Recently I had the pleasure, albeit a somewhat nervous pleasure, of being interviewed by my good friend Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women via Skype (nothing makes you more aware of age and weight than knowing you will be on camera). That interview will go live very soon, but I thought I would share some thoughts that Monica and I never really got to cover fully during the time we spoke, because time did, as time does in real life, fly by. I have also posted a companion post in my other blog, Design Rocket.
I have had the good fortune of being able to spend nearly one hundred percent of my time these last forty years, making art in one form or another. I did take a few years off when my two oldest sons were little, but when I think back on that time, I was always dong something creative (and most of it was donated for fundraising events of one kind or another), just not all of it professionally. Aside from that short break, it has pretty much been non-stop all the time.
But, nonstop at what? Well, nonstop at art. Art in many forms and in many materials for many venues. In short: I've been a painter, puppeteer, doll maker, soft sculpture artist/craftsperson, editorial illustrator, children's book author and illustrator, fabric designer, licensed artist, and now I am also painting again. I’ve also spent a lot of time decorating houses, but, to be very honest, that makes me zero money. It only costs me money. But that's OK. It satisfies my soul. It's a medium I have to work in almost as much as my paints. “House--just another art material and artistic discipline."
But back to business. If I look back over all my years as an artist, I see one thing: my aesthetic sensibility has not changed much in forty years. I am still drawn to the same things I was drawn to in college--characters, details, expressive gestures, and emotions. I love color and texture and patterns. I especially like narratives. Everything I do tends to tell a story, and the story is in the details, textures and characters.
I have written about this before and in much more detail. You can read the first accout I wrote years ago for my very first web site. It really rambles and tells the story of the earliest years. Here is the place to read that. I created an abbreviated version for my current web site. You can ready that one here.
I’m sharing some recent art here at Cats and Jammers Studio to coordinate with the interview. I am also sharing some of the house and other new art on my other blog, Design Rocket.
What message would I love to give other artists? This: don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself and try new things. Life as an artist is a wild journey on a winding road. A few years back, I posted a long post about moving in random directions in life, seemingly as if by pure serendipity. Well, life is that but it is also by luck and pluck, and maybe much less by design than we think. Please read that post, Serendipity + Pluck = Life.
Much of the art here is from my 2011 Sketchbook Project, “Coffee and Cigarettes.” I loved doing that book. I have done two others since. You can see the digital scans of my book here. And you can see the show opening containg paintngs based on the book here.
Participating in the Sketchbook Projects for the Art House Coop really feeds my artistic soul. My most recent book was titled “Strangers.” In doing that book I dedicated it to my painting and drawing professor of my sophomore year of college, John Patrick Murphy II. John was the head of the art department at Rockland Community College for more than 30 years. On the very first day I met him, I shared some paintings and he gave me advice that has stayed with me all these years: “Barbara, draw out of your head.” Meaning, draw from the well within you that has your memories and your impressions. And that is the way I have worked ever since.
John very recently passed away. This post is dedicated to him, because, really, meeting him and getting to know him was pure serendipity and it pointed me along the way on my own artistic journey.