My mission to engage people in creativity is finally happening! My painting classes at the Riverdale Senior Center have now begun their 3rd session!! This post is to show the incredible art from people who never painted before.

And a new student who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s has joined. Robert is a professional artist who studied at the Art Students League. He has a studio upstate New York. However, since his mental decline he has not done art for a long time. I told him the first day that he is still an artist and he can create just like Monet when his eyesight went bad.

My painting classes are not about skill. I do not teach technique. There is a very spiritual connection to art and one student, Margery, has exceptional talent.

So here’s to Riverdale’s emerging artists. And please do not refer to them as seniors dabbling in art. Their work is fearless and vibrant. Totally alive and ageless!

The following are by Robert who has Alzheimer’s:



Yes it has been an adventure the last few weeks and after a year and a half of building a creative business in iPad painting workshops in the New York area things began to pop.

I was asked to be co-curator for a digital art show at the Blue Door Gallery in Yonkers, NY that opened in February and closed March 5th.  The show opened up a lot of interest in iPad painting.  It was a first digital art show in the New York area.  After I gave a number of workshops at Blue Door that got excited about it and decided this was an important art movement.   The show was reviewed by The Riverdale Press with a front page story on the Events section.

Riverdale Press Link:,59190?content_source=&category_id=160&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=&town_id=


DIGITAL WORKSHOPS THIS SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27th Join our Featured Artist, and Co-Curator of Future/Canvas, Jean Messner, as she leads participants through a workshop teaching them how to create artwork through the use Tablets and Smartphones.



I have wanted to do this post for a long time. My dad was a very talented artist who didn’t pursue it. I only knew him up until the age of 5 when he and mom split. I was either angry at him or blaming myself. The way I dealt with the pain was to erase him from my mind. 

A couple of years ago my mom showed me this drawing he did that she saved. Why she waited 50 years to show me I’ll never figure out. She told me he also studied at the Art Students League. I never knew this but I was following in my father’s path.  

I guess he had the same beliefs I did about not being able to support himself in art because he ended up being a used car salesman.  But then mom told me about how my father was using his talent to help others. 

It seems in the 1940s the NYC school system was developing classes to help delinquent boys learn how to get skills for jobs so they didn’t turn to illegal activities.  They also introduced them to art.  My father was hired as an art instructor. Schools realized culture can civilize. 

Then WWII came and he was drafted. But he also had skills as a photographer so ended up being a government photographer in the Phillpines where he was stationed. 

I am proud of you dad!   (Below is his colored pencil drawing of Lana Turner 1939)

Lana Turner by George Barbella 1939


  I always say we need to be givers not takers but I am aware of red flags of giving to the wrong people.

I’m experiencing a phenomenon that artists are looked upon as not being serious professionals and what they do has no real benefit to the world. Artists are just a group of creative people who make paintings to decorate homes or to be collected by wealthy investment bankers.  If you are an artist who is not showing at Art Basel and the hottest trend then you are invisible.

I don’t need to be famous. But I want to be paid for my creative skills. Which brings me to the point of this post.  I will not give away my time or knowledge for free.

I am shocked at how many people pick my brain about iPad painting. Promoting my iPad painting workshops has been exhausting. I am treading a new path and there are a lot of biases to break through. So I have been giving a lot of lectures on it. In order to get people to register I have been too free on details which has given them the information to get the apps themselves and screw my workshop. I have been learning this iPad painting on my own since 2011. I consistently study all the ins and outs of every art app. This is my hard work and people want the information for free.

I joined a art organization in Riverdale when I moved here last October. I went to their business meeting and realized it was a bunch of seniors who do art. And they were rude and ignored me. The fact that they were hanging their paintings in an urgent care doctor waiting room really made me run. I couldn’t associate with them because they would tear my reputation down. But they consistently nudge me to give a lecture on my iPad painting to the group.  When I told them what I charge for the lecture the director told me that they don’t pay members to give lectures to the group.  Here is an art group that doesn’t think their members knowledge is worth paying for. Thank God my membership is over next month.

I have pitched my workshop and shown what I can do and when they ask how or what app I use I answer come to the workshop and find out.

An artist works hard to learn their skills. It is not all fun and games. Artists go to college to study art. If art were easy they wouldn’t have colleges giving out MFAs. ARTISTS ARE PROFESSIONALS!

I value my talent today and I demand respect. If you want to do what I do you need to pay for my knowledge.  


Greetings From the Sapphire Lounge In NYC – My First Solo Show

When I started to answer calls for artists I was given an opportunity to have a solo show on the Lower East hip lounge the Sapphire Lounge.  You know when you are new to all this you jump at anything.  My first solo show!!!

Challenge #1 – transporting a lot of paintings from Queens to NYC.  Trying to save money I ended up with a small van and a very interesting driver who was able to fit all the paintings in the van.  Challenge #1 no problem.

