I’ve never worked for a living. I chose work that fed my soul and that I was passionate about. My work choices weren’t just about paying the bills. But I’ve always painted, no matter what. I’ve had three careers that I have been deeply involved in and committed to. All were in the wake of my true passion of creating art. My first career was as a City Planner and Urban Designer making beautiful and livable places for people. My second career was teaching art and design as a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning. My third career I owned an ecological restoration nursery and design business with my husband, restoring rivers and wetlands throughout the western United States. I loved my three careers. Working in this way provided me financial freedom to develop my creative process as an artist.
Throughout this time, I’ve shown my paintings consistently in galleries, national, and international exhibitions.
I’ve made a habit of art in my life. My questions have been, “how can I regularly create continuity of time to paint?” “How do I get a minimum of twenty hours a week of painting time so that I can sustain the creative flow of ideas and artistic problem solving?” I have been able to successfully live those questions for many years of my adult life.
My informal art education started when I was a child, living in France. Our home was in the Fontainebleau Forest, outside of Paris. My father would take me to the Louvre and Jeu de Pomme Museum every weekend. Living and traveling in Europe for three years as a child left an indelible impression on me. The art, architecture, culture and learning new languages inspired me. It made me want to be an artist. At twenty years old, I moved back to to Aix-en-Provence, France to attend art school. It felt like going home. After returning to the United States, I studied art and architecture. I earned a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning. I’ve continued my artistic studies in painting with Kevin Macpherson, Scott Christensen, Ray Roberts, Jill Carver, and Kathryn Stats.
I live in New Mexico. My husband and I have raised three children. Parenting is its own art form and spiritual practice. Our kids are adults now, and are all equally successful and fascinating in their own right. I’m fortunate that my family has been so supportive of my work. Family life has enriched my life and painting in ways I never imagined.
I took up drawing and painting when I was a teenager, after the early death of my father. One morning, I was moping around and I headed outside to sit in the shade by the roses. Then it happened. I saw Beauty. I capitalize Beauty because as I was looking at this tired old rose, my perception subtly shifted and my grey world transformed into sparkling, shimmering, vibrating color. Instead of just an old flower, I saw light filtering through the petals, turning them luminescent and brilliant. I was captivated by the pattern of shadows. I felt no sense of separation between the rose, and me. It was miraculous. The ordinary had transformed into the extraordinary because something in me had changed.
I paint so that I can see and experience Beauty. Painting is an expressive, emotional and (paradoxically) nonverbal language. Painting is the language of relationships—the interplay of light and shadow, color, movement. It commands the painter to look beyond objects and see that nothing can be viewed in isolation, but rather in constant relationship to its environment. To see, for example, how a muted blue can appear intense relative to the grays around it or a cool red can appear warm relative to the blues around it. In painting, a cup is not a “cup,” it’s a shape, with curvature and reflected light. Something as simple as a cup has its own truth, and my role as an artist is to render that truth so others can commune with Beauty, too.
See Barbara’s CV here