Tag Archives: joy

Update on Brotfabrik Exhibition (March 17, 2018)

Now that my exhibition at Brotfabrik has finished its second week and entered into its third, I thought I would share some of what’s happened and what’s coming up.

One of the gallerists at Brotfabrik has written several blog posts about the opening and my paintings, you can find them here:

1. On the opening: http://volwi-ein.blogspot.de/2018/03/stephanie-barnes-ronny-johne-going-with.html
2. The large piece that hangs in the first room: http://volwi-ein.blogspot.de/2018/03/gedanken-zum-bild-stephanie-barnes.html
3. Joy #4: http://volwi-ein.blogspot.de/2018/03/gedanken-zum-bild-joy-4-stephanie-barnes.html

I am doing a workshop on March 31 at the gallery from 13:00 until 18:00. The theme will be Resilience, and I will lead you through an interactive workshop exploring different artistic mediums and methods and how you can become the artist of your own life. Bringing artistic activities into your life can help you to be more resilient, curious, and help you to reduce stress. Come and explore and find out how. You can come for an hour or two, or hang-out for the whole afternoon, it’s up to you. If you’re on Facebook you can see details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2034316343494347/ and if you’re not on Facebook there is information on the Brotfabrik page http://brotfabrik-berlin.de/event/stephanie-barnes-ronny-johne-going-with-the-flow/2018-03-17/, but basically just show-up ready to paint/draw and explore.

I will also do an artist talk at the finissage on April 15 at 16:00. I am hoping to prepare some of it in German, so come out and see how I do. 🙂

Finally, if you’re wondering if it’s worth coming out to see the exhibition, I can tell you that there are some things installed that were not at the “Ich muss gehen” event in January or other exhibitions I have done in Berlin. Additionally, the first piece in a new series that I have just started is hanging at the gallery, it’s called, “Opening Up #1”. The series deals with how we open ourselves up to people, only to get frightened and retreat again. It has elements of the “Masks we hide behind” series and other themes I’ve dealt with, but adds some new components; I’m excited for you to see it, so I hope you’ll stop by the gallery and check it out. The gallery is open daily from 16:00 until 20:00.

That’s all for now, I hope to see you at the workshop or the Finissage.

Brotfabrik Vernissage, March 2, 2018

Info about my vernissage at Brotfabrik on March 2, 2018, 19:00 until 23:00.  You can also find info on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/events/1707791832607324/

Info on the Brotfabrik page about my exhibition: http://brotfabrik-berlin.de/event/stephanie-barnes-ronny-johne-going-with-the-flow/2018-03-02/

Like it or not

This is a blog post about some recent experiences I have had receiving feedback from other artists about my work. In one case the feedback was negative and criticized me and my paintings, the other was overwhelmingly positive.

In both cases the feedback was unsolicited by me, although in the first case I had asked the artist a question about his experience in the art world, I did not, however, ask him to critique my work.

I did not know the first artist.

The second artist is someone I have known for about 6 years. I trust her and respect her as an artist and a person.

In the first case, the artist’s comments seemed inconsistent and I wondered if he even looked at my work before providing his unsolicited feedback.

In the second case, the artist congratulated me on the evolution of my art and complemented the professionalism of my work (her word, not mine).

Not everyone likes my work, and that’s fine, there’s lots of art that I don’t like too; I am not offended by people who don’t like my work. I am often curious about why and will often engage in a conversation about my art and what it is that they don’t like about it. Often it is too energetic or colourful or they want to “see” something in it, or they just don’t like abstract art—it’s not my paintings in particular, it’s a whole style of painting. And that’s okay, they’re allowed to like or not like things, that’s what makes this world a wonderful place: the diversity of thought and likes and dislikes.

I do think it’s important to keep an open mind when looking at other people’s artwork. If they are sharing it either publicly or privately, it is clearly something that is important to them, something they are passionate about, it is a story that they feel compelled to share in whatever way they are able to. I think you should show and interest in that, out of respect for the other person and their journey, and because you might learn something that informs your own thoughts and experiences (and creative practice, if you have one).

My paintings tell a story of personal growth and development, and have become more confident and complex as I have continued with my practice. To me they illustrate the complexity of life. Where they started out simply as an expression of joyful chaos, they now combine that joy and chaos with heartbreak and loss. Such is the nature of life.

Either that speaks to you or it doesn’t. In the case of the first artist, I would suggest that it didn’t, in the case of the second artist I would suggest that it did. Neither is right or wrong, that’s just the way it is, given their own individual life experiences.

