Barbara Cricchio-Efchak [RA 2017]
First name: Barbara ;
Middle name: ;
Last name: Efchak ;
Member: Resident artist member ;
Begin: 2017 ;
End: n/a ;
I was born into a family of musicians. My dad had a music school and played in big bands in New York City. I started piano lessons when I was six years old, but when my dad died when I was nine, I lost my interest.
Although music was not for me, visual arts resonated at an early age and has been a life-long journey. Drawing and painting at an early age, I was always seeking a way to channel my creative energy with a visual interpretation of the beautiful and mysterious world around me. In high school, I had a wonderful art teacher who encouraged us to paint and work with clay. I was hooked on both. My hope was to be a realist painter.
In college, my concentration was painting primarily portraits and still life. The focus at most colleges and art schools at that time was conceptual art. It was frustrating trying to execute concepts when you did not have the technical skills to realize your vision, frustrated with contemporary concepts about painting I turned my attention to working with clay.
Following that path, I received an MA in studio ceramics. The art history classes that were part of the curriculum for the MA ignited my interest in painting again. After receiving my degree, I taught pottery in Vermont for several years at the Shelburne Art Center and built a very successful program, after having a professional career in marketing.
Beginning in the early 2000, we made frequent trips to Europe. Visiting art museums was a part of the plan. I remember being in Florence after studying Renaissance Art while doing my MA and was I overwhelmed and so inspired. I started to think about painting again. Influenced by both Italian Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age, I sought to find a school to study these techniques.
I discovered an article about the contemporary realism atelier movement. This realist movement was developing highly skilled artists creating phenomenal work while painting from life. I decided it was time to revisit my first love– “painting.”
My pursuit of a more classical approach to realism led me to study at Grand Central Atelier in New York in 2013 studying with accomplished portrait artist Greg Mortensen. I also attended portrait workshops with Colleen Barry and Patrick Byrnes, as well as studying floral painting in the private studio of Michael Klein and figurative painting with Josh LaRock.
A couple years later I began studying still life with Justin Wood, who has continued to be a teacher and mentor.
I am grateful to have studied at Grand Central Atelier and with these accomplished artists. So often in this fast-paced life, we take our surroundings for granted. When painting, I slow down and make careful observations and compositions. Paintings for me, is a meditation which focuses on capturing a moment in time, seeking to elevating the objects and often suggesting a narrative.