The Art of Painterly Realism

Signs of Spring, Acrylic on Panel, 14” x 11’ x 1”

The Link, Spring 2018
| by Janet Jarrell |

What exactly is painterly realism you ask? Well that is how artist Linda Barber of Prince Edward County (PEC) describes the work she does. Linda originally hails from the pretty little town of Marmora. 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.

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

It is here at her home studio 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 paint 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 and waterscapes, 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, Presqu’ile Provincial Park and, of course, all over the County. The latter 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 and the sailboats 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 on location ‘en plein air’ style. She enjoys the challenges working on-site, including the weather, the changing conditions and the quickly changing light. When describing her work outdoors she notes 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 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 every day either in her 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 for bringing something to life on canvas on behalf of people. She says, “I invite the viewer to enter into the painting and make their own emotional connection or evoke some personal memory.”

Janet Jarrell is an editor and writer of short stories, sketches and poetry. Her work has been published in local magazines, books and on her blog, ‘A Room of My Own.’ She currently lives in the Quinte area.