We had the good fortune of connecting with Barbara Mulleneaux and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Barbara, how do you think about risk?
With art, risk is everything! Whether we are discussing visual, musical, written or performing, to stretch beyond our comfort level is how we develop our skills. To even consider a career in the arts requires tremendous courage and faith.\

My first inclination toward visual art was in middle school. Though I always loved to create visually, I lacked courage.  I didn’t think I was good enough.  Instead I pursued an academic route.  I was in my 40’s before I began to pursue art.  In my 50’s I got serious!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I established a niche with the palette knife. People are drawn to the fresh, crisp colors and the less rendered, more expressive aspects it offers.  I also use a color palette that is consistent and expressive. I can mix a large range to indicate light and dark with this palette. The colors are vibrant and alive.

I laid down my sculpting tools and donated my kiln in 2016 to direct my attention to painting full time. It was then that self-study really kicked in. I studied, practiced and studied some more. I was teaching by then and was selling paintings. It was suggested I take myself more seriously and formed a business. It was a scary thing to do, but fortunately for me, I didn’t “need” the income at that point.

To start an art career is a tremendous amount of sacrifice both in terms of time and financial security. For many working artists, we have a significant other, grants or benefactors to help support us as we endeavor this arduous journey through constant rejection, failed attempts to create something spectacular, make deadlines and travel without much comfort!

Plein air painting is physically demanding. There are so few that really achieve great success. It isn’t enough to be a good painter. With all the competition, one must be outstanding. Tenacity, courage, organization, support systems, financial help, confidence, passion, faith, energy and yes, luck are necessary to make an artist successful. Some artists take it all in stride while many others fret and struggle the whole way through.

I love what I do. I have learned that above all else, I have to be me. I listen to and accept criticism but at the end of the day, it is my name on the bottom of that painting. It is the only voice that matters. I continue to try new things and learn from others. I take what I like and leave the rest. I have no delusions of grandeur. I am grateful and honored that people like and are willing to buy my paintings. I love to teach and pass on what I have learned. My goal is to stay in the game as long as I can and share what I know. It is all about faith. Trust God and show up!

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?
There isn’t much in Green Valley, unless you are a golfer.  Madera Canyon is close by and is a good day trip. Mostly, I go up to Tucson where, shops, food, museums and charm of the old Barrios are. There is no excuse for boredom in Tucson! Tubac has the history of the Anza trail, quaint shops and galleries and some pretty good food too! It is also a good day trip.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Where do I begin? I think I can speak for artists throughout the ages, when I say we all influence each other. There really doesn’t appear to be much that hasn’t been explored or done already. Now and again we experience the brilliance and genius of that individual who blazes a new trail and awes the world with something completely out of the box!

For me, I think the plein air movement has been my biggest “aha”. Until I began painting outdoors I didn’t really have a direction or solid ground to plant a seed. When I started painting en plein air, it clicked. The seed was planted and took. The Tucson Plein Air Painters Society (now Sonoran Plein Air Painters) were my first introduction to outdoor painting. The experienced artists were so welcoming and encouraging. They provided leadership and guidance. When I joined artists like Robert Goldman, Lois Griffel, Jack Wahl, Jane Barton, Roger Alderman, Judith D’Agostino, Carol Swinney, and Stephanie Birdsall were members offering such leadership and guidance. . Back then, we had workshops with many notable artists— John Budicin, Skip Whitcomb, George Strickland and Phil Starke off the top of my head. It was a very inspiring time. Unfortunately, my skill set was way too underdeveloped to fully appreciate the scope of their teaching! But all those demos, critiques, guidance and workshops clearly made a dent! I still hear their voices and cite them when I am teaching!I am grateful to them all.  They encouraged further study, both scholarly and practical. I am still learning from and following artists today.  Right now, I am very inspired by Russian impressionists. I love all that yummy impasto!.

Website: https://www.barbaramulleneaux.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bmulleneaux/
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/barbaramulleneauxart/
Youtube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oxU_amBqDac

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