My own work is about recording what I see, feel and hear in different locations. These locations are places that I am familiar with and frequently re-visit. Such locations are ‘footprints’ of my own life experiences and they are permeated with memories and saturated with feelings. These places are, in most cases, substantial. They exist and are part of a material world. Occasionally the locations are ethereal and are derived from sources which are abstract and transcendental. The sources here are lyrical and the settings lie within the aesthetics of emotions and lyrical abstraction.
The images develop through a process of spontaneously creating fresh visual melodies over structured backgrounds that form the settings for the compositions. The paintings are intended as glancing episodes composed within illusionistic spaces. I try to paint as automatically as possible. It’s difficult to talk about ‘mark’ and ‘colour’ as an “idea” in a rational way, yet nothing can compare with its infinite possibilities and the multiplicity of its possible meanings. A smudge, a smear, a stroke of colour can be any number of things depending on shape, transparency, density, scale and context etc. The paintings are built in layers, each subsequent layer adding to a series of cancellations which partially veil the applications of colour, and spark improvisations.
Other sources which inspire the paintings are varied, including early Renaissance art, Art Brut, traditional and historical African, Indian and Asian art, American Abstract Expressionism, Fauvism, the artwork of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, John Hoyland, Gillian Ayres, Paul Gauguin, Howard Hodgkin, Helen Frankenthaler, Barbara Rae, Hans Hoffman, Alan Davie, Karel Appel, Corneille and the CoBrA group. I also look to ancient cultures, historic signs, symbols and motifs, mythology, landscape, and the music of popular traditions, contemporary music, world music and international folk music and jazz. The written word has a particular interest to me and stories and poetry from ancient, historical, modern and contemporary times have inspired much of my painting” – Frank Barnes 2019
“Making artwork and teaching art and design has been, and still is, the driving force and energy that permeates my life. As a young teenage student I looked to the Impressionists. I was fascinated by the freedom in their painting. As my interest grew I began to understand how the history of mankind was defined through the history of art. I looked to prehistoric art and that interest has never left me. I trained at Liverpool College of Art and Birmingham College of Art in the 1970’s before embarking on a career in art education, throughout which my own practice was ongoing.