Behind Every Painting . . . a story, an idea, a moment

November 2, 2017
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Close to Home © Barbara J Hart is a landscape oil painting on canvas and measures 20″ x 20″


Behind every painting there is a story, an idea, a moment. 

“Close to Home” is about that moment when big billowing clouds of brilliant whites, soft pinks, and yellows captured my gaze. These clouds passed quickly as they morphed and changed, never to be the same.  It was a pleasure to capture this vision in its backdrop of blue. To paint them was like touching the sky!

My inspiration was from a photo I snapped of Historic Onancock Creek, located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Onancock is Algonquian for “foggy place”. This lovely colonial port was founded in 1680, and is a short boat ride from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The creek meanders past woodlands, fields and osprey nests, while stately historic homes line its shores.

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Happy 2017 – 2 New Landscape Paintings

January 15, 2017
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This year my goal in the studio is to paint more regularly, to avoid distractions and to produce more work. So, to that end, I plan to do a small painting a day. The nice thing about the push to produce a complete painting quickly is that it leads to a more spontaneous looking piece, which is what I am after. The paintings serve as studies for larger formats, and provide a means to solve various problems presented within each painting.

It is the process of  painting that delights me. And, producing quickly is a challenging, productive and fun way to begin the new year. Here are two of my quick studies.



Island Inlet © Barbara J Hart , 2017, is a study in acrylic painted on paper and measures 8″ x10″.


Day Dreaming is a landscape painting done in acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Day Dreaming © Barbara J Hart, 2017, is a landscape painting done in acrylic on canvas board, 8″ x 10″

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New Studio Space – PB&J Studio Opens

June 28, 2016
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Very excited to announce that I am sharing a studio space with two other painters. We had a very successful Grand Opening and received local press about the event. It was all very exciting and rewarding. We call ourselves PB&J Studio. Here’s why:

Art Studio 5-3-16

View of the studio at the end of the Grand Opening of PB&J Studio


Grand Opening 5-13-16

The studio is painted a beautiful turquoise, one of our favorite colors.

We are three local painters Penny Makris, Barbara Hart and Jeanette Darnell and we have teamed up to create PB&J Studio. The naming happened on the spot. We were excited to see the studio with beautiful turquoise walls and plenty of space, and we looked at each other and asked “What are we going to call ourselves?” Jeanette suggested “How about PB&J?” And the rest is history. Our light-filled working studio is a pleasant and inviting environment which is open by appointment.

Penny works from an intuitive place and her paintings explore fantasy and spirituality. Barbara finds inspiration for her paintings in marsh lands, clouds and country roads. Shape, line and mixed media are the driving forces in Jeanette’s paintings of nature and everyday objects.

Stay tuned for continuing developments.




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Mary Didoardo at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

April 5, 2016
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Mary Didoardo Studio Visit

Mary Didoardo Studio Visit


Back in July I wrote about stopping by to visit my friend Mary Didoardo‘s studio. At that time she was painting up a storm.  This past week, I took a quick trip to New York for her opening at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts.  

And, while you are checking out her fabulous paintings, read her interview on the Markel Fine Art blog.

The gallery is located at 529 West 20th, Suite 6W in Chelsea.

Her paintings are on display from March 31st – May 7th, 2016. Hope you get a chance to see the exhibit.



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A Place of Diversity and Beauty

March 26, 2016
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"Stillness" is an oil painting on canvas board of Eastern Shore marsh land. 6" x 6" by Barbara J Hart

STILLNESS © Barbara J Hart is oil on canvas board and measures 6″ x 6″


I just love the marshes along the Eastern Shore. A walk through these magical boggy places encourages you to slow down, take in the sights, smells and sounds of nature. They are places that fill you with awe and a reverence for the beauty and diversity of nature.



“A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim,

And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh’s brim”…

by E. Pauline Johnson


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Making a Painting

June 19, 2015
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Summer Sky, oil on panel, 6" x 6", Barbara J Hart

Summer Sky, oil on panel, 6″ x 6″, Barbara J Hart

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.

To me, painting is alchemy of color, line and texture. It’s about discoveries along the way from the initial idea to the completed work. With each painting I open my heart to the experience on the canvas as I explore the process.

Each painting is the exploration of the unknown and each provides a new journey, an adventure, a study of light, lines, form and texture. How do I capture the feelings, the essence of a place? Painting is a non-verbal medium. The act of painting is not about a spoken language but I try to find the language that expresses my experiences; to record the brush strokes that produce the paintings. How do the speed of the hand and the pressure of the brushes on the surface affect the painting?  This is what I think about as I paint.

Nature inspires me and I hope you find peace in Summer Sky, a little gem of a painting, oil on wood panel, 6″ x 6″. 

 One of the great joys of making a painting is sharing it with you. Enjoy!




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The Power of the Image …Looking and Seeing

June 2, 2015
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“Migrant Mother” Dorothea Lange”s 1936 iconic photo is inspiration for Marisa Silver’s novel “Mary Coin”

I so love Marisa Silver’s new book, Mary Coin. She uses Dorothea Lange’s iconic photograph, Migrant Mother as the fulcrum for her beautifully written story about photographer, subject, a moment in time and how history is made.

Inspired by real life women, Dorothea Lange and Florence Owen Thompson, it is a fictional exploration of the story behind the iconic photo. Silver’s compelling novel incorporates biographical details of her subjects about that brief encounter between two self-determined women; one celebrated and one unknown (Florence lived in anonymity and did not reveal who she was until nearing the end of her life).

