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Local Hair Stylist Picks Up New Brush For Art
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Oakdales Barbara Findlay shows a few of her original paintings that shes considering taking with her to Ashland, Oregon this weekend. Findlay will be a guest artist for two days during the Lithia Artisans Market of Ashland (LAMA). The local hair stylist began painting in 2014 and now does it as a form of relaxation. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Some might describe Barbara Findlay as a gifted artist in her professional field. She has spent over 30 years relying on a keen eye and precision of her hands to earn a living as a reputable hair stylist. Well known throughout the community for her gift of singing, easy going spirit and giving heart, Findlay has found a new passion … painting.

“My daughter was doing some great stuff,” Findlay said of her daughter Bonnie and her inspiration in 2014 to pick up a paint brush, “and I thought, I want to do some painting stuff.”

As the stylist shared her interest with her daughter and her husband Jim, the family began to encourage her to try. Jim suggested perhaps she start by trying her hand at painting on reclaimed/repurposed tree boxes he happened to have on the property.

“Every board is different,” the artist said of the deconstructed boxes, noting the prep of cleaning and sanding that must go into each one before beginning her creations.

“I have to work around the obstacles,” she explained of the imperfections and holes that may come with the box. “It’s actually a lot of fun and sometimes becomes part of the art.”

Findlay has no formal training in painting other than that of coloring hair in the salon Heads Above the Rest, of which she is the co-owner.

Prior to picking up a paintbrush, Findlay shared she had no skills in the way of art.

“I couldn’t paint. I couldn’t draw. I couldn’t make anything look like anything,” she said.

The new artist indicated that both the nature of the wood as well as the acrylic paint are forgiving, as she finds her way through a specific piece. Inspiration comes to her from varying sources including magazines, music or a whimsical idea.

As far as time to complete a piece, Findlay allows the process to unfold on its own. She spends time on her works close to every night of the week and typically works on two at a time.

“It just depends and that’s all there is to that,” she said of a time frame for a piece. “It’s a nice way to unwind.”

She admitted that the process is also not terribly scientific.

“Sometimes you just get lucky,” she said of her work. “Smearing colors together and thinking hey, that looks pretty good and I’ll stop. A lot of things are just accidents. You just keep playing and wiping.”

Those ‘accidents,’ ‘playing’ and ‘wiping’ however, have led Findlay to a hobby which now generates some side fun money, as others have an appreciation for her eye and art.

This weekend the artist will travel to Ashland, Oregon and be a guest artist during Lithia Artisans Market of Ashland (LAMA). The event is hosted at Lithia Park in Ashland each Saturday and Sunday from April through November. She plans to take 20 of her pieces to show and possibly sell. Prices of her work range from $80 to $500.

“Five hundred if I really like it,” she said of her pieces for sale. “When they’re my favorites I’m really in no hurry to sell them.

“I usually bring them down to the shop and have the girls give critiques,” she said of her Oakdale salon.

Findlay also does commission work for persons looking for something unique, be it for a gift or personal display.

“I’m at such a point, that if you don’t like it I’ll keep it,” she said.

In short, Findlay is excited by her newfound hobby and the appreciation it has received from customers, family and friends.

“You never are too old to learn something new,” she stated.