The artistry of light and magic

Posted 2/2/22

“We are all under the same big sky, the sky open to heaven.”

So reflected artist Barbara Mason about her pastel creation titled ‘Under an Open Heaven.’ 

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The artistry of light and magic

The columbine flower is among Barbara's favorite
The columbine flower is among Barbara's favorite subjects.
(Courtesy photo)

“We are all under the same big sky, the sky open to heaven.”

So reflected artist Barbara Mason about her pastel creation titled ‘Under an Open Heaven.’ 

The genesis of that pastel was not some skyscape sighted in an exotic place on the other side of the world. It was, in fact, a sky sighted from the back porch of the Mason’s home in Frisco. Barbara etched the scene in her mind to reproduce it at a later date, while her husband James, a professional photographer, raced for his camera.

What followed was a reproduction of scintillating quality. It speaks to much of what the husband and wife artistic team creates through their art.

The Masons are showing a sampling of their creations this month at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. The show, titled ‘The Magic of Light,’ could not have been more accurately named. It is running through Feb. 28.

To the Masons, art is not a hobby, nor a profession. It cannot be categorized into bins or classified by technique. The Masons understand art to be life, or as James offered, “Life is art in motion.”

Central to the Masons’ interpretation of life in motion is the infinite combinations of light and color, patterns and shapes which surround us.

One is easily drawn in to Barbara’s minute alterations of color within her pastels. It is more than shading. As evidenced in her floral productions, many of her works alternatively focus and diffuse light to such a degree that an object may appear translucent. 

Barbara appropriately titled one of her series ‘The Transparency Series’ for just that reason. She attempts to magnify the little things.

The works Barbara is showing in Winnsboro are a sampling of three subjects: women, florals and the transparency collection. James will be rounding out the collection with his photography of Texas skies. 

Together, they will make a memorable day for all visitors at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. 

Interestingly, the two entered the art world only after successful careers in unrelated fields – Barbara as a radiologist and James in law enforcement. It was art, however, which brought them together and has become the focus of their lives. 

It only takes one story from their initial forays into the art world to start pulling for their success. The couple demonstrates a self-depreciating sense of humor, an immediate personal connection with others, and a complimentary nature. 

Success has indeed been realized. Barbara has been named to an exclusive group, the Top 100 Artists in the Nation, for the third time. They have previously operated a studio and gallery in Frisco, and their works are sought after for commission and collections.

Both recount early influences in their lives for nurturing their artistic ambitions – Barbara through a number of family members who surrounded her with crafts as a child, and James through the rural environment of eastern Virginia. 

After melding their talents together in the Midwest, the two relocated to Texas on the recommendations of family friends.

“Frisco was a great place for us. The Dallas area was a target market for our works, the living here is comfortable and authentic, and travel from Frisco is easy,” they commented.

Although the initial art shows the two attended were solely Barbara’s works, at one point James felt the desire to move from a hobbyist to a professional and begin showing his photos.

“I consider being a professional to be in a state of constant learning,” he stated. 

One highlight of their dual artistry was their combined showing at the African American Museum in Dallas. The show was titled, ‘You, Me Us.’  It is a source of pride for the two, as they explained that the exhibit demonstrated the strength of their subjects.

Considered artists of some renown, the Masons are exceptionally well-footed. They quickly describe the manner in which they were embraced by the art community across the nation as they began to move in professional circles. 

“It’s all about the connections between people,” James shared. He described his hope that his photographs give viewers a chance to see something new or overlooked in the beauty of things which surround them every day. 

“We have each been given the gift of art in some manner. Our individual life journey is also art,” James offered.

Barbara, as well, is introspective about her talents. “It is my responsibility to create a visual journal of my life, to do our part in representing our past, paying forward and sparking a dialogue of the future.”  

A visit to the Winnsboro Center for the Arts this month will prompt that dialogue through the exhibition of light, depth, grandeur and beauty.