Born in High Point NC, Tom Barnes grew up in the pine forests and coastal plains of South Georgia. In the early fifties, raised amongst the gators, mosquitoes, and bourbon of South Georgia, Tom was dutifully packed off each summer, traveling by train to Savannah where he spent two weeks with the twins, Lila and Bess… may they rest in peace...
The two sisters insisted on taking the bus downtown everyThursday to shop, dine out, and maybe see a movie. Early in the morning, a lengthy discussion ensued as to what to wear. Completely coordinated in salmons, pinks, baby blues, mint greens, or lemon yellow, the two ladies set out toting bus tokens in their purses, and sporting hats with flowers (always with flowers), gloves, costume jewelry, and pumps matching their outfits. The fragrances exuded were thick with magnolia, lilac, and oleander.
Stores like Adler's, Fine's, and Levy's preceded lunch at Morrison’s, always topped off with steaming hot coffee and coconut custard pie from Anton's. Roaming around the "city of parks," the three often ended up in Telfair Academy, the only art museum Tom ever saw until he was 16.
The combination of femininity expressed by the two grand dames, the heady paintings and statues of the museum, and a gift from God for things artistic, all came together in the "long neck ladies" which have become Barnes' signatures. The attitudes and poses of the subjects express the widest range of feminine emotion. The layers upon layers of brilliant transparent watercolor in gambouge, prussian, sap green, azrilian crimson, ochre and vermillion build to rich luscious color… and the touch of 14K gold gives these decorative art pieces a sparkle that warms the heart and reminds us of an era long gone…may it rest in peace…
In 1990, Tom retired from the corporate business world and began to paint. Self-taught, he works primarily in watercolors. His florals almost always are abstracted forms with the same intense color rendering of his figures…but the added motion of a passing breeze adds yet another element of excitement. Likewise, his landscapes capture the techniques of the Fauvists and are stylized with mountains, hills, plains and lush foliage. His still life subject matter usually captures a chair, a table, a window, a jar and simple pieces of fruit…they always capture a moment of repose and reflection, interrupted by something unknown.