Painter Robert J. Barber lists his inspirations as including Joaquín Sorolla, John Singer Sargent and Diego Velázquez (a superb short list); and you can see the influence of the first two in particular in both his figurative and landscape paintings, which emphasize fresh, clear color choices and expressive brushwork.
Personally, I also see echoes of American Impressionists like William Merritt Chase and Theodore Robinson in his direct, colorful and painterly approach.
Landscapes, and notably, townscapes, are the focus of much of Barber’s work. In the examples on his website, which are unfortunately a bit small, his landscapes seem looser and more casual, more likely done en plein air; and the townscapes seem brought to a higher degree of finish as studio paintings (it can also be a matter of scale, Barber doesn’t give dimensions in his online galleries, and I think the townscapes are larger in size).
Barber often chooses views that look down a sidewalk in his town paintings, adding challenges of dramatic perspective to his compositions. His color choices, though rich, are naturalistic; and I particularly like the way he handles the muted tones of overcast days and objects in shadow.
Born in Illinois, Barber grew up in California and now lives in Pennsylvania. He studied Studio Art at the University of California at SantaBarbara and Fine Arts at the Art Center College of Design. He also pursued independent study with painters Ken Auster, Craig Nelson and Dan McCaw.
After 20 years as a freelance illustrator, working for book publishers, movie studios and natural history museums, Barber transitioned into gallery art, garnering awards in several juried shows. He also conducts painting workshops in Maryland other locations.
In addition to the work on his own website, you can find some of his paintings reproduced a bit larger on the Peter McPhee Fine Arts site. There are also works at the McBride Gallery and Susan Calloway Fine Arts.
Barber’s work will be part of a group exhibition at Peter McPhee Fine Arts in Stone Harbor, NJ from August 7 – September 1, 2010, with an opening on August 7 at 7pm.