Do you remember last time you saw something so stunning that it took your breath away? I have a particular predilection for nature, landscapes and bucolic scenes. Those surroundings prompt some of my deepest reflections on the beauty of the world, pace of life, and sources of inner happiness. The reflections encouraged me to make some significant changes in the way I live life, to have my soul nurtured without rushing or running after another project. In this process, I have discovered that those breathtaking natural and bucolic scenes can be captured on paintings. As I was doing some research, I encountered one specific artist, whose art feeds soul and takes my breath away.
I saw an ad in a newspaper and became a fine artist
Does that sound impossible? Then, I hope you will take the time to read the story of our featured artist today.
Barbara Pask has become a powerful source of inspiration for me. Her life and initiatives are a testament of what it means to discover and doggedly pursue passion.
In today’s post, I am pleased to feature an interview with an artist who began an artistic journey by showing up at a plein air group event advertised in a newspaper. Since then, she has seriously taken on the challenge of learning and mastering painting techniques and styles with fierce passion and determination. Her paintings masterly feature nature, landscapes and bucolic scenes. Barbara Pask, also known through her site Love to Paint – Paintings by Barbara Pask, Barbara Pask Fine Art, and Barbara Pask’s Instagram, is kind to share how she uncovered her interest in fine arts and how she was so successful with bucolic paintings.
My conversation with Barbara showed me yet another side of how inspirational she is. Born to a fairly un-artistic family, she discovers her passion for fine arts later in life. She spends her adult years on wood crafts and folk art. She reads an advertisement in a newspaper about painting plein air. She picks up her canvas, brushes, paints, and shows up at the event with a big smile on her face. This is a pivotal point in her life, which begins her path as a fine artist. Today, she is a staunch supporter and member of various organizations bringing people of art together.
When art feeds soul
Adam Ziemba: You call yourself a “struggling artist.” Have you ever had any doubts about your artistic career?
Barbara Pask: My experience with art has been very humbling. To be an artist, you need to accept that the journey will be filled with ups and downs.
One day, weather, inspiration, paints, canvas and objects may fall into place with minimal effort. Another day, you may end up wiping everything off several times.
Art is not something you can quite master. The motivation to get better keeps me coming back to it.
Art feeds the soul. – BP
AZ: Where is your passion for art coming from?
BP: I am not able to pinpoint one specific source of my passion for art. As far as my memory can reach, I have been creative all my life. I liked to draw when I was a child. Ever since, I have done many things related to art. I oftentimes joke that if I could not use my fingers to paint, I would use my toes. I simply love art, and I devoted my life to it.
AZ: What art school did you go to?
BP: It may come as a surprise, but I do not have a degree in fine arts. From my experience, I can tell that while fine arts degree looks very good on a resume, even opening doors that may not be available otherwise, the degree in and by itself does not make you an artist. I have learned from my artist friends that their education was sometimes mostly theoretical. Being a good painter is about painting. Being a good painter is about brush mileage.
AZ: What is your background in art then?
BP: I began my journey maybe 25 or 30 years ago creating and painting wood crafts, I then moved onto folk art. About 11 years ago I saw an ad in a local newspaper to paint plein air, I showed up at this event with my paints, brushes and supplies with a smile on my face and it was life changing. This group is called the Arts Alliance Painters and I have chaired the group for the last ten years or so.
AZ: Not only are you an artist, but you cultivate art through painting communities in Ohio. For instance, you are a member of two paintings groups and also a member of the Cincinnati Women’s Art Club. Can you tell me more about your involvement in local communities?
BP: I am currently a member of two groups. My inside group, which meets on Mondays, consists of 20 members, the Arts Alliance Painters, we are all members of the Arts Alliance and they sponsor us. I am also a member of the Brush and Palette Painters which meet every Tuesday.
Members of those groups are typically professional and amateur artists. Those groups serve as an incredible platform to get together. While we individually work on our own projects, we oftentimes provide critiques to one another, which is very helpful. We occasionally paint still lifes and sometimes we hire a model to sketch or paint.
AZ: Are your other family members in the world of art?
BP: I am the only lucky one.
AZ: You are an incredible artist performing in oil, acrylic and occasionally mixed media. How have you discovered your passion for them?
BP: I had always had a predilection for acrylic until about 10 years go. Today, I use acrylics for some smaller projects, such as 4 x 4’s, though I have recently began experimenting with golden acrylics, which dry slowly.
Most people in my art club paint in oil. As soon as I joined the club, I wanted to try oils. I have really fallen for them, admiring their look and feel. As you know, the nature of oils is to dry very slowly. Therefore, they are perfect for my outdoor paintings.
AZ: Do you do commissioned paintings, or do you work on your own projects?
