Jon Barker was born in Yorkshire in 1950'. He obtained a BA in Business studies at University in Edinburgh and pursued a career in marketing management.
Over a 20 year period from his mid 20's to his mid 40's he trained himself to paint to a professional standard. At that point he left marketing and started to sell his work.
Initially he concentrated on his love for landscape but in recent years he is increasingly associated with his successful " City Life" series which is now published internationally. His original paintings are held in private collections throughout the world.
His "City Life" paintings aim to capture the moods of major cities of the world. Iconic land marks such as Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower and The Empire States Building typically feature in his compositions. Visitors to bistros and restaurants traversing warmly night lit streets of London's West End or Saint Germain in Paris are contrasted with commuters struggling through snow on Westminster Bridge or 5th Avenue, New York.
These are well know locations but Jon's intention is to transpose us from the urban realities of the real world to a more idealised world in which romance and a sense of security prevail. Jon likes to feel that Carry Grant or Audrey Hepburn would be at home there.
Compositional integrity and tonal balance are priorities. Jon will frequently draw, erase and redraw his figures many times until they are in just the right place.
" My work is carefully planned but once the basic composition is in place I try to switch gear to a more painterly and rapidly expressive approach.. I believe that it is important to take risks when producing art. I do lose some work when I experiment but equally something new and special may happen when working in this way.
Currently I am exploring the use of a very limited, largely black and white palette. I am very drawn to archival black and white photography which has become a source of inspiration for some of my recent work."
"The landscapes which I produce are now an occasional diversion and release from the disciple which the "City Life" work requires. They are usually very spontaneous and are drawn from my deep love for the English countryside and increasingly the outstanding beauty of Mediterranean Turkey."
Jon and his wife Katie now live in Turkey where Jon produces all of his work from a studio attached to their home.
During the last few months my work has become more free and expressive.
For a long time I had ideas in my head which I just couldn’t express effectively on canvas. Oil paint dries slowly so I would have to wait days to continue working on a piece. I couldn’t be spontaneous and keep up with the creative energy coming from my head. Now I produce most of my work in acrylics which dries very fast. This has enabled my painting process to keep up with the flow of ideas. This is a real joy. I feel free to be more expressive, to take greater risks and to experiment with new visual concepts. I can apply paint thinly or thickly. I can apply the paint in lots of different ways.
My favourite tool is a 9 inch straight edge palate knife. I use it to spread paint across the canvas or to create marks and lines with the edge of the blade. I can dilute my paints with water and let it run into drips and dribbles or a I can apply it in thick impasto layers. I can work across the canvas with broad sweeping brush strokes which help to pull the composition together. I can flick paint at the canvas from a decorators brush which is fantastic for creating my snow storm effects. And if it all starts going wrong, I can brush white gesso over the whole thing, wait a few minutes for it to dry and then start on it again but with the underpainting still visible through the thin gesso layer.
It has been a totally liberating experience which has allowed me to become more passionate in my work. I realise more and more that painting for me is an expression of how I feel. The motif is simply a foundation on which to express my thoughts and feelings in paint. I find myself edging towards abstraction but something keeps me from walking away totally from a figurative approach. I think that’s because I do also love so many things I see in the world around me whether it’s people trudging through a snow storm in New York, people swanking along past night lit bistros in Paris or rambling down the Ramblas in Barcelona.
People, places, movement, architecture, shapes, colours, they move around in my head forming relationships and patterns which emerge as I plan my work. Then as I work the ideas somehow become transposed into paint on canvas. It’s as if the ideas, emotions and creative energy take on a visual reality which purges me of the need to express my feelings whilst inviting my audience to share in the process.
It’s hard to say why I paint. I know that I feel better when I do and I know that it’s a wonderful feeling when everything comes together; when I can say that what you see on canvas really does express what I wanted to say. It also gives me great pleasure to share all of this with others and its always delightful when someone loves my work enough to want to add it to their own collection of thoughtfully chosen works of art.
If you are reading this and you choose to own one of my latest pieces then I would like to thank you for appreciating and for understanding what I have produced and I hope that it gives you as much pleasure as the painting process gave to me.
IF YOU ARE AN ARTIST.....
Please take a look at the source of my special white “Artist Ready Frames” which come complete with canvas. They are designed to save artists like ourselves both time and money and are great for exhibiting small pieces in galleries and at art fairs.