Colleen Adlene Baker-Huber cannot remember when she didn’t draw or create some kind of image. The third of eleven children, her older brother and sister had already formed a buddy system when she came upon the scene. She spent her time in a favorite back yard spot where the soil was deep red and sandy, lending a perfect site to build roads, cities and a place for her paper dolls to reside.
That was until she found her dolls had to do whatever she wanted with no time for themselves. She didn’t like having to do what her older sister wanted, so she gave up making dolls and started drawing scenes of the countryside.
Colleen feels she was very lucky growing up where there was no electricity, inside plumbing, or running water. Kids that lived in cities waited for someone to teach them to climb a tree, or catch a fish. But with 650 acres of corn, wheat fields and pastureland, it wasn’t difficult to find something to do. Springs trickled from the sides of the creek bed in the pasture, only to continue with deeper sides further downstream.
Her first successful art project was in first grade when the teacher not only showed it to the class, but also told her mother about the picture. It was all done with crayon, but it was a farm scene she saw many times after the harvest. She spent her first two years of school in a small town. Her greatest joy was learning the Dewey Decimal System so she could go to the library and find tons of things to read, she said. She finished her grade school in a one-room schoolhouse where there were only two or three in her grade.
The classroom was very quiet, where everyone had a time to study and a time to recite. In this environment she had most of the books memorized. Colleen spent a lot of time doing enrichment work, because she had finished the required of each grade before Christmas. She drew a lot of maps and societal scenes. When World War II interrupted her education, she had to put her diploma on hold.
At the end of the war, she married and began raising a family, while working part time to bring in extra money. Her part time work usually involved her passion, art. Wouldn’t you know it, her first commission was a map for a newspaper in St. Louis, Missouri. The family later moved to Orange County, California.
California law required a lot of resident hours to acquire a high school diploma. She had enough credits but needed the resident hours, so she took every art class Garden Grove had to offer. She won a scholarship to Otis Art School, but took a commercial course with the Famous Art School in Connecticut. Later she gained a single subject teaching credential from UCLA, when the education bug struck again. She decided to continue on in school working full time and going to school part time. She earned her Bachelor of Art Degree, graduating cum laude.
Colleen worked as an art director for several publications, designed advertising brochures for her husband’s customers (who she was married to for 46 years,) published an art newspaper, an art magazine and a woman’s publication, called Community Women in Orange County. She also taught graphics for the North Orange County School District.
She raised four children, often taking them to the beach while she painted the ocean; and they always went along to the art shows and competitions. She has won many awards over the years including a Five-State University Show in the Cabrillo Beach Museum, a Two-Woman show in the San Bernardino Museum, and many first place ribbons in various showings and competitions. She was part of the Laguna Beach Art-A-Fair Summer Show for several years, and owned, and operated an art gallery in Laguna Beach for seven years before semi-retiring in Sun City.
Her work is in the permanent art collection of Cal Poly, Pomona; private collections from Kansas to Australia and is presently showing in the Faulkner Winery in Temecula, California. She still offers instruction in “the Art of Seeing” at the Lake Elsinore Senior Center as a gift to those who wish to join.
Baker-Huber says she has been known to paint on anything, often with some very humorous outcomes. Her bathroom walls are covered with underwater creatures with two out-growths of coral added by her son. Colleen said when her son brought the clay coral in to add to the wall, she lamented that they would be too heavy to attach. Her son solved that problem by cutting holes in the wall and moulding around them. They are very stable. He also kept providing tools and ideas to the large area behind the door. All is with a fluorescent added to the paint to make it glow in the dark.
Her children all have art talents of their own and are often inspiring, or adding to the projects.
Her paintings are colorful and remind some of the South Seas, or of South America colors. Her favorite subjects are endangered species and she does a lot of research before she launches into a project depicting one. She painted mostly ocean scenes before the California Brown Pelican was being subjected to the fishermens’ wrath in Dana Point. The fishermen were cutting off the beaks of the bird, critically damaging their ability to survive. A dentist tried to save them by making a prothesis. Baker-Huber thought they should see the bird in flight because they are so magnificent.
She may be reached by telephone (679-6684) or on the web as www.cocobiengallery.com.
Melody Brunsting started painting as a result of the Old Town Temecula Street Painting Festival. Organizing the inaugural event in 2001, she staged a workshop with Master Painter Manuel Gonzalez. The artists attending the workshop were hesitant to get down on their hands and knees to join in the funs so she did.
Candy Richey has been creating timeless portraits since apprenticing with her father many years ago. She has had a variety of industry experience, working with churches in developing their church directories, in preschools photographing small children and capturing their beautiful innocence in an image that will be treasured for decades.
In October and November of 2010, she was a featured artist at the Mission Trails Art Show in San Diego, sharing the show with her sister Melody and mother Colleen whose paintings were hung as well as Candy’s fine art photographs. Their artwork won the month-long spot through a vigorous jurying process competing with over 100 other artists and groups.
She has won awards for marketing and portrait photography, and served as the staff photographer for the San Diego Padres Baseball Club.
She has photographed for newspapers and magazines, providing photographs that tell stories of life in these United States. She is working on a couple of photo/essay books for publication.
The most recent award was January 2010 when a photograph of Navajo Pottery won her a spot in the Professional Photographers of America General Collection and was shown at the Imaging show in Phoenix.
In 2006 she won a National Leadership Award, 2007 was named Businesswoman of the Year, and won the Washington State Grange Award for Volunteer of the Year.