Woman artist painting on the beach
Barbara Tapp painting in Carmel, California
Woman artist painting a building outside in the street
Barbara Tapp painting in the streets of Berkeley

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Barbara Tapp: I was born an artist with a natural ability to draw in perspective inherited from my dad and his ancestors. A daydreamer and an observer with an insatiable curiosity about everything. Self-motivated and driven.

After graduating with a degree in interior design I worked in the art department at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. For 18 months I travelled with my husband throughout Europe and America and moved to San Francisco in 1980 where we raised 3 kids.

In 1983 fate intervened when I met Karen Brown, and 14 travel books later, the patchwork quilt of my career as an architectural illustrator began to grow. Drawing architecture is my backbone. For 35 years I have sketched houses for the real estate industry and continue to do so.

Ten years ago, I decided to paint watercolors and opened a studio in Berkeley which became my creative hole in the wall.

I began painting abstracts and held 2 exhibitions in my hometown Sydney, Australia. Then I discovered the unexpected joy of plein air painting after taking an eye-opening workshop from Georgia Mansur in Carmel, California.

This was the beginning of learning the theory behind painting.

How do you describe success?

Success comes from doing the work, trying to be your best and by staying true to yourself, then finding peers and an audience that appreciates and enjoys your paintings. A successful painting is when someone sees your work and connects. That’s an honor.

How do you find inspiration?

Inspiration comes from opening my eyes, looking, questioning, finding solutions, exploring, experiencing joy, pursuing my ideas, talking to friends, looking at paintings by the artists I love, doing lots of thinking and being industrious.

I am my own jigsaw puzzle, a work in progress, and I love doing the challenges I think of.

Often, I will stand in front of a scene and ask myself how on earth am I going to capture it. There’s the challenge; it’s a game. I trust my vision and my choices.

Just staying curious about life is inspiring, taking the by-road and skipping the freeway, and believing in what I can do.

What is the best thing about being an artist?

The best thing is experiencing total absorption in the process of creating an artwork and then sharing my vision or the conversation with others.

I warn my family when I have art brain because that’s when I get obsessed and overly excited about my discoveries.

Who do you collect?

I collect paintings I love, paintings by my friends and paintings with water in them. I bought my first acrylic nude at 17 and it hangs above my bed.

Your advice?

My advice is don’t be afraid, just go for it.
There are no rules.
Let the world see your vision and your thoughts.
My painting career is one long picture book, a world full of things, my love of the sea, what I see in the beauty, the humor and the decay in urban settings and a narrative of life.

My picture book is full of family, friends and fellow artists and the book is always moving forward and growing.

May you all find courage to create art.

Watercolor painting of a beach with trees
Barbara Tapp, “Carmel Grandeur,” 8 x 12 in., watercolor, 2021
Watercolor painting of beach cliffs
Barbara Tapp, “Velvet Light on Sunset Cliffs,” 9 x 12 in., watercolor, 2020
Watercolor painting of a sunflower field with mountains in the background
Barbara Tapp, “Sunbaked Goodness,” 8 x 10 in., watercolor, 2020
Watercolor painting of a carpenter's workshop near the water
Barbara Tapp, “The Carpenters Workshop,” 10 x 14 in., watercolor, 2020

To see more of Barbara’s work, visit: www.barbaratappartist.com

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