Tag Archives: figuratve expressionist artist

Dancing Paint

A painting may begin with just an idea or a stroke of the brush, but as Bill Barrell will tell you…. 

Dancing Paint
Dancing Paint, oil on canvas painting, 2009

– Paintings often spring out of nowhere. Working on a blank canvas for me is great.  I am not a format painter, so I am left free to look at things and feel things in a different way. Here in this work, I started out wanting to just deal with squares, or square-like shapes. The square shapes worked well alone, but I had a nagging feeling something could be added to make it work even better. It’s a bit of a gamble as one can take a perfectly good work and mess it up! At the same time – once the idea of adding to a painting takes hold, there is no going back.

Often this approach backfires and one can end up with an awful mess. However, when it works, it gives a great feeling of confidence. When it doesn’t work it means taking the mess you have made and heading in a totally different direction. I can never give up on a painting. I wrestle with it until it works.

One time in frustration at what was showing up on the canvas, I tore it into one inch bands and then braided the canvas back together. It worked well as it totally destroyed the image I was wrestling with and it resurfaced into a beautiful object that I could hang on the wall like a quilt.

This painting ended up quite well. The circle shapes did what I wanted them to do by bringing the square shapes to life. It’s as if all the shapes have dancing partners – they give each other motion. The surface becomes vibrant without being eye popping. I named this painting, “Dancing Paint.” –

Good Eye for Art and the Scary Painting

It’s sometimes hard to figure with figurative expressionist art. Bill Barrell thought he had created a painting too scary for children, but his daughter and granddaughter must think otherwise.

–  For thirty years, I have watched my daughter Liza grow up. She has given me so much pleasure over the years.

I have watched her go from that little ball of childish energy into a mature woman of thirty with two children of her own. I have often documented her and still do from time to time. I think from her being present in the studio quite a bit and helping me in the kitchen from an early age, she has developed a very good eye for art. Now that she has her own home, she often comes and asks if she can borrow such and such piece of artwork. There is never a no. It give me such pleasure that she enjoys the work so much.

She borrowed this painting and it now hangs at the top of the stairs in her house. At first, I was worried about it as it is a painting of someone looking very alarmed and that Ruby, my three year old granddaughter, would have to pass by it every night on her way to bed. I asked my son-in-law if she was bothered by it, he said no, she likes it. So I asked Ruby what she thought of the painting and she said, “I love it, GrandPa.  I say good night to it when I go to bed.” Go figure. Nothing scary about it at all.

Now Ruby spends some time with me in the studio. We have a large collaborative work going on. It is a never ending piece. I use OOP! paint from the hardware store because it’s water based. OOP! paint are paints that people have mixed and not liked. It’s a dollar a quart so we have fun sloshing it around. She gets up on my steps and I hand her the paint with no directing. She splatters it on in a free manner.

Ruby’s Nana is a nurse and sometimes Ruby likes to play at being a doctor. (So far she has done a quadruple bypass and replaced one kidney on me!) She has said she might like to be a doctor when she grows up. I said to her, “Perhaps, Ruby, you would like to be an artist”.  Ruby answered, “I am an artist.”    –

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 bill@billbarrell.com.

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.