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Barbara Skiba-Poniatowski is a full-time, award winning artist, at BabZ’art Studio, in the historical Starline Gallery & Studios, in Harvard, Illinois. Her paintings represent abstract impressionism and expressionism, as well as contemporary realism. She is best known for her vibrant colors and unique style of aqua media images. A native of Chicago, Barbara also lived in southern California and Hawaii. This experience continues to inspire and influence much of her work.
Barbara studied at Chicago’s Ray-Vogue School of Design (now the Illinois Institute of Art), followed by earning her BA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois Chicago. Since then, she has studied with John Lovett, Robert Burridge, Rainey Kellogg and David Becker. She is currently working on her Masters if Fine Arts in painting, at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Barbara frequently exhibits her paintings in juried and invitational exhibits, including at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago and the White Ripple Gallery & Co. Her work can be seen at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union, The Chopin Theatre in Chicago, as well as in private collections in New York and Chicago.
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
Barbara: “I was an artist before knowing I wanted to be one. I introduced myself to drawing at a very early age, starting with blank pages of story books. I still have a few of these “early abstracts”. However, it all came together in High School, when I found myself applying only to Art Colleges. “
Tell us about your art career journey.
Barbara: “When I graduated from UIC, I immediately started working in the graphic design field. My first job involved preparing slides for business meeting presentations. I then worked as an Art Director in Retail Advertising, for a number of years, mixed with freelancing. Because of my husband’s military career, I had the great fortune of living in southern California and Hawai’i. During that time, I took a break to raise our family. I returned to painting in 1998. My focus was divided between painting and pottery. In 2011, I became primarily focused on abstract painting, while attending workshops. In January of 2012, I opened my studio, BabZ’art Studio, at the historical Starline Gallery & Studios in Harvard, Illinois. In January of this year, I started working on my Masters if Fine Arts in painting. I did not expect to ever attend school again, but here I am!”
How much time do you spend in the studio?
Barbara: “I try to spend at least 4 days out the week, in my studio. However, often continue work at home.”
What is the inspiration behind your work?
Barbara: “There are a few main inspirations behind my work, starting with amazing instructors like the late Rainey Kellogg, John Lovett, Bob Burridge and David Becker. I’ve always been drawn to nature, the ultimate unending source of inspiration. In addition, there’s my “visual file” from having lived in warmer climates, where the sun is brighter and colors are incredibly vivid.”
Tell us about one of the important moments in your art career.
Barbara: “One of the most important moments was concretely deciding to apply for my MFA in painting. I realized after my first course, in drawing, that the amount of learning was much more than I anticipated. By that I mean how much I was being pushed to excellence, and outside my comfort zone. It’s been very exciting to see my work change and improve.”
Your future plans.
Barbara: “My future plans are to continue working toward my MFA, one course at a time. To apply what I learn to my
‘Fire and Ice w 24” x h 12” Acrylic on canvas by Barbara Skiba-Poniatowski
‘Big, Big Pear’ w16” x h 20” Acrylic on canvas by Barbara Skiba-Poniatowski