Some call it artwork. Barnstable’s Patti Buss prefers another term — art play.
“It is play for me,” Buss says about her second career as a visual artist. “It is not work for me.”
That is the joy that creating brings to Buss, who retired in 2012 after 34 years as an English and special needs teacher; she last taught at Barnstable Intermediate School.
Though her love of art was formed at a young age, Buss says, it was towards the tail-end of her teaching career when she really dove into making art. “It was probably around 2008 when my kids were off to college. I felt like I had more time to develop so I took some online course work,” she explains.
She was drawn to abstract painting as a “way to express what you’re feeling, what you’re seeing, and what you’re remembering,” she says. “And it was really just fun.”
Her creativity is on full display in her piece, Freedom Becomes You, which is one of 40 paintings created by local artists that the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (AFCC) is selling in its Deck the Walls Small Arts Work Sale which runs through December 12. Her painting sold at the AFCC’s Holiday Open House on December 3rd.
This is now the second straight year that Buss has participated in the show which helps support the AFCC’s work. “Last year’s painting sold, and I felt very encouraged and grateful. I think I’ve done the last three [AFCC] Preludes to Summer online auctions and every piece there has sold,” she says. “I like that I’m helping the Arts Foundation, which of course, I believe in their mission. And it gives me exposure which I’m not good at trying to get eyes on my art play.”
For Buss, art “is an obsession. It’s like an addiction. I can’t explain it. If I don’t make art for a while, I start getting wiggy. It is sort of a sense that I need to exercise.”
That passion for art is something that runs in her family. Her husband Steve enjoys photography, gardening, and cooking. Those artistic traits, Buss says, were passed down to both their children Casey, who lives in Braintree with her husband and their two-year-old son, and Dillon, who lives in Los Angeles.
When she was a teacher, Buss passed on similar lessons to her students in the classroom.
“Before I was an English teacher, I was a special needs instructor,” she says. “I always used art with them and thought about becoming an art therapist before going into special needs. I ended up switching to English and it is such a great subject. It lends itself to art.”
As an example, during classes on poetry she’d have students create a piece of art that reflected their favorite poem. “They couldn’t do pencil on paper. They had to do a medium they were not familiar with,” Buss says. “I encouraged them to do it on canvases, but I also allowed them to do performance art.”
What can art teach children? “It helps them develop their critical thinking skills and ability to express themselves,” she answers. “Teaching seventh graders, a lot of times, especially boys, are not comfortable expressing themselves. But they are able to speak through their art. I found it be very powerful.”
It’s a power that Buss is now wielding whenever she sits down in her loft to paint. “I do it almost every day when I’m on the Cape,” she says.
She has one simple goal when she paints — she wants her art to give others the same joy it gives her. “All I really want to do is make people happy when they look at my art,” she says. “I want people to look at it and say, ‘That makes me happy.’”
The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod’s Deck the Walls Small Arts Work Sale opened on November 28 and runs through December 12. Proceeds will go to support both the artists as well as the Arts Foundation’s mission. Click the button below to view (and purchase) the pieces.
To learn more about Patti Buss and view more of her artwork, visit her website PrettyLilBirdStudio.com and follow her on Instagram at @PattiBussArt.