Am I going to stop painting because someone doesn’t like my painting? No. I paint because I find it to be the best way to express things that I can’t put into words. I paint because I have to. I have stories to tell, that can only be told through my paintings.

I paint, therefore I am.

Passage through the Opposites: Stephanie Barnes’ Reconciliation Painting

The following essay was written about my art by an art critic who reviewed my work here in Berlin. The critic wishes to remain anonymous.


I long to be heard.

Words and pictures; not words or pictures.

I long to be whole, not half.

My struggle is to be…


                        –Stephanie Barnes

In 2014, the year that Germany celebrated its 25th anniversary of reconciliation, Stephanie Barnes knew in a single instant that she was going to move to Berlin. In this AHA moment, she was united between her fated pathways of opposites, as a twin born under the sign of Gemini, seeking reconciliation in her art.

“In December, it was a feeling of being home, even though I was standing in a kitchen filled with someone else’s belongings, and only two suitcases of my own with me,” she recalls of her visit to Berlin, just a month after the reconciliation celebration. “The other moment, in February 2015, it was feeling homesick for Berlin after being away for 2 days, on a 16-day business trip.”

The artist being at home in a city representing division and reconciliation for the world comes with a feeling of wholeness and integration. Barnes sees a parallel between her emotions expressed in painting and that of the German nation. This inner/outer composition between her inner feeling of reconciliation and the external reconciliation in her new environment is a theme working its way through her art.

“In Germany and in Berlin, the reconciliation is between east/west, communism/capitalism, homogeneity/diversity–­the group versus the individual,” Barnes muses. “On the personal level, the reconciliation is between left and right brain, knowledge management and creativity, business and art, standing up for myself and belonging.”

For Barnes, the journey to integration extends from her birthright as a twin born under the Gemini sign of the Twins. “Who am I?” is the question she asks, and seeks to answer, with her painting. Her passage between the opposites as businesswoman and artist has led to the discovery of a language to access the energy built up from the tension of balancing life in the corporate world with her life in art.

Paradoxically, the process of working the image through this eternal question of identity has brought her into a rediscovery of words: “The integration and reconciliation of my logical business half and the creative, painting, artistic half is my own. I am not half a person, I am not only business/knowledge management/process; I am not only a creative/painter/artist. I am not half a twin. I am a whole in a set of twins.”

Yet, she sums up her passage of reconciliation through the opposites that is her birthright with a single word: JOY.

Stephanie Barnes: Passion, Process, Inspiration

I am over joyed to be able to share these new videos with you, I created them (with the help of Chockablock Media, Allyson is a friend) to help me share more about my motivations for the painting that I do.

There are three videos, passion, process, and inspiration.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed creating them!

(If you are in the Greater Toronto Area you can come out and meet me in person and see my art at Artscape Youngplace, details here http://www.stephaniebarnesart.com/art-2/september-26-27-art-show-and-sale/.)

Live Painting at Serendipity Bistro

Yesterday (Nov 15, 2014), I painted live in the window at Serendipity Bistro. I started at 11am and finished just before 1pm. It was fun to see people watching me from the other side of the window, and enjoyable to talk to those who came in to look at my paintings that were hanging up, and take a closer look at the works-in-process.

I have posted pictures over on my Facebook page so you can take a look at them there, https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.847966831890464.1073741841.592798060740677&type=1.


We Have No Secrets, Oct 2-16 Women’s Art Association of Canada

My artist’s statement for the exhibition:

My creativity evolved from drawing and photography, which were representative, into painting that is an abstract expression of self-discovery.

My painting is what keeps me sane. It is a constant reminder to stay in the present and go with the flow. It is informed by feelings and experiences, thoughts and spirit. It offers a means of expression to thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed in words.

Even the expression of negative emotions, like rejection, is transformed into joy when translated into paint. This is palpable in the mixed media installation piece present in this exhibition

Rejection evolved from an exploration of “The Masks We Hide Behind” and the “Escape” from those masks and ideas that can be perceived as an oppressing cage. Rejecting the external world and the stifling social conformity, we stop hiding who we are and step beyond that sense of rejection, eventually learning to stand for the truth, regardless of what comes.

Narrative for my mixed media installation called, Rejection:

The piece originates from the society’s rejection of human differences —not allowing the individual to show who he/she really is, whitewashing feelings and beliefs, wants, and desires for acceptance’s sake. It develops into a partial opening towards what we feel, but still subconsciously fearing rejection. In the latter phase of the metamorphosis the rejection is left behind, to ultimately stand in our own truth, openly showing who we are and what we believe in—and accepting the risk of potential rejection.

