Jane Lieber Mays began making portraits professionally at age 15 in Quincy, Illinois, encouraged by her mother Elizabeth, an artist educated at The Art Institute of Chicago. Creating a likeness came easily to the teenager, but she was compelled to strive for something beyond the physical representation. Fascinated with people's faces, she examined and drew them because "there was something behind the eyes."
Her development continued at the Scuolo 'd Arte La Romita in Terni, Italy, before beginning her college education. She studied at Rockford College in Illinois and the Cleveland Institute of Art before completing her BFA at University of Minnesota, and an MA at Goddard College in Vermont.
In the 1980s Jane assembled a personal slide library of historical and contemporary women artists' work, and taught lectures and workshops to raise awareness of women's artistic contributions. She identified with the challenges other women had faced in attempting to balance the responsibilities of studio and home. Then Jane discovered that her experience of motherhood could be incorporated into her studio practice. By witnessing the subtle changes in her two growing sons, her understanding of human form and spirit was enriched.
While working in her newly opened studio in Oregon, Jane commented, "After decades of painting people, I have learned that the 'something behind the eyes' I sought as a youngster is the life force, personality, a glimpse of the soul. My portraits capture that energy on canvas."
Jane has taught at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Grand Marais Art Colony in Minnesota, the University of Southern Maine, Linfield College, and is currently an adjunct at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon. There she teaches Introduction to Drawing, Figure Drawing, and is planning a Portrait class in 2006. Her work has been shown in exhibitions in Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, and Oregon.