Friday, December 1, 2017

Painting looser

So you'd like to paint looser?

If I could have a dollar for every time I heard an artist say "I must paint looser", I'd be a rich man!
Even though we may wish to paint looser we often soon revert to how we always paint - it's just natural and it's just easy to go with our own flow.

Painting looser takes effort, practice and confidence and quite frankly, it's not for everyone.
Most importantly is the issue of simplifying everything and that means ignoring lots of small stuff or converting it to a stroke or two instead of 100 strokes of the brush. I think you know what I mean. It's the difference between stroking the canvas many times with a little brush until you are happy with the result or placing just a few confident marks, so that the result resembles the object enough for viewers to fill in the details. This is the appeal of such paintings. It takes a certain amount of bravery to do this and certainly practice.

Reducing objects to much simpler forms is a big part of painting looser, but so is using bigger brushes. Using a brush that is bigger than you thought suitable for the job, is the first step. I can tell you by recent experience that painting small figures works out much better for me using 1/2" flat than a pointy sable.  The pointy brush has me fiddling, the 1/2" flat gives me a more realistic random shape and keeps me loose even though I don't particularly want to be!

The truly loose painting will show confident strokes and not overworked areas of blended colour.  Those seemingly brash marks will give your painting so much energy. I say seemingly brash, because the strokes are quite considered and have come at the cost of some practice.
Painting outdoors is the perfect arena to practice that loose painting style and in fact, it really demands it! 

So, let the wish come true and give it a try. Half the problem is getting to the easel and remembering that we would like to paint looser!

Be brave and use a stupidly large brush to paint the whole picture. Then at the end you can use a small brush for a minute or two - it is exquisitely enjoyable to put in those little highlights.
Simplify shapes, simplify colour and use confident strokes. It doesn't matter if you mess up, just regard each piece as a practice without the pressure of perfection and it will come together.
Happy Painting!
Mike Barr

Caption:  This street scene was painted reasonably loosely and then some small work right at the end. It has some energy because of it, with plenty the viewer can add.  Simple shapes, simple colour and obvious brush strokes.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sydney harbour Bridge

Sun and rain - the Rocks. 75x75cm oil on canvas. 
The first of my larger Sydney series. George Street is dominated by the view of one of the most famous bridges in the world - one of the great icons of Sydney and Australia.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Exhibition at Saint Ignatius College - 2015

Great show at St Ignatius at the weekend. All of my paintings together. A sell out.
Also did a short demo in oils at the show - see photos.

Rain painting article in the Acrylic Artist magazine

A sneak peek at the opening spread of my article in the Fall edition of the Acrylic Artist magazine.
The 10-page article includes a step-by-step demo of a city rain scene in acrylic. The Acrylic Artist is a wonderful resource for acrylic artists or those wishing to try it. The next issue comes out at the beginning of September and may be pre-ordered online

See more paintings and a preview of the article here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Painting a rainy day scene in acrylic - Mike Barr

Mike Barr demonstrates a rainy-day acrylic painting. Music is by kind permission of Mike Howe - put on your headphones to really appreciate it. See more at
See more Mike Barr works at

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Town Hall Reflections

Town Hall Reflections - 75x75cm oil on canvas
Available at the Saint Ignatius Art Show 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More rain.......

Caught in the Rain -  is one of six small pieces I have prepared for the SALA exhibition at St. Ignatius College Art Show 2015.
Caught in the Rain - 30x30cm oil on board

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Airport views - Adelaide

Airport Views - oil on board, 10x8". Painted today just outside the Adelaide Airport boundary. There is something exciting about an airport, even from outside. The Adelaide hills present a fine backdrop to one of the old airport towers.
Airport Views- 10x8" oil on board.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Original Beach oil painting for sale - Mike Barr

Beach Path - Victor Harbor - oil on board - 30x30cm
For sale - $495 postage paid anywhere in Australia, US, Canada and the UK. Comes in a white frame and ready to hang.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Late rain - Waymouth Street wins Packers Prize

Late Rain - Waymouth Street won the Packers Prize at the 2015 Kerneweck Lowender Art Prize at Kadina in South Australia. It also was Highly Commended.
Late Rain - Waymouth Street - Oil on canvas - 75x75cm

Friday, May 29, 2015

Town Hall rain wins at Campbelltown

Town Hall Rain - oil on canvas - 75x75cm
Received first prize overall at the Campbelltown Rotary Art Show. Great honour.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rainy day painting

Motorbike on Flinders - oil on canvas - 75x75cm
Showing in August at the St.Ignatius Art Show Adelaide.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winners at Brunswick Street Gallery


These three works won first prize at the annual 40x40 exhibition at the Bruswick Street Gallery in Melbourne. December 2014 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rain on Pirie Street

Rain on Pirie Street - oil on linen - 75x75cm
Available at the Victor Harbor Rotary Art Show - Jan 2015

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Afternoon Shadows - the Bluff

One of my favourite subjects - the Bluff at Victor Harbor.
Afternoon Shadows - The Bluff - 120x90cm oil on canvas

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Late afternoon - Melbourne

Late afternoon Melbourne 
Late afternoon on Commercial Road just off Chapel Street in Melbourne. 40x40cm oil on board. Available at the Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne early December.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Holiday at Semaphore

I have painted this or similar scenes for about 10 years but this is my first major one in oils.
Holiday at Semaphore - 75x75cm oil on canvas

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Long Beach

Long Beach - I've called the painting this simply because it is a long painting! It is mainly a skyscape with a beach, figures, boats and dogs to give it all scale and focus.
153x50cm oil on linen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Late Rain - Franklin Street

Rain showers sweep across Franklin Street near Victoria Square in Adelaide. The is a mystery and excitement when it rains in the city particularly when it's getting dark.

Late Rain - Franklin Street. 100cmx100cm oil on canvas

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beach Picnic

A warm Autumn day has the usual beach goers at the sea's edge.
Beach picnic oil on canvas - 67x51cm

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Beach Day - Grange

This view is from Grange looking toward Henley Beach.
Beach Day - Grange - 48x24" oil on canvas.

Available soon at Roux and Cyr International Fine Art Gallery

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rain on Grenfell Street

Rain sweeps across the Hindmarsh Square end of Grenfell Street.
Rain on Grenfell Street - 80x60cm oil on board.
Available at the Stirling Arts Festival

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Red Car - Payneham Road

My latest rainy-day painting heading for the Walkerville Rotary Art Show in a couple of weeks.
Red Car - Payneham Road - 85x70cm oil on canvas

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Winter at Victor Harbor

Victor Harbor is beautiful any time of year and Winter is no exception.
Winter at Victor - 60x30cm - oil on board

Saturday, July 19, 2014

In the shadows of the Bridge

Boats travel underneath the bridge at Goolwa during a big regatta. Interesting shadows and lights were made by the yachts going in and out of the shadows of the bridge above.
In the shadows of the bridge - oil on canvasboard - 10x8"