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Work Samples

Colonel Fischer

Colonel Fischer, bird, king fisher, perch, stump, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
The European kingfisher waits patiently and alertly. His spectacular colors make this bird a childhood favorite. As you look at the bird, his body and wings seem to jump out of the painting towards you. I added this robustness to him not by giving him more feathers, but by deepening those shadows you see between the layers of feathers on his wings. It’s the rippling shadows that show the shape of his sumptuous plumage. This looks like a really well fed bird. [Soft pastels on acid free 200lb. Sennelier pastel card. Background and underpainting with PanPastels.]

Red-Veined Dragonfly

Red-Veined Dragonfly, insect, dragonfly, red-veined darter, leaf, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionist, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
In an ornamental garden, a red-veined darter settles on a leaf. The veined gossamer wings of the red darter stand out clearly as it comes to rest. They glitter from tip to tip. Notice how the dragonfly is landing on foliage that picks up its own colors, and gives it a little camouflage, for such a fantastic hotly-colored insect. [The foliage, and supporting leaf were shaded with PanPastels. Soft pastels added strength and depth for the dragonfly’s body and veins. Pastel pencils built the delicate network of capillaries of the wings. On acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]

Swan in Green

Swan in Green, bird, swan, white, swimming, paddling, ripples, water, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
Water surges before the gentle swimming swan in its search for food. The direction of lighting is very unusual, as most swans are painted facing the light. In this painting, the swan is almost running from the light. Another challenge in the painting is the water ripple in front of the swan’s breast. Notice how the heavy bird actually pushes the water downwards, and the ripple tucks underneath the swan. [Underpainted in PanPastels. Traditional pastels reinforce textures. Sharp edges and blurring added using pastel pencils. Soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]

Smokies―Teintes Rouge

Smokies-Tientes Rouges, landscape, mountains, ridges, trees, pines, smoke, smoky mountains, mist, pastel, painting, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh, TN, Tennessee
Looking south from near Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountain National Park, this scene is from November, 2015. Deceptively, the white mist is actually smoke. A half-dozen forest fires were just beginning to burn across the mountains. The previous day, it was getting hard to breathe, even at 6,000 feet. I had to return for this view on a bright and breezier day. [Underpainted entirely in PanPastels, with traditional pastels to reinforce the mountain crests and the textures and shadows of the swirling mists. Quality soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]

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About Barrie

Harford County

The photograph (above) is not from Harford County. It's also not of Cumberland, Maryland. But it is a photo through a mountain pass in Cumberland, in the ancient kingdom of Cumbria.    Barrie Leigh was born and raised in Cumberland at the heart of the English Lake District. Views of mountains like Great Gable, Scafell, Seatallan, Helvellyn, and their nearby rivers and lakes, created his love of landscapes and nature. The colors and patterns of the mountain scenery changing their moods... more

The Artists’ Tale―The Story

The evening conference room was half-full of aspiring creative-arts people: the library staff were anxious to close the doors and go home for the day. Wrapping up the session, the man at the front held them all with a steady gaze and exclaimed:
“Let me tell you the very best advice I can give you about presenting your portfolios!… ” Suddenly, you could hear a pin drop.
“Tell your story; describe your journey; explain your mission, but invite the visitors and judges to join you in your travels.
Encourage them to come with you on your trip. Show how you've been investigating and exploring your medium deeply―but do it in a way they will understand and enjoy…”
Some, stared blankly ahead. Others frowned. I held my head in my hands, and a mental gasp rippled through the crowd:
“You mean, we're on a journey?”
“Oh yes. So in your projects show the direction and depth of your artistic explorations.”
And so we begin…

Mountain Mysteries―Out of the Noir

Mountains and mountain ranges create a panorama that is both dramatic and subtly changing from top to bottom and side to side. As we see these scenes through younger eyes, or remember the eyes of our childhood, it's the impressions and memories we recall. My mountain scenes depict colored and scaled expressions of our world that often convey a message.
Over time, my landscapes have evolved to regain the fresh impact I saw earlier in life. I now start my landscapes using a greyscale reference image. I study the real scene, but then set that aside, and reset my view, painting only from a black and white version.
Each underpainting’s colors come from the message and the feel of the scene. With later layers of paint and other pastel mediums, I introduce more of the original scene’s colors into the painting.
As you look through my landscapes project here, travel in time, starting today, and journeying back towards my earlier interpretations.

