I was invited to join a group of friends that has been making an annual pilgrimage to the “Rod ‘N’ Reel” Pro-Am Sportfishing Tournament in April for 16 years. The guys meet at Chesapeake Beach, Maryland on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay for the event and as always-chartered Captain Eddie Green [or his dad Pop Green]. This year we had residents of Delaware, Maryland, central Michigan and myself from Virginia. Captain Green’s Plumb Crazy is a 40’ bay-built fishing vessel and a perfect choice for us. Our quarry was the Morone saxatilis, also called striped bass, striper or rockfish. They are anadromous fish that generally leave salt water in the spring to spawn in freshwater tributaries. It is during this migration and afterwards that they pass through the bay in such great numbers.
The group gathered Thursday afternoon for welcome drinks at the hotel lounge and then adjourned to the restaurant for a dinner of fresh, local fare. The next morning we were up early to board Plumb Crazy for a full day on the Chesapeake. We left the harbor and ran out into the bay, which is quite narrow here, only about 10 miles across to Tilghman Island on the eastern shore of Maryland. The day was cool and overcast with an easterly breeze. Since I was the “newbie” in the group I was given the first rod when mate Kyle Kendricks called out “fish on” not long after we dropped lines overboard. It was a nice rock near 40 inches in length and with a full, heavy body. Other fish struck our lures but the bite was slow due to a foul tide. Midday we gathered in the cabin for Smithfield ham sandwiches and freshly made crab cakes all washed down with cold beverages. After lunch the tide turned more favorably and the strikes came more often. The captain worked diligently to keep us in the fish and the mate kept the lines from fouling and in the strike zone.
As the afternoon wore on we put more fish in the box with a total of eight that day. Having to get back to Richmond on Saturday I left for home. The rest of the group fished and had a better day with ten fish caught. Eighteen huge rockfish over two days in the upper 30s – lower 40 inches [about 30 lbs.] was a good catch indeed but the fish were just shy of the money. We all took fish home and there was quite a cooler-load of beautiful rockfish taken back to Michigan! The winning striped bass of the tournament was a 51” 50.21 pounder!
Fellas, many thanks for letting me join you!
Contact Captain Eddie Green at 301-855-8260 www.plumbcrazycharters.com
Our magnificent Chesapeake Bay has much to offer everyone. Recently I called my long-time friend Captain Billy Pipkin of Ingram Bay Marina and arranged a fishing charter for a special friend and patron, John Hager of Richmond, Virginia. John was a business executive, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia 1998-2002, then Homeland Security Director, Assistant Secretary of Education in Washington and most recently, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. He loves fishing and the outdoors. Our target was Morone saxatilis also called Atlantic striped bass or locally “rockfish”. John drove down from Richmond with friends Jim Alexander, Robley Bates, Peter Brown and Randy Gibbs and I invited our son Joshua and family friend David Mathews for our day of rockfishing on the Bay.
When Joshua and I arrived at the marina in Virginia’s Northern Neck about 7:30 that morning Capt. Billy was tonging up a nice catch of oysters for our lunch right off his personal oyster bar! Shortly thereafter the remaining crew arrived and we boarded Liquid Assets II, Captain Billy’s 46’ custom built fishing vessel. Our group of eight made ourselves at home while all manner of wonderful fare was loaded aboard the boat. Soon after, with the Captain at the helm and mate Bobby Wheeler stowing and readying gear we made our way out of Towles Creek on the Bay’s western shore near Reedville and headed east for Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake. It was a “bluebird day” with barely a ripple of the Bay’s surface.
The day before our Captain found large rockfish in the Maryland waters of Tangier Sound just northeast of the island. For our trip to the fishing grounds we would take the channel through Tangier Island as a shortcut to the sound. The first known European explorer of the island was John Smith in 1608. It is now is inhabited by hearty men and women who make their living primarily by working the shallow Bay around the area in search of crabs, oysters and fish.
Mid morning found us putting lines overboard in Tangier Sound just west of Crisfield, Maryland. We would troll for fish with 18 lines, both beside and behind the boat. Planer boards run 150 feet to each side of the boat and are attached to the boat by a long line, allowing many more baits to be fished off of release clips. That is a popular technique during the winter and spring. Morone saxatilis are anadromous fish in that they normally live their adult lives in saltwater but return to freshwater to spawn. Virtually all the fish being caught at this time were female that had already spawned and were heading back south.
