Often as I show guests through our studio or gallery a question is asked “How does she put such feeling into a painting or capture the light that way” and I say she learned it over a lifetime. If they press further I tell them this about Barbara.
Born the granddaughter of a Shawnee Indian she began doing vivid pencil drawings in grade school using her Ohio farm and her Dad’s “Field and Stream” magazines for inspiration. Up and down Main Street in Van Wert shopkeepers paid Barbara for painting Christmas scenes in shop windows. In the summertime she was expected to cook for the field hands but even then she made drawings that brought joy to an otherwise hard day’s work.
From Ohio farmland to the seacoast of Florida’s Anna Maria Island and then to the open skies of wild west Scottsdale Arizona of the 1950’s, where Barbara found herself shortly after turning 16, she absorbed all the colors and feelings of her environments.
Barbara’s formal art education started at Scottsdale High School where she was a hit for painting backdrops for student plays and a miss for losing her new driver’s license for speeding in her ’57 Ford convertible. From Scottsdale High she went to study art at ASU. Then as her career blossomed she consistently honed her skills with sessions at Scottsdale Artists School with John and Terri Moyers, Joe Lorusso, Joni Falk, John Burton, Howard and Betty Carr and many others helping her express all that she had seen and felt in her own unique way. When asked about her painting Barbara has said “I love to observe the way lights dances across nature and I try to reflect that in my work.
She has been an activist in the art world. From being a founding member of Arizona Plein Air Painters to Cottonwood’s “Paint the Barrels” project to the Verde River Artist Challenge where 20 artists took a four day kayaking trip down the Verde River and then painted from their inspiration and donated the paintings to raise money to preserve the River.
Her work has primarily been oil on canvas which she feels allows her to express the colors that she so vividly sees. However Barbara’s recent recovery from Breast Cancer has inspired her to concentrate her latest efforts working in clay to create bronze sculptures with her Indian heritage and wildlife as her inspiration.
Art happens when an artist bares her soul and allows others to see what she sees and feel what she feels. Look at her work cataloged here on the website, visit her gallery when she is exhibiting or come to her home gallery on the Verde River in Arizona and see if you see and feel the way she does about our beautiful world. Visits are by appointment only at the home she shares with me and a host of ranch animals. Views of the wild Verde River and Indian Ruins are some of the joys of her little corner of our world.
Bob Donahue, Author