Yorkshire born and bred, Bob Barker’s memorable gift was an oil painting set from his mother on Christmas morning. From that day, Bob became increasingly fascinated by what he could accomplish with his brush, a bit of oil paint and using the reverse side of small squares of hardboard in order to get a similar look to actual canvas.
As a child, Bob Barker would walk to the mill near his school where his mother used to work as a weaver as well as his grandmother who was the “Cha” Lady. There, he found his inspiration for his later work, inspired by the smells of the spinning sheds and from general conversation with the workers. Despite not having any formal training, Bob started experimenting with styles and techniques using brushes and palette knives. Lets not forget that this is also where he discovered his love for tea…
After moving with his family to Cornwall, Bob Barker got the opportunity to meet and observe prominent artist Keith English and Tom Gower. This convinced him that he could become a professional artist.
However, life commitments pushed Bob Barker in a different direction running his own video and media production company for over 20 years. This took him to all corners of the country as well as abroad for filming and doing workshops in schools on the art of video making. In 2000, Bob decided to send his work to galleries and convinced his older brother Colin to distribute CDs featuring his work to several art publishers. Five years later, Bob Barker met Glyn Washington during an event at the Autumn Fair in Birmingham where he held an exhibition. Since that day, Bob Barker has been published by Washington Green and has become the successful artist he is today.
Bob Barker finds his inspiration almost everywhere he looks or goes. Incorporating elements of nostalgia looking back on childhood memories as well as playing with lighting and weather to capture a certain mood. Where others see cobbles and soot, Bob Barker sees colour which he brings out beautifully in his work.
Now living back in Yorkshire, the unmissable cottages, cobbled streets, cotton and woollen mills provides him with plenty of inspiration which grows and matures in time. Art is his way to paint history and get people to share the experience.
Before starting his paintings, with music playing in the background Bob Barker will gaze at his artwork for various amounts of time and visualise the composition by moving and placing each character and building until he his satisfied with the way it looks. Once happy with the composition, he then proceeds to add a few quick lines on the canvas in order to set the scene and to satisfy is eagerness to start painting.
Whilst always experimenting with new ways of applying the oil paints, Bob starts with the sky to create the atmosphere of his piece. As soon as this is done, he then proceeds with the rest of his painting which he will usually complete in a day, letting himself get immersed into his work which results in him painting at a faster pace. Despite being right handed, he will unconsciously swap hands with his brush allowing him to achieve a wider range of effects.
Once the initial painting is dry, Bob will then apply glaze which consist in a thin wash of oil paint either on the whole canvas or on individual areas depending on the piece. This adds stronger contrasts and therefore a better luminous quality to the artwork.
And finally, Bob Barker will then add his signature at the bottom which is his way to say “this one is finished” and prevent himself of over working his painting.
Bob Barker does not describe himself as an organised person and even less when it comes to his painting techniques. Painting most days and sometimes nights as long as his family have not commandeered him for family things such as eating, shopping and spending time with his grandchildren.
Looking over his garden and standing next to his house, Bob Barker’s studio renamed “The ‘Ut” by his youngest son is a reflection of his unorganised nature full of open books, CDs, sketches, daubed cloths and empty cups of tea which need constant refilling. In his own words, Bob’s studio is where he “eat(s), breathe(s) and sleep(s) painting.”