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Meet Barbara Mulleneaux

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Mulleneaux.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started painting classes very casually in my 40’s and took a break for a few years to work with ceramics.  Painting was always there but I wasn’t actively studying or practicing.  I missed painting and really wanted to improve.  When I became dedicated to learning, things started to happen.  I have been painting professionally for about 5 years.

My journey began after taking some classes locally.  I joined the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society (now the Sonoran Plein Air Painters) and fell in love with painting outdoors in natural light.  Continuing with self study and workshops, my skills began to develop into a passion and desire to get better.  Living close to the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, there was a lot of subject matter to begin my journey and develop my plein air skills. The sounds, the light, the colors and textures of the desert all inform the art I do today.

I teach classes and conduct workshops, which have enriched my painting as well.

Please tell us about your art.
I mostly paint with a palette knife. I love the textural quality. It is kind of like sculpting with paint! For me, it is just easier. I always say, “if I could get what I wanted from a brush, I’d probably use it.” Most of my subjects are the Sonoran desert where I live, but I try to get out and paint different subjects too.

Recent travels have taken me to Utah and New Mexico. I plan to paint Colorado this summer and get to California- maybe Texas hill country. I am blessed to live where I do.  Arizona not only has great painting but is central to the Southwest!

I hope people walk away with at least another perspective to traditional oil painting— that the palette knife gives a different energy. They tend to be looser but can be as refined as necessary. Students are often surprised at how using a knife can enhance their works.

Another point of note is my use of color. I tend to see more of it. Though it may not look like it to the viewer, I tone it down quite a bit from what I see. My palette is fairly consistent, and while it is basically limited, I often add my favorite “zingers.” They are colors added in small amounts that are added for flavor, like seasoning on food!

I’m inspired by the early impressionists and contemporary artists, i.e., Wayne Thiebaud,  Scott Christensen, Euan Uglow, Matt Smith, Maynard Dixon and William Wendt to name only a few.

What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Wow. That is loaded. It is very hard for the artist. It always has been. Selling art is very competitive, and having a niche is important in marketing one’s art. There are many good artists out there and a bunch that are really good at marketing, not necessarily painting.

Galleries are struggling as they compete with internet sales and fine art shows. Collectors prefer to buy from the artist directly and with the internet and shows will seek out their favorite artists.  This is a newer trend.  That said, I think the serious collector will always prefer brick and mortar galleries.

Most artists are active with galleries, shows, festivals, workshops, and competitions. To earn a living requires not just outstanding talent, but drive and perseverance. It is overwhelming when most of us just want to paint!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I sell most of my art privately. My art is available through my website and by private appointment. I do annual fine art festivals, sin Prescott and Tucson right now and plan to add Carefree and Tubac this year. I also participate in plein air events and shows. To follow my activities, collectors are encouraged to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and follow me on Instagram or my Facebook Page. My work is currently represented by Toscana Studio and Gallery in Tucson and Beleeza Fine Art Gallery in Bisbee.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Barbara Mulleneaux

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.


  1. Barbara milleneaux

    May 29, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for the article, Voyage Tucson! I appreciate the opportunity to share my art and story!

  2. Lorraine Williams

    May 29, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    She is truly a GEM!!!!

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