It was not long before we heard the sound of a line screaming from the reel and the shouts of “fish on, fish on!” As we had already determined, John Hager took the first rod and I fitted him with a fighting belt as the fish was of considerable size and weight. John pumped the rod and cranked down on the line again and again gaining line with each cycle. We all felt like she was a nice fish but Hager made it look like a walk in the park due to his strength! Eventually the fish was off our stern and Capt. Billy stretched across the transom of the boat with a huge dip net. In one sweeping motion the great fish was swung out of the water and onto the boat’s deck.
Now with this 47” fish in the box, estimated to be at or near the 40# minimum weight for a Virginia Citation, we all waited anxiously for the next line to scream off the reel…and we waited…and we waited. Capt. Billy explained that the day was young and that the spawn was late this year due to a cold, long winter and that we should be patient and again we waited. During this lull we took the opportunity for a group shot on the boat.
Shortly thereafter Captain Billy served up a first course of steamed shrimp with his famous cocktail sauce and homemade crab cakes just off the grill served on a toasted bun! We all enjoyed these delicious offerings from the galley and then it was back to focusing on the fishing. And again we waited and our Captain explained how he uses his electronic sonar equipment to locate schools of bait as well as rockfish. Anytime now we’d hear “fish on”… so we waited… then out of nowhere the crew served up Atlantic oysters on the half shell as well as roasted with wonderful sauces.
What a magnificent day, still barely a cloud in the sky and just a gentle, warm breeze from the south. We had Tangier Sound to ourselves and we could see the waterfront of Crisfield to the east. And then again Captain Billy appeared on deck with fresh rockfish from the day before and prepared them on his deck grill to everyone’s delight. In addition we enjoyed homemade baked beans, potato salad, Virginia peanuts accompanied by beer, wine, soda and bottled water. For dessert we had cinnamon buns and muffins.
After lunch Captain Billy spoke eloquently about the Chesapeake’s ecology, economic value to the nation and our need to value and protect it’s delicate balance.
That was a rare day that we’ll all remember. And yes, we would have liked to have caught another fish or two but with a beauty like the one John hauled in, none of us felt deprived. We all took fish home; left some for another time and enjoyed a great day on the Bay with old and new friends.
Captain Billy Pipkin performed magnificently again as he has done so many times before for my friends and me. He took us to the fish and provided an exciting day sprinkled with his insights of our great Chesapeake Bay. Please visit his website and charter Liquid Assets II in the Chesapeake or offshore Atlantic Ocean out of Virginia Beach. You’ll not be disappointed. www.captbillyscharters.com/
I am extremely happy to announce the opening of my retrospective exhibition at the Deltaville Maritime Museum in Deltaville, Virginia. On June 12 the Private Opening Gala for Sponsors, Patrons and Contributing Art Owners took place and the Premier Opening Reception on June 13 honoring Museum Supporters was held. On Saturday June 14 the exhibit opened to the public. My wife Kathy and I were there as well as our Sponsoring Patrons Mary and Ted Linhart to greet guests at the events. The openings were magnificently staged in the newly built Chesapeake Hall of the Museum. The 58- piece collection of art will hang through October 12, 2014. Photos follow.
We had about 270 people attending the private receptions with a total of approximately 1500 since the doors opened. Total membership at the Museum has doubled since the exhibition began. Raffle tickets for my oil “Schooner Maggie off Stingray Point” [value $6,000] are still available until the exhibit closes on October 12. Contact the museum to purchase – $25 each, five for $100. All proceeds benefit the Museum. www.deltavillemuseum.com/ 804-776-7200. JMB
To view a virtual catalog of the entire retrospective exhibit click here.
Here is a brief video of the Opening Gala produced by T.G. & Jenny McMurtrie-
24 Frames Production.
I was honored when asked to create the official painting for OpSail that took place in Norfolk, Virginia from June 1-12, 2012. During this historic occasion the Port of Virginia was once again host to a most impressive fleet of tall ships, Naval and military warships, educational and research vessels from 15 nations. OpSail promotes goodwill among nations, inspires patriotism and fosters interest in American maritime history and heritage, while creating unique educational opportunities for all ages and bringing economic and social benefit to our communities. My wife Kathy and I enjoyed all the festivities of this grand event. Following are a few photos from OpSail Virginia. JMBThe USS WASP [LHD 1] at her berth awaiting guests to board. She later steamed out into Hampton Roads and was a mgnificent way to view the Parade of Sail.
