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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Local artist Fuson previews upcoming class series at PCPL

Friday, June 24, 2011

Barbara Fuson paints for her audience at the Putnam County Public Library during Wednesday's "Brown Bag Program." The program also displayed her other pre-made art projects.
Barbara Fuson stands back when she paints; holds the brush at arm's length, considering, as she works, just what the paint is doing. When the painting she works on begins to run insubordinately, she picks her board up horizontally and shakes, taps and "bumps" it until it obeys.

An installment of Putnam County Public Library's "Brown Bag Program" Wednesday featured artist Fuson talking about her own art and her life as an artist before giving a watercolor demonstration to a crowd of eager listeners -- a preview of her upcoming painting classes she'll be teaching.

Born in Indianapolis, Fuson grew up in the Greencastle area and felt her love for aesthetics from a young age. In adulthood, Fuson moved to northern Indiana where she lived for 20 years before moving back. She now splits her time between Greencastle and Florida, likening her migratory patterns to those of birds in winter.

Art has been a successful arena for Fuson. She made a name for herself selling her creations at art shows around the state for years.

Although watercolor seems to be her area of expertise, much of her work utilizes mixed media -- combining a variety of different styles and traditions on different bases with different techniques.

For example, one of Fuson's most striking works utilizes watercolor and rice paper. Another -- a landscape painting of a bare tree beneath a watercolor wash of blues -- utilizes charcoal, crayon and watercolor.

She also experiments with different types of paper and other bases to create a wide array of styles and visions.

Fuson's style shifts as fluidly as the watercolor she seems connected to. Abstract collages, color-washed landscapes or conventional, realistic watercolor portraits and even cartoon frogs all find their place in the row of samples lining the wall of the library basement.

She repeats often that she doesn't like to get committed to the different stages of a painting in progress. This gives each piece room to grow and develop as she moves forward with it.

It may be this form freedom behind her wide-reaching style.

Fuson began her demonstration with a thought on art and artists as a whole.

"As an artist, we're an entertainer. We need to remember that. We need to think about what we're saying. And how we'll say it without having to print it." These kernels are abundant in her lecture.

Cindy Lightle, PCPL program coordinator, is delighted to have Fuson on board.

"She just sort of wandered in and said she'd like to teach a class," Lightle said. "I didn't know who she was. And then when I asked around, I found out everyone else did know who she was."

In the demonstration, Fuson seems very casual and carefree about her work -- speaking without pretension or excessive formalism. She speaks matter-of-factly, from experience. She tells stories to reveal the secrets of supplies and techniques she has stumbled upon throughout her career.

The crowd listened attentively to the artist as she explained her works and to her live painting lesson, and many signed up for her series of classes -- the first is 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, July 5 at the Library.

"Isn't that fun?" she asks as she wipes away a window she thought was too big, "I wish I could do that with all my problems."

It is this enthusiasm for every part of her craft and interjections of wisdom that make Fuson so compelling as a speaker and artist.

Sign-ups for the classes are available at the library.

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