One look at artist Barbara Rudolph’s work and you’re immediately drawn into a story. The intrigue slowly builds as your eye moves through the piece, discovering little Easter eggs in the form of cleverly placed objects and animals––each revealing more of the story to be told. And often that story is one of unexpected and delightful humor––something Barbara is very intentional about.

In fact, one of her primary goals with her oil paintings is to uplift the human spirit and evoke joy, which she accomplishes through attention to the composition, thoughtfully chosen objects and animals, and even the witty titles she gives each piece. One animal she’s become known for is her birds.

These whimsical, and sometimes mischievous, characters have perched atop Chanel bags in “Bougie Birdies”, sat alongside tequila bottles in “Tequila Mockingbird” and gazed in the review mirror of a motorcycle in “Free Wheelin”. And though the birds may take center stage in much of Barbara’s work, it’s not uncommon to see vibrant florals or other animals like fawns or bighorn sheep in her still lifes. More recently, however, she’s also been venturing outside of the still-life genre, testing the waters with some nature-inspired landscapes including one of a fly fisherman in a serene river.

But no matter the subject, Barbara aims to create a delightful escape for the viewer and envelope them in a joyful story, even if it’s just for a moment.

Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Barbara, how birds became an important part of the story and how she’s testing new concepts.

When did you know art was your calling?

From a very young age. I always loved to draw, and it just kind of developed from little doodles in the beginning and then as I got older, I would try new mediums with watercolor and acrylic and then eventually oil.

I definitely love oil paint. It’s been something that I’ve tried to master over the years, and I love the way it mixes and blends. I love the colors and the richness that oil brings in a painting.

How did birds become part of your signature style?

My body of work is dedicated to my late father who always loved birds. He was a bird carver and I have one of his old carvings in my studio. He passed away 14 years ago, actually it was opening night of the Celebration. And he’d always said, “Barbara, paint birds.” I never really listened, but towards the end of his life, I started to paint little birds here at the show. And when I visited him, I would show him these little paintings.

Each painting was named after one of his best friends, and they started to sell, and then people would request their favorite bird with maybe their golf club or their favorite book. It grew to this theme, and it kind of took off. So, I just have always, for the most part, had a bird in my work. Once in a while, I do new things without birds, but people always look for them. So, it’s one signature that I have in my work.

What do you love most about creating art?

Getting lost in it. It’s amazing to be able to get lost in a painting. Hours fly by and you can kind of just escape from the news or whatever it is that’s distracting you. I try to create paintings that might touch somebody––that might add a little bit of humor. It’s a way to express myself. I can get lost in it and hopefully transfer that onto the viewer too by telling a little story through my art.

It’s always a compliment when somebody comes in and connects with a painting and maybe we talk about how that painting makes them feel. It might be just a story about a bird or a still life. Somehow it will resonate and when then they purchase a piece, it’s always an honor to me that somebody has selected me. This is such an amazing show. To have a hundred artists that are such high quality, and to me, it really means so much when somebody buys a painting. It’s more than the sale. It’s a connection I have with my client.

How do you push yourself to test new concepts?

I’m always trying new things. I visited one of my neighbors here at the show last summer in Colorado. We did a lot of hiking in Vail, which inspired some wildlife paintings. For instance, I have a fly fisherman in the Blue River in Vail, which is a little bit of a new direction for me.

What brings you back to the Celebration of Fine Art?

I really love being here. It’s definitely like a family of artists. We push each other without even realizing it to do our best work. And we get to meet the clients who buy our work as opposed to a gallery where you don’t get to meet the client. So, it’s really like a family. So, I’m really grateful to be a part of it this long.