In the Studio: Jane Barwood

This month dot-art speaks to artist Jane Barwood.

Jane Barwood’s paintings often feature lonely buildings in the landscape, inspired by her walks in Anglesey, North Wales and the North-West coast of England. The buildings represent the transient place of people within the eternal natural world. The paintings explore ideas of loneliness and connection, communication and isolation, alienation and belonging. The settings are based on reality but are not realistic. Instead the artist uses colour, texture and composition to evoke atmosphere and meaning rather than photographic realism.

Jane Barwood has a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art Painting. She has won several awards including the national Mussini Oil Painting People’s Choice Award in 2017 and the Python Art Prize in 2013. She regularly exhibits both in the UK and internationally and has paintings in private and public collections, including The World of Glass and JD Wetherspoon. She has been a full-time professional artist since 2013.

How would you describe your style?

My work is contemporary landscape painting.

Which medium do you work with and how would you describe your work? 

My favourite medium is oil paint, the slower drying time and buttery texture allows me to manipulate it on the canvas in a way that suits my painting process.

I work slowly and can only work for a couple of hours at a time due to my current health issues. So it usually takes me a few weeks to complete a painting. I often lay down a coloured background either with acrylic paint or by mixing some colour into my primer.

Can you talk us through your process? 

I try different approaches from time to time to shake up my process. In the past I’ve worked with stencils made from my drawings, screen prints and transfer prints from my photographs and freehand drawing straight onto the canvas with a paint-loaded brush. I take hundreds of photographs and these will usually spark an idea.

I’m drawn to lonely buildings and bleak empty landscape scenes. I often combine images from my photographs to create an initial composition but then I work at creating an atmosphere rather that copying a scene. I’m not an artist who meticulously plans out a painting, I like to let the paint work its magic and react in an intuitive way as the painting develops. I finish a painting when it looks right to me but the next day I’ll usually see something that needs changing.

When did you begin your career in art? 

I worked for many years in office administration, I hated it. I started going to evening classes whilst still working full-time. Then about 18 years ago my health issues started to flare up and I was forced to take time out from work. While I was stuck at home I read everything I could about art and started to take my own art practice more seriously. I finally got my Fine Art Painting Degree in 2012 and have worked as an artist ever since.

Who or what inspires your art? 

I’m inspired by places rather than people.

Whenever I go for a walk I come back with ideas for future paintings. I love to read and a really good book can create images in my mind that also work their way into my paintings. I go to as many exhibitions as I can and even if I don’t really like the artwork there will always be some idea about process, colour or composition that I take away with me. I’m interested in the history of painting and like to keep up with what is happening in contemporary painting too.

Why is art and creativity so important to you?

Painting and drawing is a way of thinking about my place in the world. I find it meditative in that when I’m painting or thinking about painting I forget about everything else. I’ve always loved to be creative in all parts of my life. When I’m not painting I like to crochet, sew, work on my house and garden.

I love to make things – to put something out into the world straight from my imagination.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently studying for my Masters Degree in Painting at Manchester Metropolitan University.

I’m trying to push the boundaries of my work and break out of old habits. My aim is to be the best painter that I can be.

What does it mean to be an artist in the Liverpool City Region?

Our region is full of artists! That can be a good thing as it means lots of networks, opportunities and exhibitions. However it also makes it more difficult to stand out in such a huge pool of talent.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

There is no clear route or career path for artists.

You have to find your own way.

Discover more of  Jane Barwood’s work on our online shop!