Author Archives: A. E. Barnes

About A. E. Barnes

I was never interested in painting or drawing when I was little. I wanted to read books and study the night sky. I loved to re-decorate my room, and move the furniture around. I was more interested in cerebral things and studied Philosophy and Comparative Religion at the University of West Florida. That was a long, long time ago. Since then, I have fallen in love with the ideas in anthropology, mythology, and mysticism; especially loving the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. I have also been a student of the Western Mysteries for 30 years. I have visited the inner circle at Stonehenge, climbed the brambled ruins of Aros Castle on the Isle of Mull and walked the desert sand of the Pyramids at Giza. My body has felt the hard seat of camel and horse, venturing far and wide to learn whatever I seek. My parents had an art gallery in downtown Daytona Beach, Florida when I was a baby. 1964, to be precise, during that Aquarian Age of intellectual and social reformation. My mother is a famous southern painter, Diana Barnes. My father is an infamous mathematician and story teller. So, I have certainly grown up in a world of ideas and art. We were a little bit of a gypsy family, touring with my mother on painting trips and for art show events. My parents bought some property in Cashiers North Carolina and my family built a house, living in tents and bathing in the Chattooga River for a summer. I have been going to this family cabin since 1972, enjoying the mountain air and deep spiritual comfort of the place. I spent a lot of my childhood in Ft. Walton Beach and Mary Esther; my mother’s family lived there. My brother and I enjoyed an idyllic childhood, searching for pirate treasure in Old Grayton Beach, roaming the Indian Mound in Ft. Walton or sailing our small catamaran on the inter-costal waterway In May of 1989, I had a crazy idea to paint a portrait of my mom riding a pig in her living room, for a Mother’s Day gift. I got some old plywood and primed it white. Then I began to design the portrait in the afternoon. I stayed up all night working and got up early the next day and began again. I loved painting so much that I continued to find boards, painting on them for the rest of the week. Still lifes, interior scenes of my own house and garden, landscapes from my historic neighborhood. I had finished about 20 paintings in a week. I stopped eating or sleeping; I painted everything I saw and began to use wild colors. I bought a set of good oil paints and borrowed some old brushes from my mom. I had always been in love with the French painters, the Fauves . Henry Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck and Andre Derain were my new heroes. I checked out every library book on Impressionism and Expressionism. I covered my walls in posters of paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin. I was hooked on oil painting like a monkey hooked on chocolate covered bananas. There was no turning back. Being an expert at moving furniture, I re-arranged my house, making the living room into a giant art studio. That was week two of my new found painting career. I vowed on the grave of Henri Matisse that I would paint forever! When I first started painting, the Outsider and Folk Art Movement was getting underway in the Southern states. Because I never studied art, I was lumped into this new and upcoming group. I was accepted to prestigious art shows like the Piedmont Art Festival in Atlanta and shows in Miami, Key West, Dallas, Houston and Washington DC. I loved talking to customers and learning about their homes and interests. I started painting special order work for private homes and corporate headquarters. I was able to place my work in wonderful galleries. I was so lucky to be able to sell paintings, enough to pay my bills. Wow, how time has flown. I can’t believe I have been painting for 23 years! It seems like yesterday when I first picked up the brush. I love oil paints the best; but I also use acrylics some of the time. I learned early on to use the best canvas and paints, which insures a high quality painting that will last for hundreds of years. I have exhibited in lots of art shows, presented work in great art galleries in the US and Mexico and sold paintings to many wonderful people including Rod Stewart and Reggie Jackson. Thank you for buying my art! The creative spirit is the most important element in a person’s life. Your patronage keeps me doing what I love.

Winter Garden



Ed and I have been working on the soil in our little courtyard. As you know, downtown New Orleans suffers from contaminated ground soil from the flooding in Hurricane Katrina. The river delta does provide the richest of growing mediums as you can see from our banana palms, elephant ears and the white blooming Angel Trumpet.  But for edibles, one must use other soil to avoid heavy metals in the ground.

We had gorgeous organic food gardens in Pensacola, taking up large sections of the yard. But alas, we are not there enough to take care of them. So we focus on our little Bywater garden. We bring truckloads of organic compost that we have made in Florida;  buckets of horse manure  as well. We use a plastic kid wagon to haul all this dirt down our very narrow isle way from the sidewalk to the back yard. Believe me, it is a grueling process.  It is on these days that Ed wonders why I am his girlfriend.  But, two years of this effort is paying off.

