After 20 years in the decorating and design field, Barb TenEycke gave up her day job. “My interior design clients were asking for something custom and that's how it all started,” says TenEycke. “Eventually this love affair with painting grew more and more, and gradually I decided this is what I want to do.”

TenEycke consulted with clients to provide furniture, draperies, and accessories. If they needed renovations, she would oversee contractors. When she couldn't find artwork for a client's kitchen, the woman asked TenEycke to create some. “I don't know where this came from, my client knew I had a history of faux finishing and paint techniques in the decorating world, she just threw the idea out there,” she says.

What the client didn't know was that TenEycke's husband surprised her with a set of acrylic paints for Christmas and she had been trying her hand at painting in her spare time. “I think the universe was trying to get me to paint,” says the artist.   

As TenEycke honed her skills, the client purchased more paintings and another client bought five. Gaining more confidence, she approached several galleries and Gravenhurst's Auburn Gallery of Fine Art gave her a chance.

“The gallerist, Teresa McLaughlin has been so helpful, a mentor really ““ she let me have my first solo show in 2009. TenEycke prepared 12 paintings and sold six. “I was launched into this fun world,” says the Oakville resident. “I've continued my relationship with Teresa and had several shows there.”

One show, Sylvan Dreams, was the collaborative effort of TenEycke and her daughter, Leanna, a figurative artist. The mother and daughter duo came up with a theme, discussed ideas and took turns painting. “We sketched it out on the canvas, I would work on the background and she would sketch her figure,” says TenEycke. “You are sort of messing each other's work to a degree as you work towards the finished product, but it was a great experience.”

From April 1 to 3, TenEycke's paintings are on display at the Spring Cottage Life Show, The International Centre in Mississauga. TenEycke's work focuses on cottage country scenery with lakes, water, rocks, and hay bales in fields with foggy sunrises, a popular look she creates with creeks, forests and barns. “I meet a nice group of people at the show that are attracted to my work,” she says. People go there for canoes, paddle boats, sports equipment, so it's not an art show, but because of my cottage country themes, I exhibit there.”  

TenEycke has art on exhibit at Auburn Gallery of Fine Art throughout spring, summer and fall, and at The Edge Gallery in Barrie, Gallery [2] in Burlington and Perivale Gallery on Manitoulin Island.  

Recently TenEycke worked on a commission for a newlywed couple living in Germany.” I do a fair number of commissions and I enjoy that process if people like my style and if I find the subject matter interesting,” she says. “I work from my photographs. I'm pretty picky about the lighting in the photo, if they want something from their cottage, I work from their photograph, but I use my imagination about the scene.”

The commission process includes: discussions about subject matter, size and details. Progress shots of the artwork are sent for client input. “People like to see how the painting develops. I ask them at every stage if they like the composition, or to guide me in a certain direction,” she says. “That's me, I enjoy interaction. It's a lot of fun and there's a lot of reward in that experience. It's worth it!”

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