Barbara Woods is attempting to restart her career in her new surroundings in the Waxahachie area. And she hopes that her art lessons might jump-start the next phase of her life in the great State of Texas.

Barbara and her late husband, Jim Woods, moved to Ellis County from California in September 2017 after they retired. The move helped move the couple closer to their younger children who live in Dallas, as Barbara's mother and Jim were in poor health, and she felt the need to be close to family.

Jim had served as a minister for 45 years in churches in California and Washington, with his final congregation being the Victor Valley Church of Christ in Victorville, California.

"We were there for 21 years," Barbara recalled. "Jim was the associate minister there, working with families, youth, domestic violence outreach, and the Spanish ministry. Our family led the Vacation Bible School program for years. He and I both directed the church's education department. He handled the adults and teens, and I was over the children.

Sadly, Jim had to retire because of poor health in 2013.

A NEW CALLING

Barbara is quick to point out that she has "always loved art, especially since I realized that I was easily able to draw at a young age."

She began taking art classes in high school, even receiving an art award as a senior.

"I went on to major in art at the College of the Sequoias and California State University — Fresno until I later changed my major," Barbara said. "When I finished my teaching certificate, I had turned my focus to Art Education."

The talented artist had trouble at first figuring out what to do with her art degree. But it wasn't long until she realized teaching children was her passion.

"I majored in recreation administration, thinking I could promote the arts through this avenue," Barbara explained. "I worked as a recreational worker for a community mental health center for a while, and then for the City of Tulare as a Senior Citizens Recreation coordinator. After my children were born, I worked by directing citywide day camps during the summer, organizing trips, and running Super Saturdays. I even lead a citywide yearly parade."

"As my children got older", Barbara continued, "we were in Ellensburg Washington, home of Central Washington University. There I went back to school and received my teaching certificate in elementary education and art education. My husband was ready for a change, so I applied for several positions in California and ended up in Apple Valley working for the Apple Valley Unified School District."

Barbara spent 21 years at Sycamore Rocks Elementary School, with 16 of those years spent in first grade and the other five in kindergarten.

"I ended up being the 'artist in residence' at the school," she added. "Since most of California does not have elementary art teachers, I would rotate to different classrooms to teach art while the other teacher took my classroom. I also taught GATE art classes, taking them on Painting on Location outings and running the Art Club."

Barbara proudly reported, "Every year at the Art Fair, I oversaw the Community Mural, and that meant that I would design the mural — and children and community members of all ages would come and help paint it in one night. These murals were hung all over the school. When I left, there were around 12 of them being displayed on the outside walls of the school."

In addition to her art duties, Barbara was also involved in the drama club, directing the yearly musical for 12 years. She helped the students perform such musicals as "Annie Jr.," The Jungle Book Kids," Peter Pan" and "The Lion King."

"I was able to use my art experience with costumes and backdrops and often had children helping me with painting props and scenery," she added.

However, the now-local artist explained that she is very fond of impressionism art. She admits that she mostly uses acrylics and oils, but also dabbles in pastels and watercolors as well.

Barbara calls her style – "mostly traditional," noting that she likes to paint landscapes and portraits, but now that she is retired, hopes to expand her talents.

"Because of my love of the outdoors, I want to get involved with plein air painting," Barbara said. "I hope to try the local event – 'Paint Historic Waxahachie' this year. During this special time, artists come from all over to paint various historical sites located in the city of Waxahachie."

Barbara also explained that, after moving to Waxahachie, she needed to find a way to continue teaching while remaining engaged in the arts.

"I am not one to sit still, and after my husband and mother passed away, I needed the extra income and ways to stay busy," she said. "I have definite ideas about how children learn developmentally, and I know that students are not given enough chances to express themselves through art. There are so many opportunities for sports out there, but not near as many for creative outlets.

"I thought I could provide art opportunities for children, so I became a member of the Ellis County Art Association and learned I could offer classes through their organization and locate the classes in their classroom at the gallery, Art on the Square."

Barbara noted that any children interested in taking an after-school ar class should visit www.elliscountyart.net/classes to register.

Barbara also has a rather a large family that she enjoys spending time with. She and her late husband have six children, though the three oldest live in California, Minnesota, and New York, while the three youngest live in the Dallas area. She also has nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren — with one more on the way.

Barbara also remains active and loves the outdoors. Her hobbies include gardening, traveling and visiting with her friends, and teaching kids during Children's Bible School or VBS. In addition, she enjoys being a part of Creekside Church in Midlothian. As an added side note,

Barbara added, "If I can see a musical now and then, it brings me pure joy! I simply adore the arts."