We now have three full plots of edible garden greens, celery, cabbage, mustard, kale, onions and many winter herbs like sage and chives. Of course the weather here is a little warmer in the winter than Pensacola, and this gives us more options in terms of plants. Almost every evening we can pick a small salad with dark greens. And the joy of eating food we grow is wonderful. I want to encourage the world to garden more.

From these photos you can see our little Meyers lemon tree and Key lime tree. Big rosemary plants have homes too. These are growing in giant pots also full of organic soil. We shop for all our plants at Harold’s Garden Center on St. Claude and Press. It is the most beautiful, artistic and well loved garden center. All the Bywater stars shop there. We saw Jessica Lange there last month.  And she saw A. E. Barnes. It was way cool. Keep up with the dirt. We do it for love!





The Special Order


image1 (7)sheriCAM00437This is a story about a special order painting that I recently completed.   I wanted to write about the process so that clients would see how a special order is executed.

An anonymous famous writer, Sheri, bought a painting from me at the French Market. She was vacationing in New Orleans while researching a writing project.   Oooh, maybe her new story will include a charming, famous painter?  She bought a painting of a vintage two story house in mid city; very darling.  She took my card and then looked at more on my work on Face book and this blog.  Then she had a brilliant flash of inspiration.  She had taken a photograph of a scene behind the French Market of a fountain, a bronze statue of a girl, and a mural representing the market area in the 1800’s. It was a really nice shot. And she thought she wanted a painting of the scene.

In contacting me, (which of course I was very flattered), she decided that she wanted a special order painting of this photo and then maybe a couple more A.E. Barnes paintings to begin a collection.  She wanted to be in the same boat as Rod Stewart; because actually he is still pretty darn cute.  Ok, so I love to do special orders because they are challenging. The client has to work with me quite a bit to arrive at perfect communication about the art work.   And so we began…

I studied the photo she sent and she told me about colors she loves and things about the photo that really moved her. I then painted a small painting on paper of my general idea for the work and color palette that I wanted to use. I send a photo of the small painting. Sheri was able to make some adjustments at this point. Yes, she likes overall idea and colors; but need more detail in the mural scene behind the girl. An awesome beginning.

I communicate some more ideas through email and then began to execute the larger painting on canvas. I photographed it during work in progress and sent on the interim images. Sheri was thrilled with the work and the ideas and had just a small tweak or two. Then I finished the work and sent one more photo for approval.  After approval a clear polyurethane coating is brushed on the canvas and then is set to dry. And then of course the dénouement of the story is the double bubble wrap, two cardboard boxes and miles of tape packaging before driving to my nearby UPS store.  (Yes, I could hire an assistant to do the grunt work, but I am too particular to let others work in my space with my stuff.  We don’t say compulsive obsessive or anal retentive. We say eccentric and fabulously interesting. OK?)

And P.S. she gets to pay with a credit or debit card over the phone or mail a check. Easy, Peasy.  USP comes to her door and she then gets to disentangle the fabulous new painting from all the packaging. And the next piece of artwork for her will begin to rest gently in her subconscious, until a new flash of inspiration occurs. Thanks Sheri!

For customers interested in special orders, this story relays the process. I use as many photos as you want to send me, color samples of your room, fabric swatches, and whatever is needed to arrive at perfection.  I do small thumbnail paintings (which I also sign and mail to the client). Then the larger work on canvas and photos back and forth all the way to the end.  And it is fun and creative for me and the client. Try it one day. Take care,, Elie

Singing in the Rain


Yellow Stucco House starry Night Red Tulips CAM00352 CAM00348Well, actually not singing with joy, this past Saturday at Palmer Park.   I know we always face the possibility of inclement weather at outdoor art shows; but I am ever hopeful about sun and moderate temperatures.  This particular day I did get hit with hard rain and winds. They blew my standing display over and my canvases got wet.  But my tent is extra sturdy,  and I was able to immediately pull them back into shelter and get them dried off.  The day was most excellent as a matter of fact for an extremely important reason. Instead of selling to dry customers…

I made amazing connections with fellow artists. I always chat a little with my neighbors, but don’t roam around too much.  I want to tend to my booth and customers. But this day was slower with the crowd in the morning and then we had the rain deluge in the afternoon.  We artisans were left holding the bag: bag full of water and a deserted park.  I traded a small painting with Adam Hall, whom I love. That was so flattering that he likes my work too. We had a wonderful time visiting and talking about painting and our lives. We are going to ask to be next door neighbors again in the fall.

