Getting to Know: James Ramsdell

James Ramsdell's "Streetside Blossoms" Currently at the West End

When did art come into your life?
Art came into my life in spurts and drabs, percolating for a long time before erupting into a major life force. And it came first as drawing! My earilest rememberance of art was when my mother discovered some nude drawings I had done when I was 7. My parents were, to say the least, startled but they weren’t discouraging, although I think after that doors were more judiciously not left as open as they had been.

An Early Ramsdell, About Age 11

I have been drawing ever since, everything is fair game, and I’ll draw on almost everything with anything. I drew throughout elementary, middle school, and high school , but I was good, I drew in my workbooks and notebooks (never in my textbooks). To this end comics  and “Mad” magazine were a big interest while I was growing up. As I left home went to college and into the work place I continued to draw every chance I got. Drawing as soon as I woke, before I dashed off to do farm chores and on to work- drawing during breaks, lunch, meetings, and evenings while watching tv.

Notes From a Staff Meeting 30 Years Ago

It is said that Thomas Buechner would draw during business meetings, and I also did this. The difference was (probably because of our positions in our respective companies) if my boss could have caught me, I would have been fired on the spot. She did her darndest to catch me but after a life time of devious sketching when I probably shouldn’t have been, she was no match for me. But it was probably one of the things that caused me to realize, I needed to be in a different line of work.
Drawing is what drew me into my art and is still the backbone, but it was just the beginning. It led to painting, but that’s another story.

How did art come into my life? Part 2
Growing up in upstate New York I had very little exposure to museums and paintings, and other than art in elementary school and books, nothing much. But every other year I would get to visit my aunt and uncle who lived in the Washington, DC area. They would often give me lunch money and dropped me off at the National Gallery for the day, to be picked up outside at 4 o’clock sharp, and don’t be late! I had my favorite paintings that I would run to check on and then spend the rest of the day exploring. I had such a great time.

"Morning Creeping In"- My First Blue Ribbon Winner, 1991

I was good at drawing, but painting was a different story. My attempts usually weren’t very successful. I took art in middle school, but had no time for it in high school or college with my science course load. But I had a girl friend  that was very good at painting and encouraging. I remember once sitting with her near Danby, Vermont over looking Vermont’s Green Mountains plein air painting. She was doing such a good job, and although I could see and feel this absolutely wonderful scene, I couldn’t express it. I was so frustrated and exhilarated at the same time. It was definitely a challenge I would have to take up.
Later on with a new baby, a new job, and 15 horses in the barn I decided that it was time for me to start taking art lessons, to really learn how to paint. I went down and enrolled in art lessons at our local museum art school with Mike Tanzer. This would lead to other classes and workshops and eventually doing art full time.
In 1998 I began exhibiting at West End Gallery and have enjoyed being part of their gallery of artists since then.


2 Responses to Getting to Know: James Ramsdell

  1. What an entertaining, yet insightful narrative. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your background.

  2. Parnilla Carpenter says:

    Yes, I agree with Jennifer. It’s so interesting to know where folks begin their art.

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