Barb was born and raised in Milwaukee. She earned a B.S. in exceptional education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction at Cardinal Stritch College. She spent much of her time in school drawing sketches of her classmates while listening to lectures.
In 1981, she began teaching emotionally disturbed children in second, third and fourth grades, and daily incorporated some form of art into her teaching. This pattern continued throughout the next twenty-five years of teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Barb is married to Rick Kettner, formerly of Gays Mills. They decided to return to the Driftless area to retire in 2006. They run a rental cabin business, Kettner’s Riverfront Cabins in rural Viola. Barb makes sure to paint or draw for a few hours every day. She finds the Driftless Area endlessly inspiring with its rolling hills, meandering rivers, fast disappearing tobacco sheds, and ever changing skies.
In 2002 Barb was preparing for her own serious pursuit of art, taking classes part-time at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She continued drawing, using pencil, colored pencils, pastels and oil pastels. She has since moved on to painting in watercolor and oils. Ken DeWaard and Kathie Wheeler were invaluable in moving Barb forward in her oil painting. Anne Tedeschi and Jeanne Ruchti inspired her to become a better watercolor painter with their mentoring and instruction.
Barb paints portraits of animals and people, landscapes en plein aire, still lifes, and also paints from photographs. She has exhibited at the Driftless Area Art Festival for the past six years, and was chosen as the feature artist for the 2011 fund raising raffle.