Barbara Dowell Kellogg 2 December 1941 – 25 May 2022
Barbara loved to draw, sketch, and paint from a young age, and her love of seeing and visualizing images contributed to what became her passion and her profession. When she tore her piano music book in frustration, her mother had the wisdom and foresight to ask if she'd prefer art lessons. Barbara remained grateful throughout her life for the gift of those art lessons, the start of a life immersed in visual art and art history.
After studying art at Carnegie Mellon for two years, Barbara transferred to Syracuse University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She received many awards and honors throughout her life. Her paintings were selected for many national shows; she was awarded the prestigious Signature Status in the American Watercolor Society and was an exhibitor in the National Watercolor Society. Her work has also appeared in many books and magazine articles. Independent of accolades and recognition, her art speaks for itself.
Barbara’s painting flourished in the latter years of the 20th century and well into the 21st. Many themes reigned throughout her art career, but it can be said that she had a transformation from representational work initially, toward the abstract. As a younger artist, she used many different media and was an excellent draftsperson and designer. In Puerto Rico, there was a loosening and opening. Watercolor and watercolor pencils became her dominant media. Themes of ocean, rocks, sky and plant life recur. What began to change was a focus not so much on verisimilitude, but on color, movement and atmosphere. A playfulness emerged, and from an adherence to the observed, imagination entered as collaborator. The beauty of the painting for its own sake became a primary focus, distinct from the particular still life or view that provided an initial launching point of inspiration.
As a mature painter and mentor, Barbara emphasized being at peace with the moment and enjoying the unfolding process. She took chances. There was a back-and-forth movement for Barbara between choice making and being a partner with what was random and could not be predicted or directed. The unknown and uncontrolled were fundamental to Barbara’s creativity, along with her own artistic considerations and decisions about balance, composition, movement, color, and other elements.
Although Barbara was willing to experiment with ink, paper collage, pastel, and gouache, acrylic became her primary medium. There was a range of effects that could be achieved in acrylic that was unavailable to her in watercolor. Much of Barbara’s mature art making was fully abstract, with no discernible connection to the observed world. The qualities of movement, color, and texture became the subject of her work, with nods to natural forms. Throughout Barbara's life, the beauty of the outdoors inspired her. She once said that in Marquette (Michigan) were all the things she loved to see—rocks, water, trees, and sky.
Another significant aspect of Barbara as an artist was her incredible generosity, one of many qualities that made her a fantastic, beloved teacher. Her students of all ages—from New Jersey and Puerto Rico to Central New York and Maine—found her support and observations both meaningful and impactful. Just being able to watch her work was an absolute gift and a source of long-lasting inspiration. Attending workshops led by renowned artists re-energized and renewed her creative energies. She greatly valued her memberships and involvement in the Social Art Club in Syracuse, the Cazenovia Watercolor Society, and the Central New York Watercolor Society.
Many of Barbara’s paintings are featured on this website, https://www.barbarakelloggartist.com. They capture just a fraction of her artistically prolific life.