The Art Barn Blog

Amanda Bates

An Artistic Journey

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. I was good at it; I did more, and got better. I was a details girl, most comfortable in monochrome.

I had a long way to go.

I’m not fond of the description “self-taught”; it’s overused and frequently inaccurate. It’s true that nobody taught me to draw (it just happened), but I have learnt plenty of things about the practice of art from an assortment of places and people. I didn’t, however, go to art college. Perhaps my artistic journey would have been quicker if I had, but I bowed to what seemed to be good economic sense and followed an academic route into science instead. The science and technology path eventually led me to a career in technical writing, which I enjoyed. I used my artistic skills to illustrate my writing as well as pursuing art in my spare time.

I knew there was something missing. The way I saw it, I had the craft but not the art. (And I didn’t really have a subject to inspire me, either.)

I studied Art History in the hope that it would provide a few pointers, and I think it did. I realised that I didn’t want to make art that was so incredibly precise that it looked like a photograph. I picked up the painting knife (a close relative of the palette knife) in an attempt to get away from the need to include every detail. It was fun, and the results were promising, but only in oil. In acrylic, I found that the paint dried too quickly (it later turned out that I had merely been working too slowly).

Then there was a hiatus, necessitated by the arrival of small people. There were a few pencil drawings of sleeping babies, but not much else in the way of art. We moved house – from a town in Berkshire to a village in Hampshire – and my writing career (which I had been hoping to continue on a part-time basis) ground to a halt.

So it happened that, when my two children were old enough for school, I had the leisure to walk the local hills (I had a long history of enjoying hill-walking dating back to teenage youth hostel holidays in the Peak District). And the hills were an inspiration. They were beautiful, and they were there, within easy reach.

I dug out my oil paints and cobbled together a plein-air kit that I could carry easily and which could transport a wet oil painting safely back down off the hills (the latter part involved a certain amount of cardboard, ingenuity and sticky-backed plastic). I now knew that my primary subject was landscape.

That was when I really became an artist.

The journey hasn’t finished – there is always room to grow and to improve – but that was a significant waypoint.

Caroline West

Noël Barker Naïve Artist

There is no other art as natural, honest and engaging as true self-taught Naïve art and The Art Barn is delighted to represent the work of Noël Barker.   Noël discovered late on in life that she possessed the raw skills of the naïve painter.  She paints in this primitive style because she loves it and has captured her travels, local scenes, family and friends in vivid colour and a lively format that epitomizes her own sense of fun and mischievousness.  These qualities have never dimmed with the years and it is perhaps this very child-like view of the world that provides the sparkle Noël still has  in abundance today.   Now 89, Noël continues to paint every day, still inspired by the world around her and who is currently on her travels in Australia, no doubt full of new ideas which she will transfer to canvas on her return.

Naïve Art goes right back to the beginning where it was a natural, innocent form of expression adopted by cave men, aboriginals, bedouins and desert monks who expressed their observations in this unspoiled, natural way, without rules or constraint.
Innocent or naive painters can of course be highly sophisticated artists despite their ‘free’ technique.  You may be familiar with other naïve artists such as Lowry and Henri Rousseau.  

Naïve Art is also known as Innocent Art, Outsider Art, Folk Art and Visionary Art. Innocent in that they are childlike and naïve in style, Outsiders in that they are out of the mainstream and not taken seriously or considered professional and paint for themselves and no one else, Raw because they are untrained and self-taught and express their observations in pure unadulterated fashion, unspoiled and not linked to any school of teaching, Folk in that they were often illiterate, country folk that painted on panels of wood, board and any other scraps they could find and finally Visionary in that many Naïves paint religious and prophetic scenes.

Simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naïve art, whose characteristics are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting. Especially when it comes to perspective. Where you usually see a decrease of the size of objects proportionally with distance; the muting of colours with distance and the decrease of the precision of details with distance, with Naïve Art, the effects of perspective are often geometrically inaccurate; with unrefined colour of the composition; a strong use of pattern and accuracy brought to details, including those of the background where you would usually expect shading off.
Take a look at Noël’s work and it will not take you long to see her sense of humour, she loves to capture people in all guises and in all types of clothing.  The detail is incredible, nearly every blade of grass at times looks as though it has been accounted for, the more you look the more you see, drawn ever closer to the horizon or hill, just hoping to see a bit more.

Caroline West

Buying Open and Limited Edition Prints

Whether you want to purchase a one-off print or take your first step in collecting limited edition prints, we hope you will find all the choice you need at The Art Barn. Quite simply, we have a passion for art, from semi-abstract to impressionism, naive, contemporary through to fine art. We want to show you the plethora of excellent artwork that is available, very often, just around the corner.

We have the pleasure of working with emerging and established artists, both locally and nationally. It is highly rewarding to offer artists the opportunity of an Internet platform to display their work, enabling them to reach many more people than is possible rather than only being able to hang a picture in a local gallery or to display a series of original artwork at an exhibition.

Many of us just want the opportunity to view a variety of pictures in order to choose something that will enhance a room or help to determine the colour palette of a room, often using a picture as a focal point. For whatever reason, buying originals or prints is a rewarding experience, particularly from new and emerging artists, where uniqueness is itself, an endearing quality.

At The Art Barn website we sell both open and limited edition prints and a selection of original artwork will be available shortly. Collecting limited edition prints is a past time enjoyed by people all over the world. Some collect for the reward of owning exclusive pieces of art, others embark on it for the potential profit they could make in the coming years. Regardless of the reason, choosing a limited edition print can require special attention and each print should be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity to prove its origin. The number of prints in a limited edition series is also worthy of close consideration, as the larger the edition, the less unique and potentially, valuable, your print will be. At The Art Barn we only sell limited edition prints which have a small edition size, rarely over 95 prints in any one edition.

We hope the search facility available on the site will enable you to track down that special piece of artwork, so just enter a subject, style, characteristic or colour, or simply pick an artist and while away some time viewing the catalogue of their work.

We would be pleased to hear from you if you have any ideas which would make your shopping experience easier.