Despite her dream of becoming an artist at age 18, Barbara's father had different ideas; and at the age of 43, she found herself as an Associate Clinical professor of Nursing at UCSF where she was running the Family Nurse Practitioner program she had helped to develop 12 years earlier. Suddenly deluged with dreams and messages about pursuing the buried dream of being an artist, she bravely and painfully left her university position and her life in San Francisco, heading east to the Art Students League of New York. Two years later she returned to the Bay Area, activated nursing again while pursuing the development of her art, secured a studio space, and joined the San Francisco Women Artist group as an initial venue for sharing her work.

Now retired as a nurse from Hospice By the Bay, Barbara naturally leans toward figuration and the vulnerable human as the primary focus in her art. Dr. McLain believes that all humans are wounded in some way, whether psychically, spiritually, or otherwise, and hidden wounds fester, infecting the entire system unless seen, owned, and tended. Her art has thus been an effort to reveal these wounds as well as their healing to encourage the viewer to own their own vulnerability and the healing that is possible.