Barbara Reade lives and paints close to the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. At the heart of Barbara’s work is the endless inspiration that drives her to capture the emotional impact of the natural and urban landscape. Memories of places and experiences reveal themselves through abstraction, colour, mark making and recurring themes in her artwork. Precise, directional lines intermingle with softer, free- flowing applications of paint, evoking order over chaos, architectural details merging into wildness, opacity next to translucent washes of colour. Barbara’s paintings undergo several transformations along the way, with numerous layers of paint, monotype prints, collage elements, graphite and wax pastel creating a rich history on the surface. Layers are sanded away to create surprising textures and reveal the underpainting beneath. Barbara’s artistic career has come full circle after many rewarding years in education and as a retail business owner. She drew constantly as a child, going on to pursue her passion for art by completing her BFA in Illustration at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Barbara continues to hone her skills and develop as an artist, completing Nicholas Wilton’s intensive Art2Life Creative Visionary Program, Mark Eanes’ the Language of Colour Workshop and currently as an active member of the Art2Life Academy. Barbara is also a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Association.
Here is the stuff that my dreams are made on: fresh tubes of paint, brushes with sharp chiseled edges, silicone wedges of various sizes, implements that gouge and scratch into surfaces, chunks of smudgy graphite, pencils that carve into paint and leave their own indelible marks behind, straight edge tools and palette knives, richly toned wax pastels, sandpaper, trowels, and the ever present roll of shop towels. Add to that perpetually growing list, the blank canvas, preferably wood, ready to receive whatever combination of elements and impulses I can devise.
Painting is both a visceral and physical experience. I love the combination. It’s what drives me to paint every single day, even on those days when the struggle is felt right down to the soles of my feet. When the brush falters and the painting surface fights back, those are simply signs that something wonderful is about to happen. It always does! I have learned to recognize this part of the creative process as evidence of an impending breakthrough, a shift in the work, something new being born. This is my joy. Every painting begins with play and experimentation. “I wonder what will happen if I mix these colours together? If I scratch into the wet paint with this pottery tool? If I slide the paint on with my squeegee?” No expectations of anything other than the dance that happens between paint and mark- making tools, the music playing in the background, the view out the window, letting time unfold. It all contributes to what appears on the surface. The layers of paint that build up are everything. They create history, tell the story, reveal the tries, the attempts, the risks taken. For me, the layers are essential. I know that what’s underneath is as important as what’s immediately visible.