Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Gothard.
Barbara, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I always wanted to be an artist. The impetus to do so evolved in both tangible and intangible ways. Tangible: my mother was very perceptive enrolling me in Saturday morning art classes. I used to think that she did this to get me out of the house, but in hindsight I realize that she recognized my creative interest and facilitated a way for me to nurture it. I learned from my father the importance and value of good craftsmanship while using carpentry tools. Intangible: art provided a way for me to communicate visually rather than through the spoken word growing up in a tension filled household environment. My creative drive has been an integral part of my life ever since, although the degree to which I was able to implement it was dictated by family and business circumstances. Zig-zagging is the way I describe the path of my artistic/educator to global business life and back to my art.
My creative path has been full of twists and turns, impacting the way my art is driven by things outside of my vision. Growing up amidst land locked agricultural communities in Illinois, the mountains and desert-like landscapes in my early paintings were purely imaginary and not reflective of the fields and forests of Illinois – never imagining that I would live in the desert surrounded by mountains. Today, my art is fueled by the influence of the expansiveness and the incredible light of my Palm Springs desert environment. The ever-changing nature of the desert– it’s mystifying, malleable and inviting—affects the way my artworks are evolving from very structured, surrealistic architectural landscapes to more mystical elements with an interplay of reality and dreamlike qualities.
In addition, I’m driven by the commitment I made to myself to return to my art after a career in global business. As my reemerging artist process began, I received an Artist Outreach grant from The Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation to teach Art and Sustainability at the Preuss School UCSD, San Diego. I developed this program based on my extensive corporate sustainability experience, my educational background and my art. My first exhibit in San Diego’s art market were large watercolor and oil paintings. After moving to Palm Springs, I had to learn to use Winsor Newton Water Soluble oil paints as a result of flooding that led to an asthma diagnosis. My work continues to be somewhat autobiographical, often related to occurrences in my life at a given time.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am primarily a painter – watercolor, oil and now digital – and my work is self-described contemporary surrealism. Contradictions are the focus of my artwork. Life’s ups and downs are implied in a mystical realistic way, encouraging viewers to relate their story with the artworks’ story of hope and expectations— the options presented to draw the viewer into interior spaces pierced by openings revealing expansive skies. Contradictions also play a role in my fascination with color theory and use of color. I’m always seeking ways to produce a richness in the colors of my palette developing, for example the darkest tones by combining color opposites, discovering new and exciting color combinations.
My work evolves from one series to another, Evolution, Hurdles, Expansion, Entanglements, Paths. The question and the excitement for me is always anticipating my next path and new directions often arise when I least expect it. Just when I thought I was moving productively along the then-current path, I was introduced to the ProCreate app during an iPad session at the Apple Store. I discovered an entirely new and exciting way to create – a method so alien to painting on canvas, yet familiar, even though very different. As with any new venture, it takes time, patience, persistence and remembering that obstacles are gifts. It was humbling to create my first digital painting, a single apple, as a way to learn how the program worked. My daily painting practice is guided by my personal and professional motto to ‘Never Give Up’. My new Paths series is coming into focus via the unanticipated benefit of digital painting.
Since, I rarely use preliminary sketches for my work, visualization is key. The natural (metaphoric) images evoke contrasts with the abstract, confronting the viewer by their interdependence. I draw directly onto the surface, watching the shapes and colors evolve and change as the dynamic of the contrasting elements take shape. This unfolding mystery of complex spatial systems is what compels me to continue creating, anticipating viewers’ responses to the concept of dramatic challenges of change, infused with great expectation. Quieting the many thoughts and ideas for my artworks is the biggest challenge that keeps me up at night.
My oeuvre is guided by the continuum of traditional art training–Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in art – and a Ph.D. in educational administration, with a non-traditional career path from education to global corporate business. My historical influencers are Hieronymus Bosch – “his use of fantastic imagery and placement”, the Dutch Masters and Vermeer in particular – “…his masterly treatment and use of light”, Gustav Klimt – “elegant and decorative elements”, Georgia O’Keefe – “contoured forms that are replete with subtle transitions of varying colors”, and Magritte – “his ability to place ordinary objects in unfamiliar spaces…”. My inner vision as an artist continues to evolve from this backdrop.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
Creative challenges or mistakes lead to growth and can result in artworks evolving into something better than the original. For example, one of my older paintings was water damaged by leaks in the ceiling during a rain storm. My mistake was assuming it would be cleaned by the haz-matt company. Instead of rolling the canvas in a tube, the company rolled it and placed it in a box. The canvas had so many creases and cracks that the painting could never be displayed in its original form. I tacked the canvas to a wall for almost a year. Then when I was exploring the exhibit galleries at Space 4 Art in San Diego for a solo show, the smaller of the two galleries was ideal for an installation, which I’d never done, but knew I wanted to do. Voila! I cut the damaged canvas into strips of varying widths and, maintaining the continuity of the original image, hung the strips using fishing line from three wood planks mounted on the supports for the light fixture, using a cone-like shipping material to cover the planks. The strips of canvas were hung low enough for viewers to walk among them, experiencing the water damage and as the H/AC system cycled on and off, the fabric moved to create new patterns of shadows on the walls and the floor. These became an integral part to the installation.
Stay focused on your work, even in moments of self-doubt and adversity. As I’ve come to learn in my practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, it’s important to know that contradictions naturally arise from the impermanence and ever-changing aspects of life. And most importantly, reflect and rely on the source of your particular creativity and inspiration.
Define what compels you to create and keep moving forward.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Discover more at:
Mojave Made, Joshua Tree Artists
2 to 2 -26 January 2019
Santa Monica Art Studios, The Hangar Gallery
Santa Monica, CA
Senlis Sacred Art Festival, in conjunction with Galerié MétanoÏa
21 -28 April 2019
Espace St-Pierre – Chapelle St-Frambourg
Contributor, Art Patron Magazine www.artpatronmagazine.com
I always welcome people visiting exhibitions, the galleries that represent my work and art fairs where my work is exhibited, introducing my work to their network of friends and family. And when an artwork appeals to them, consider purchasing my work by contacting me or the gallery that represents me. I also welcome constructive input which can be submitted via my website, barbaragothard.com or email at email@example.com.
- Address: PO Box 4043, Palm Springs, CA 92263
- Website: barbaragothard.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: #barbaragothardart
- Facebook: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbara-gothard, https://www.facebook.com/barbara.gothard.12/posts/2015906585375250
- Other: saatchi.art.com/barbara.gothard