Last fall I was invited for a day of rock fishing aboard Breezin’ Thru, a 47‘, 1949 vintage charter fishing boat from Kent Island, Maryland. This traditional, custom built wooden boat is operated by Captain Tilghman Hemsley. His forebears came to this area from England in the early 1700s. Breezin’ Thru is unique in a number of ways; she’s been running fishing charters for 63 years, the last 30 under the capable command of Captain Hemsley, she offers her guests expert guided fishing, crabbing and sea duck hunting and most importantly [in my opinion], she is the last remaining charter boat on the bay to offer fine cuisine prepared onboard for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in the vessel’s galley!
The charter was arranged by friend and avid art collector, Phil Mudd of Bethesda, Maryland. He also invited George Wright, noted Maryland painter of nature, military, portraits and sports scenes. Captain Hemsley and his son Will are also exceptionally gifted artist, both painters and sculptors. And then there’s yours truly- that’s a lot of artists on one boat. I invited my friend and fishing buddy, Wayne “Doc” Hopkins from Richmond to join us.
We arrived at the boat early on the morning of November 16, 2011 as Captain Hemsley was busily preparing for our day on the bay. The morning was foggy and cool with the threat of rain but the warmth from the boat and the Captain himself set a brighter tone for the day. We boarded Breezin Thru and soon after, the Captain’s son Will arrived, with a bushel of #1 Jimmies [local for large, male Atlantic Blue Crabs- Callinectus sapidus]. Now with everyone and all supplies aboard we departed for the fishing grounds across the bay where the boat had found good rockfish [also called Striped Bass or Stripers] in the days before. Across the bay we traveled in great comfort as the boat had a large covered cockpit as well as heat!
After weaving our way through the fog-laden shipping lanes we arrived at the oyster rock [oyster bed] on the western shore of the Chesapeake near Annapolis and the anchor went down. As we began fishing, the wonderful aroma of crabs steaming, came wafting up from the boat’s galley! “Wow”, we all thought as Will offered us a frosty mug of freshly tapped, draft beer made by a cousin who owns an exceptional craft beer brewery in Pennsylvania. “Am I dreaming? Could this really be happening? I’m on a beautiful classic bay boat, crabs cooking below, fishing, and a frosty ale in my hand! I’m in heaven!”
Soon, nice rockfish started to be hauled aboard the boat as Will and Captain Hemsley baited hooks, took fish off our lines, and offered to draw us another beer. Soon boats around us started to pick up the aroma of cooking crabs as those beautiful Jimmies were served in the cockpit on a huge dining table amidships which doubled as the engine box. While feasting on crabs we were then surprised as hot cheese steak sandwiches, freshly made crab cakes, fried rockfish, green beans and hot rolls were served. Oh, and by the way, rockfish still coming aboard from anyone wanting to fish- I was far too interested in the feast- heck I’ve caught a million fish but who’s had a meal like this aboard?
Conversation flowed among the group, and stories of how it has been on the Chesapeake Bay were told and it was clear that this was indeed a very special day. It was understood that we were all drawn together by this wonderful natural resource that is the Chesapeake. Afternoon came far too soon, we reluctantly weighed anchor and made our way back to Kent Island. As we were collecting our gear the crew cleaned our catch and even packed crabs for us the take home.
I urge any of you wanting to spend an absolutely wonderful day on the Chesapeake consider chartering Captain Tilghman Hemsley’s Breezin’ Thru or his other vessel Ark Angel. The Hemsley’s are great people, warm, friendly, and knowledgeable professionals [ask Captain Hemsley how to tell the sex of a fish]!
To Will and Captain Hemsley, thank you for an unforgettable experience! JMB
Visit these websites to learn more about chartering and to view CaptainHemsley’s artwork:
Visit artist Will Hemsley’s site:
Visit artist George Wright’s site:
Near the end of last December I was invited by my friend Captain Brian Dillistin to join him for a day on the bay. We would run from his home on the Corrottoman River down the Rappahannock and then to the southern Chesapeake near the eastern shore of Virginia. Our targeted species was Morone saxatilis, also called “striped bass” and locally “rockfish”. These fish are, for the most part, anadromous- migrating from the ocean in the spring up fresh water rivers to spawn and in the fall back downstream to winter in the warmer Atlantic.
It was a beautiful day on the bay with eight nice rockfish being boated ranging from 30”- 45”, several over 40”. In the past these beautiful and delicious “signature fish” of the Chesapeake suffered a severe decline due primarily to overfishing in the 1970s and 80s but after conservation measures were mandated by the Federal Government the stocks have rebounded to a very healthy fishery today.
