Xanadu Gallery | Scottsdale, AZ*

Charlie Barr

About Charlie Barr

My inspiration comes from my surroundings and experiences with the goal of capturing moments through the exploration of technique, texture and canvas. The subject matter for my landscapes often comes from photographs taken during my travels, hiking in nature, camping or favorite trail running spots.  I like to heighten one’s sense of perspective by either photographing from a low angle or from a high vantage point to add a bit of distortion to the view.  I find this really captures the artistic value of nature scenes by enhancing the lights, darks, shapes and shadows that naturally occur within nature.  Anyone can view nature from straight on, but to see what’s not there and capture that onto canvas is where I find my inspiration and challenge.  I take a similar approach with the subject matter of my figurative pieces; the figures typically being in motion with significant directional lighting to add a sense of dimension so that the viewer can imagine being there. 

Whether landscape or figurative, I’m drawn to more of an open layout.  I like to have my subject matter take no more than a third of the surface of the painting.  I believe the empty space of the painting isn’t empty, but adds visual “weight” to the subject matter.  With the landscape paintings, my goal is to enhance the perspective and contrast of a setting in hopes of conveying the same feeling I get when outdoors in the moment. With the figurative paintings, I focus on people in action, whether they’re playing instruments, riding bikes or walking down the street.  The figures are meant to have a street art stencil look to tie in with the cement background.

My work incorporates a blending of traditional and modern techniques.  I use cement veneer over wood instead of the traditional canvas-and-stretcher-bar along with acrylic paints.  For years, I had worked strictly within the traditional form of oil on canvas with molding paste to create texture within my pieces, but as my style evolved it became clear that fast drying acrylics were a better fit for my paintings.  When I transitioned from oils to acrylics, I began to also experiment with various substrates, which led me to building my own boxes and adding a thin veneer of cement to the top and sides to create the depth of texture.  The cement finish has an acrylic binding medium that gives the piece more strength and flexibility while still adding the visual and physical texture I wanted for each piece to maintain the common element that ties all my paintings together as a consistent body of work.

In creating these pieces, my goal is to produce work that captures the feeling and rush of being outdoors and exploring.  By enhancing the elements, I am giving the viewer the same sense of wonder that they would feel if they were there in that location at that moment.