Barbara Mason loved painting even as a child, but she was also good at math and science. So, when it came time to pick a career, she bypassed the possibility of being a starving artist and went for a surer shot. Mason, 53, pursued a career as an ultra-sound technician and never looked back until 1979.

With some spare time on her hand, and few hobbies to fill the void, she decided to revisit her first love. It was a decision that changed her world. What started as a hobby is now Mason’s passion.

For 10 years, Mason has been a full-time professional artist. Getting here wasn’t easy. She took classes, worked constantly on her craft, and she also spent time learning the business of art – something she suggests for all artists hoping to have a professional career. She eventually found her niche and expertise. Her paintings, in pastels and watercolor are considered hyper realistic. The paintings are so real, you would almost think you’re looking at a photograph.

Mason achieves the style with layers of color. Her painting “into the Spotlight,” chosen for this year’s commemorative Autumn and Art poster is a perfect example of Mason’s realistic style. The glisten on the crystal vase that appears as prisms of reflecting light, combined with her depiction of light shining on each petal of the flower, is amazing.

“It’s kind of like a magic show,” says Mason when asked about the technique.

Flowers are one of Mason’s favorite subjects, be she also paints figures that inspire her. Her work has a broad appeal that makes her a success at a diverse array of art shows and exhibits. With few indications to give away her ethnicity, Mason says people are often surprised when she (an African American) shows up. Despite the surprise, Mason says her work is received well, even at a cowboy show in Bosque, TX.

As her success as an artist has grown, Mason has decreased the number of shows she participates in, down from 20 to 30 shows a year to just 10 to 15. This is her third time participating in the seven-year-old Autumn and Art Festival.

Teri Mott, director of Marketing and Communications for Wichita Festivals, says Mason was selected as the featured artists from the group of 99 artists selected to participate in the juried art show. While all of the artists in the show produce quality work, Mott said the selection panel was particularly attracted to the bold, rich colors in Mason’s work.

The festival’s commemorative poster featuring Mason’s work will sell for $10 each. Only 200 posters will be printed, and each poster will be numbered and signed by Mason.

This a first for Mason who never produces prints for her work. While she recognizes that prints are how many artists make their money, Mason prefers to sell only original works of art.

That requires her to paint almost constantly to keep up with demand. However, for collectors, it means they’re acquiring a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

If you’re interested in being a Barbara Mason art collector, stop by her booth at Autumn and Art, Sept 16-18 along Bradley Fair Parkway in Wichita. That’s the road that runs just east of Bradly Fair Shopping Center at 21st and Rock Road.

Mason will have pieces in every price range. Her smaller pieces start at $50, but her larger pieces can cost up to $30,000 or more.

Bonita Gooch

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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