Updated Gallery: Inspired by Nigeria and The Masks We Hide Behind’

I have updated the images of my art: I’ve added pictures of what I’ve been working on over the fall and winter. I was fighting a bit with the camera to get decent pictures, I will try to work on getting better images, but I wanted to get something posted that wasn’t just the work-in-progress type pictures that I post on my personal Facebook page.

The initial set of images that I have added were inspired by my trip to Nigeria in September 2013, and represent, the colours of the landscape there: lush greens, and rusty-red soil and of course then there’s the oil and the colourful clothing. (The appear part-way down the page and are called “Inspired by Nigeria” numbers 1-4. These pieces will also be on display at the Women’s Art Association of Canada during March 2014.

The energy and emotions from those pieces evolved into the idea of the “masks we hide behind” and the layers that are on top of who we really are. It’s an idea I am still exploring so the images I’ve posted are the first 5 in the series, stay tuned for more.

Too Much

I started a new piece today, after taking a break for a few weeks; I NEEDED to paint TODAY.

As I started my latest creation, which in actual fact is 4  8″ by 8″ panels, I thought about my idea, blobs of acrylic paint mixed with molding paste, 6 different colours. This was something different than what I have been doing, and was inspired by a few different things that I have been looking at over the last few weeks.

I am usually all about big, big gestures, big loops of fluid paint or strokes with a big paint brush. Bigger is better, more is better. This was very methodical and rhythmical, and tedious as I created, yet I held firm to the idea that I had for this piece, thinking about what ties it to the rest of my practice.

It wasn’t spontaneous, like my earlier works, yet it definitely has a flow to it.

It was, however, TOO MUCH….too much, that’s what ties it together with my other pieces, I like a lot of paint, paint that takes days to dry, paint that drips and puddles and oozes. This doesn’t puddle and oozes, but it is too much: big globs of paint, messy, irregularly formed blobs of paint. It makes me smile just typing the words.

I am too much, at least that’s what I have believed about myself for a long time: too loud, too opinionated, too smart, too overwhelming, too much to handle, too much, and too many (there were after-all two of me (I’m an identical twin)).


I’m not really, I’m perfectly imperfect, like everyone else. I am the most perfect one of me there is, and there is only one, not two, despite being an identical twin.

The idea of too much, informs my art practice…too much paint…too much movement…too much energy…too much…except it’s not too much, it’s JOYFUL energy exploding all over the canvas and I can’t have enough joy, can you?


Running out of Too Much (work in progress)

Running out of Too Much (work in progress)

Running out of Too Much, completed

Running out of Too Much, completed


Realistic vs. Abstract

I went to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) on Saturday (July 6, 2013), it wasn’t as hot as last year, which was a good thing. As always there was lots of art to look at, in all kinds of mediums: painting, sculpture, textiles, jewelry, photography, drawing, etc. The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is where I bought my puzzle piece lapel pin, that 10 years later would inspire the name of my consulting company, Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting, but I digress.

While I was at TOAE I spoke with several of the artists about their art, their process, and motivation, because as much as I dislike people asking me those questions, mostly because I have to think too hard to describe my art in words, I am curious about other artist’s practice.

In particular I had a good chat with Brock Irwin and his art. As you can see on his website he sometimes paints realistic pieces, and sometimes abstract. I asked why he goes back and forth between the two types, he said he gets tired/bored of doing one style of the other, so switches back and forth. What also intrigued me was that he said he thought the abstract was much more difficult than the realistic. He explained that the while realistic pieces were much more technically difficult, there was typically a model that he was working from e.g. a landscape, a bowl of fruit, etc. whereas with abstract pieces it was all coming from inside him. The abstract pieces demanded much more knowledge and attention to colour and composition.

I think I mostly agree with him, in the details of what he said, but for me, the realistic pieces are hard, I don’t have the patience to do them. I also feel like, for me art is about expression, and emotion, and the reaction I have to either looking at a piece or creating a piece and the thoughts of me doing something realistic is something mind-numbingly boring and tedious. I can absolutely appreciate the dedication and skill involved, but it’s not where my interest lies.

To me the abstract pieces that I create are the easiest thing in the world to create, they bring me joy and balance and I enjoy creating them like I enjoy nothing else. I enjoy going into myself to decide on colours and shapes and composition, and doing what speaks to me. That is not to say that process is easy, it definitely takes time and courage. I have had many people tell me they could never create abstract paintings like I create, they would be too worried about “getting it right” and “making a mistake.”

To me that is the best part, there is no “getting it right” or “making a mistake” there’s nothing to compare against, it’s pure, unadulterated, me.