“It’s easier if you are surrounded by it. You begin to think ‘I can do that!'”
These are the words of the gifted Barbara Noll about growing up in an artistic family. Born in Denton, Texas, and growing up in the Dallas Metroplex, both her mother and her mother’s mother were accomplished artists. Her father was a commercial artist designing signage for Dallas buildings. While she would watch her grandmother paint fields of bluebonnets and her mother paint landscapes, at the age of six, her father would take her to his sign shop where she crawled up on her special stool and began drawing.
The creation of and love for art did not cease in lineage with Barbara. Her son, Felix Sockwell, is a well known illustrator, having drawn creations for major companies and publications (Harper’s, NY Times, Sony — to name a few). In his unique style, he puts pen to paper and draws a complete presentation without ever lifting the pen. Barbara’s daughter expresses her talent in a different way, through clothes fashion and creative entertaining.
After high school, Barbara spent a year in art study at North Texas State University in Denton. Then came marriage, children, life, and a ten-year gap in painting. But the year 1993 brought a divorce, and she not only started her own business in Dallas—Tiles Etc.— she began experimenting with painting tiles. The process is fascinating. She makes forms out of wood, pours in liquid clay, making sure it is straight and flat. After drying, she fires the tiles, then dips them in a mixture of chemicals she has prepared. The tiles then become her canvass, as she paints various designs, floral arrangements or scenes. When the artistic creation is complete, she fires the tiles a final time.
Almost five years ago, Barbara met Charles Noll of Midland, and they began seeing each other. About a year later, she moved to Midland. Soon after, they were married. She quickly entered the Midland and Odessa art scene, entering and winning contests sponsored by the Midland Art Council and the Ellen Noel Art Museum. This Fall, Barbara and Charles opened her studio and their home as one stop on the Mirror on Midland, Fourth Annual Artist Studio Tour, presented by the Arts Council of Midland.
As I interviewed Barbara for this post, we sat in the lovely studio/home environment on “A” street, close to the duck pond. I had a chance to view her paintings used in the solo art show in August at the Midland Community Theater when the Patsy Cline show was playing. Her medium is oil and her subject matter is often landscapes. There is no question about the beauty of these paintings, but what caught my eye was the portraits Barbara does on commission. I’ve never seen portraits quite like them. The colors are vibrant and the personality of the person captured. To give you an idea, above is a portrait of Barbara’s granddaughter, and another is of the “paper lady” who sells the Midland Reporter Telegram on the street corner.
Last month, the ArtizZen Outlet opened directly across the loop from the Mall (North). It was formerly the Company Stone Building. Numerous artists are displaying there, and paintings, both landscape and portrait, by Barbara Noll can be viewed and purchased at that location, as well. We are fortunate to have Barbara Noll in the talent pool enriching life and the arts in Midland and Odessa.