Jim Barnard

I’ve always been drawn to the beauty in what I see, both on the surface and what’s revealed as I look deeper. From my earliest work 25 years ago with landscapes, trees, and interiors, to the portraiture I do today, the common theme in my art is my desire to portray the essence of my subjects in play with a particular character of light.

My introduction to photography was in the darkroom, developing and printing black and white film. The lessons I learned in those first 10 years - how to bring a subject to life using only the limited variables of brightness and contrast - were invaluable. Although I now use use Photoshop to “develop” my images, I use it sparingly and without the trickery it allows. My portraiture still relies on sculpting with shadow and light, but now includes the added dimension of animating a person’s likeness with their unique beauty and spirit.

I have been making portraits for 15 years and it is a privilege and a delight to collaborate with a range of diverse and interesting people. My portraits of ordinary people, actors and musicians, couples, the LGBTQ community, mothers and daughters, and fashion, yoga, and fitness enthusiasts, challenges and inspires me doing the work I love.

My portraits draw inspiration from both painters and photographers. My favorite portrait painters are Vermeer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, and Klimt. Photographers that inspire me include Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

My fine art work has been exhibited at such institutions as the Chazen Museum of Art, the Office of Lt Governor Barbara Lawton in the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Overture Center Galleries, the Amanda Smith Gallery in Texas, the Steinhauer Gallery at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, the Fanny Garver Gallery in Madison, and is included in private collections.  My book of narrative portraits, Facing Dylan, Reimagining Bob Dylan Song Titles, was published in 2016. I am a founding member of the Center for Photography Madison.

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