Barbara Solberg - Self-Portrait - The Wise One
The Wise One by Barbara Solberg

Artist's Statement

My first memory related to art is at the age of five in kindergarten at Oakdale Elementary School in Salina, Kansas. Wearing a little painting smock, I remember standing before a child’s two-sided easel with the paint pots in the tray at the bottom and being totally mesmerized by the moving blob of red paint that I had just brushed on the paper. I watched it run all the way down the length of the paper. I was hooked!

From then on, I have created art all of my life. I recall only a very few times over the years when I was not doing something involved with art. Even before attaining my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting from The University of Kansas, I participated in numerous art classes and professional workshops. I lived in England for three years during my early twenties which was an inspiring and educational experience for me in many ways. It was there that I first became interested in ancient civilizations — a pursuit that continues to influence my work to this day.

The initial inspiration for my art is place, whether familiar Kansas landscapes or new vistas from travels. I have visited many important Native American sites in the Southwest and the Midwest of the USA. A recent trip to Belgium, Scotland, and to the islands of Orkney, Shetland, and the Outer Hebrides will, without a doubt, influence my current work. In my travels, I always explore the history and culture of each place, and then imagery and meanings of the visit appear in my work upon returning to the studio. I am waiting for this recent travel muse to tap me on the shoulder!

A painter for many years, I have worked in a variety of media including pastel, acrylic and oil, as well as the printmaking processes of lithography and monoprinting. I like combining these techniques in the form of collage using found objects such as wood, stones, bones, and shells that may be affixed to a painted background or to a piece of handmade paper. Attaching objects to the paper with linen cord serves a practical purpose, and at the same time, the exposed hand-stitching becomes a design element and adds a desirable texture to the piece.

I find that working in two distinct styles of landscape — realism and the collage technique of combining disparate three-dimensional elements — complements each phase of my work. It keeps my work fresh, and opens up new ideas for experimenting in each medium. Eyes wide open, I still look in wonder at the red paint running along the edge, and I know I will never lose my enthusiasm for creating!