A special spotlight on someone from the plein air painting community you may not know yet: Alison Barry on her aha-moment and more.
Art education: My mother was my first artistic influence. She always had a drawing, painting, or printmaking project she was working on, along with a collection of amazing artworks and art books around the house. Although I spent a short time as an art major at the University of Vermont, I never finished a degree. Still, all the while I worked in unrelated fields, I painted and drew in my spare time, focusing mostly on figures and portraits.
It was classes with Robin Weiss that inspired me to paint the landscape outside, then later, workshops with Mitchell Albala, John Poon, and Jerry Weiss further stoked my love for landscape and plein air painting. I also have a pretty severe art book addiction, and spend lots of time with my books, often rereading my favorites and understanding something new with each reading.
Painting style: I want to communicate what excites me about a scene by painting representationally, but also honor the paint itself with brushwork and texture for interest, variety, and a bit of mystery.
Favorite subjects: I’m happy in old boat yards, weathered farms, and rusty industrial areas, as well as natural landscapes with no signs of civilization. I paint in all weather, but snow is my favorite. Scenes with depth, overlapping elements, verticals crossing a horizon, reflections, backlighting, interesting foreground elements, complicated passages that I can shorthand with rhythmic patterns, and strong light and shadow designs are just a few things I look for in a subject.
Aha moment: Painting larger canvases, using bigger brushes, and thinking about broken color have made my painting more vibrant and dynamic. It’s freeing to have a larger canvas to stretch out on, and to be able to stand back and paint from my shoulder and arm.
What I would do for a living if I wasn’t an artist: I enjoy solving problems and always thought I could be a pretty decent repair person.
Favorite artists: The works and teachings of Charles Movalli, Emile Gruppe, Aldro Hibbard, Emma Fordyce MacRae, Gertrude Fiske, and Stapleton Kearns have informed my brushwork, sense of color, and translation of light. Jerry Weiss has also been a tremendous influence for his lush greens and vivid blues, arresting compositions, and bold light and shadow. Edgar Payne’s use of broken color and intrepid composition, color, and scale are always on my mind when I paint, as are Fred Cuming and Edward Seago for their magical skies over water, clouds, and cloud shadows.
The advice I wish I had received earlier in my painting career: Paint and draw outside, and from life, as often as possible. Experimentation is paramount; nothing is precious.
What’s next: I’d like to paint larger and do more studio work. I also plan to expand on the local plein air painting group I’ve organized for the past few years and perhaps start a local class to share the love of painting outside.
Price range: $550-$2,200
Representation: North End Gallery, Leonardtown, MD; the artist’s home studio, Lusby, MD