The Daily Universe, September 14, 1999

Paint brightens BYU artist's life

Allison Pond
NewsNet Staff Writer

BYU art student Barbara Lyman found a way to paint her life a brighter color.

"My favorite color is orange because it's bright; it's happy," Lyman said. "They wanted me to use more subtle colors, and I realized I didn't want to because my life had been gray for nine years. I didn't want to paint gray."

Lyman's love of bright colors is evident in her exhibit at the Springville Art Museum, where her work is featured from Sept. 1-30 in a solo show.

The Show also represents the most recent step on a long road of following her artistic dreams—a road that started even before she first became a student at BYU in 1971.

"I've known I wanted to be an artist since I was 4 years old. In second grade, I got in trouble because I'd sneak inside during recess [to draw]."

Lyman later studied at BYU from 1971-72, and again for a short stint in the early 80s.

She painted at night during these years because she says, "my young son would cry whenever I put my smock on." Shortly after that, Lyman stopped painting and left BYU a second time in a severe depression.

She was in and out of the hospital for nine years, taking different medications and receiving shock treatment. But she attributes her real recovery to "a lot of prayer."

"I didn't even want to paint, and that was what I had always wanted to do. I prayed so hard for a year to get the desire back. And it's like that person's gone now. Like it was a different person," Lyman said.

Lyman also says her family, consisting of her husband and 23-year old son, was a great support to her during that difficult time. Even now, her husband builds the mahogany panels she paints on, and her son created an Online gallery of her paintings (

"Without my family it would all be pointless," she said.

Lyman returned to BYU full time again in 1997, determined to follow her dream and received a scholarship for full tuition. She said things at BYU had changed some, such as women being able to wear pants.

She was also a little apprehensive.

"I was so nervous to come back. My self image had been beaten down, but I have a strong, ambitious streak hidden behind the exterior of a middle-aged woman."

Working to make up for lost time, Lyman did about 50 paintings her first year back in school, and 25-30 paintings this past year.

Her hard work is paying off, as she has participated in 16 different exhibitions since 1997. These include a show at the Repartee Gallery in Provo and the "Oil and Water" Invitational at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, Arizona.

She has also received several awards, including a first place Vera Hinckley Mayhew Award won by her favorite painting, "Ancient Memory." The painting was inspired by moonlight filtering through willow trees at an Arby's restaurant.

Visual arts professor Joseph Ostraff said Lyman is "extremely energetic. She is an amazingly prolific, energetic artist. She's a lot of fun."

Lyman's journey has taught her to have the courage to follow your heart.

"You can't sit around and wait for it to happen. And you will get rejected, but that's when you really get going. Don't give up. Follow your dreams," she said.