Challenge #2 – unloading paintings as the rain started to come down.  Oh no the manager is not in the lounge now…got to wait.  After a half hour the manager’s assistant showed and helped unload.  Challenge #2 no problem.

Challenge #3 – Hang paintings.  PROBLEM!  Okay the manager’s assistant was not really willing to help me.  I was alone and frustrated and always relied on my son.  Now the assistant is an old man from another country that I don’t remember.  He comes look at my work.  He stares quietly.  Then says “I have to get my tools to help you”.  Turns out he is a traditional painter.  He told me he liked my work and my clouds were beautiful.  I guess he was happy to see art that he could understand.  Challenge #3 revised to no problem.


So we hung it all and I stood back to admire the walls. The manager walks in and says great.  This is my opening night of my first solo show.  Things are good.  Then the manager tells me that tonight is a special night at the lounge:



My heart sunk as I thought this is really going clash with my landscapes and rap music.  I learned the lesson of match your venue to your art.  But a miracle happened.

I saw the back of a very large man and he was looking at my paintings in silence.  I went up to him.  He was a rapper and he was the organizer of the contest.  We looked at each other and he smiled and said “did you do these paintings”.   I timidly said “yes”.  His smile got larger as he pointed to the big cloud.  “These are beautiful!”  I could not believe my ears.  He was emotional looking at my work.

I left the lounge that night with the rappers thanking me for the beautiful art for their show.  MY WORK TRANSCENDED CULTURES! WOW!




today I was journaling about the brick wall I hit when I tell a person that they don’t have to be good to do art. People think art is not important. People think art is meaningless to them. People rather rack up credit card debt shopping for things that end up in their closets.

I believe coloring books should be banned!!  Kids who struggle coloring in the lines think they are failures in art. The fact is true art is done outside the lines. That is true creativity.

My mission is to get people to see that creativity needs to be part of their lives.  It is not just for the talented. Art is necessary for the brain. Creativity works the brain by stimulating ideas. Ideas keep the brain youthful.

America wake up!  Art and culture are what makes us civilized. Kids in rural America turn to destructive forms of behavior because they have no opportunity to be creative or look at beautiful art. They end up on the internet or shooting up schools. Art can help people with mental illness.

We need to stop treating art as a subject that has no importance to our lives. Creativity needs to be seen as a valuable part of everyone’s life. It has to be seen as vital to the human experience. It is not a frivolous activity to be ignored.

And please don’t tell me you can’t draw a straight line. Creativity is not about straight lines.


The picture below is my first show at the Art Students League. My son was proud of his mother.



For 30 years I gave up my art. I worked as a secretary those years trying to fit in. My goal was to get married and have someone take care of me. I was depressed and taking cocktails of drugs from psychiatrists to the point I was numb. I stopped seeing the beauty of the world. I basically stopped seeing. As an artist I lost the most important thing which is seeing. The world got smaller and smaller. I was dependent on people to make me feel good about myself. I married but it didn’t help. The only blessing was the gift of my son Dan in 1995.  The marriage was bad because of me. I was dishonest and used my husband to rescue me.  I’m grateful today that we are able to be friends and I am still part of his family.

In 2009 God released me from my 19 year job as a legal secretary. The economic crisis led to my firm downsizing.  Still looking to find a secretary job I found myself in a Debtors Anonymous meeting (DA). I was anxious about finding a job and making money.  But I met a wonderful young man who brought me back to my true self.  I was directed to start becoming the artist I was meant to be. He told me to do what artists do…paint every day.  When I would tell him I needed to make money he would say I need to bring my art out.  He was the miracle teacher in my life.

Last year I took early retirement after again trying to make money because I still couldn’t support myself with my art.  It was an under earning job. I couldn’t meet my basic needs. I missed a month rent. My landlord decided to sell the apartment. I lost the temp job. I had no job and no home.  I was able to get a financial gift to help me get an apartment. I left and moved to Riverdale in the Bronx.

Riverdale is God’s country. It is near the Hudson River where the Hudson River painters painted beautiful scenic landscapes. I am surrounded by nature. I am 10 minutes from beautiful Wave Hill which is a public garden with views of the Hudson. I painted there recently.  I’m getting recognition for my art in Riverdale. The Riverdale Press had a picture of one of my paintings in their paper.  I won first prize in a juried art show.

Now I discovered how to make a living with my art. I am developing a business teaching iPad painting to seniors.  I have promoted myself and now a newscaster from a tv station is going to do a story on it. Yesterday I got an email that a Bronx neighborhood paper wants to do a story on it.

The moral of this story is you never know when you will be successful with your art.  I’m 64 years old and I feel like I’m doing this better than I would have in my twenties.  I’m not famous making millions of dollars.  But my mission to get people to create art and experience joy is starting to click.    People are listening to my message.  I am being heard and it is because I am offering value to people.