Barry McCarthy

“It is the act of painting that allows me to live in harmony with myself, my work and my world,” says renowned Canadian artist Barry McCarthy. Born in Deep River, Ontario in 1951, McCarthy grew up experiencing the vast shores of Lake Superior and the dense woods of the far north. McCarthy’s deep connection with the landscape of his youth continues to inform his work. In his words, “to paint a subject, you must know it, understand it and live it before you can say something about it.”

After studying fine art at the University of Guelph, McCarthy’s appreciation of Dutch landscape painting of the 17th century stimulated his passion for the watercolours. He developed an outstanding watercolour technique to convey soft impressionist light. In scale alone, often on paper five feet by three feet, and in absolute command of the transparency of this medium, the artist achieved memorable results and challenged the very concept of this traditional art form.

Based in southwestern Ontario, McCarthy first painted and exhibited the farm country surrounding Fergus, with its Grand River and majestic waterfalls. Gradually, searching for expanded views and coastlines, a family visit to Atlantic Canada led to summer images of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The artist always saw himself as an ambassador of the Maritimes. “I must be there to feel the wind and air, so that I can bring these thoughts and visions back to the studio,” says McCarthy. His plethora of visual discoveries soon became oil paintings. The new medium allowed him to adopt and refine the light and transparency that made his watercolours so memorable. The small watercolour studies provide him with confidence and comfort in a medium for which he is renowned. McCarthy chooses his best efforts in watercolour and commits them to a large format in oil. Enlightened by his constant travels throughout Canada and abroad, McCarthy always seeks new imagery and ideas for his compositions. He looks for subjects or situations imbued not merely with beauty but with a sense of angst and tension.

McCarthy’s recent is an evocative series of watercolour studies and oil paintings of the gently rolling landscape of southern Ontario around the artist’s home in Elora, and wondrously detailed studies of Nova Scotia with its windswept coastlines and haunting lone houses in east coast landscapes. The Atlantic, with all its austere foreboding appears in much of McCarthy’s work. The vast body of water holds his eye in constant fascination and respect with its rugged topography and tonality changes. Houses like the ones in the paintings “In the Bay”, “Houses on Stilts”, and “Atlantic Retreat” are perched on cliffs and precipices clinging to life. McCarthy finds solace and retreat in these places of solitude. He leaves the viewer with a resonant and haunting afterimage.

McCarthy’s work transforms the common object, ordinary person, or familiar landscape. The colour, light, and texture in each composition engage the viewer. We recognize the subject but, more than viewing it, we experience the moment in time that impels the viewer’s mind to thoughts of human history. The counties of Wellington and Waterloo are atmospheric; early morning vistas with the cool mist rising, softening grass, trees, and water in scenes like “Misty Morning”, “Tired Road”, and “Spring Field and Lilacs”. In the work “At Dusk” and the watercolour “Study for Waiting for Halloween”, McCarthy shows us a different time of day and that smoky gray skies and dusk make for great paintings. He captures this low light with amazing clarity and precision. Whatever the subject matter he chooses to paint, McCarthy reveals its spirit, its inner self, and its mysticism.

