Barbara Bertram and Her Ashbee Artworks
By Shelly Aucoin
Barbara Bertram is on a mission to inject color into everyone’s life. Her eclectic art creations boast playful, funky designs on everything you can imagine; rocking horses, banana stands, window panes, storage units and even lamp shades get the custom treatment. Nothing is safe or sacred when Barbara’s around! Best of all, her slogan “one-of-a-kinds on recycled finds” ensures that every piece is yours and yours alone.
Some of the best artists have no formal art training but picked up the brush at an early age; that’s Barbara’s story as well. As soon as she could hold a pen and brush she was hooked and simply never stopped creating. This may begin to explain why her work breaks so beautifully from the norm and embraces such a variety of mediums. When I asked where she gets inspiration, Barbara explained, “I like to focus on simple ideas and items that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as art. If I see a picture in a magazine, it’s the colors and the way they compliment each other that draws me to it.” She then interprets those colors into a unique application for a special find.
Every item that Barbara paints comes with a history. She searches estate sales, yard sales and even roadside freebies for pieces with potential then “funks them up.” She explains, “My only rule for items to make the cut is that they be of good quality. I put a lot of time into them and I want them to last a long time!” So do her customers. She was once commissioned for a custom order on a family heirloom – a whale-shaped coffee table from the 1940s – that was passed down through generations. After Barbara painted a Cape Cod scene on the piece it was presented to the couple as a very special Christmas gift.
Another fun example of Barbara’s work is a solid oak milking stool with a handle. When she came across it, everyone thought it resembled a turtle ~ but Barbara saw a cast iron frying pan. “I painted is as such and put a sunny-side-up fried egg cooking on it. It was a big hit and didn’t last 15 minutes at our local art fair!” she says. Barbara’s pieces run the gamut from items perfect for a child’s room to furniture sure to add warmth and character to the family den to decorative pieces perfect for outside on the front portch.
To find out what mischief Barbara’s been up to lately, visit her website ~ www.ashbeeartworks.com ~ which boasts an extensive portfolio of work including both current and archived pieces…and some hints at pieces “in the works.” Make sure to click on every tab because you won’t want to miss a thing! Ashbee Artworks is open by chance or appointment, and just about every nice weekend between March and October, so contact Barbara through her site to make arrangements to see her work ~ we guarantee you won’t leave her shop empty handed ~ or without a smile on your face!