SoMinn: Austin artist makes a go of it

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Austin artist discovers her love for the arts. See this story and more like it in Southern Minnesota, Oct. 31. -- Graphic by Stacey Bahr/Southern Minnesota

See stories like this and more in the winter edition of Southern Minnesota Magazine, set to be released Sunday, Oct. 31.

While some people commonly view an artist as someone wielding a paint and a canvas, Austin-resident Barb Cafourek often spends a great deal of time meticulously shaping metal rings and forging ceramic beads to make the centerpieces of her jewelry.

Barb Cafourek works in a variety of different areas, including these pottery pieces on display at the Austin Area Art Center. -- Eric Johnson/Southern Minnesota

Cafourek is a bit of a three-sport athlete in the art world. She paints, makes jewelry and also does ceramics. Cafourek is a testament that anyone can dive headlong into the art world. Cafourek discovered her love for painting about a decade ago when she was between jobs. She decided to start a business painting homes. Her former employer owed her a year of schooling, so she took small business and art classes.

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“That’s where I discovered I really, really liked painting and drawing and ceramics,” she added.

After the classes, Cafourek would start the business First Impressions Painting for interior and exterior painting. While she’s set the

business aside recently to focus on watching her grandchildren, her love for art has continued to be an important part of her life.

While she commonly makes her own ceramic beads, Cafourek often shapes wire and jump rings into jewels for bracelets or necklaces. On one necklace, she wound bronze wire into three roses, which she burnen with a lighter for coloring. Another piece utilizes a pattern of interwoven jump rings as its centerpiece.

“Sometimes you have more time sitting and designing than you actually have putting the elements together,” she said.

About five years ago, Cafourek’s husband bought her a kiln and a pottery wheel for Christmas, allowing Cafourek to pursue her love of

pottery, too.

Ceramics has also aided her jewelry making, as Cafourek will make beads.

“I generally have one handmade element in every piece that I make,” she said.

On top of beads, Cafourek also makes vases, bowls, plates, cups and a few sculptures.

Along with her ceramics and pottery, Cafourek paints with watercolor and acrylic.

While her painting started with simple techniques and mostly acrylic paints, Cafourek said she’s expanded her skill set to include

techniques like shading. She’s also come to love watercolor, a medium by which she was initially intimidated.

Cafourek paints mostly florals and landscapes, and she even painted an entire series of paintings surrounding things she saw around the north shore.

“The nice thing about doing different mediums is when you get tired of doing one, you can move onto something else. You never get tired of it,” she said.

Since art came into her life, the way Cafourek views her surroundings has changed.

“I’ve also noticed when I’m out in the world, I notice things I never noticed before,” she added.

For example, Cafourek said most people think of tree trunks as being brown. However, she said there’s various colors of bark, moss and

molds that form a tree’s color.

Outside of the year of college, Cafourek has learned to paint on her own through instructional books. However, one of the key ways to

learn, she said, is trial and error.

“I don’t think anything you do can be considered a failure,” she said.

Though she tries to continually learn from her experiences, art can be intimidating.

“I still have to tell myself this: It’s just a piece of paper or it’s just a canvas,” she said. “You can’t let it freak you out. You’ve got

to go in and just do it. And if it doesn’t turn out, oh well. It’s just a piece of paper; there’s something you will learn.”

After coming from a career in retail to discover her love for art while seeking a job, Cafourek said anyone can become an artist.

“It doesn’t take a big fancy degree to get into this. It really doesn’t,” she said. “You don’t have to have a tone of formal training.

You just have to have a lot of tenacity.”