Meet the Artist: Illustrator Turns Glasses Obsession Into Chair Design, Children's Book

Patch profiles the creative minds behind the Needham Merchants Association's Adirondack project.

The Needham Merchants Association's brings together local artists, businesses and organizations in an effort to draw more people downtown and encourage them to shop local.

Placed throughout downtown Needham, each Adirondack chair has its own theme and was painted by a local artist. The chairs will be auctioned off at an event in September, with proceeds to benefit town beautification projects and local students.

Needham Patch will be profiling some of the artists behind these creations throughout the summer. Today, we chat with Barbara Johansen Newman, whose chair can be seen at .

For a full list of chairs, artists and locations, .


Title: "Glamorous Glasses"
Barbara Johansen Newman
Sponsored by: 
Salon DiCarlo
Find it at:
, 1410 Highland Ave.

Why did you decide to participate in this project? My husband and I first moved to Needham in 1985. Our three sons grew up here. Our youngest son will be a junior at in the fall. We love this town and think it is the best place to live and raise a family. I both write and illustrate in my studios—both in Needham. And my favorite places to go out to eat are also here. Anything that enhances the town and Needham businesses is a worthy endeavor as far as we  are concerned.

What was your inspiration for the piece? My chair, "Glamorous Glasses,"  was inspired by a children's book that I both wrote and illustrated and which is being published by Boyd's Mills Press, released on Sept. 1. The book is based on a true story from my childhood, when I went to the optician with my cousin. She needed glasses; I did not. But from that moment on I was in love with eye-wear and I made every attempt to convince my mother to get glasses for me. I am still in love with eye-wear and, fortunately, I also now need them.

What is your background as an artist? I have been an artist since college. At first, my husband and I were puppeteers, but before long, I was creating dolls and soft sculpture full time. When we moved to Boston in 1981, I began my illustration career and have been doing that ever since.

A blogger just put up an interview with me here that explains my history as an artist and children's books author.

What is your medium of choice? My first love was water color and ink, then watercolor/pastels, then acrylics, and now I also work on the computer.

Where can someone see more of your work? My website, http://www.johansennewman.com/. There are examples of my illustration work there. Anyone can visit me at my painting studio at , either at the open studio event or by calling me. I am always happy to share my work.

I will also be having a one-person show at Gorse Mill that will open on Oct. 15, at 31 Thorpe Rd.

Additional links:


Click here to read more profiles of "A Chair To Remember" artists.


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