Artist at work
Artist at work

How do you find inspiration?
Barb Walker: This sounds like an easy question to answer, right? There is a saying among painters: “anything in good light” inspires us. When the sun comes out highlights and shadows are handed to us on a silver platter. We respond much like a Labrador retriever at a cookout. The light taunts us. The shadows are almost even better. Pushing the lights, while remembering that it is the shadows (the darks) that create the light on the canvas. Same with a still life. Which is more beautiful? The object, the light hitting the object, or the cast shadow?

Admittedly there are times when not much inspires me. Working through a lack of inspiration – a dry spell – can be difficult. That’s when I need to look at other artists’ work, visit a museum or a good gallery, pick up a good art book, watch an instructional video, or listen to a podcast. I might pick up a different red or yellow or a color much more difficult to control than I’m used to. That can change everything. This summer I’m experimenting with other surfaces such as paper or painting directly on gesso covered birch instead of linen. I’ve also been playing with gouache. Using images, I have already painted in the past so I can narrow the challenge to surfaces or mediums. I’m intrigued by this journey and have no idea what will come of it!

To see more of Barb’s work, visit:

oil painting of rocks on cliff with trees; mountains in background
Barb Walker, “Sweet Acadia,” oil, 16 x 16 in., 2022. From a visit to the coast of Maine. Available through artist
oil painting of a house with field grass in front
Barb Walker, “Summer Day,” oil, 10 x 12 in., 2022. Accepted into the American Impressionist Society’s 24th National Exhibition. Available through artist


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