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William Barnes

Professor Emeritus of Art

Email: [[wdbarn]]

Webpage: Photo Gallery


William Barnes’ paintings and monotypes have been exhibited in over 150 national, juried and invitational exhibitions throughout the country. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at College of Southern Maryland and Washington and Lee University; and group shows at Lori Bookstein, Denise Bibro and Kouros Galleries in New York City, and Pennsylvania Academy and Rittenhouse Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Works have been acquired by public collections in New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Barnes is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including an N.E.A. and a residency at La Cite’ Internationale des Paris. In New York he was affiliated with the Bowery Gallery, where he had three one-person exhibitions, and since 1997 he has been a member of Zeuxis, an association of still life painters based in New York. He has taught at the College of William and Mary since 1975.

Artist Statement

I am principally a painter belonging to the tradition of still life. I paint primarily for the adventure of looking, because for me, the interaction with raw material offers opportunities to forge connections between myself, the subject seen, and the response in paint. Some of my works are painted straightaway while others are worked and sustained over an extended period. My work does not follow any one path; I select my colors, marks, and touch to represent the character and dynamic of the subject as I respond to it in the moment. In the beginning I intuitively create a limited tonal structure from which color evolves as it clarifies my perceptions of light, form, and space. I move forward and may as often retreat from my first impulse in order to discover an unseen order, a rhythm, and a surprise. I try to test and select suitable elements that accord my work an alive, pictorial whole that is a stand-in for my experience. The objects have no specific narrative and the format varies. All is viewed as a pretext for entering a dialogue with paint as a way of deeply knowing the world. In my specific response I try to realize the image as best I can and conclude a poetic order.


BFA Drake University

MFA University of Arizona

Courses Taught

2-D Foundations

Painting: Structure

Painting: Expression

Advanced Painting

Independent Study