Meet Artist Barbara Simpson - New Niagara Resident and First Time at Pelham Art Festival

Barbara Simpson is a Canadian artist new on the art scene in the City of St. Catharines and she will be a part of this year’s 31st Pelham Art Festival this May. Born in Longueil, Quebec and raised on Georgian Bay, Ontario during her youth (a famous painting location to artist Tom Thomson and members of The Group of Seven, among others), it is this location that initiated Simpson’s inspiration as an artist.

In 1977, her family moved to Seguin, Texas where she attended junior high and where she continued to be in inspired by an art teacher drawing animals in pen and ink, charcoal and pastel, and painting landscapes in watercolour. In 1979, her family returned to Canada where she attended North Park Secondary in Bramalea, Ontario and where she continued her focus in Fine Arts using pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, pastels and oils, painting mostly landscape and floral and even trying her hand at silkscreen.

It was not until January 1998 in Calgary Alberta where Simpson started painting professionally. “Every year I buy myself something for my birthday. In 1997, I decided instead of something of a material nature, I wanted something more and meaningful, something different. I’m a bit of an “education-junkie” per se and I was browsing through a Mount Royal College Calendar. I decided to register myself for six Painting with Acrylic classes at Mount Royal College (now University) under the instruction of Janusz Malinowski (Jon) and I have not looked back. It is the best gift I have ever given myself. I tried to locate Jon online, in December 2011, to find an email to write and share with him that I was still painting. He was an amazing and gifted instructor and person, inspiring. Sadly, I learned that he passed away, in October.  Anyone who had the privilege of learning from Jon, I am certain, gained much. I am grateful for his insight and teachings which, really, gave my art career its’ start. I can still hear him telling me when I should back away from the painting and stop.”

While Simpson is self-taught starting at a young age of 10, over the years she has been working to achieve her Fine Art accreditation and says that she is only a couple courses away. In her 19 years as a professional artist, to date she has painted nearly 500 “originals-only”, no prints with private collections across Canada, the United States and overseas in Norway, Holland and Scotland.

So what brings Barbara Simpson to our beautiful part of the country? She says that travel and work aside, it is ‘Love’ that brings her to this charming part of the Niagara Region and she is having a wonderful time discovering this great region together with her ‘Love’ and planting her creative roots. Look for Simpson exhibiting her original acrylic paintings and photography alongside more than 70 artists at this year’s 31st Pelham Art Festival over the Mother’s Day weekend.

Simpson says that since she has been exploring opportunities in the arts in the beautiful “Garden City” (emphasizing her love for painting flowers), she is also adding to her ‘painting diary’ picturesque landscapes and landmarks of the Niagara Region including the Falls and some of the lavish environments beholding fine wineries like Colaneri Estate Winery, Trius and Creekside, to name a few.

Where the world is my oyster, colour is music to my eyes and soul. I am elated to have been juried into the celebrated Pelham Art Festival this May.  I attended last year with my beloved and was really impressed and interested to be a part of this celebrated event of the Region. It is going to be a fun weekend. I will also be participating in the 150 Canada Challenge. It is a speciality at this year’s Festival and it sounds exciting.”

 “Flamboyant floral and lively landscape paintings and photography” is what Simpson will be exhibiting from her painting diary, with consideration to the theme of this year’s Festival, celebrating Canada’s 150. “I have been painting and photographing a great deal since last summer. I feel much inspiration around me. We are so blessed to have such beauty around us, another scenic part of Canada.  I am inspired by my loved ones, my environment and many Great Masters. So, keeping focused with the Festival’s theme, I am ‘keeping it Canadian’ entitling my exhibit, “My Home and Native Land”. My paintings and photography that visitors will see in my exhibit are influenced by the painting styles of Emily Carr, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, while adding my own creative flair.

I have included the theme of “Mom” too, celebrating Mothers as the Festival is held over the Mother’s Day weekend.” Simpson went on to say that she is making her exhibit a special dedication to her mother who recently passed away this past December 2016.

“My Mom was a huge and important part of my life and she was a huge supporter of my life as an artist. A non-biased critique, truly she was, always looking at my art with ‘new’ eyes as I do each time I go back to a canvas on my easel. My Mom absolutely loved coming out to my exhibitions, and sometimes sit with me during my earlier years showing. It meant the world to me how devoted my Mom was to me and my art. She was that way with our entire family, devoted. We had a lot of fun together. She had a great spirit about her and I am going to miss my Mom on Mother’s Day, as I do every day. This is just one of the ways I intend to celebrate my Mom’s life, for the good friends we were besides our great mother / daughter relationship. I know in my heart Mom will be there in spirit giving me her support and feedback, still.”  

Where can you find Barbara Simpson at the 31st Pelham Art Festival?

Look for Barbara and her vibrant display of paintings and photography at Booth #73. And for more information about this year’s Pelham Art Festival visit http://www.pelhamartfestival.com/

Simpson says there are many reasons why the arts are good for enriching lives and growing our art culture.  “Colour impacts our lives in many positive ways. There is great therapy in having colour in our daily lives and there will be an abundance of colour at the Pelham Art Festival. Canada is making a great presence in the art world. I am proud to be Canadian and a Canadian artist. I am looking forward to connecting with the artists at the Festival and talking with everyone who comes out for a lovely time. There will be wine, music and a lot of great art for everyone. There will also be a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. As well, a percentage of sales for all art sold goes back to the community. I am all for that. I have been donating through my art since my art career lifted. I have the Festival listed under Events on my Facebook page. ... I am not only passionate about painting and photographing, I really love talking about it, my art, my travels and experiences that allow my creations to exist, capturing moments in time. Make moments count, I say. So, meeting new people and talking about my creative journey is high on my list for the weekend.”

Painting and photography aside, Simpson says she enjoys helping and inspiring people noting, “Follow your heart. Dreams come true.”, hence her reasons for following her path (and her heart!) and planting her creative roots in St. Catharines.  In closing, Barbara Simpson said she is hoping to meet at this year’s Festival 'the Barbara Simpson’ who actually started the Pelham Art Festival 31 years ago!

To learn more about Barbara Simpson, her creative vision and to view more of her art, visit her website at http://barbarasimpsonartworld.com. And you can connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Barbara.Simpson.Canadian.Artist.

Mark your calendars now and see you at the 31st Pelham Art Festival.