Barry Hilton is one of the UK’s most enduringly successful artists. His celebrated landscapes express emotion and atmosphere with the use of bold blocks of colour and dramatic textural juxtapositions, while his more muted harbour scenes have an understated but no less intense impact. The lyricism and beauty of his acclaimed artwork has brought him success all over the world; this was recently highlighted when an American publishing house requested permission to use one of his paintings on the front cover of a new book by celebrated poet Joyce Sutphen. Barry’s greatest sources of inspiration are the moorland, rivers and harbours around his home in the north of England. His smooth, finely painted skies contrast with the heavy impasto techniques of the land as it appears in his highly coloured foreground, and he can actually identify the moment at which his distinctive style was born. “That started some years back. I spend a lot of time in the countryside and I can remember when rapeseed came in and I saw a field of incredible yellow flowers against a black, stormy sky. I’ve never lost that image and the concept really infiltrated my imagination. This contrast between light and dark, calm and storm, is absolutely central to every piece I paint.”
When he first takes in a scene, it is the relationship between tonalities that strikes him and this is what he likes to capture, whether in a photograph, a sketch, or simply in his memory. He uses colour more as a tool with which to interpret a scene, and these can vary from vibrant reds and yellows, to dark almost apocalyptic greys, indigo blues and dark greens. Over the years he has painted many memorable landscapes featuring what he calls his ‘moody’ skies. It is the atmosphere and the shading that he is interested in capturing. The work does not duplicate the actual colours of the landscape, but rather conveys the creative imagination of a genuine and artistic talent.