Burr Ridge artist still learning after 45 years of painting
Bob Barnes says he doesn't paint under a deadline but just takes his time and enjoys the process. Barnes is a retired manufacturer's representative who enjoys painting watercolors in his spare time. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 25, 2013 1:19AM
BURR RIDGE — At 40-something, Bob Barnes had never put a paintbrush to paper. Since then the 85-year-old has spent countless hours turning blank surfaces into works of art. A longtime resident of Clarendon Hills, Barnes and his wife, Diane, moved to King-Bruwaert’s Godair Park retirement community in Willowbrook eight years ago. One of his paintings hangs over the fireplace in Suzanne’s Place, the area of KB House that serves people with dementia.
Q. Your paintings have been used as banners at KB House and Godair Park. How did that come about?
A. When I arrived at KB eight years ago they asked me if I would participate in an art show. Of course, I said yes. Bonnie Kohout (marketing director at KB House) liked what she saw. She has used two of my paintings so far.
Q. Do you plan to do more?
A. If she wants them, sure.
Q. Was art a part of your professional background or education?
A. No. I was a manufacturer’s rep. I was in industrial sales.
Q. Do you continue to take painting classes?
A. I took classes at Hinsdale Center for the Arts. Now, I’m taking classes from the DuPage Forest Preserve District at Mayslake. Classes force me to paint, so I just keep taking classes.
Q. Where do you sell your work?
A. Right now the only art show I’m doing is the Forest Preserve. I did that in October. I’m an Illinois Artisan since 1996, so I have sold paintings at the Thompson Center. The state has three artisan shops.
I’ve done the library circuit in years past — Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Downers.
Q. How much time do you spend painting?
A. I only do a few paintings a year now. Many of them are very detailed. It takes me a long time to paint.
Q. What is your favorite thing to paint?
A. I don’t have a real favorite. Diane wanted botanicals, so I did some botanicals. I like to paint flowers. You can do one flower at a time.
Q. You have many paintings of ships. Why?
A. It’s hard to do water. It’s a challenge. Every painting I do is a challenge.
Q. What keeps you painting?
A. You can always get better, and it keeps me from watching the tube. It’s something to do, and if you do it long enough, you get reasonably good at it.