Barbara Shark, painting people for 40 years

I have been making paintings for 40 years. I am interested in the way people and things look. I observe friends and family in their environments; working, playing, eating, caught unaware. I’ve made drawings and paintings of these moments in between; their personal, metaphoric and art historical connotations. I strive to depict likeness with curiosity and affection and have discovered that in investigating the particularities of my subjects I find beauty and a connection to the vast pool of human stories.

In my studio, I work from a flat, 2 dimensional photograph to create an illusion of real space on a flat, 2-dimensional canvas. In a painting, all the parts are on the same surface. I create the illusion that separates form from ‘background’ but the reality for me is that all is one. The marks I make abut, they share edges, a wall touches an arm which sits right next to the sky. These edges need to be defined or concealed and here lie the difficulties and the excitement in painting for me.

For the last six years I have been painting with only black, white and grey. I find I can get down to the essence of forms and ideas and achieve a sense of realness surpassing that of the paintings made using a full color palette. These technical painting considerations guide my exploration of connections and an inquiry into the nature of life and community. It is thrilling to experience the physical reality of my painting as the mirror for these bigger ideas.
Barbara Shark
July 30, 2011

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