  • Smokies―Teintes Rouge

    Smokies-Tientes Rouges, landscape, mountains, ridges, trees, pines, smoke, smoky mountains, mist, pastel, painting, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh, TN, Tennessee
    Looking south from near Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountain National Park, this scene is from November, 2015. Deceptively, the white mist is actually smoke. A half-dozen forest fires were just beginning to burn across the mountains. The previous day, it was getting hard to breathe, even at 6,000 feet. I had to return for this view on a bright and breezier day. [Underpainted entirely in PanPastels, with traditional pastels to reinforce the mountain crests and the textures and shadows of the swirling mists. Quality soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]
  • Alaska's Kenai Gateway

    Alaska's Kenai Gateway, mountains, AK, Alaska, Kenai, snow peaks, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    We all decorate our home’s front door to make the right impression for our house. Look at Alaska’s front door, from the water. Not a bad way to enter a sub-continent. It’s exciting that it’s just one part of our United States. This scene, from June, 2015, looks across Resurrection Bay to the mountain tips in Kenai Gateway County above Spring Creek, Alaska. [The 3D effects on the mountains were created by building up thick layers of soft pastels with an impasto technique. Artist quality Sennelier, Rembrandt and Mungyo soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]
  • Seatallan

    Seatallan, landscape, crags, mountains, Lake District, England, Cumbria, ridges, smoky mountains, ridges, screes, granite, value painting, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    Is it greyscale, or is it color? Is it pastel or is it charcoal? It’s not always easy to tell―at first sight. A common Lake District winter scene, made grey by the overcast sky. Craggy granite mountains from Cumberland, England. This is a view from the low trail. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth may well have walked this path. In the old days, the Vikings lived and died very close to here. They must have thought this a very special view. [Artist quality soft pastels on acid-free 400 grade UArt sanded paper.]
  • Distant Peaks―Denali Park

    Alaska, Denali National Park, mountains, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    At 20.000 ft. elevation, the dramatic scenery in America’s third largest national park provides many views like this one. The park is actually bigger than the state of Massachusetts! The thin atmosphere here keeps crisp details visible on the most distant mountain ranges. This scene is from the middle of June, with summer in full swing. Luckily, the cloud has stayed away. The view is great, for as long as we’ve got it. [Artist quality soft pastels from Sennelier, Rembrandt and Mungyo on acid-free 400 grade UArt sanded paper.]

Wings & Plumage―3-in-1 Painting

In this portfolio, most of these paintings were created by painting three mostly complete paintings one on top of another. Few of these pieces were painted simply with one medium, such as “just” PanPastels. As I experimented with different forms of pastel paints, I realized that the greatest strength of pastels as a broad category comes when you blend together the different pastel mediums. Unlike other mediums of paint, pastels are unique in the number of distinct forms you can use: powder, paint stick, pencil.
As the birds around us become bigger and more brightly feathered, their plumage seems to take on a rippling life of its own. The structure of the feathers and the deep shadows between so many of the layers is a challenge for any painting medium. To capture the delicacy of the plumage, I begin with a full painting using PanPastels to color and shape the main elements. I use soft traditional pastel sticks to apply an overcoat of deep pigment that follows the direction of the feathering. The final shaping of the feathers involves pastel pencils to establish the edges of key groups of feathers, blur and darken the shadowed areas, and set the sharp edges for many individual feathers.

  • Swan in Green

    Swan in Green, bird, swan, white, swimming, paddling, ripples, water, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    Water surges before the gentle swimming swan in its search for food. The direction of lighting is very unusual, as most swans are painted facing the light. In this painting, the swan is almost running from the light. Another challenge in the painting is the water ripple in front of the swan’s breast. Notice how the heavy bird actually pushes the water downwards, and the ripple tucks underneath the swan. [Underpainted in PanPastels. Traditional pastels reinforce textures. Sharp edges and blurring added using pastel pencils. Soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]
  • Twilight Shallows

    Twilight Shallows, bird, blue heron, Susquehanna, swimming, river, wading, twilight, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    Through a small rocky inlet sheltered from the river in Susquehanna State Park, the Great Blue heron wades the shallows, casting a hazy shadow that fades along with the daylight. The day’s end draws out the subtle coloration of the rocks and their spreading lichen. In the muddy nearby water, it’s rocky reflections we see rather than the deep shadows created earlier that day. [The smooth waters were painted with PanPastels. Soft pastels added depth to the tops of the rocks, and shaped the lichen. CarbOthello pastel pencils overlay the detail and feathering for the heron.]
  • Red-Veined Dragonfly