After December 31, 2011 Brian moved his Grady White Canyon 336 to Lynnhaven near Virginia Beach, Virginia to continue fishing for rock during the Atlantic winter season. He had a record day last week with a total of 23 fish caught between 36“-43“- all but eight released. In the early 1990s Captain Dillistin was involved in helping to expand the Coastal Conservation Association – Virginia Chapter into the Richmond area. This is the leading recreational saltwater anglers conservation group in the country today.
Brian, thanks for another great day on the bay!
Fair winds! John
Mr. and Mrs. Gerry Stanewick won the drawing for the canvas copy of my latest major painting “Offloading the Catch at Tilghman Island”. Their name was drawn from the list of emails, which have been submitted to me.
Gerry and wife Susan live in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to being a “budding” artist, Susan is an avid golfer, very active in her church and a wonderful chef. Gerry retired from Goldman Sachs in 2002 and fills his leisure time with golf. The Stanewick’s enjoy traveling and have assembled a wonderful and diverse collection of artwork, many Barber original paintings, as well as Grandmother and Grandfather clocks and antiques from around the world.
In September, 2010 I had a meeting of the American Society of Marine Artists of which I am a Fellow Member. The meeting took place in beautiful Sarasota, Florida where my wife Kathy and I enjoyed the company of some of the nation’s leading maritime artists for several days. On our return flight we took a side trip to New Orleans for a few days of enjoying the old French Quarter and some of the rare treats the area offers. While there, I took a half day to do a painting on Rue Royal, a beautiful old “Rue” which parallels Bourbon Street. Below you’ll see a few photos from the trip.
Last week Kathy and I headed north to deliver two paintings to clients in Delaware and Maryland. We also visited old friends, Marcia and Jim Dudley at Bethany Beach, Delaware and while in the area, our host arranged a chartered offshore fishing trip for us out of Ocean City, Maryland known as the “White Marlin Capital of the World”! Our crew of six arrived at the dock early and by 5:45 AM last Monday we were aboard Ocean City Girl, a 50′ custom Carolina built vessel and heading east. An hour or so later we were 35 miles offshore and our lines hit the water. Not long afterwards we had our first knockdown to the yell of “fish on”! That was the first of the 27 or so False Albacore caught that day. These fish, which are not normally highly regarded as table fare, were wonderful blackened as I prepared them last night for dinner. Our fish were not huge but in the 4-10# range but tremendous fighters tearing out at 40 miles per hour after the strike.
We also caught seven magnificent Dolphin Fish, [calm down Friends of Flipper- not the Dolphin mammal] also called Mahi-Mahi in Hawaii as well as Dorado in oceans around the world. Again, smaller fish but beautiful and delicious, just the same. So with a little work and play behind us we returned to Richmond and back to the grindstone.
Many thanks to Marcia and Jim Dudley!
In mid July the East Coast Barbers — son Joshua and his wife Melissa and my wife Kathy and I– headed west. The West Coast Barbers– son Adam, his wife Mizuha and their son Yoshitaka, of Portland,Oregon– headed east and we all collided in the town of Jackson, Wyoming. While much of the nation was smoldering under record heat we were enjoying warm days and evenings in the 40s-50s. We rented a home near the Snake River with a wonderful view of the Grand Teton Range.
For one week we tried to do everything Jackson Hole could offer.We gathered for family horseback riding and then broke into smaller groups for target shooting and fly fishing for Cutthroat Trout. Some of our group headed north to Yellowstone for hiking while others spent time with Yoshi at the house doing puzzles and crafts.
Shopping is huge in the town of Jackson with unique shops offering their exquisite wares to the tourists. White water rafting is big on the Snake and we couldn’t resist the class three rapids- the water being low after the spring runoff had ended. We all attended a chuck wagon dinner in a horse-drawn wagon, of course, and attended the J.H. Rodeo and watched in awe as cowboys and cowgirls busted broncs and bulls, barrel raced, roped and gave us a wonderful evening of entertainment and horsemanship. And of course there were the constant sightings of wildlife outside of town: moose, elk, wolves, bald eagles and even grizzly bear!
Evenings found us enjoying a quiet meal at home or dining in one of the area’s fine restaurants. We had a celebration evening out and supped on Prime Rib of Bison, Elk Chops and Venison Sausage!
