Get to Know: Paul Barnes

In anticipation of our first ever print release with acclaimed Scottish artist Paul Barnes, we sat down with him to learn a tiny bit about his life and his work.  Take a look at the fun little interview below:

Where were you born and where are you now?

I was born in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland, though I spent most of my childhood in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. After graduating from art school I moved to Edinburgh for about 10 years, where I started showing in galleries.  I am now back in Aberdeen.

What are your first artistic memories?

My grandmother was a self taught painter in her spare time, so I grew up watching her. She worked in oils and I just loved all the art equipment she used: brushes, palette knives, canvas, etc. I wanted to do what she did. She took me to the degree show at Grays School of Art when I was 5 years old and I just knew that that was where I wanted to go. 

How has your style evolved from over the years to now?  Have you always dealt with the same themes?

I trained in graphic design and illustration and during my art school years, after experimenting with many different mediums, I knew I wanted to be a painter.

My style used to be very primitive and naive looking, with lots of space in my compositions. I think this came out of working with imagery and text where I used to compose on the white page of a book or magazine, creating a harmony between the text and the image. I also have a love for Italian fresco painting and over the years I developed a technique using plaster, which I try to make look reminiscent of that. My fathers side of the family were Italian so I guess I feel an affinity with Italian painting.

I still use white space a lot in my work but the imagery has become less primitive. 

Nature has always been the main theme in my work, alongside folklore and fable.


Could you tell us a bit about your work and this week's release with us, "Friendship?"

I painted this piece for a solo show during lockdown. I found the restrictions on physical social interaction extremely difficult so I immersed myself in nature and my connection with it became deeper than it has ever been. Wildlife, trees and plants became my friends and I ended up talking to them. In the woods behind my house is a rookery and I’d often sit and listen to the crows, wondering what they were saying, while meeting the occasional dog walker passing by and saying hello to them and their dog. The friendliness of the dogs running up to greet me was a real comfort during those days. 

I made this painting about that.

What is a normal day like in the studio for you?

The studio is a little black shed in the garden where I go in the morning and just paint all day. 

If I’m sketching and working out ideas I like to sit outside in the garden if it’s warm or on the sofa in winter. I work with music playing, which I find inspirational. 

What is the hardest part of creating a work?  And what is the most rewarding part?

The hardest part is usually getting the groundwork down on the canvas or panel. Creating texture in the right areas with plaster and a knife, which will give the piece the vibe or atmosphere once the paint is applied. 

The most rewarding part is seeing the piece evolve and all the elements and colors becoming harmonized with each other.

When you're not working in the studio, what are you up to?

My most favorite thing to do when I’m not working is gardening. I feel very peaceful and reflective in the garden and a lot of my ideas for my painting grow from that. 

Music is also very important to me and I search for new sounds every week and compile playlists to listen to while working and to share with family and friends.

I also love spending time with my partner and my children, walking in the countryside, beaches and visiting walled gardens around Scotland. I usually take my camera as I love photographing plants and flowers and editing the pics on the pc. 

I love cooking and making bread too. There are so many ‘distractions’ from my work! 

What can we look forward to from you for the rest of 2022?

I have a few group shows coming up over the next few months. The BLAB SHOW at Copro Gallery in LA and WOW x WOW group show in September. 

I’m taking part in the North East of Scotland Open Studios this year, which is also in September. I have a piece to do for Supersonic Art’s October group show as well as commissioned work up till the Christmas holidays. I also have the usual annual invitational Christmas shows in December.

"Friendship" (Above) will be available Thursday, August 25th, 2022 beginning at 1PM Pacific.