Her Fields of Gold


Three and bit years ago successful gallery owner and artist Melissa Barber turned stay at home mum.  Now a mother of two (three and a bit and 17mths), fights for time to paint, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  She is currently exhibiting with Rolf Harris in Canberra.

“I started painting when I was 24. I’m now 42.  I can generally say that art has formed me – what I am now, and what I can give to my children. It has been a hard road indeed, but I did it – oh dear, I’m sounding like Dora the Explorer”.

Melissa’s art has transformed significantly from her first portraitures of “everyone’s kids, spouses and pets”. For several years she ran her own studio/gallery café in her home town of Canowindra. It was there she created her stunning signature work of gold roses and red poppies that hang in galleries and private collections across Australia, England, France, China, New Zealand, Ireland, Malaysia and the United States. She now works exclusively from her home studio.

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is be a working mother. It has made me so much more cut and dry with my approach to work because every single moment really counts. In some ways society does not favour mothers who work at home. That’s certainly been the case for me with painting as it is often considered a hobby or a leisure activity rather than a job. Apart from family, painting is my great love. I need to paint. It’s my identity, but it is also my business and for it I do all the boring BAS/tax things, as well as advertising, and meeting clients”.

“It’s a challenge finding the right work/family balance because naturally, my children have first priority. I’ve been fortunate though to have understanding clients and I can work a lot online which allows me to interact with clients and do the business side of things when the kids are in bed and I can remember my name again. I am also fortunate enough to have a wonderful Family Day carer who minds the girls three days a week”.

What do you love about motherhood? “Being able to introduce them to all the lovely things I did as a child. We do a lot of craft together and I love showing them glittering shiny things (I must have been a bower bird in a past life) and watching their faces light up in curiosity and simple awe.  The act of creating something is extremely powerful”.

Melissa supports: The Animal Protection of Australia “It’s a one woman show who sincerely works her butt off to help animals.  I donate when I can”.

Melissa and her girls love 

Author: Sharon Quill

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