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The Barn Painter

Oldham Co.'s Ann Carter
draws inspiration from childhood

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. – (October 2002) When Ann Reuter Carter sets out to do something, she doesn’t give up until she has accomplished her goal.
Swiftly becoming known as “The Barn Painter of Oldham County,” the La Grange, Ky., resident preserves on canvas her content childhood memories of growing up on a farm in Southern Iowa.
“It’s important to save that way of life,” Carter says.
Carter moved to Oldham County in 1975. She has formally trained at Art Instruction Inc., the Louisville School of Art, and Jefferson Community College. While at the latter institution, Carter said she was asked to run the airbrush room and then the photography lab.

Ann Carter

Ann Carter with her artwork

Carter’s mother was an artist, so naturally painting is a “creative talent born in me. I paint partly because I want to paint. It’s a gift.”
When someone recognizes a scene in one of her paintings, Carter said she is thrilled. Her main goal in painting a picture is for someone to benefit from her work; to recognize a scene that brings about an emotional response.
“A part of me is in every picture I complete,” she said. “I feel I have a God-given talent, and I’m just sharing it with the world. If my talent can make someone enjoy life a little more, then I’m happier too.”
Unlike other artists, Carter said she doesn’t always have to be in the mood to paint. “If you start, it will come to you. At the beginning of a painting, I’m excited.”
After first sketching the scene on canvas, Carter then goes about filling in details to flush out the scene. Sometimes its a struggle to achieve a certain feeling or look in her work, but she diligently stays with the project until she’s satisfied with the end result.
Carter is not limited to oil paintings. Due to her education in commercial art, she has also created items in many areas of graphic design – banners, flags, brochures, posters and advertisements.
For eight years, Carter was the editor of the Kentucky Conference Methodist Newspaper, The Voice.
Due to a severe brain injury in 1979, Carter’s future as an artist looked uncertain. But with determination, she recovered, and with encouragement from her youngest son, she took up painting again.
She took a refresher class in La Grange at the Angie Campbell Studio. Carter now spends time every day in her own studio.
Her studio is filled with dozens of photo albums containing floral shots that she has taken over the years. If stalled on a painting of a particular flower, for example, Carter can turn to a certain picture and see how daffodils look in the springtime, she said.
“With each painting, I learn more,” Carter said. She prefers to take her own pictures of a scene before painting it, but she said customers could provide her with a photograph from which to paint.
Her commissioned paintings hang in homes in Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee and several Kentucky counties.
Carter’s husband, Merlin Carr, also is an artist. Originally from South Dakota, he grew up on a farm that was homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1882. The 1,280-acre Carr Farm is now a private hunting farm.
Similar to his wife’s intent, Carr would like to someday paint scenes from a bygone farming era, when life was more simple and carefree. Carter said she has discussed the possibility of a “Barns of Oldham County” exhibit at the Oldham County History Center.
History Center executive director Anita Fritz is open to the idea. “We definitely want to do an exhibit, but it won’t be until the summer or fall of 2003,” Fritz said.
Fritz is looking for other barn painters and photographers to display their work with Carters.

• To contact Carter about her work, call (502) 241-4152.

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