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Sometimes it takes a look back to see where you are going… Some recent events had me thinking; how did I get here? And why? Let’s have a chat, see how I became a ‘Maker’ and get to know each other.

The Wonderful Outdoors!

From a young age on, even before I was completely in charge of myself I was always out in nature; maybe not the wild but some form of it local or not so local. I credit that to my father who took us for a hike every sunday, perfect for some heartfelt chats along the way. It then seemed became my ‘norm’, for the rest of my life and perfect to share with my beloved lil’ Pup.

It’s comical how we realize things about ourselves when we are explaining it to someone else! That’s how I came to this post, as a very dear family member came to visit and I recounted the history of it all, much to my surprise.

As a child (over 4 decades ago) I used to get such pleasure from packing (actually mom packing) a lunch and heading off into the local forest for the day. I loved the solitude, the natural beauty and the possibility of discovering something interesting in the wild. It wasn’t even so wild, just a section of an escarpment a couple blocks from my home at the time!

I chuckle now when I remember how I would play in the creek, rearranging the rocks and making a ‘better’ waterfall, moving plants around to create a perfect natural picture. I was maybe 10 years old! Such would not happen nowadays sadly. I’d collect chestnuts and any other treasures that looked like they could become something special.

Where It all started:

Backtrack to my early first few years, when I lived on the other side of the big ocean! I had not returned for 50 years to my birth place and was shocked when I finally did! I now understood some of my compulsion for the perfect landscapes and gardens! Now I know why I have a bit of an old-fashioned historic flair to my design; how could I not when I was born here!? I was almost too young to consciously remember but it definitely had an impact on my taste.

Mom, Sewing & suitcases:

Haha, I admit I have a few obsessions (more divulging soon too) and many can be ‘blamed’ on my mother! Bless her for sewing all my clothes and letting me see how a stay-at-home-mom can actually be worth more than a paycheque. She saved, reused and up-cycled before it was fashionable, and needed somewhere to store it – Suitcases! Why not, as they are so beautiful as well. I was not forced to sew, but just picked it up by osmosis it seemed.

One does not sew just for saving money, but I love how it lets me be completely unique, fit to me and gives that great feeling of accomplishment! My own first machine at age 12 is still going strong… I wish more had interest in sewing in this day, so much can be saved from the landfills.

Choosing a profession:

‘Choose something that you love to do and it will never feel like work!’ is what my wise mother told me. I chose a career in commercial art as I didn’t want to be a starving artist. Thankfully my parents did not discourage me from such a career as so many do. Becoming a Technical Illustrator had it’s bonuses of learning many other aspects of art such as Model making etc.

Being an ‘artist’ is a life long rewarding process if you keep striving and learning. ‘We all need to start somewhere’ is something I remind my students as I also still teach in an art college. Being super busy does keep you out of trouble…

My Subject Matter:

When not working on commissioned pieces for my own business I love to paint what I love to see; colour, reflection, and natural landscape. I attempt to permanently capture that feeling I had when I would glide along the peaceful shore in my canoe! everyone has a favourite thing that they identify with. When I started my site I didn’t really have a distinct direction; it just developed innately on it’s own.

Well, sometimes the subject is donuts; it’s not only for me… but for those I love. That’s another big bonus of being a ‘maker’, you can make people happy with personalized gifts, even though they may cry with emotion.

Even before I discovered Eco Printing I would feel comfortable near water and trees. Rocks and stones always interested me, even without really knowing why. How mother nature creates such beauty with basic elements.

From Rocks to Concrete:

My combination of art forms is somewhat odd when I think about it, but it did all start with casting stepping stones from leaves! How marvelous to be able to make things that last so long and are perfect for the garden! Again there is that natural element. ‘No need to buy stuff like commercial molds when nature can supply.

When you open your mind to any possibilities new ideas hatch quite easily and there is no shortage, only time! Crossing the boundaries of media and art bring so many new refreshing ideas. Don’t discount any crazy ideas before you give them a chance.

Peaceful:

My garden is my oasis, so ‘making’ for it is perfect. Inexpensive and long-lasting concrete creations, not to mention how it adds design to garden.

I teach how to draw spheres and other perspective drawing exercises so these just coincidently came to be. Simple shapes like the orbs compliment plants and foliage without over-powering. Design and knowing what you like is very similar to picking your outfit; go with your ‘gut’ feeling…

Get out there!

As I write this I am thinking I need to get out there; only a few warm days left for making some ‘concrete’ Maybe even have some local wildlife will come for a look-see. You just never know; the stories I could tell!