Wow- what memories! And after a week, when the boys and their families departed for home, Kathy and I headed north for a few days of painting. We took a room at the beautiful Jackson Lake Lodge overlooking the magnificent Jackson Lake in the shadow of the Tetons. I did three paintings from this leg of the trip. In all a wonderful time with our family. JMB
Visit the “Portfolio” portion of this website and click on “Wet Paint” where you’ll find the three new paintings from the Tetons!
“Plein air” painting is a distillation of the painter’s entire experience. Through working in the field I’ve learned much about the essence of what we do as artists. Because the sun is moving, clouds are coming and going, and wind and insects are all conspiring against us, the painter is forced to quickly create his “virtual reality” on canvas. The artist must immediately get down the shapes of the subject, inject them with dimension through the use of hue and tone, and create distance and atmosphere – all within a finite timeframe. It is due to this immediacy that the painting is not overworked or overburdened with extraneous detail- the result being a spontaneous piece of art capturing the essence of the subject.”
-John Morton Barber
A belated entry to gratefully acknowledge The Society for their presentation to me, in the spring of 2009, their Distinguished Service Award. This honor was bestowed upon me for my artistic efforts in “Preserving the maritime heritage of America”. The presentation was made by Master of Ceremonies and past recipient Gary Jobson at Washington, D.C’s Army and Navy Club.
When: Opening Reception 5:30-8:30 PM October 9, 2009. Exhibition closes November 13, 2009
Where: Gallery 5800/ upstairs at Suitable for Framing, 5800 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA 23226 804.285.0774.
To learn more about the event, please visit http://www.BarbervsBarber.com
Barber vs Barber:
I, primarily a painter of the Chesapeake Bay, will join son Joshua R. Barber, painter of modern icons, October 9 for this unique opportunity. The exhibition, “Barber vs. Barber,” is my first major Richmond show in seven years and Joshua Barber’s first local show in three years. The exhibition will feature approximately 50 original pieces of artwork.
I am a Fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists and have painted professionally for more than 30 years. I had great success in the 1980s painting the characteristic seascapes and historic vessels of the Chesapeake Bay, most notably the now-rare skipjacks. I have also painted Virginia landscapes, Richmond cityscapes and scenes from our travels in Europe and elsewhere. I’ve painted for President Reagan and the Clinton administration; but one of my fondest memories is of the eleven days I spent with Walter Cronkite while creating a painting of his beloved sailing yacht Wyntje entering Edgartown Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard.
Our son Joshua Barber paints modern icons. His stylized figures depict microcosms of memory both whimsical and dark. He has held two solo shows in Richmond and been selected for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ “Art After Hours” for three consecutive years. Joshua has most recently shown his work in New York, Los Angeles and London; his last exhibit was held in August at Knifesmith Gallery in Bristol, England.
Please join us if you can, John
There is certainly nothing I could add of any substance to the public mourning of Walter Cronkite’s passing. However, I would like to say a few words about the man and to recount some of my favorite memories.
It was fall 1998 when Wyntje, Cronkite’s 60′ English built sailing ketch, passed through Deltaville, Virginia on her way south to Tortola, British Virgin Islands. I met the captain of the vessel whose mission it was to deliver the boat safely to the Caribbean. He gave me a tour of the boat at which time I was pleased to find one of my skipjack prints hanging on the bulkhead in the main saloon. I dropped a note to Walter, whom I’d met at an awards dinner in Washington, D.C. a few years earlier, and expressed my pleasure at seeing my art aboard his boat and that if he had interest in having Wyntje painted that I’d be happy to accommodate him.
Shortly thereafter he called and we discussed the painting and what would be the setting- Tortola [the boat’s wintering location] or Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he and wife Betsy had a lovely summer home. During that winter we continued to discuss the project and possible settings. The decision was made to paint his beloved yacht at Martha’s Vineyard the following spring.
Among Walter’s many attributes was his acumen as a sailor. He had a great appreciation for the most minuscule details of a boat’s design and rigging and how they related to the vessel’s performance. He realized that for me to do a proper painting of his boat that I would need to see her under sail- thereby he invited me to sail with him and a few friends with his captain and mate for the final leg of the journey north: from Annapolis, Maryland to Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.