BP: I love to paint pet portraits and I have painted many home portraits. I do only take on projects that I feel suit my skill level.
AZ: How do you remain truthful to your art?
BP: One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that money is not everything. Therefore, I say no to things I do not feel comfortable with. To give you an example, there recently was a “pop art” show in my area and I am not a fan of pop art. I figured out a way to compete and yet make it my own. I painted a jack in the box, “art that pops” .
AZ: Many of your paintings feature bucolic themes and motifs. Can you pinpoint when and why you turned your attention to them?
BP: My first experience with one of the art clubs was painting outside. I really loved it, and wanted to continue my fondness for nature. While I feature bucolic themes, I paint a bit of everything, including architecture, landscape and animals. Those scenes feel like home to me.
Bucolic scenes feel like home to me. – BP
AZ: What do you find most challenging about outdoor painting?
BP: Sometimes, I am out there working on my piece, and it feels so heavenly. Wind does not blow, heat is not terrible, and bugs do not bite. Everything falls into place. In those moments, I tend to think that there is nothing better in the world.
Other times, it is the complete opposite. Wind messes with my paints, heat forces me to seek shade, and bugs do not let me sit in one place. Those are challenging times. However, even in those unfavorable circumstances, I can end up with a pretty good painting.
AZ: Do you work with other artists when you are outside?
BP: I do a little bit of both. My an en plain air art group has a summer schedule. We join one another in the summer each Tuesday.
AZ: You are quite a prolific artist. How many paintings do you create per month? What are your sources of inspiration?
BP: There are indeed weeks where I complete between 3 to 4 paintings each week. I am always excited about a blank canvas. I never run out of things to paint in my life. Besides my own work, I sometimes prepare paintings for shows or extra projects.
AZ: What shows do you participate in?
BP: My Brush & Palette group has a show the whole month of March each year at the Cincinnati Women’s Art Club in Mariemont Ohio. My Arts Alliance Painters group puts together a themed exhibit for the local Falls Festival and that exhibit moves onto Sinclair community college. I also take advantage of juried exhibits on my own throughout the year.
AZ: Do you like any other forms of art?
BP: I paint – this is what I devote my time to. Painting is so wonderful because I can do so many things with it. Not only can I change techniques from oil to acrylic, but I am able to change styles from abstract to realistic. I can also engage with a myriad of tools, such as paints, brushes, knives and more.
AZ: How does your family receive art?
BP: My husband is very supportive, emotionally and physically. He helps move my paintings and supplies to each of my shows and drives me long distances to take workshops. He is happy I have a passion.
AZ: What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
BP: One of the most valuable lessons for me is the phrase: “the more you know, the more you realize you do not know.” The further I go, I realize how much more there is left for me to learn. I expect much more of myself as a result. With that in mind, I can tell that I have grown tremendously as an artist. I now think about multiple things that go into a painting, such as design, interplay of lights, colors, and others.
Painting is also extremely humbling. I follow some very good artists online. I see that they wipe off their canvas multiple times. While I do not wish this to them, it is good to see that I am not the only one struggling with it.
AZ: Why should people should care about fine art?
BP: It is my hope that people will appreciate creative expression that goes with each piece of fine art. As an artist, I also collect art. I admire the value of art and effort that is invested into each piece, which I hope others admire, too. Art is just so beautiful, much better than print.
AZ: Who do you admire most and why?
BP: My daughter. She worked full time and went to school full time to get her teaching degree. She has since went on to get her Masters degree and National Board, the highest honor a teacher can pursue on her own. She’s a truly wonderful person – perfect to teach everyone’s children as she loves how diverse this country is. She is my best friend, and we are very close. I bounce things off of her. She is very helpful and patient. If I ever get upset, she level-headedly calms me down. She always sees the good in people.
AZ: What are 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring artists?
- If you want to learn how to paint, my suggestion is to set up a simple still nature sample, with very few items, and paint them very quickly. Then you move on to the next painting of the same sample. The idea is to paint, paint, and paint!
- Find someone whose work you admire. Learning from them and receiving their critique will be invaluable.
- Educate yourself. There is so much free education all over the internet, YouTube, Books, DVD. You really can learn a lot.
AZ: What can artists do to support each other?
If art clubs are not available in your area, I suggest that you should consider starting it yourself. A community of artists is a wonderful thing.
I live in a pretty good artistic community right outside of Cincinnati. I am very blessed and fortunate about being part of art clubs, because we do provide tons of support and resources to one another. For instance, we share critique on one another’s works of art, or distribute information regarding upcoming shows and exhibits. These are very valuable.
All imagery in this blog post are a courtesy of Barbara Pask from Love to Paint – Paintings by Barbara Pask.