Feature Artist – Barbara Buntin

By Stephanie Dwarka

Photos by Doug Johnson

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it becomes an essential part of your everyday life? For Barbara Buntin, a Cobourg resident, it feels like a part of her is missing if she doesn’t create on a regular basis. She explains it as an inner conversation that goes quiet if she’s not involved in it.

“I think it’s an innate human desire to make something. People build with wood, they cook or they compose music. There are many different ways people build things and it’s been a motivator for me,” she says.

Barbara’s work is usually abstract so she hopes viewers can place themselves in her piece and make connections to their own life and memories. She is currently working on a new group of work that is inspired by rock formations that she saw while enjoying her summer.

It includes a palette of colours that she’s never used before, so she has been busy experimenting. Barbara and her family moved from Toronto to Cobourg 35 years ago and she finds a lot of inspiration simply from spending time outdoors.

Beginning a new piece requires many stages. As a mixed-media artist, she draws, paints, batiks, and mono-prints on paper to use as the raw materials in her collage work. Then using these patterned and textured papers a composition is created, combining simple shapes and layers of detail.

“The process of building up my raw materials usually tweaks some idea of what I want to make out of it,” Barbara says.

Barbara began studying part time at the Three Schools of Art in Toronto and eventually the New School of Art , the full time studio program of the Three Schools at that time. Several years at the Art Therapy Institute of Toronto eventually led her to a career as an art therapist. She practised for many years working with group homes, Family and Children’s groups, and individuals in Cobourg, but once she decided to focus on her own art full time she stopped practising as a therapist.

She is inspired by the German printmaker Kathe Kollwitz and admires the strength of emotion she conveyed as well as her use of texture and line work. These pieces do not necessarily resemble Barbara’s work in any way and she’s not sure how it relates, she laughs. She is simply in awe of the power of emotion that this artist portrays in her work.

Her work has been shown in galleries in Toronto, Orangeville, Port Hope, Bowmanville and a recent show at the Station Gallery in Whitby. Barbara was also a long time member of the Colbourne Art Gallery.

Barbara enjoys getting feedback from viewers. “You create this kind of work in isolation, and while putting it out and getting some feedback is a little nerve-wracking, it’s also very exciting and rewarding,” she says.

Sometimes doing something you’re passionate about can be stressful, but Barbara says it’s important to follow your own interests instead of trying to mimic what you see around you. “See where your skills lead you and simply stay true to yourself,” she suggests.

Visit www.barbarabuntin.com if you’d like more information and future show dates.