Available artwork: 
O'Connor Rocks by Barry McCarthy
O'Connor Rocks
Oil on Board, 11 x 7.5
Loch Gallery, Toronto
The Glassy Pool by Barry McCarthy
The Glassy Pool
Oil on Board, 11 x 7.5
Loch Gallery, Calgary
The Red Shed, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
The Red Shed, Nova Scotia
Oil on Canvas, 40 x 48
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Winter Sojourn, Elora by Barry McCarthy
Winter Sojourn, Elora
Oil on Canvas, 54 x 40
Loch Gallery, Toronto
View from Above, Digby, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
View from Above, Digby, Nova Scotia
Oil on Canvas, 30 x 42
Loch Gallery, Toronto
After the Rain, Cape Spear, Newfoundland by Barry McCarthy
After the Rain, Cape Spear, Newfoundland
Oil on Board, 6.75 x 10
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Cataract Trail, Aboyne by Barry McCarthy
Cataract Trail, Aboyne
Oil on Canvas, 40 x 60
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Idle Prop, Cape Breton by Barry McCarthy
Idle Prop, Cape Breton
Watercolour, 13.25 x 19
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Sundown in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
Sundown in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
Watercolour, 10 x 14
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Fly Fishing the Grand, Elora by Barry McCarthy
Fly Fishing the Grand, Elora
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Looking Down the Irvine in Fall, Elora Gorge by Barry McCarthy
Looking Down the Irvine in Fall, Elora Gorge
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Study for Winter Sojourn, Elora by Barry McCarthy
Study for Winter Sojourn, Elora
Watercolour, 13.5 x 9.5
Loch Gallery, Toronto
South River Pasture, Late Afternoon, Elora by Barry McCarthy
South River Pasture, Late Afternoon, Elora
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Storm Spill Off, Elora Gorge by Barry McCarthy
Storm Spill Off, Elora Gorge
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Watery Pasture, Elora Gorge by Barry McCarthy
Watery Pasture, Elora Gorge
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
On the Dock, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
On the Dock, Nova Scotia
Watercolour, 10 x 14
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Les Éboulements, Quebec by Barry McCarthy
Les Éboulements, Quebec
Watercolour, 10 x 14
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Majestic Spill off, BC by Barry McCarthy
Majestic Spill off, BC
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Calgary
Distant Light, BC by Barry McCarthy
Distant Light, BC
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Sculptured Light, BC by Barry McCarthy
Sculptured Light, BC
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
The Fallen, Cathedral Forest, BC by Barry McCarthy
The Fallen, Cathedral Forest, BC
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Strange Smoke, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
Strange Smoke, Nova Scotia
Watercolour, 14.5 x 10
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Log Jam, North Shore, Lake Superior by Barry McCarthy
Log Jam, North Shore, Lake Superior
Watercolour, 10 x 14
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Lunch Break View, BC by Barry McCarthy
Lunch Break View, BC
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Iron and Stone, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
Iron and Stone, Nova Scotia
Watercolour, 9.75 x 13.75
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Church at Pierce Corners, Ontario by Barry McCarthy
Church at Pierce Corners, Ontario
Watercolour, 14 x 10
Loch Gallery, Toronto
School is Out by Barry McCarthy
School is Out
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Study for Two Churches, One God, Prince Edward County by Barry McCarthy
Study for Two Churches, One God, Prince Edward County
Watercolour, 14 x 10
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Sandbanks Lookout, Prince Edward County by Barry McCarthy
Sandbanks Lookout, Prince Edward County
Watercolour, 9.75 x 13.75
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Wedding Cake House, Les Éboulements, Quebec by Barry McCarthy
Wedding Cake House, Les Éboulements, Quebec
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Study for The Red Shed, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy by Barry McCarthy
Study for The Red Shed, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
Watercolour, 10 x 14.5
Loch Gallery, Toronto
View Down the Valley of the Rockies by Barry McCarthy
View Down the Valley of the Rockies
Watercolour, 8 x 10.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Glacial Runoff, BC by Barry McCarthy
Glacial Runoff, BC
Watercolour, 13 x 9
Loch Gallery, Calgary
Study for View from Above, Digby, Nova Scotia by Barry McCarthy
Study for View from Above, Digby, Nova Scotia
Watercolour on Paper, 10.25 x 14.25
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Summer Phlox, Grand River by Barry McCarthy
Summer Phlox, Grand River
Oil on Canvas, 40 x 52
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Misty Morning by Barry McCarthy
Misty Morning
Oil on Canvas, 30 x 42
Offsite
Songs from Killarney by Barry McCarthy
Songs from Killarney
Oil on Canvas, 20 x 30
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Down the Road by Barry McCarthy
Down the Road
Oil on Canvas, 48 x 60
Loch Gallery, Calgary
Study for 'Waiting for Halloween' by Barry McCarthy
Study for 'Waiting for Halloween'
Watercolour on Paper, 15 x 11
Offsite
Igneous Rock, Killarney by Barry McCarthy
Igneous Rock, Killarney
Oil on Canvas, 42 x 30
Offsite
Study, Side Entrance Bonavista by Barry McCarthy
Study, Side Entrance Bonavista
Watercolour, 10 x 14
Loch Gallery, Winnipeg
Museum Monument by Barry McCarthy
Museum Monument
Watercolour, 7 x 8.75
Offsite
Ethereal Blue by Barry McCarthy
Ethereal Blue
Oil on Canvas, 49 x 42.5
Loch Gallery, Toronto
Barry McCarthy
Artist origin: 
Canadian
Artist type: 
Established living contemporary
Born: 
1951

 

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