Nine years ago, a seemingly unknown name in the art world stepped onto the scene, dazzling many with his lifelike instruments and romantic European facades.
In high school, David Barclay was the school photographer and took thousands of photos for his school newspaper, but he never pictured himself becoming an artist. That all changed in 2003, when he and his wife took a trip to Europe.
“Travelling in Europe, I was struck by the romantic quality of the architecture and the rich simplicity of its designs,” said Barclay.
The facades he saw throughout Europe inspired his paintings and his career.
Barclay, who admittedly has very little musical talent, also finds a certain joy in painting musical instruments and making them come to life.
“I think everyone feels a connection to music,” said Barclay, who is fascinated by the creation of instruments like guitars and violins, and wants his viewers to connect with each instrument he paints.
He mixes his own glazes using pigment and a binder, which helps him to use an acrylic-on-board style of painting that captures the detail of the instruments and the texture of the facades.
“I am particularly drawn to painting close-ups, letting the shape and curves of the subject factor heavily in the composition,” said Barclay, who described his work as contemporary realism.
His painting technique involves building layers upon layers of color, sometimes reaching 15 to 25 coats of paint. The glaze creates depth, transparency and a three-dimensional feeling that makes the viewer feel like they can reach out and touch it.
“My goal is to achieve a high degree of realism in my work. It is the ultimate compliment if I can trick the viewer’s eye,” Barclay said.
This technique is known as trompe l’oeil, which is a style of representation in which a painted object is intended to deceive the viewer’s eyes. Since the early Renaissance, European painters have used trompe l’oeil to create false framers from which the contents seem to spill off the canvas. Trompe l’oeil is very rare now, making Barclay a very unique type of artist.
Painting is not Barclay’s profession, however. He works a full-time job as the Director of Development at Historic Deerfield, which is located 30 minutes outside of Springfield. His paintings take several months to finish because of his technique and the lack of time he has to paint in his studio.
Barclay’s collection is being displayed on the second floor of Blake Hall in the Blizard Gallery, and can be viewed throughout the week.