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Painting to preserve

Jenkins believes art keeps heritage alive

Jenkins believes art keeps heritage alive

August 27, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Despite suffering two heart attacks and having quintuple bypass heart surgery last December, Lonnie Jenkins has continued to paint and teach watercolor painting classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Mansion House Art Center.

"Art is alive and well, and we must give something back to our future generations to enjoy and study," said Jenkins, 56, of Hagerstown, who co-founded the Mansion House Art Center in 1989.

"That's what preserving our heritage in art is all about."

The award-winning artist's watercolor painting was featured on a commemorative poster for Williamsport's C&O Canal Days, which took place Saturday and Sunday.

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Jenkins ended his engineering career to cut down on stress after his open-heart surgery but kept painting and teaching because those activities are therapeutic and fun for him, he said.

"It's just a fun and relaxing thing for me to do," Jenkins said. "I know I'm never going to get rich from it. I just enjoy it."

He spreads his love of painting by guiding beginning and intermediate art students through the creative process, he said.

"It's such a joy for me to see how enthusiastic the students are about painting by the end of the 10-week class," Jenkins said.

He started painting about 25 years ago, honing his craft in his free time while working as an engineer for Duvinage Corp. in Hagerstown.

Jenkins said he has won awards through art shows in which he's participated as a member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society, Valley Art Association, Washington County Arts Council and American Society of Marine Artists.

At an easel in his home study, he has brushed his watercolor paints into realistic images copied from photographs he's taken from Hagerstown to Ontario, Canada.

In 1989, Jenkins painted Hagerstown's City Hall and presented the work to former Mayor Steve Sager to celebrate the building's 50th anniversary. He painted a watercolor of the Baltimore Orioles' Camden Yards to help memorialize the stadium's opening day in 1992. He painted a rustic inn in Maine and the town square of a small village in Massachusetts because he "just fell in love with it," he said.

And he's painted countless private homes, C&O Canal scenes, railroads and historic structures in the county such as Hager House and Burnside Bridge.

"Those kinds of things sell real well around here," he said. "I used to do a whole lot of historic buildings but I slowed down because I didn't want to get labeled."

Painting maritime scenes is his passion, Jenkins said.

His watercolor of a bugeye boat in the Chesapeake Bay hangs in the permanent collection at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, he said. His painting of seagulls along the shore graces a calendar produced in York, Pa., he said.

His watercolor painting of the harbor at St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore will be displayed at the Baltimore Watercolor Society's show in September, Jenkins said.

He prefers to focus on producing original art rather than marketing prints of his work, he said.

Jenkins permits the C&O Canal Days committee to sell printed copies of watercolors he has created free of charge for the event for the past 12 years because he believes in he cause, he said.

Jenkins' Williamsport paintings include the town's refurbished Lock 44, historic Springfield Farm barn, trolley house, canal boats and community park.

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