After a very brief period as a primary school teacher, Barbara Bagley went back to her true passion, to paint full time. She now works from a shed at the bottom of the garden which masquerades as her studio. “It’s a very nice shed, if not a bit messy,” she tells Ticknall Life.
Originally from Yarm in the northeast of England, Barbara is now based in the university town of Loughborough. She studied Fine Art (painting) at what was, then, Loughborough College of Art and Design, graduating over 30 years ago.
Barbara told Ticknall Life, “When the children were smaller, I loved reading them books and I was especially drawn to the illustrations. It reignited my love of Mr Benn and the magic I felt watching the programmes when I was a child. I loved David McKee’s drawings of buildings and the interest he managed to put into the ordinary. This is what started me drawing the area around me”.
Barbara likes to make work that people want to engage with, whether it’s a picture of a town or a village they know well, somewhere they’ve been for a walk, a holiday destination they love or even if the colour just goes well with their sofa! Ultimately, Barbara loves it if her work makes people stop, look a little closer and smile.
She works in a variety of ways (she says she gets bored quite easily) from detailed, quirky town/villagescapes to colourful, semi-abstract landscapes. When she gets fed up with painting tiny detail, she takes a break and paints something much looser and freer.When she does not feel like painting at all, she makes little houses from reclaimed bits of wood. It appears she can’t sit still for long!
Barbara’s village and townscapes, similar to the Ticknall one here, start with a visit to the village or town that she is going to paint. She likes to get a feel for the place first and then makes a few sketches. Next, she looks at Google Maps and Street View. Satellite view in Google Maps allows her to see the village or town as a whole and take note of the most prominent buildings and features. Street View then gives her a view of individual buildings from multiple angles. Barbara will also work from photographs she has taken herself or ones she finds on the internet. She then spends ages (and ages) scribbling in her sketchbook until she’s happy with a final composition.
The paintings take weeks, if not months, to finish so she tends not to do commissions. The acrylics she uses are built up in layers, starting from the darkest colours and then adding textures and details. One aim in life is for Barbara to own (and be able to fly) a drone, in order to work quicker and another aim is to illustrate children’s books. Barbara told us “I have a dog, so spend a lot of time walking. We’re very lucky to have some lovely parks and scenery right on our doorstep. Ever since studying at art college, I have been drawn to trees and woodlands – I love the shapes that the light, leaves and branches create and try to capture these using simplified forms”.
Barbara has recently started using a digital art program called Procreate on her iPad Pro to “paint” pictures. Initially, she thought it might speed up her work but soon found it took just as much time to “paint” a picture on the iPad as it does to paint one on canvas, however it does mean she can work anywhere and without the accompanying mess.
Barbara regularly exhibits at the Melbourne Arts Festival in September. It was during the Melbourne festival last year that several visitors told her about Ticknall as a village that would suit her style perfectly. The original painting took over 6 weeks to complete (as it is quite large, 76cm square) to allow for the detail to be visible. The original painting has been sold but high quality limited edition prints are available.
Unfortunately, most of the planned local festivals and exhibitions for 2020 have now been cancelled and Barbara has had to find new ways to promote her work. All her work is available directly or through her website; www.barbarabagley.co.uk. You can also follow Barbara on Facebook: Barbara Bagley Art and Instagram: Barbarabagleyart .
Ticknall Life readers can take advantage of a 15% discount on any purchases through Barbara’s website until the end of August 2020. Just enter TICKNALLLIFE15 at the checkout.