We departed Annapolis harbor May, 27 at 10:00 AM as Walter had calculated the current in the East River [NY] which can make headway impossible for sailing vessels. Under fair skies we sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, through the Chesapeake/Delaware canal and down Delaware Bay where nightfall overtook us. I recalled a wonderful dinner of roast pork tenderloin, freshly baked bread and a very nice Cabernet- Walter’s paid captain also had been trained at Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu! First Class! Wine was limited as we were at sea and soon passed Cape May, New Jersey, where we turned north
up the Atlantic coast for New York City.
All aboard, except Walter, stood their turn on watch that night and the sun arose on May 28 to find us north of Atlantic City. That day was a delight as we all took our watch at the helm of Wyntje, including Walter, when he wasn’t on his cell phone trying to convince Donald Trump not to continue the high-rise across the street from the Cronkite’s apartment in Manhattan which would block their view of the Empire State Building! What a day- stories of Henry Kissinger, General Eisenhower, the bombing of London… names and stories flowed like pages of history being turned by the salty sea breezes which propelled us. That afternoon we sailed into New York harbor, the Stature of Liberty off our port side, the East River ahead and our port of City Island Yacht Club at which we arrived about 8:00 PM and picked up a mooring.
Walter left the boat that evening to spend the Memorial Day weekend with wife Betsy at their home in Manhattan. Sunday evening they returned with daughter Nancy and her friend. We all turned in early, had a good night’s sleep in order to head out the following morning for Essex, Connecticut. During that day, sailing eastward through Long Island Sound- I enjoyed getting to know Betsy and hearing her talk about their wonderful life together. Nancy too, a very interesting lady! After docking and showers we all trouped up to the famed Griswold Inn for dinner. Such heady times, traveling with the Cronkites!
The following morning found us heading out for Mystic as we picked our way through a literal sea of lobster pots in a pea-soup fog heading eastward. We moored Wyntje at the dock at the Mystic Seaport Museum to much fanfare as the Cronkites were frequent visitors there. It was amazing to see the public and their response to Walter. It was clear that, without exception, everyone who saw him admired and respected him- and he was so patient and respectful of these people who simply wanted to be in his midst!
June 2, we departed for Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and the fog on Rhode Island Sound persisted- still wonderful to be aboard this magnificent yacht! In the afternoon we spotted the island to starboard and eventually rounded the northern most portion and into Nantucket Sound. We sailed down the eastern side of the island still shrouded in fog and eventually picked up the Edgartown Lighthouse which led us into the harbor. Once inside, just off Walter’s yacht club, the sun broke through and the skies cleared. This would become the scene which I’d replicate in my painting. Just a bit south of the center of town we finally arrived at the Cronkite home, a stately cedar shake clad home standing proudly on the hillside overlooking the harbor.
My wife Kathy arrived on the island the following day and we were treated to an additional five-day stay with Betsy and Walter. We toured the island; shopped, lunched with the family and friends and of course I sketched and photographed Wyntje and the area for my painting. The four of us visited Ray Ellis and his wife for cocktails one evening. Ray is a fine watercolor artist and a close friend of Walter’s. He also illustrated Walter’s sailing books.
After our visit Walter drove us all out to his favorite restaurant in the little town of Menemsha. While having dinner, I asked him to retell the story of his visit to Yellowstone Park for Kathy. “Well Kathy”, Walter related
“Betsy and I were at the park with some of our grandchildren, outside the visitors center, when a lady walked up and said ‘excuse me sir, has anyone ever told you that you look very much like Walter Cronkite… before he died?’ I looked back at her and with what must have been a look of surprise said that I’d heard that from time to time. She then added ‘however he was quite a bit thinner’. The lady then turned and looked quizzically at Betsy and inquired, ‘Mr. Cronkite, he is dead isn’t he?’ Without a second’s hesitation Betsy, with her inimitable wit, answered ‘oh yes his is, quite, I understand he died of ‘thinness’!”
I wonder if that lady now realizes that she was speaking with the Man himself?
Sorry if I’ve been too longwinded. These eleven days were something that I will never forget and I will forever be in the debt of this great man who means so much to so many!
John M. Barber
Betsy and Walter Cronkite, Kathy and John Barber at the Cronkite’s Christmas party 1999. The gathering was held at the Cronkite’s mid-town Manhattan home and was the first public showing of the artist’s painting of their sailing yacht Wyntje , seen to the left.
