We had the good fortune of connecting with Barbara Dahlstedt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barbara, every day, we hear about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I came up with the idea of Dahlstedt Art when I was a high school art teacher. I was near the end of my teaching career when I decided to try my hand as a fine artist while I still had a steady income. I will always remember my mother’s words about not becoming a starving artist. So I entered the fine art world with baby steps. I began by entering art contests. My high school students were quite successful with competitions so I thought that this was a good place to start. Much to my delight, I had immediate success. It was a way to get my work into galleries and museums, gain a reputation, and earn a little prize money as well. Another way to promote my art was to do so through social media. As I posted my work on artists’ Facebook groups, I gained a fan base and was noticed by art magazine publishers. Soon I was getting my work into art magazines and books. Last year I was the featured artist on the cover of Colored Pencil Magazine with a multi-page spread on the inside. Little did I know that this fan base would become important to me in the near future. I joined an organization called the Colored Pencil Society of America, which promotes my favorite medium. In just a few years I earned signature status, won “Best of Show”, and was invited to teach a workshop at their national convention in Chicago. This opportunity opened my eyes to the path I was supposed to take. I retired from teaching high school and began teaching workshops all over the United States. Of course, since the pandemic hit our country, I have had to modify my workshops into online learning. Everything I have done in my life has led me to this artistic career. The experience of being a graphic designer helps me put together instructional booklets and promotional flyers and twenty-six years of teaching has taught me how to communicate effectively and plan a lesson. This is what I have been preparing for my whole life!Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When you are a colored pencil artist there is a stigma that you must overcome. Many people think of colored pencils like they are crayons and are not taken seriously as a fine art medium. But colored pencils are a fine art medium. The advances in their manufacturing have improved their quality. Lightfast testing has proved that they are worthy of the time and effort it takes to create a masterpiece. In fact, most people that see my work for the first time often say, “I can’t believe that’s colored pencil!” The thing that I find so enjoyable about my medium is the amount of detail that you are able to achieve. Bold saturated color can be created and many techniques and surfaces can be explored with any subject matter. My favorite subject matter is people and nature. I try to find people that are truly unique. The Arizona Renaissance Festival has been a treasure trove of characters for me. When the light hits a face just so, it is pure magic! The costumes offer a chance to render a variety of textures that can be a challenge, but very rewarding. The piece that won “Best of Show” in the CPSA international exhibition was, “Wyld Man”. He was a performer at the fair with just the attitude.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take my friend to the Fine Art Expo in Scottsdale to see all of the marvelous artists working on their craft. Jerome is a “must-see” artists retreat with some ghost town vibe. Sedona is my favorite place on earth as far as nature hikes go. I never get tired of those beautiful red rocks! Oak Creek Canyon is beautiful any time of year, but I especially love to see the changing color of the leaves.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Colored Pencil Society of America
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