Speaking of ‘friends’:

I have a pet turtle; a Red-eared Slider that shares my garden space during the summer in the pond. He (I think it’s actually a ‘she’) has been in the family for 28 years now! Every time I pick him up I marvel at all the markings and details. It just gives me a bit more of that feeling of being out in the wild again…

Life continues:

One of the best things I’ve ever made is my children! Yes, not just because they are amazing but because they can make grandbabies! Children give you a chance to pass on so much, and they also are a reflection of yourself. This darling little fellow will hopefully learn so much from Grandma; I can’t hardly wait.

Yup, that’s me!

I’m old fashioned and still cautious about putting my face all over the internet, it’s hard to change that. I’ve learnt so much about this virtual world already and some things that not are so desirable! Content gets taken, pictures stolen and copied, but so much good also comes from you my readers! I am constantly grateful for the kind words that I get by email! In today’s world it is so amazingly easy to connect! I get such generous offers to ship leaves and even other goodies, thanks so much to all of you!

I hope this has let you see a bit more of my world through the screen and how I became a ‘maker’! I look forward to hearing from you and sharing more projects. Happy Making!

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 33 Comments
  1. Loved reading this! I’ve also been a creator of many things since an early age. But your site has inspired me to try concrete, and I’ve had a ball the entire summer – made sleeping faces and loved them, moved on to trying more ambitious stuff – some things turned out okay, some things turned out great, way better than I expected.
    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing, is much appreciated!!
    Lesley

  2. Love the bio.. and yes you are brave. I enjoy your work very much and hope that I will be able by next summer to play with some cement. The globes are beautiful.
    Thank you for making me smile,
    Maria

  3. Really loved reading your story Barb thank you! Have always seen myself as artistic tho’ I have only dabbled over the years, but each time I have felt the thrill you talk about when you create something from nothing – it’s amazing! So I feel newly inspired, especially after seeing your forest paintings as I am booked in to do a watercolour class end October – can’t wait!! Thanks again….. Sarah 🌹

    1. That’s what I like to hear! I spend a lot of energy trying to get people to believe in themselves enough to persevere. I have a memory of kindergarten class where we made necklaces out of squares of paper and short straws, and I remember the feeling of making something great (at the time) Such a silly little craft but it’s that ‘awesome feeling’ that drives the ‘makers’! Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Thank you for the bio. I have long been inspired by your site, and I have great hopes that when we finally move to Alabama next month, I will be able to attempt some of the concrete crafts. Knowing a little about you helps inspire me.

    1. I was noticing that sometimes just knowing a bit about a person will give a bit better connection. One of my major goals is to inspire, on my site and when I teach! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I rarely comment on blog posts. I follow a lot of blogs and tend to read them and move on but your site is different. You share the most interesting and innovative posts that allow your readers to explore their own creativity via your amazing shared tutorials. You are a very generous, creative and interesting person and I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your wonderful tutorials. I shared a very similar childhood although a world away from yours. I lived in the far south of Western Australia on 100 acres of bushland on a farm that bordered the highway on one side and the sea on the other. My childhood coloured who I am now and you are right. Children don’t get to just wander off and play in nature on their own any more but that’s how I spent the first 10 years of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you, again, for generously sharing your brilliantly creative tutorials.

    1. Oh wow! So wonderful for you to share! I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into when I jumped into blogging with both feet. Being an illustrator included much instructional work, and now it continues in a modern way online. My goal was never really about money but I do want to feel like it is worthwhile; so much to learn! So nice to hear how your childhood coloured who you are (great way of putting it too) I could see myself living like you did too, having always wanted to play with a real Koala bear! I did make sure to take my children into the forest and stomp around in the creek with their rubber boots… I hope they will remember.

  6. What a lovely post, thank you for inviting us in for a visit. As a child I had the most amazing Gran! She was a maker of things and always took the time to teach us kids. She had a big garden out back with the blackest soil and there was a swampy creek behind the property us kids played in. She even let us slide down the back of the old claw foot tub splashing water everywhere! Ahh….thanks for the memories! Love what you do and how you inspire. Hope you are having a great day!

    1. Awe, such amazing memories! I love that there is no special expenses or technology involved. I remember taking an old plastic bag to the beach so that the kids could make a pond and decorate it with found stones… I hope to be one of those ‘Grans’! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Brenda! I know you also share that crazy drive to ‘make’, and we could learn much from each other! I’m sure you’re having much fun with your current endeavours! Keep me posted!

  7. Very enjoyable to read! May I request a Part Two? I want to read about the rise of your creative abilities and it’s development and nurturing. You can do anything!!! Where does all that talent and creativity come from? Are there any family stories of you as a child that give a hint as to what was to come? Are your abilities common in your family?
    All so interesting to me. Thanks!

