Notes from the Studio

Paint is good.
Paint is good.

My mother was a painter. When my siblings and I were little, she’d set up her paints on the dining room table and work on dramatic seascapes, floral still lifes, and portraits of us. She taught me how to draw when I was 6, and when I was in the 8th grade she let me work in oil paint. My first painting was a still life of a ceramic bean pot, several potatoes and a carrot that she set up for me in our basement TV-laundry-play room.

I’ve had lots of different studios over the years. My first one as a grown-up was in the converted one-car garage in our little rowhouse in Philly when I was a young married woman. I’ve made art in a large factory loft space, a barn, an adobe workshop off my kitchen in New Mexico, and in the corner a adobe hovel in Santa Fe that I shared with another artist.

When life brought me back to the east coast, I put together an exhibition in the basement of my kid’s house. Sometimes my best studio has been a dining table – no pressure. I have 2 workspaces at the moment: several tables in my living room and an artist-in-residence space at the Norristown Arts Building, about 9 miles from my apartment.

I have learned to not let space get in the way. I once interviewed (live on the radio) the fiber/dollmaker artist who’d won the incredibly prestigious Best of Show award at the Santa Fe Indian Market. When I asked her to tell us about her studio and her process, she laughed out loud and said she made all her dolls at her kitchen table with family and homemaking work all around. For me, that was the ultimate in “No-Excuses-Just-Make-Your-Art” moment.

I’ve posted some images of my work on this page, and of artists’ work I admire for their use of color. My mother turned me on to the work of French master Pierre Bonnard very early in my life. He is still my favorite for his luminous, fearless color.

Do you have a favorite artist?

Bird and Bowl of Mystery, 12"x12" mixed media on panel, by Barbara Mayfield 2014
Bird and Bowl of Mystery, 12″x12″ mixed media on panel, by Barbara Mayfield 2014

This piece is one of a series of 12×12’s on handmade paper on panel. This paper is very special. Made by Beau Haworth, who recently passed, in Taos, New Mexico. It’s 100% cotton rag, heavily textured and with intense deckled edges on all sides. I mounted a sheet onto each panel, then worked in Golden acrylics, pencil and pastel. I like the slow-drying Golden paints because they feel like and have a the look of oils. There are 28 paintings in this series. Many are sold, but many beauties are still available.

Contact me for details and pricing information on originals. Soon you will be able to purchase a reproduction on paper or canvas. Details soon.



Birds by the RIver, 24x26" oil on canvas, by Barbara Mayfield 2015
Birds by the River, 24×26″ oil on canvas, by Barbara Mayfield 2015

I’ve been working this year on 24 x 26 inch canvases. More images of birds. Sandpipers, flickers, jays, grosbeaks, and hummingbirds all make their way into the paintings. I work from memory and feeling and let the color and the imagery do the talking.






Mermaid, 22x24" oil and mixed media on wood panel, by Barbara Mayfield 2010
Mermaid, 22×24″ oil and mixed media on wood panel, by Barbara Mayfield 2010

I call this series Queens, Witches, Selkies and Souls. These images began in the early 1990’s and I continue to work with them in oils on panel and canvas, and sometimes on paper. I’ve made so many monotypes, large and small, I’ve lost count. Waxlander Gallery on Canyon Road represented me in Santa Fe and did a great job of placing many of them into collections all over the country.


Contact me for details and pricing information on originals.



I think it’s clear that my mother and Pierre Bonnard, as well as Henri Matisse, Degas, and many other outrageous colorists, have had a lot of influence on me. Travel through Mexico (Stunning color. Changed me forever.), the art museums of Europe, and living on the land and under the sky of New Mexico for more than 20 years, opened me more and more to saturated color.

There are more images of my artwork on my boards on Pinterest. Scroll down past the boards on Color and you’ll see the ones titled Mayfield Studio.

Contact me here.