“It was the joy of painting architecture and people’s appreciation of cities that led to the opportunity to have an art career,” says painter Barbara Froula.
Froula, who is known for her cityscapes, had planned to be an architect. In school, Froula received a Rotary scholarship and spent a year in Europe studying at the Royal Danish Academy. “They would take us out and have us draw buildings, and they had to be really accurate. I had a lot of drawing-on-location experience there,” says Froula. “Over 100 paintings later, it started to look like some really nice work.”
She received a degree in architecture from Auburn University and taught there for a year. In the early 1980s, she came to Denver and got her architectural license. In 1982, however, Colorado experienced one of its worst economic times. “Work became scarce for architects in Colorado, so I turned to painting,” says Froula.
Photo of Barbara Froula at her home in Boulder
“I started painting cityscapes of Denver and having art shows. I created over 25 posters for Historic Denver and found a rep who expanded my work into the card business,” says Froula. “My work sold throughout Colorado and along the West Coast.” Her gallery on Denver's Penn Street showed her art for nearly three decades.
Architectural skills came to the fore when Froula recently designed and built her house on a Boulder mountain ridge, working with a challenging piece of land that had baffled others. The three-story house has a small footprint that spreads into a third floor living space opening to a view of Indian Peaks to the west and Boulder Open Space to the east. The second floor is her new studio and gallery. “It was a real joy to be able to do this house from the ground up,” says Froula.
Froula’s cityscapes are what sell the best and what she is known for. But after moving to her home in the hills of Boulder, Froula became more connected to nature. Trees, mountains, landscapes and even a bobcat and mountain lion who walked past her living room windows are captured in her recent paintings. “It’s what you’re excited about that inspires your best work,” she says.
“Art has so much flexibility. You can paint when you travel, and I was able to work at home when my kids were young,” says Froula. “Whether architecture or art, I have the ability to do something I really love.”