As it turned out, she had an excuse for her eccentric behavior. A classic excuse. She was an artist. She found that out in her senior year of high school, when a teacher took some of her drawings from her first art class and submitted them to a scholarship board; to everyone's surprise, she won an art scholarship to Orange Coast College. That affirmation of her talent was to Barbara an affirmation of her worth, and she was inspired.
In the world of art, Barbara found a place where she was comfortable. Well, almost.
"I took a life-drawing class my first semester," she recalls, "and the first day, this guy walked out with a robe on, and when he dropped the robe, I couldn't believe it. I didn't know the models would be nude! I could have died, I was so embarrassed. After a while, of course, I got used to it, and soon all the bodies looked the same, but that was the most trying class I ever took."
One of four daughters of a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, Barbara Edwards had been obliged to toe the line while growing up. The family moved around a lot. She was born in New Mexico and has lived "in Virginia, the South, and California, but I really consider Hawaii my home. I spent the best years of my life there, all through junior high and high school. We never even studied American history, only about Hawaii and Tahiti and the Philippines. I didn't even know who the Presidents were until we came to the mainland. I knew Lincoln and Washington and that's it. But I could name all the kings and queens of Hawaii."
At Orange Coast College, things changed for her. "I don't know what happened, but I was getting A's and B's. That had never been the case before. In college, you have to go to school or it's a waste of time. I started getting good grades, and I wanted more. I've got two more years to go. I already have enough credits for my art degree, but I want to get a science degree also."
Now attending Saddleback College North in Irvine, California, Barbara is enthusiastic about life. While working toward a commercial-art career, she is trying her hand at modeling and so far has been very successful. She still likes to play around but not in class.
"I like to go to parties," she says, "and I love to dance. And I like to go to plays and the ballet. I like parties especially because I like to meet people. When I go somewhere, I have to meet everybody in the place. Especially famous people. I've met a lot of them since I've been out here."
Admittedly star-struck, Barbara has a growing autograph collection, but she's unlikely to get one from any of those artists who head her list of all-time favorites. "I worship Da Vinci. I also love Rembrandt and Michelangelo and Rodin. He's the best. Isn't he the best? I flew all the way back East, spent all the money I had saved, just to see an exhibit of his work."
"I can't wait to start working," she told us. "I sold a drawing of a foot to a magazine once. I got only $25 for that, but it sure was exciting to see it in the magazine. I kept telling people, 'That's my foot!'"
Barbara's not bragging, just proud. When you've finally found your niche, a little pride is in order.
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