Artist Statement


Barbara McGivern


In 1997 I started painting the Extraordinary Journey series after my off road driving trip to the deserts of the UAE and Oman...I drove through the Liwa sands, the wadi B and to all the Emirates. In Oman I drove through the Whahibi sands, the Empty Quarter and to all the mysterious small towns sprinkling across the desert also spending a night under the stars, it was an amazing experience and I am looking forward to doing this again.
I am in the Royal collections of Dubai and Sharjah, UAE. I did 22 paintings for the Emirates Tower Hotel, Design division, I am in collections in Europe, Lebanon, USA and Canada.

The gold I use in my paintings is supplied by Eytzinger Gold Leaf, Schwabach, Germany. I use all the colours that they produce, from a rich 18kt-24kt yellow gold to reds, whites and lemon golds which create different moods and feelings over lapping and intertwining on the canvas with the lushness of the paint.
I have found that the gold has added an empowering element to my paintings by adding a richness that could never be achieved with any other material. I paint over it, drip paint on it and sometime cover it up completely because I did not like the painting and started over...there are many paintings out there with layers of gold under them...but you can not melt the gold down as it is so fine and wafer thin....but I could not use anything else but real gold..


The Middle East has had an important influence on my work. I have been travelling there for 10 years and every time I visit it is always a surprise...it is changing so much that even if one is away for a day you don't recognize it when you return..I sometimes think that it would be a shame if they lose the old as the Arab world has such history and we should remember this...they are the people who gave us so much, Libraries, universities, banking and of course the numerical system that we still use to this day.


I rarely use a camera to record my adventures...I like to be spontaneous with my work and just have flashes, no not hot, of my travels..quite often I will take along a small watercolour set and do a painting while having dinner or a quite time alone...I then take my sketch that I did on a 4" x 6" paper and turn it into a 72" x 72" painting. Although I do this a reminder of a time or colour that the roots my paintings do lie in the real world or I paint from memory, drawing from experiences ranging from the mundane to the adventurous. But in my most recent work, the source is more exotic.


My favorite and most popular colour is red. For me it is the passion of the country and the people....I use a lot of black but it is not depressing as I put at least 5 layers of other colours giving it a richness that makes it a unique colour as I do with all my paintings...I have just finished a couple of white paintings and they have at least 4 different whites on the canvas plus the gold and other iridescence colours...my reds have at least 8-9 different reds and yellows also the same It is amazing how many different colours there are in same range and then the colours you can produce with them...all this adding to the luminosity of the paintings.