Cultivating Creativity: The painterly realism of Linda Barber

View of Belleville from Zwicks

“I invite the viewer to enter into the painting and make their own emotional connection or evoke some personal memory.”

By Janet Jarrell

Local artist, Linda Barber of Prince Edward County describes the work she does as painterly realism. Linda originally hails from the pretty little town of Marmora, Ontario. Her post-secondary studies took her to the east coast where she studied Fine Art at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, graduating with a degree in printmaking.

After graduating, she moved to the County and has made it her home for more than 30 years now. Visiting Linda at her studio in her beautiful old Colonial home, you are greeted with the charm of this historical place (her husband is the fifth generation on this farm), the beauty in this rural setting and the welcoming bark of their family dog, Benny.

It is here at her home studio that she first began her painting and her framing business; both of which are still in operation. Although Linda has painted many works with watercolour; her medium of choice is now acrylic paints and working with a palette knife for added depth and texture. She describes acrylics as versatile and bold with colour. Her subjects consist of landscapes, waterscapes and she also enjoys doing commissioned pieces.

Her land and waterscapes depict scenes from Algonquin Park (there is literally a painting everywhere you look), Coe Hill and Bancroft areas, Presqui’le Provincial Park and, of course, all over the County. The County really has a little bit of everything for an artist. The rolling hills, the vast farmers’ fields, the vineyards and the dramatic shoreline of Lake Ontario. You have everything from the apple blossoms in spring, the sail boats in the summer to the bright yellow glow of soybeans in the fall. One of her noted favourite spots is catching a fantastic sunset at Huycks Point in PEC.

Whenever she can, Linda packs up her portable easel with art supplies, grabs a canvas and heads outside to paint en plein air (outdoors on location). She enjoys the challenges working on site presents, including the weather, the changing conditions, and the quickly changing light. When describing her work outdoors, she notes that the eye picks up much more complex detail than a camera ever seems to replicate. The real challenge here is capturing in the paint that changing light of the day.

Linda has been experimenting with her palette, working on colour theory. Ever learning as an artist, she has shared her experience through workshops and teaching art classes at the local college. Teaching gives back to her as she says she learns from every student and further, it is a real exercise in organizing her artistic process. Through that process, she says she really pushes the colour, texture and composition of each piece. This is what she describes as painterly realism.

Linda’s devotion to her art has her painting everyday either in studio or on location. Her commissioned work includes everything from historical photographs of the County, to portraits of your family pet. She has a wonderful gift of bringing something to life on canvas for people: “I invite the viewer to enter into the painting and make their own emotional connection or evoke some personal memory.”
Linda’s work can be seen on her website, in the Lighthouse Gallery at Presqu’ile Provincial Park and at The Local Store in Bloomfield. You can find @lindabarberart on Instagram, and for fun follow the family dog Benny at @bagelbenny.