Mary Coin is the migrant mother with courage and determination as well as secrets. Vera Dare is the photographer with creative ambitions who chooses to leave her children to pursue her work.  A third character in the book is Walker Dodge, a present-day profession of cultural history who discovers family secrets embedded in the photo. Silver tells a compassionate story about family, love, loss and uncertainty.

The story also explores questions about the power of photography, the morality of art and how history is interpreted and preserved. Vera Dare’s portrait brought the plight of the migrant workers and rural poverty to the attention of the Farm Security Bureau but she also knew that it might not help Mary and her children. In the framing of the photograph, Mary’s glance is full of strength and resignation. She is rooted in time. But why are the children turned from the camera?  Questions of intimacy and distance are threads throughout the book.

One of the most famous images of the 20th Century, the photo has become dull with time. It has been exhibited, used to document the Depression and even placed on a stamp. We have interpreted the image throughout the decades and no longer see it.

Marisa Silver weaves a beautiful story that gives new life to this iconic photograph and shows how photography can capture the essence of a moment but the question remains; does it blur or illuminate history?

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Up Close with Pat Phillips, Contemporary Asheville Goldsmith

April 2, 2015
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Here is the first in a series of artist interviews to give you a peek into the many ways art is made. The interviews are a celebration of creative work done by passionate people in all sorts of different spaces along with their working processes that reveals each artist’s aesthetic and perspective.

First up,  Patricia Phillips. I first met Pat when I stepped into her studio in the River Arts District Asheville. She is warm, dynamic and engaging and  is a goldsmith artist, creating one-of-a-kind works. Her metals are an outgrowth of her larger wall relief sculptures. Her art works speak of a strength and power. She is happy to share her understanding and excitement for the arts with others.

Pat Phillips at work in her Asheville studio


How does living in Asheville, NC influence your art?

Pat: Living in Asheville gives an artist three things that you don’t have in most areas. The first is a very rich history of crafts and fine art which is both inspiring while supporting an audience appreciative of the arts. Second are the number of really fine artists working which creates a very high standard to live up to and a great supportive network of artists to interact with. Third is the natural beauty of the area. When you live in a truly beautiful area you want to make beautiful things.

What advice would you give other artists?

Pat: Become a doctor! Only kidding but you do have to ask yourself “How are you going to pay for the luxuries in life? Like food and a roof over your head.” The best way to be creative is to make each work from your gut and inner spirit without having to be concerned about its marketability.  With each work be true to yourself and you will make better works. Try not to be influenced by wondering if it is going to sell or if others are going to like it.

Pat Phillips samples of beautiful jewelry

Samples of Pat Phillips’ beautiful contemporary jewelry

Why do you choose to work in silver/metals?

Pat: I come from a wall relief sculpture background and still make wood wall relief sculptures which are painted with encaustics. The metals, while still satisfying my sculpture needs, are a way for me to work small and on a more personal level with people. After all they will be putting them on their body and wearing them in public. 00

What is your creative process like? Tell us about your techniques.

Pat: My creative process begins with an idea I want to communicate. In order for a work of art to be successful, it must first have a sound conceptual background.  It is important to encourage the viewer to think about the issues addressed in the work.
With the metals it is very important to me to not use any prefabricated units but make everything in the tradition of true goldsmithing. All my work is created from a sheet of silver and/or wire. In some cases very ancient techniques are used dating back as much as 5,000 years. All chains and clasp are hand-wrought as I feel it is important to keep these techniques alive.
What is your working routine?

Pat: I have found that it is very important to keep regular studio hours each day as opposed to waiting to be inspired. If you have a set time and go into the studio creativity will come. It is important to have a place to work where you can leave your materials setup and ready. I address my studio time with respect and discipline setting goals for each day.

Pat Phillips’ work has been featured in numerous solo, two-person and juried group exhibitions throughout the eastern United States including six one-person shows in New-York City. Pat’s March 2000 show at the Walter Wickiser Gallery in NY received a favorable review in Art News. She holds a Masters of Fine Art from Florida State University with a focus on painting and sculpture. Pat served on the Florida Arts Counsel and has appeared as a guest speaker for them. She has participated on the Visual Arts Center of Panama City Board of Directors and served as Exhibition Chairman for five years.

She has judged and juried numerous select art shows in Florida. While her work focuses on jewelry, painting and sculpture, she has a diverse background in the crafts and art history. She has taught art history and the crafts including metalsmithing on the college level for sixteen years. She is a participating member of the Florida Society of Goldsmiths.

Pat’s studio is located at The Pink Dog Creative Dog Creative, 342 – 348 Depot Street | Asheville, NC 28801

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December 12, 2014
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A fresh start – setting up my new painting studio.

As many of you know I had been working from my Long Island City apartment. It was a darling little studio (little being the operative word). It was two steps from my bed and it was taking over! I would literally step out of bed and into the studio. To economize my space I raised the bed and pushed my flat files under it. The down side was that since I used my bed as a surface I would have to clear it off before climbing in at night.  The work was too close. The space was too confining. So, I moved.
I am happy to say that I have taken my art full time. With the move comes an extra room that is my new studio.  Now, I actually have room to work, a closet to store supplies and a door that I can close.
Can’t wait to show you the big reveal!

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August 22, 2014
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Comedian Amy Poehler channels Edith Head (American movie costume designer) in a spot-on art world parody in her latest Old Navy commercials. Here are the outtakes.

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