James Barrett


James BarrettJames Barrett


My painting is driven by the desire to physically understand paint and it's craft. My central focus when working is to connect with my inner self in using the paint as a means of expression, and as a representation and extension of something from within, whilst constantly looking at new techniques in how the paint is applied and layered. 

My aim is to paint in a loose, gestural, free way - what could be termed as 'seat of your pants painting' - where the brush is driven by instinct whilst remaining true to perspective and expressive form. How broad the brushstrokes can be depends on subject matter - techniques used in the application of the paint and the looseness of the delivery of paint to canvas will vary according to each subject. I paint with various implements including my hands, rags, sticks, painting knives, and brushes. 

I enjoy being immersed in and physically moved by colour and paint, and have a passion for 'painterly' painters. 




James Barrett paints from a studio overlooking the river Dart in the village of Stoke Gabriel, near Totnes in Devon. He divides his time between painting and music composition: "I'm interested in constantly searching to further myself as an artist, and in developing ways to express myself both through music and paint. The two disciplines complement and feed on each other. I'm both fascinated and energised by the interplay between the two, and constantly excited by what might be thrown up creatively by the dual journey I'm immersed in."

Having graduated in music from the University of Leeds, then as a post-graduate at the Royal Academy, Barrett attended the Bristol School of Fine Art, intent on developing his painting in order to express himself through visual means alongside his music. Painting is in his blood, with several generations of artists on one side of his family - he learnt much about painting technique from his father's cousin, Pat Jobson, who was a marine painter and one of the founder members of the Wapping Group of Artists, which was formed in 1946 and still continues. 

He is interested in emotive painting; colour; instinct; and harnessing energy through the brush. 

"The subject matter and light obviously form an important and integral part of each painting, but it's not the most important thing for me when working. What really gets me going is the delivery of the paint as an expressive tool. In recent work this has thrown up an interesting correlation between the emotive processes of musical creation and how a brushstroke is delivered to the canvas. My subjects have combined two main areas: firstly, my response to my local environment,  including a visceral love for all things boating; seascapes; landscapes; and secondly, a reflection on the relationship and interplay between music and paint – the juxtaposition of, and build-up to both processes; and how the result of both is a living entity and a direct physical representation of the creator."