I was invited to attend a wine tasting on June 23, 2009 at Little Venice Restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. This wonderful restaurant is owned by our friends from Capri, Italy, Peppino and Alberto Mastromano. Kathy and I attended this sold- out affair with six of my paintings from our travels in Italy. We enjoyed the most delicious dishes from Peppino’s kitchen such as Marinated Swordfish, Orecchiette and Roasted Hangar Steak in a Barbera Demi Glaze. Wines were paired with the menu which ranged from a most refreshing Insolia from Sicily, a lovely Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige region, Barbera From Piedmont with its elegant smoky, red cherry and rhubarb notes to the essence of Tuscany- Chianti Classico, the famed wine of Italy.
The convivial group munched, swirled, sipped and viewed six of my painting from the north of Italy in Venice, to the central, Tuscan Region in Lucca and Siena and the south of Italy in Positano and the Isle of Capri.
A client from Bethesda, Maryland approached me in spring, 2008 with a concept for a painting. As a young boy, during the latter part of the 1940s, he and his family would spend summers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with relatives. They would drive to Sandy Point, near Annapolis, and take the auto ferry across the Chesapeake Bay to Matapeake and then on to Aunt Joan’s home. On one crossing in 1948, my friend made a photo of the ferryboat itself as well as a locally built wooden crabbing skiff which he found near his Aunt’s home. The photos were lost for over 50 years and once found, he conceived his plan. He presented the photos to me and explained his vision. We researched the ferry and found it to be the Gov. Harry W. Nice which ran across the Chesapeake until 1952 when the Bay Bridge opened and the ferry was sold.
I began sketches showing the two vessels passing on the bay off Sandy point with the old brick lighthouse in the background. Against all odds my client located the ferry, renamed Olympic in Seattle, Washington on the Puget Sound. The modern-day photos from Seattle were very helpful in filling in the blanks pertaining to the details of the vessel. After review and approval of my sketches and a subsequent oil study, I completed the major painting.
My friend and client is a collector of art, a boater, a fisherman and lover of the Chesapeake and Atlantic shore. He now enjoys living with a visual representation of some of fondest childhood memories. This is his second Barber commission.
The “Crossing” study is oil on art board, 4 5/8” x 7 5/8”. The major painting is oil on linen canvas 16” x 27”, overall framed size 22 ½” x 33 ½”. Illustrated is an image of major painting.
IF YOU WISH TO RECEIVE MY “WET PAINT” EMAILS SHOWING NEW ARTWORK IMMEDIATELY OFF THE EASEL, CONTACT ME AT email@example.com AND ADD “WET PAINT” IN THE SUBJECT LINE.
John M. Barber
In 1898 Edward Hogshire opened a sail loft in Norfolk, Virginia and began making canvas sails for working craft such as skipjacks, bugeye ketches, freighting schooners etc. In 1938 R. B. Hogshire, son of the founder, took over the firm. During the 1950s R.B.[Happy] Hogshire, third generation became involved in the family owned business. By now the firm was making, in addition to other awning products, modern Nylon and Dacron sails for pleasure boats since the days working sail were but a memory.
An active member of the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, Happy enjoyed racing his locally built Hampton one-design sloop and in 1952 he won First Place in the National Hampton One Championship. In this painting we see him at the tiller of his Hampton # 506 leading the pack of his NYCC competitors on his reach to the finish line. Happy’s sails and those of many of the other boats in the fleet were made by Hogshire sails. This painting replicates those days during a race in the 1950s on the Lafayette River off the Club’s property. Hogshire still operates in the Norfolk, Virginia region. This painting was created expressly for Happy Hogshire. Canvas Giclee prints are available- visit http://www.johnbarberart.com/ for information.
By John M. Barber
Since I no longer publish or distribute prints of my paintings personally, virtually all my time is now spent creating new artwork. Earlier in my career all my art was conceived and created for my studio and sold at auction once every two to three years in Richmond, Va. During those years one could rarely purchase a painting outside this private event which was held in the Grand Ballroom of Richmond’s prestigious Commonwealth Club. This was partly due to the demands of our print business which was all consuming- we published 136 limited editions [or different images] of my art during those nearly 30 years. Due to the staff required to host these occasional, private sales and my desire for a slower paced lifestyle, I no longer stage the auctions.
Today, I still paint originals for myself and offer them via my “Wet Paint” emails directly to the buyer as well as on my Website. However, most of my art is created specifically for “the client”. I enjoy working, one on one, with the person who wishes to own my painting and I enjoy the challenge of bringing their “vision” to life on canvas. This post will discuss the creation of a painting from concept through completion and for reference I’ll use a commission from last year which the buyer and I particularly enjoyed collaborating on.