    Red-Veined Dragonfly, insect, dragonfly, red-veined darter, leaf, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionist, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    In an ornamental garden, a red-veined darter settles on a leaf. The veined gossamer wings of the red darter stand out clearly as it comes to rest. They glitter from tip to tip. Notice how the dragonfly is landing on foliage that picks up its own colors, and gives it a little camouflage, for such a fantastic hotly-colored insect. [The foliage, and supporting leaf were shaded with PanPastels. Soft pastels added strength and depth for the dragonfly’s body and veins. Pastel pencils built the delicate network of capillaries of the wings. On acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]
  • Colonel Fischer

    Colonel Fischer, bird, king fisher, perch, stump, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    The European kingfisher waits patiently and alertly. His spectacular colors make this bird a childhood favorite. As you look at the bird, his body and wings seem to jump out of the painting towards you. I added this robustness to him not by giving him more feathers, but by deepening those shadows you see between the layers of feathers on his wings. It’s the rippling shadows that show the shape of his sumptuous plumage. This looks like a really well fed bird. [Soft pastels on acid free 200lb. Sennelier pastel card. Background and underpainting with PanPastels.]

Those Blooming Flowers―The World of Shadows

In a lovely painting of a single bloom with its touchable soft-edged curving petals―where did that shape come from? In my case, these flowers literally rise from their ashes. The feeling you get from looking at a flower often comes from the color of the flower’s shade, as much as from the natural color of the flower itself. It’s like starting at the back of a flower, and then working towards the light.
I paint flowers by first creating a painting of only the shadows. This is a painting using the shadow colors. Odd, isn’t it, to think that shadows have colors? This provides consistent shade, and pulls together the shadows into a whole shadowed flower―like a color film negative from an old camera. The shadowy areas blend and bleed through each petal to shape them. Darker shadows separate layers of petals.
Crusting and covering each petal, the brightest and lightest areas are added nearly at the end, and blended out towards the edges of the petals. Pastel pencils add the clear curving edges of the petals.
My flowers may be painted backwards, from back to front―but notice I’m always ending on the brightest tones.

  • Radiant Poppy

    Radiant Poppy, flowers, poppy, panpastel, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    On a mid-May morning, this spectacular poppy stands tall above the fading ground mist. This is one smoking hot poppy! The early day’s sun highlights the dark shaded petals in its center. You can see the shadows of seeds coming through at the bottom of each petal. This particular bloom has lovely folds rippling across each petal. They seem to be fanning the air with the arrival of the sun. [Painted with PanPastel on acid free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card. CarbOthello pastel pencils edge the folds of the petals.]
  • Pink Triples

    Pink Triples, flowers, calla lily, panpastel, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    Three pink calla lily blooms stand out from their surrounding dark green leaves. A set of three leaves to each side frame the blooms in the undergrowth. The sharp lily leaves in the foreground contrast with the softness of the diffused background that brings the shape of the blooms into clear focus. From above, the light crowns the tops of the blooms, and casts deep shadows inside the forest of leaves. [Painted entirely in PanPastels on acid free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card. Pastel pencils add edges of the petals and leaves to focus the foreground.]
  • Rose of Texas

    Rose of Texas, flowers, yellow rose, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    A dusky single rose in full bloom shows purples and deep reds at its core. Here we see all the quiet and peaceful details of a fully-formed Texas rose. I picked black card to create this painting of a rose settling in for the night. Building the pastels on top of the black creates the intimacy and quiet that you experience in this scene. [Background from black Sennelier 200 lb. acid free pastel card. PanPastel underpainting, plus quality soft pastels.]
  • Shenandoah Grass

    Shenandoah Grass, grass, Shenandoah, sky line drive, flowers, panpastel, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    These flowers are a November shocker, from a west-facing ridge on Sky Line Drive, VA. This grass bloomed at just the right time for painting. The little white tufts are really fluffy seeds. The slight chill in the air seems to be keeping the little flowers tightly shaped and in place. [Soft pastels on acid free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card. The background was created with an alcohol wash of pastel paint.]
  • Reflecting Sunflowers

    Reflecting Sunflowers, flowers, pastel, painting, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    In a crowded field of sunflowers, flourishing blooms fight for the heat of the sun, and push their neighbors deeper into shade. The highest bloom shines with vivid yellow petals. Reds and rusts of other blooms reflect in the large water droplets still clinging after a light shower of rain. [Artist quality soft pastels on acid free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card. The dripping droplets were added using CarbOthello pastel pencils.]