    1. Haha! Yes, I know! When I write I need to keep the length manageable (google likes that), I could have gone on and on! I just love your enthusiasm! That’s another thing I don’t see much of anymore; students look like they are so bored/sad/anxious. I love to see the sparkle in someone’s eye and they are usually the ones that become successful. Thanks for the vote of confidence, in my mind I’m stubborn enough to think I can do anything! Being a Taurus also helps; as we are great observers! Often I see how a media performs and it becomes another project. As you know, I do credit much to my wonderful Mom (I hope heaven has wifi) as she really instilled that courage in me… Miss you Mom! Thanks Kathy!

  8. I love getting your posts. I’ve tried the concrete work and have two stepping stones so far and hope for more, searching for leaves before they fall. I’m working on an orb right now and it still feels to fragile to let the air out of the ball.
    You had the kind of childhood I wish every kid had. I taught high school biology for 34 years in Georgia and could not believe the number of kids who were nervous about going out into a field with me with a sweep net and lenses to catch bugs and look at the wild flowers. Parents protect them from everything and schedule their entire day; they have no time or place to explore.
    Please keep “making”!
    Sincerely,
    Maggie

    1. Oh, I loved being the chaperone parent on field trips!!! All the kids wanted to be in my group since I would catch the frog/tadpoles and not just worry about how dirty my shoes got! Such wonderful memories! Thanks for reminding me!I plan to keep making, even though sometimes I am so utterly exhausted! That’s another reason I embarked on this venture; to show my kids that when you put your mind to something you CAN achieve it! My generation did not grow up with any internet so learning all involved is quite baffling. As for the orb, dampen it and add more concrete! Maybe plop on some concrete covered leaves! Thanks for the comment!

  9. Thanks for posting your creativity. I always enjoy seeing what you have dreamed up. I do a lot of different art too and find that it all ties together so that everything becomes mixed media! I love Nature too, live in the woods. It is endlessly inspiring. And I also adore my grandkids, love to draw their little innocent faces. Keep creating!

    1. That’s great! I truly believe that the world would be a better place if more took an interest in ‘making’, not just for the fact of using less but for the therapy it gives. I never understood the allure of grandkids until I got one of my own!!!

  10. This was heart warming. After following your blog for several months, it’s nice to read about your background and how you got to this place. I felt connected to you through your art work but more now with your interesting story. Love of nature and making things from nature. makes for a wonderful life. Your outstanding projects and story are inspirational. There are many artist’s with amazing skills but your gift of teaching allows for us to see the possibility of being creators and to enjoy The process with more excitement and less frustration. Thank you, Barb!

    1. It’s quite amazing how things sometimes come together! Little had I thought it would be like this. It’s about ‘giving back’ sometimes as we get older and realize what really matters in the end. I’ve got many warm regards today! Thanks

  11. Barb,
    I want you to know I too acknowledge and am grateful for your generosity of spirit!
    You inspire me and empower me…and I thank you.
    Thank you for sharing your circle of life…my passions involve nature art, including natural dye and nature connection…and all that this does for us as humans being. Reconnecting to the natural world in this age of technology is critical…it is who we are…part of nature!
    You bring joy and connection through the community you are forming here…big smile!

    1. Oh that’s nice! I agree; we need to connect to the basics – nature! It keeps me sane, but also thanks to the ability to share all over the world! Thanks for your kind words!

  12. Hello Barb, I really appreciate you sharing your detailed tutorials and also your bio, you are very generous. I have made some concrete art, and when I get stuck for ideas, I look at your tutorials, and wow, I can do more. You open my creativity.
    Thank you for inspiring me,
    Anne Marie P.

  13. Hi Barb
    I am inspired by what you do and this winter I want to make some scarves. Did you say you sell leaves or i can find them here in Toronto . Please let me know

    Sarah

  14. Have enjoyed all of your posts, especially the cement. I’ve made a few leaves, houses. Next up, I want to replicate a garden statue I saw at the nursery, a bit intimidating. I’ve always wanted to diy – enjoy the process. As a child, we lived near a lake in Coquitlam, B.C, – I would spend hours there by myself, ‘tracking’ animals and collecting tadpoles. The thought of that gives me chills now! I would bring home buckets of water filled with tadpoles, put them in a big metal bucket under the porch. Of course, they would all die and I never knew where they went – turns out my mother was using it as fertilizer for her lilies, so she was very happy. I’ve often wondered if I was personally responsible for a frog shortage. I was always happiest when I was filthy dirty, loved mud pies – my older sister would freak out if she got a speck of dirt on her, hair had to be in ringlets and always a dress. My mother couldn’t get a dress on me no matter what. She always said she was so thankful I was that way, because I was so much easier to raise (lower maintenance).

    1. That sounds so much more fun than wearing dresses! My tadpoles were fed lettuce & would turn into frogs when I wasn’t looking and escape… Stories like your’s warm my heart! Now, kids are looking at screens ALL the time. So sad

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