Author Stephanie Perkins wrote, “A blank canvas has unlimited possibilities.” For a local artist, Barbara Drake, the realization of the “unlimited possibilities” came very early in life. Her first experience with artistic success was realized in kindergarten when she won the best-of-class award for her painting. That award set young Barbara off on a life filled with fun, creativity, and the realization that being creative was not just a hobby; it's a way of life.
Growing up in the town of Toledo, Ohio, known as the world's glass capital, provides young students with a multitude of cultural and fine arts experiences. According to Barbara, school field trips to the Toledo Museum of Art "were mysterious forays into other worlds." Within its walls was a Greek revival version of the Parthenon, a replica of a medieval home, and cases of Egyptian mummies, all vying for the imagination of their young viewers. The museum exhibits also introduced students to the enchantment, romance, and turmoil of the later worlds in art through the works of Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Gogh, Monet, El Greco, and Picasso, all very diverse in style and sends young mines into the "what if" possibilities.
Barbara earned her B.A. degree from the University of Toledo, Magna cum laude, specializing in business and labor relations. To balance out her creative side, she also earned a certification in interior design. Barbara reflects on her "art education" as "beginning by painting local parks and historical buildings, Plein Aire, with her children in tow, under the tillage of Life and Look magazine artist George Jensen." Today, Barbara is retired and lives in Goldfield Ranch, near Fountain Hills, Arizona. She continues her education, attending workshops offered by local instructors; Bill Lundquist, portraits, Tom Haas, David Flitner, and Becky Joy, with landscapes.
Currently, Barbara works for her home studio in Goldfield Ranch. She would describe her current work as "influenced by the subtle nuances of light and atmosphere in the landscape." Barbara derives inspiration from many sources around her; sometimes, it's a face in the crowd, a lush field of wildflowers, or fuzzy little critters that occupy space with us in the high Sonoran desert. She considers creating art an intense experience with you, the canvas, your imagination, and hope. In Barbara's case, a lot of natural talent and years of perfecting her skills are the magic ingredients that successfully pull the process into beautifully rendered works.
"My art education began by painting local parks and historical buildings, Plein Aire, under the tillage of Life and Look magazine artist George Jensen."
Barbara is a Fountain Hills Art League member and exhibits with them throughout the year. She has been chosen Fountain Hills Art League's 2022 Artist of the Year for the third time, which she considers an absolute honor.
To have fun and stay connected with her community Barbara reserves Tuesdays for a "Smilz with Frienz" day. A group of artists, the League, join her for a day of play, experimenting with new products and sharing newly discovered ideas. This way, they keep their skills and arts community fresh, alive, fun, and supportive. As a result, Barbara enjoys the patronage of collectors across the country; many have been with her for years decorating their homes and offices with beautifully rendered, inspirational works.