Americana Mama: Artist Jane Wooster Scott Left Hollywood Behind for Family Life and to Capture American Ideals in Her Paintings, Becoming the Most Reproduced Artist in America. (Jane Wooster Scott)

Article excerpt

"To be perfectly honest, I wasn't always interested in art" This is a comment that stirs curiosity coming from Jane Wooster Scott, an Americana artist who averages 13 to 14 paintings a year, was commissioned by the Terminator and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Reproduced Artist in America."

Not as curious considering Wooster Scott's career started as a joke. "When I came to California, I had a girlfriend that was moving into an early-American house. She kiddingly said, `what I would love to have is a Grandma Moses over the fireplace' So I thought it would be funny to get a picture of Grandma Moses, copy it and sign it Grandma Wooster," she said. It may have been the first time she touched oil paint, but she found it so enjoyable, she decided to copy a few more. Soon, copying became a hobby and she began developing her own style without any intention of doing anything with her talent.

That all changed when she was invited to participate in a joint showing at the Ankrum Gallery in Los Angeles with her comedian friend Jonathan Winters. Winters' fame drew a mostly show business crowd who bought Wooster Scott's contribution of 40 paintings in the course of an hour. "It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time, no doubt about it. I often wonder if my girlfriend had moved into a modern house and said, `I need a Picasso', if that's what I'd be painting like today. I just think life takes you on strange journeys sometimes," she said.

Strange journey is an apt description of Wooster Scott's life. Since the age of six, she dreamed of becoming a great movie star. So when a 20th Century Fox contract was dangled in front of her, she left her home just outside of Philadelphia and moved West to give her dream a chance. Within less than a year, however, she discovered the movie business in Hollywood was not for her. Instead, at age 19, she took on an opportunity to host a Los Angeles talk show that brought together such names as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. "I enjoyed that much more than being a little starlette. Then I got married and quit it all because I became a mom" she said.

Her stint in Hollywood did place her in a few films, "but don't ask me the titles, I'm not going to tell you. They were parts that if you blinked your eyes you would probably miss me." She added, "I wanted to leave that world behind. I was very anxious to have children and settle down, and that's when I got seriously into painting."

Although her style is completely different from that first copy of Grandma Moses, she said, "it got me into that New England kind of look, which I truly love. Where I grew up in Pennsylvania isn't all that different. I think it's the prettiest part of the world. I go back often, drive around, take photos, absorb the ambiance."

Wooster Scott continued, "I don't know where the scenes come from. They just pop into my head. But I love the turn-of-the-century look. Maybe I lived there in another life. …