By Charles Petty

Barbara Berman is truly an artist — from oil and watercolor, to pen and ink, quilting, and craft making, she can seemingly do it all. But Berman, who’s lived in Lee County’s Carolina Trace community for almost 20 years, has managed to create an art form of her own — fabric painting.

After retirement from a career in commercial interior design, Berman wanted to continue her ventures into the world of art, and opened a booth at the Shops of Steele Street in downtown Sanford. There, she created backpacks and purses and did craft shows throughout the region. After her time at Shops of Steele Street, she continued to delve into the world of art and helped to teach others through classes held at Carolina Trace.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Berman set out to make fabric face coverings for nurses at Central Carolina Hospital. As work progressed, she found herself with plenty of leftover fabric, giving her an idea — using it to create paintings.

“I wanted to try something different, so I gathered up the leftover fabric and went to work creating something original,” she said.

Fabric art painting is a special medium of artistic expression, and so far Berman is aware of little or no other work quite like hers. By pasting cloth via glue onto boards with backgrounds, it shifts form into faces, landscapes, and other unique images that captivate the eye.

“The key to fabric art is that the background needs to go in first, not last,” she said. “And to think big.”

Berman, a member of Sanford’s Brush and Palette Club, finds inspiration in pictures of the famous, landscapes, and even advertisements and portraits of friends and family. Her work includes the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gardens, koi ponds and more.

Berman’s husband Fred enjoys seeing her use her artistic ability to better the community and bring light into people’s lives.

“She is an artistic explosion,” he said. “She can look at most anything and ask ‘how can I make art of this?’ She always needs an outlet to express herself and she finds it through art.”

Her work is set to be featured in a craft show on Oct. 16 in the Village of Pinehurst. The show is part of the Holly Arts & Crafts Festival, as well as at another show hosted by Sanford’s Brush and Palette Club that will run from Oct. 16 through Oct. 23 at the Bob E. Hales Center in downtown Sanford.

Now Berman has started making fabric art of people in the community, as well as portraits of family homesteads via commission. For more information or to get in touch, visit Berman’s website at