Go to my painting page to see the Utah series in full format – millions of years of layered minerals have been exposed by wind and water and have given us these beautiful tiered towers of colour, light and shadow. This painting is called “Butte outside Moab Utah” oil on canvas 60cm x 60cm
Looking back wistfully at photographs I took in Arches National Monument in Utah just before the lockdown. Bright orange red rocks and muted greens and blues in the sagebrush, rabbit bush and juniper trees are framed by strong shadows created by the high desert sunlight. This painting is of a part of the area called “Wall Street” because it’s like walking through skyscrapers. Oil on canvas 60cm x 60cm
I decided to do a small painting of the cottage up our boreen to the north which is called Bocarnagh Cottage. It’s quite small and has an authentic quaintness. The light was beautiful and the leaves just starting to turn to gold and red.
This new painting was inspired by the view from our kitchen window in Calder near the town of Wynyard in NW Tasmania. We lived there from 2005 to 2010 and had 40 acres of magnificent land. The soil is deep red and contrasts with rolling hills of green grasslands and rows of crops. I was struck by this view because of the light which shines under the straight closely planted trees. The trees create sharp shadows which seem to flow up and follow the contours of the land.
Through the window was inspired by an exhibit in the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe New Mexico. It really caught my eye with the rabbits sitting in a circle all looking into the centre as if they are having a meeting. Irish hares inhabit my garden and are generally well-behaved and don’t eat my plants. In this painting, the hare is perplexed by the circle of bunnies. The window is the same one in the paintings Eurasian Jay, and Hooded Crow and Shells. This painting came from my intermittent interest in mythology which has to have a voice every now and then. It also relates to a life-long affection for the story of Alice in Wonderland. I have often spent time in the realm of the overlap between the animal world and humankind.
Strong light, cumulus clouds and rainbows …
I frequently slam on the brakes and jump from my car to photograph the rainbows that appear during unsettled weather. These plus huge cumulus clouds often show up in my work. The sky in West Cork shows the mercurial aspect of the landscape and can be used to balance the heaviness of rock and water. Bright days are essential to my reference material. I photograph on bright sunny days in order to get the most cast shadows which give objects in the paintings solidity and realism. This morning there was a rainbow veiled across Sugarloaf in Glengarriff.
This last year or so has been very hard for many people, and death and despair have been lurking in our consciousness more than usual.
Unlike so many who find isolation difficult, I am truly blessed to be able to make things. Being made to stay at home was such a huge piece of luck for me. I have always struggled with guilt around the issue of work and as a consequence I have put paid work ahead of my creative career. The greatest artists are always those who dedicate themselves to the “journey” and stick with it. If you keep stepping off the path, or taking a different direction, you lose the thread of the journey.
The last 18 months is the first time in my life that I was able to stay on the path every day and move through the hurdles of creating something worthwhile.
Oil painting is a very complex technical process. I used to think that you just slapped the paint on and because the colours were so intense and reflective that it would work. Through many mistakes and consequent research I learned more about this incredible material. It’s my plan to share this journey with you through these news pages.
With the help of website and design guru Mike McCarthy of Creactive Studios, I changed the slant of my website to reflect the significance of my beautiful property.
I have spent the last 5 years bringing a very neglected garden back to life and now it is truly magnificent. I can walk to the water’s edge in a couple of minutes and dip my toes into Bantry Bay.
I often kayak around Glengarriff harbour and Garinish Island. The studio was originally an old shed. It is now a sunny, comfortable studio looking out into the garden, a garden which gives me inspiration every day and a great place to reflect and develop ideas that become paintings in the end.
Seagarden Studio – it’s your time!
I recently did an interview with The Grapevine, the well-known and very popular free monthly magazine circulated around West Cork and South Kerry, which appeared in their July 2021 edition.
You can read it here;
Barbara, can you tell me how you came to be living so far from Australia?
My father Roy Harvey, used to always be telling us about Ireland, and how we were distant relatives to the leader of the Rebellion on Vinegar Hill in 1798. And even though my dad never got here, Ireland was always the backdrop of our lives in Australia.
I came over here with a backpack in the early eighties and I’ve been dreaming of coming back ever since.
You’ve lived in a lot of different places, why is that?
Oh, you know. Life has lots of twists and turns.
I was blessed (or maybe cursed) with having two all-consuming passions; art and horses.
My husband and I owned and managed a world-class horse trekking business in the Rocky Mountains. Then I got into dressage and started competing. I found out along the way that both endeavours require total commitment. So, I made the decision to give up the horses and devote more time to developing my ideas and skills in painting. We always have to give up something to get something, I’ve found.
Why West Cork, the home of The Grapevine?
The wildness of it attracts me. The drama of the stones and mountains.
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Get along to the Carnegie Gallery in Kenmare for a new exhibition of recent painting and drawings by Barbara’s Becker. Her art expresses the mysterious qualities of the countries where she has lived.
The exhibition opened on July 3rd and will run until August 29th, 2021. The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Visitor numbers will be restricted due to Covid, so please be patient if you have to wait a few minutes for entry.
There are some fantastic artworks on display capturing the immense beauty of the surrounding landscapes – enjoy the show!
Read more here about Barbara’s ongoing exhibition and other news at the Carnegie Gallery in Kenmare here
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