I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, with traditional parents, and 3 (ok, I'm old enough to grudgingly admit this now) terrific brothers.  Sports ruled!  Art, not-so-much.  My family thought it was just pleasantly odd that I would start sketching my brother's big, stinky basketball shoes during dull moments in a Packer game.  They were all worn and crumpled (the shoes, that is, not the Packers) with dirty, fraying shoe-strings, just laying there in a damp corner, crying out for sketching!.

In college I majored in English, beer and interior design.  I was unanimously elected to paint the murals on our dorm walls.  It was the high point of my college career.   I was really in my element - facing a bare, concrete dorm wall, one brush in my hand, one in my teeth, balancing on a ladder, and paint all over my clothes, my sandals, the floor, my face, my roommate's face (don't ask).

After college I moved to Kokomo, IN., and I drifted into a job in a bicycle shop, surrounded by a bunch of guys who were great mechanics  -  but really ungreat (or would that be greatless?) at color coordinating anything for the customers.  So I became the buyer, and stayed for 20 years.  I bought clothing, helmets, and accessories, designed displays, created logos and signage for the store, and took up cycling.  I had to take up cycling.  It was the only way I could justify paying $100.00 for this pair of really cool white and purple cycling shoes.

In 1994 I took a water-color class from Sandy Maudlin.  And it changed everything. That is when I became aware, really for the first time, about how my choices (in both shoes and life) had always been influenced by a sort of off-beat, slightly tilted, perception of the world.  And water-color art was the best way for me to share my view. I love the way the colors mix, the way the water flows.  It's bright or dark depending on my mood.  I can make paintings so detailed that they look like a photo, or so soft that they feel like a dream.

I don't have the kind of impressive credentials that artists often list in their bios. Oh, I've won a lot of awards and ribbons for my paintings in Kokomo Art Association Shows, and my charity works have commanded some surprisingly good prices over the years. But what is important to me is that I bring to my work 52 years of seeing the world just a little differently.  And every one of my pieces is a labor of love - and every painting has a story. I would call my style whimsical.  Some of my things are slightly quirky. 

Well, not as quirky as my shoes.  I refuse to wear adult shoes.  They all seem high-heely and serious and black to me. Give me a red Converse high-top, or an orange mary-jane anytime. (well, actually, give me 2). I'd WEAR a high-heel, but only in a tennis shoe, and with a flowing skirt  . . . but I digress.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my paintings and cards.  And please check my website regularly.  I will be adding new items often.


Sue Barnhart