I also had a great time meeting Joshua Lee, a photographer who turns out to be a fairly close neighbor in Bywater. I stopped to tell him his fly was down and his blue and white underpants were hanging out.  So of course that brought on all the characteristics of a great conversation, a real meeting of the minds. He was my age and had some really similar views on life, money and grown children.  I most definitely want to have him and his gal pal over for a drink.

One of my NOLA besties was at Palmer Park too, Vanessa or Miss Pie to some folks. After we used our available cash for most excellent iced coffee from the red truck,  we counted out quarters and nickels for snowballs.  Very unfortunately, we did not have vodka or bourbon.   I need a travel container for emergency liquor like a St. Bernard dog wears. Something to add to snowballs.

I did get a special order from Barbara that I am very EXCITED about. It will include a tropical island outdoor vegetable market.

Or Mexican/South American market. With an umbrella and banana palms and date palms in the very background. That will be cool to paint. And some other things I have just done for folks. I like special orders because I am able to interact with an art lover on a higher level. Really cool.

New Domain Name


Hello Lovely Art Lovers:

In the wonderful and amazing Neanderthal world of technology, I conjured up the information to register my own domain name. My Word Press blog is now

This will help people find me in my cave.

I spend my time in two very different ways.  Four days a week, I am in my studio alone. Except for the dogs and the ghosts.  I paint, primarily.Then in chaotic order,  listen to music, look at books or magazines, drink coffee or liquor depending on the time of day and enjoy a world of very interesting solitude. I begrudge even the slightest of interruptions.  I have conversations with spirits, talk to my higher self, listen to the sounds of nature and  wonder at the magnitude of the Universe.

Three days a week,  I am out in public selling my paintings. This is very active and engaging. I meet and talk to people from around the world. And I really mean around the WORLD.  I have to speak some French or Spanish or use hand gestures. I tell stories, act out complex dramas of the New Orleans landscape,  and listen to the most fascinating of art loving folks.

This a strange brew of dual natures. This is a personality that thrives on both solitude and fame. This is

The Little Courtyard


I realized that moving to New Orleans has done so many wonderful things for my life. One of them is simplification of action. I don’t have to spend much time to get the whole yard neatened up. Weed eat for 15 minutes (after I get the machine working), weed for 10 minutes, water, fill the bird feeder and that is it. In my old life, I spent hours and hours working on a giant yard. This is a prime example of less is more.

This is my little courtyard garden in my Bywater neighborhood.  It is probably only 20 feet by 50 feet with a brick floor outside the back door for about 10 feet.  I have a little tin shed for tools and three raised beds made out of local ancient bricks. I planted everything here since I moved in. IMG_0889It was full of rubble and slate pieces from the old roof, before Katrina. My house was built by a German farming family in 1830. It is creaky and slanted but full of wonderful spirits. It did not flood during Katrina because it in on high ground only 6 blocks from the Mississippi river. So I will count on that in the future.

Now I want to buy some red banana palms and some bird of paradise flowers. I have an Angel Trumpet and regular Bananas. Lots of herbs in raised beds and a few flowers. Of course plenty of Elephant Ear live here too. They are so luscious to paint.  Happy gardening!!!

Living in New Orleans

Living in New Orleans

As many of you know, I moved to New Orleans last January. January 15th, 2014 to be exact. I have lived in Florida my whole life and I dearly love my historic home in Pensacola. But times they are a changin’ and I needed a new life.  I needed a new artistic environment. I needed new intellectual stimulation and I wanted to downsize into a simple little apartment and garden.  My daughter is graduating from college and my parents are still healthy ( in body, but they are weird as shit).  I saw a giant beam of light called freedom. And I hopped on that freedom train.  The box car dropped me off in the Bywater neighborhood, on St. Claude Avenue. I live just blocks away from the French Quarter and Marigny in a crazy little house built in 1830.  I am surrounded by wild chickens. And hobos.

Ok, so actually I did not downsize. I added one more thing to my already full plate. I kept my two houses in Pensacola and I travel back and forth. It takes me exactly 2 hours and 50 minutes to drive from doorstep to doorstep. I did not sell my Florida houses, I just added a New Orleans house.  My shotgun apartment is small and neat with really good light, and a tiny little courtyard garden. So when I am in New Orleans I have practically no chores to do. Not to say I don’t work all the time: I do. The life of a famous painter is hectic.