Breathing Life Into the Still―Color is How You Feel

This project is about alcohol―denatured alcohol, not the kind for drinking. These still life paintings were all underpainted with alcohol―to create a liquid pastel-paint that was brushed on, and allowed to drip and run. The soft pastels I applied on top do not blend with the background. This produces sharp outlines and stark separation of still life subjects from their surroundings.
In early days, I tired quickly of those seemingly endless studies of classroom still lifes: from dusty plastic apples, to rubber ruby grapes, and on to rotting brown gourds.
But the solution stood out: bring them back to life with color! Is it the “auras” of those lifeless pieces that now return through their paintings? Or just an artist's excitement to enliven our world?
Still life paintings became my excuse to expand my use of high-energy colors, and create eye-catching interest. Since my portfolio has been about a world of color, look through the paintings in this project. When did you last see a purple egg? When was an old empty wine bottle more vibrant than the sun? Perhaps you could give still lifes another breath or two, and liven up your home collection of art.

  • The Kitchen Shelf

    The Kitchen Shelf, eggs, apples, still life, still-life, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    So many still lifes are just plain depressing. Let’s see an example of another approach. Suspend reality. Let’s go for happy. Let’s have some fun in the kitchen. Eggs and apples often combine well for some tasty eating―try a Dutch pancake. When you look at this shelf, does it makes you feel like smiling? If so, I’m on the right track. [Quality soft pastels on acid-free 200 lb. Sennelier pastel card.]
  • Après-Midi de la Méditerranée

    Apres Midi Mediterranee, bottle, limoncello, grapes, pears,  still life, still-life, pastel, painting, realistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    Strong colors are brought out by the Mediterranean sun. It looks like we must be somewhere towards Capri, with our bottle of tangy ice-cold limoncello. We’re only missing the sidewalk table for people-watching. The lights in the ceiling made the “pears within a pear” light reflections. Or perhaps I’d imbibed a little too much of that wonderful Italian limoncello. Salut. [Quality soft pastels on acid-free 400 grade UArt sanded paper.]
  • Golden Pear

    Golden Pear, still life, still-life, pastel, painting, realistic, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    The rich golds of the pear stand out from the swirling hot colored wall behind it. The solid-looking shelf on which the pear sits so squarely, seems to flow forwards. To me, the pear is sitting between the swirling earth it came from and the ripening sky on its left. The background textures were all created with free-flowing alcohol solutions of pastel paints. The pleated sheet was painted next. Finally, the pear was placed in center-stage. [Artist quality soft pastels from Sennelier, Rembrandt and Mungyo on acid-free 400 grade UArt sanded paper.]
  • Time for Salsa

    Time for Salsa, pot, squash, still life, still-life, pastel, painting, impressionistic, JBL-Art, Barrie Leigh
    For the love of Santa Fe. The pastel alcohol wash really worked well on this painting: Do you see the tasseled corners of a shawl dripping down in the top right corner? In the background on the left, is that a hint of a really large red ceramic pot? A cool classic blue and pink fabric hangs from the table. It was thoughtful of someone to provide that woven mat for everything to stand on. Yes. I really miss Santa Fe. [Background using a pastel-alcohol wash. Quality soft pastels on acid-free 400 grade UArt sanded paper.]

The Tale’s Tail―The Invitation

As the Bard once said:
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”
And what was a “breach” anyway?
In fact, it was a hole in your wall. A risky thing to leave uncovered in the days of kings and castles.
But, do you have any breaches around your home?
You’d see them as blank areas on your walls, where a painting would be just the thing to:
enliven your day, cheer up your room, make you reminisce, give you pause for thought...or a thousand reasons more.

Did you discover some pieces on your journey through this portfolio that you’d like to see more often?
In fact, you could see them whenever you wanted to. We can arrange for that.
You’ll also find my full portfolio has even more paintings than those you saw here.

Friends tell me my paintings are much more impressive in person than these photos over the internet, and they may be right.
The best thing to do is to contact me.
We can work together on what you’re looking for, or even meet at the Artists’ Emporium in Havre de Grace,
where a number of my paintings hang.

Connect with Barrie

Barrie's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.