Local photographer Jane Spencer displays her work at PAH

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A true artist is one who not only has a passion for art, but also an eye for detail.

And there are many forms of visual art, such as painting, drawing, sculpting and photography.

For Jane Spencer, her love of all things art began at a very young age.

“When I was a kid, I used to draw cartoons out of the funny pages,” said Spencer.

As a teenager, she began to do still-life art, as well as oil painting.

Spencer says that once she got married, it was hard to find time to paint or draw, especially after having three children.

Once her children grew older, she started taking painting lessons with the late Reba Hamilton — an accomplished artist who taught classes in the Punxsy area.

In the 1980s, she became interested in photography, and it was while she was on a trip with her parents and sisters in Italy that she truly embraced that passion.

“I took a million pictures and found myself hooked,” said Spencer.

She has been to Italy seven times and has traveled to other foreign countries, and she has “tons” of film from her many adventures.

Once the world of photography moved into the digital realm, Spencer stepped up and embraced it. Now, it has helped her create and showcase her art to a broader audience.

“Basically, I am a nature photographer. I love trees, animals, landscapes and water,” said Spencer, adding that she likes to do set-ups and still-life photography.

She loves to do concept pictures — an example would be a photograph that she did of a tomato that had a bump that resembled a nose, on which she then put a salad leaf.

To many, such a practice may sound odd, but to an artist, there is no limitation on creating a work of art.

Spencer talked about working with “available light,” which is a photographer’s term for natural light.

She hates working with flashes and lamps, but instead chooses nature’s lighting sources. If a picture is to be taken, she will either take it outside or close to a window.

In her opinion, natural light captures the photograph much better then the flash does. After she snaps her photographs, she uploads them onto Photoshop.

“With Photoshop, the picture I take becomes my palate,” said Spencer, adding that once she is done with her editing, she’s no longer dealing with the same picture.

For example, a picture she took of some deer in her backyard was uploaded to Photoshop, and from there, she was able to use a technique called layering and a tool that allowed for a dry brush stroking technique.

The finished project shows her photograph as a watercolor painting.

Through Photoshop, artists are able to add changes to photographs through a variety of different techniques, which helps them to capture more attention then a normal photograph would, she said.

In the late 90s, Spencer took a film correspondence course through the New York Institute of Photography.

She then joined the Punxsutawney Arts Association Inc., before it became incorporated, and she is still a member to this day.

“I joined PAAI, and that’s when I began to take it more seriously, because I could now show pictures,” she said.

In October 2006, she put some of her photos on a online site called shutterprint.com, and over time her collection on the site has grown to more than 600 pictures.

She has received more than 450,000 views and has sold 141 photos. One year, she even won a Mother’s Day contest that was sponsored by the site.

The theme was Mother’s Day, and after entering a photograph, she said she was shocked to win the first prize of $500 and a year’s worth of free storage space on the site.

Though eight pieces of her artwork are currently on display at the Punxsutawney Area Hospital, Spencer has also had some of her work displayed throughout town.

Years ago her artwork could be seen throughout the Pantall Hotel, and now some of it can be found at Fairlady & Company.

One of the pieces that sits on display at Fairlady & Company is a photo of a groundhog nibbling on a dandelion leaf.

Some of her artwork has also been made into keychains.

During the Groundhog Day Art Show, Spencer had 15 pieces displayed and successfully sold a few.

Aside from photography, Spencer is also a published writer who used to write and sell short stories in the romance genre.

At the age of 32, Spencer went back to college, and at 39, she finished with a degree in psychology and sociology.

For the last 33 years, she has owned and managed the Sycamore Apartments, a job she refers to as a calling and not a career.

She loves working with people and being able to provide homes for those who don’t have one.

Her passion for learning the arts still remains, as she continues to learn the new digital techniques that keep coming out.

Now, with photographers equipped with not only digital cameras, but also camera phones, the world of photography has certainly grown.

For Spencer, the educational journey has certainly been a long one, with other passions being found along the way. However, her love of photography is still her strongest, and that passion can be seen through each and every piece of her work.

To check out some of Spencer’s artwork, visit istah.shutterpoint.com or janespencer.imagekind.com.