It began when the current owner of a 1925 vintage Chesapeake Bay buy boat came to me asking if I would do a painting of their beloved vessel. I knew this boat in an earlier day when she was owned by Captain James Ward who berthed “Nellie Crockett” at his dock on Jackson Creek, Deltaville, Virginia. After my friend Captain Ward “Crossed the Bar” as Tennyson phrased it, the boat was purchased by this new family from the eastern shore of Maryland.
It was this gentleman who came to me for a painting of her. He was familiar with my art and even had a limited edition print of one of my early paintings of his boat “Nellie”. He explained that he’d like to see her portrayed at his dock on the Sassafras River. I visited the family, toured the boat which I had not seen in years and was treated to one of the most delicious venison dinners I’ve ever had. The deer was felled by my host and during the meal we discussed what “Nellie” meant to himself, his wife and their two sons and how he’d like her portrayed. I explained to my client and his wife how I wished no surprises for myself and certainly not for them during the creation of their painting. We discussed how the following day I would make additional photos [I had many from the past when she was in Virginia waters and I had painted her] and how I would do sketches and color studies to be sure I was “on track” before I attacked the final canvas. This brought them much comfort as they had never “commissioned” a painting before and since they were not “art collectors” they felt reassured by the process which I outlined. A price was then decided upon. I do all in my power to relive the client of uncertainty at each step of a painting.
After returning to my studio I did the initial sketch. It is simple ink on paper and I emailed it to my friend explaining that this was a but “doodle” intended to determine the basic elements and composition which I felt represented what the client was envisioning. A more finished drawing would follow but only after they’d agreed that we were of a similar understanding. He did approve the “doodle” with a couple comments; one being that he would like his son’s radio controlled model of “Nellie” to appear in the painting. During my visit I had enjoyed seeing the proud young man pilot his home-made model of Dad’s boat around the harbor. It does not appear in this version but “Lil’ Nellie” is on the left in the reflection of the boat house in the second sketch on the right.
The pencil sketch shows much more detail than the initial “doodle”. I emailed [ in the ‘old days’ I would have visited the client or shipped the drawing to them!] the new drawing and they were thrilled with the image and wanted to proceed to the next step which was the oil or “color” sketch. This would give us all our first look at how the piece would come to life with color and atmosphere. The pen and pencil sketches were about 4″ x 8″ and the oil study about 5″ x 10″.
As you can see we have a beautiful afternoon on the Sassafras River and to the right background you see another buy boat which is owned by my client’s best friend who lives across the River in Georgetown, Maryland. The boat model is more visible in the left foreground and the Captain’s two sons’ skiffs
are tied alongside the pilothouse. Again, thanks to digital photography and email, the image was viewed immediately by the family and was met by much favor by all four members. There were discussions concerning minor rigging details of the vessels but for the most part it would be painted on the final canvas just as you see it in the preparatory, oil study.
I then prepared the larger canvas, 14″ x 28″ and drew off the image in pencil directly on the prepared canvas surface. Before long, the finished painting emerged and was photographed. Again, it was emailed to my friends and was a hit all around. You can see this image below. After the client’s email approval, the piece was beautifully framed , the hand- lettered nameplate attached and
properly lighted. Then the clients visited my studio in Richmond for the final “viewing” of the actual piece [ for the first time] and were quite happy. The two originals now hang in their lovely home overlooking “Nellie” at their dock.
So, you now see how the process works! I take great pleasure and pride in my art and have enjoyed the many clients with whom I’ve worked over the years. I feel very fortunate that many of them have become long-time friends.
Another interesting aspect of this project was that the owners of “Nellie Crockett” wished to have a dozen high quality prints on canvas made to be given as gifts to friends and family. There is a studio in Richmond that creates beautiful Giclee prints of artwork. This is a technique for making magnificent reproductions of originals and one may order small editions- as few as one up to 100. I was happy to have these prints made for the buyers and they were able to share their new possession.
*Caveat- do be aware that when one purchases an original piece of art, the copyrights do not automatically convey with the sale. Permission must be granted by the artist before any reproductions may be legally made.
If you’d like to discuss my recreating your vision on canvas, return an email [ use a subject such as “Original Painting” or similar so I’ll not toss your inquiry out with the many offers for Watches or Vitamins. I’ll be happy to add your email address to my “Wet Paint” emailing list which I send out often showing new art straight off my easel!
It’s back to studio for me and to you I wish Fair Winds!