Born in High Point NC, Tom Barnes grew up in the pine forests and coastal plains of South Georgia. In the early fifties, raised amongst the gators, mosquitoes, and bourbon of South Georgia, Tom was dutifully packed off each summer, traveling by train to Savannah where he spent two weeks with the twins, Lila and Bess… may they rest in peace...
The two sisters insisted on taking the bus downtown everyThursday to shop, dine out, and maybe see a movie. Early in the morning, a lengthy discussion ensued as to what to wear. Completely coordinated in salmons, pinks, baby blues, mint greens, or lemon yellow, the two ladies set out toting bus tokens in their purses, and sporting hats with flowers (always with flowers), gloves, costume jewelry, and pumps matching their outfits. The fragrances exuded were thick with magnolia, lilac, and oleander. Stores like Adler's, Fine's, and Levy's preceded lunch at Morrison’s, always topped off with steaming hot coffee and coconut custard pie from Anton's. Roaming around the "city of parks," the three often ended up in Telfair Academy, the only art museum Tom ever saw until he was 16. The combination of femininity expressed by the two grand dames, the heady paintings and statues of the museum, and a gift from God for things artistic, all came together in the "long neck ladies" which have become Barnes' signatures. The attitudes and poses of the subjects express the widest range of feminine emotion. The layers upon layers of brilliant transparent watercolor in gambouge, prussian, sap green, azrilian crimson, ochre and vermillion build to rich luscious color… and the touch of 14K gold gives these decorative art pieces a sparkle that warms the heart and reminds us of an era long gone…may it rest in peace…
In 1990, Tom retired from the corporate business world and began to paint. Self-taught, he works primarily in watercolors. His florals almost always are abstracted forms with the same intense color rendering of his figures…but the added motion of a passing breeze adds yet another element of excitement. Likewise, his landscapes capture the techniques of the Fauvists and are stylized with mountains, hills, plains and lush foliage. His still life subject matter usually captures a chair, a table, a window, a jar and simple pieces of fruit…they always capture a moment of repose and reflection, interrupted by something unknown.
"I am a watercolorist with a strong sense of color, color theory and saturation of pigments. I layer several colors of transparent washes in different hues to give a depth and strength to the work. I use techniques such as lifting, salting, and rag rolling to achieve the different effects on my papers. I have a palette of 13 colors that helps develop a theme in my paintings. I add splashes of 14 K Liquid Gold Leaf to the finished product to give a special touch that is most eye-catching at evening and in candlelight. I often outline my pencil sketches with sepia, Prussian blue or indigo. I drag a clear water brush across the line to soften it and begin to define shading and shadows. I brush in gambouge highlights and then begin to wash over these effects with my palette colors. I then work color on color, saturating the pigments to give the deepest and most intense color. My styles vary depending on subject matter. I am very expressionistic with florals, very representative with stills, whimsical with the “long neck ladies” and almost story-book with the landscapes. I am influenced by all manner of artists from Impressionists to Modigliani to German Expressionists to Pre-Raphaelites. My most recent study has been of Kandinsky, Schiele, and Klimt. When I discovered the technology allowing me to paint on canvas, I was captivated. The process of learning a new substrate has been exhilarating. I am devoted to the effects of watercolor on canvas. And to my delight, so have been my most longtime and faithful patrons. As to the creativity expressed in the paintings you see, I suggest that only the Creator is creative; that is, only He can bring forth something from nothing. It is therefore my opinion that I am, as Tennyson explains, “a part of all that I have met.” It seems that we as artists are simply taking what is already created and rearranging the elements to come up with a line, a color, a theme that is unique to our natures and personalities. The style of my painting is unusual in watercolor circles. It is one developed over the last 20 years of painting in earnest, changing and stretching, allowing who I am to dictate the outcome. So it is very true to me that when people buy my art, they buy a little of me. The expressions you observe are tell-tale snippets of my temperament: delight in the earth’s abundant glories, peace with the life process, and excitement over what is yet to come. There is not a lot of angst in my life and I hope that comes through in my paintings. My most coveted response is when someone comes into my display and says, “This stuff makes me happy!”"
Mary Martin Gallery I is located on 103 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401 843-723-0303
Mary Martin Gallery IIis located at 143 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Mary Martin has collections of art showing at the Andell Inn - Kiawah Island, Bella Grace, the Harbour Club, The Vendue Inn, and other venues. Mary Martin Galleries have been selected as the best galleries in South Carolina for twelve years in a row and in the top 20 galleries in the nation, Also, selected as the best gallery by several local publications. We have wonderful financing options to assist in getting the right masterpiece for you.