Bad News – Good News

Bill Barrell weighs in today on the news of the last couple of days. Receiving both good and bad news in one day leaves much to reflect on.  Bill finds the common thread between both events in this painting, “The Broken Knee”.

54 inches x 70 inches, 1997, oil on canvas


— It is hardly news to anybody at this point, but Haiti has been devastated by an earthquake. Today is certainly a sad day in history.

It is an odd time for me as I heard good and bad news in one day. I had been planning to write about an “up” painting, but it does not seem the appropriate time now. First the terrible news about Haiti and then the good news –  my son JZ Barrell was nominated for Emmy award. So, I have posted a work about my son called “The Broken Knee” which I think relates to both events.

The painting is of my son,  JZ.  A few years back, he had busted his knee while performing at a concert. In the painting, my son is in the hospital after an operation with his leg in traction. He told me that they had given him such heavy doses of drugs that he was hallucinating. I told the doctors to cut back on the drugs because he had told me that he preferred some pain rather than have the hallucinations.  The painting symbolizes the pain my son went through. Yet still –  he came out on top of his profession.

I hope this work can convey some of the pain and suffering going on now in Haiti.  I’m sure with our help, Haiti also can come out on top.  Hopefully, we can all give generously to assist in that effort. I will be donating to the American Red Cross relief fund as soon as I sign off. I hope you will do the same.

Disjointed Feeling

Bill Barrell talks about how a painting can sometimes surprise you in its revelations of feeling and insights. “Coming Apart” is a painting depicting a struggle with just such revelations.

Coming Apart
Coming Apart

 –  Every once in a while, I have this  feeling of being disjointed. I was not feeling particularly disjointed while painting this work, but it was a work that I was struggling with when I began.  Some shape or form appeared in it that reminded me of the feeling of being disjointed.  I have always felt that a painting can lead one into ones own subconsious. It is important to be aware of this. Give it free rein and allow the work to take you there.

Painting is all about capturing and retaining feeling.  The viewer often can relate to works very strongly. As an example, one painting  that I react to is Vincent van Gogh’s, “Irises”. I have grown irises and when they burst forth in the spring in a blaze of periwinkle, I look at them and wish they they could stay in that state. But of course, they don’t. Van Gogh managed to come close to retaining that deep feeling with that painting. He captured the essence of the moment. 

This painting does the same for me. –

Asleep in Matisse’s Studio

On this very cold January day, Bill Barrell reminisces a bit about a memory of a warm and  lovely night on the Mediterraean and how this painting ‘Asleep in Matisse’s Studio” came to be.

– This painting came about after I had taken a trip to Italy to visit friends in a town near Lucca. While on the drive along the Mediterranean coast from Marseilles to Italy, my wife and I happened to stop for the night in the small, charming town of Bordighera.  The hotel was large and very palatial looking and we were given a spacious, palatial looking room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  A full moon shone that night and the breeze from the sea blew the curtains into the room while the royal palms swayed outside.  I thought about how Matisse had spent his winters in just such a place where he would paint and I felt as if I was in one of those paintings.  It was a great feeling.

This painting, “Asleep in Matisse’s Studio”, captures for me the emotion I had for being in that room that night.  –

Featured Painting: Artist and Model

Bill Barrell has been painting for over 50 years and has a full portfolio of art, numerous awards, shows and reviews under his belt.  At age 77, he wants to share his ideas and his wisdom through a blog on the creation of  art.

The blog will strive to answer questions such as – Where does an idea for a painting come from? Do you sketch your idea out  beforehand?  What kind of prep do you do before you put brush to canvas?  What paints and brushes do use and why? When you have a blank canvas in front of you, where do you begin?  When the painting is complete, how is it stretched?

 Mr. Barrell will also consider less practical subjects like –  how does an artist see life and reality – why is he compelled to paint – what artists does he admire and appreciate?

These questions and many more will be addressed when Barrell begins his blog on “The Painting: from beginning to end.”  Look for it soon.

Meanwhile, feel free to write your comments or email Bill at

Hello world!

Well, hello world is right! 

You have arrived at the website of Bill Barrell. Bill is a figurative expressionist painter with many accolades and much respect who has been painting for roughly fifty years.  He has been reviewed by Art in America, The New Criterion and the New York Times, to name a few.  Bill’s work has been appreciated by many, but has not yet been seen in the way it deserves.  We are still in the process of creating this website so all may see his art and discover who he is. 

So if you are just visiting now or returning from a previous visit,  we hope you can explore a bit now.  We  also hope that you will keep us on your favorites list and return another time to see our updates.

figurative expressionist artist …………………………………………………………… This is a blog by the artist expressing thoughts on his own paintings as well as experiences with others relating to his daily life and life of painting since the 1950s. …………………………………………………………………. Paintings are posted with words from Bill that are as varied as extolling on the successes of his children, JZ and Liza, to the milestones of his grandchildren and on to his memories of fellow artists, collectors and shows. His art and words touch on things like politics, religion and the weather. ……………………………………………… For Bill, art and life are interwoven. ……………………………………. …………………………………