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House Talk

No. 32 - February, 2009

The Art of Living in Your Home
A talk with Barbara Tapp

Throughout the years, Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine have had the privilege of working with Barbara Tapp, a very talented illustrator who sketches houses for many local real estate agents and architects. Sheila thought it would be interesting to know more about Barbara and how she actually lives in her own home environment.

Barbara is a native Australian. She and her childhood sweetheart moved from Australia to the Bay Area in 1980. They settled in Kensington, which reminded Barbara of Australia because of the weather patterns, which were condusive to lovely gardens. In 1988, they moved into their present home on a quiet cul-de-sac near the Colusa Circle.

Barbara is a graduate of Interior Design from the National Art School in Sydney. As she says, “I talk the language of drawing and I walk the language of drawing. I inherited this talent from my father who was a renowned Sydney architect.” She has been doing the well-known Karen Brown travel series for years. She loves the portability of her trade. As she says, it is not like playing the violin; an illustrator draws instinctively by hand and only needs a very small space with pens and paper.

The top priority in her life has always been her family. Her artwork had to dovetail with the raising of her three children. She says she always situated herself in leftover spaces of the house, which often has meant working in the hallways - much to the amusement of her friends. She has also worked at the dining table, the kitchen table and currently has a small cubbyhole closet off the master bedroom where she has set up her design board. Her friends sit on the steps outside her tiny windows and visit with her.

In choosing to actually live in a house, Barbara and her architect husband insist on views and good natural light with south-facing being optimal. The other important aspect of living in a home is a garden. The house must have charm and the garden must be intimate. Barbara’s mother was a botanist by hobby. From an early age, Barbara became very familiar with the growing of plants and their botanical names. Her home is surrounded by gardens at every turn – each one full of texture and color. She gardens by instinct and watches the colors changing with the seasons. She loves to begin her days soaking in the hot tub under her oak trees, surrounded by her two adoring cats, and the latest plants in bloom. Here she gathers her thoughts and renews her spirit for the day. Indeed, she often puts in very long hours-sometimes continuing her artwork until very late at night to meet her deadlines. She loves the darkness of night, finding it peaceful with no distractions.

Barbara has a deep passion for her work. She considers herself a very disciplined person. When discussing her kitchen, Barbara replied the family eats lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and baked dishes. She prefers to get something cooking so she can get back to work. It is her opinion that everything has to be efficient.

Barbara offers the following words of wisdom for our readers:

  • Barbara’s life mantra is “Nothing ventured - nothing gained.”
  • Let fate intervene.
  • Live in a place with a view - you will feel like you are a part of great geography on this earth.
  • Life is a patchwork quilt. You have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and at the end, you have a finished product.

Choosing to live in the East Bay has offered continual painting inspiration. The superb California light, the magnificent bay views, the lush gardens and the unique architecture have provided a stimulating palette for this artist.

Barbara loves to draw houses so if you would like a fabulous watercolor or sketch of your home, you may reach Barbara at 510-527-7830, email her at dieselbt@aol.com.or visit her website at www.barbaratapp.com.

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For further information or questions for our House Talk column, 
please contact Glass/Sabine by email:  Sheila@GlassSabine.com
or call us at 510-326-5055.

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