master pastelist.
Lou Jene Carter works in both pastels and oils, appreciating pastels for their facility which allows her to quickly and freely express herself and oils for their perfect fit with her interest in realism. She explains that she gets bored easily, and switching between the two mediums provides needed variety, as does the wide range of subjects she selects. But if she had to choose favorites, she says she would choose florals or still-life paintings. As an artist, she continuously works to improve her technique and to stretch her abilities, labeling herself a "frustrated perfectionist".
Carter has taught classes at the Springville Museum of Art in oil painting and pastels. She has had five one-woman shows. She has exhibited her art at the Kimball Art Center, Park City, Utah; worked in the workshop program at the National Pastel Society, National Arts Club in New York City; and at the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club in New York City. In addition, her work is included in many public and private collections. Lou Jene Carter has been the recipient of many awards and honors for her paintings.
A number of years ago, Lou Jene and her husband built a new home. Lou Jene helped design the house and oversaw its construction. Busy with the house, and tired of pressure from gallery owners who wanted her to copy popular painters' techniques, she pulled her paintings out of the galleries and stopped trying to be a "successful" artist in terms of money. She does still sell paintings-at least enough to pay for her art supplies-but she now is able to concentrate on making art that expresses who she is without having to deal with pressure to create art that sells. Truly an idealist, but not judgmental of others' choices, she applies her beliefs to own life, content with her freedom.
In addition to wanting to paint as she chooses, Carter left the gallery life because she was more interested in time spent with her family than in time spent cultivating a place in the art world. Like many women artists, the competing demands on time and energy pulled her in too many different directions. One reason Lou Jene uses pastels is because they allow her to create works in a shorter time, and although she prefers oils, she can't always stay at the easel long enough to finish a painting.
Lou Jene is grateful she didn't have schooling that pushed her in a particular direction-thinking what her teachers said was the only truth. No one tells this independent woman what to do; she does what she wants. Although a realist, she loves abstract expressionism and the abstract culture of "form with design"-seeing it as just a different method of expression; but her own exploratory abstract works felt only like decorations and not expressive artworks, so she enjoys good abstract expressionist works at shows and galleries but sticks to realism for her own work, finding that it suits her natural perfectionism and her interests in still life, in particular.
Lou Jene Carter's interest in broadening and perfecting her skills is evident in the complexity of the painting Mostly Flowers. She wanted to see how many objects with flowers on them she could include and still create a balanced painting. She had done a pastel she liked, and she used it as a beginning for this painting, building on the pastel. Like her other still lives, this one is filled with things she knows and loves.
Carter loved to pick flowers as a child and says her whole life has been taken up with flowers. She also has always loved pottery and vases, and her love for these objects comes through in the feeling of the painting. The painting, although complex and rich in color and design, is also subtle, and uses a resting spot-the glass vase-as a focal point around which the other objects are placed. In addition to the overall design, color relationships and the repetition of the floral motif unify the painting. Mostly Flowers accomplishes Carter's goal of a painting that is correct but also beautiful and sensitive in its correctness.