Phoebe Barnum was trained in the traditional studio arts. It is clear that her works are influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. Images at times are enlarged to the point identity of the image is unrecognizable. Interest in a rich surface is evident in the application of these oil pastels. Formal training is apparent in her work although she thinks of herself as a colorist as evidenced in the subtle play of color in both the oil pastels and ceramics. Numerous layers of pastel and pencil drawing create the mysterious surface of her current work. Phoebe is drawn to the organic elements of natural forms such as cactus and bones that in some cases become defused with the background. She is responsively intuitive with a variety of materials, finding spontaneity in the process of art making, pushing the boundaries and finding liberation in various materials.
Phoebe Barnum was born in New York and raised in Los Angeles. She earned both her under graduate and graduate degrees at the University of Long Beach with a major in Drawing and Painting and minor in Ceramics. She worked extensively in the field of Graphic Design with an emphasis on periodicals and advertising. Throughout her graphic career Phoebe has continued to work on her drawing and ceramics and more recently jewelry, all of which have gone through numerous iterations based in the organic and symbolism drawn from nature and imagery from Native Peoples. Phoebe’s current work explores the play of light and shadow describing shape through mark making and subtle use of color. Over time the work has become more abstract and in the case of ceramics, more sculptural. Ceramics utilizes the subtle colors of the clay body, slips, stains and mark making on the surface, which blurs the line between drawing and painting.