Artists In Print

Staff Writer

Barbara Franzreb loves decorative painting so much, she wants to share it with everyone.

The Macedonia artist and teacher took her love nationwide in the September issue of PaintWorks magazine, which features a collaborative design by Franzreb and her friend Dee Cochran of Port Clinton.

Macedonia artist and teacher Barbara Franzreb shows off the work she and friend Dee Cochran of Port Clinton had featured in the September PaintWorks magazine. Sun photo by Brad Ruebensaal.

The pair were on their way back from a national decorative painting convention in Nashville when they decided to do something together. Cochran said the joint venture seemed a little unnatural at first.

"I had been designing patterns doing batiking, and she does patterns more in the Williamsburg design," Cochran said. "We're good friends, so we said let's do something together."

Although their designs are different, Cochran said both like a lot of the same things. They talked about what other people like and settled on a nature theme.

"We decided on bugs because they are popular," Franzreb said. "She would do batiking, and I would create some items to go along with them."

Cochran's specialty, batiking, uses wax and dyes to create intricate patterns on cloth. Franzreb works in decorative painting, which uses a variety of techniques and media to decorate functional surfaces.

For the PaintWorks article, Franzreb painted a light and a tissue holder to complement Cochran's batiks. Franzreb said her friend created her design first, but both unknowingly had the same idea.

"I came up with four different designs: a dragonfly, a bumblebee, a ladybug and a butterfly," Cochran said. "She said it was funny because she thought of doing a ladybug and dragonfly herself.

"It was ironic, because we normally don't design the same types of patterns," she said.

Franzreb used Cochran's design as a pattern for her items, using complementary colors. Once Franzreb's decorative painting was complete, she sent all of the items to PaintWorks for consideration.

"They loved it," Franzreb said. "The editor liked it because it was different from what she usually has in the magazine."

The pair was fortunate, Franzreb said, because submitting something to a publication means taking a big chance.

"You never know if they'll like it or not," she said. "We were lucky the first place we sent it to took it."

Aside from creating the sample to send to PaintWorks, Franzreb said the article took a lot of work. She and Cochran had to work up step-by-step illustrations of how each piece was done.

However, the women said the work was worth the result. Cochran said she has received several comments from decorative artists complimenting her.

"I've had good e-mails and phone calls from decorative painters," she said. "It's so different from what they usually do, they're having fun with it."

Although Franzreb and Cochran have been friends for about seven years, this is the first project the two have completed together. Cochran says people laugh when they hear how the pair met.

Cochran wanted to go to a seminar in Virginia, but no one she knew wanted to go with her. She called the event coordinators and asked if anyone else from Ohio had registered that she could ride with.

"She gave me Barb's first name and phone number only, so I called and asked if I could go to Virginia with her," Cochran said. "I said, 'You're a painter, so you're OK.' "

Franzreb was hesitant at first, but agreed to take the stranger with her. They've been friends since. Franzreb said the two plan to do other projects together in the future.

"Working with her is interesting because it's not my style," she said. "It's a lot more contemporary than I'm used to doing. It's stepping out of my box."

Like the traditional pieces Franzreb usually creates, though, she said the contemporary work is a lot of fun.

"I love to play and create," she said.

Franzreb said she has been creative all her life. However, it was in an oil painting class she took several years ago that she got hooked on decorative painting.

At an art show later, Franzreb saw some work that was the best decorative painting she'd ever seen. Phyllis Tilford, a former Fairlawn resident who now lives in Florida, was the artist. It turned out Tilford also was a teacher, and Franzreb became her student.

"She is very well-known in her field, so I learned from the best," Franzreb said.

Franzreb studied with other artists as well, and developed her own style from a combination of her favorites. About 14 years ago, she began teaching.

"I started teaching at Solon High School's advanced education program, but people wanted to keep painting through the summer," Franzreb said. "I had them come here. After that, I never went back to the high school."

Not only does she teach classes in her home, doing business as The Calico Goose, Franzreb also teaches at seminars and conventions throughout the region. She loves watching someone "get it" after struggling for a while. She also enjoys the sense of accomplishment her students feel when they create something of their own.

"I feel God gave me a gift and I want to share it with as many people as I can," she said.

Franzreb will display some of her work during the Shaker Woods Festival the next three weekends in Columbiana. She also is registering students for fall and spring classes.

For more information, call (330) 467-7402 or visit on the Internet.

2001 Sun Newspapers Go to Sun Newspapers home page

Article Source: Aug. 9, 2001 - 2001 Sun Newspapers

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