Local landscape artist featured at Johnson Center

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sandra Hicks-Barnes didn’t realize what a talent she had for art until she learned to use the right side of her brain.

Although she had four years of art school and had taught art in the public school system in Montgomery, it was when the world was turned upside down that she found that she could capture a person’s likeness as never before.

“The left side of the brain is analytical and the right side is funny and happy,” Hicks-Barnes said.

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“An art instructor turned a photograph of Tine Davis of Montgomery upside down and had the class to draw it. That caused me to use the right side of my brain – the less analytical side – the happy side. When I turned my upside down portrait of Tine Davis right side up, I was amazed to see how much it looked like him. I could never have captured the likeness the way I did if Davis’ portrait had not been upside down. By using the right side of my brain, I was a better artist.”

Today, Hicks-Barnes specializes in landscapes but she doesn’t stand on her head to paint. However, she has learned to be “happier” and less analytical with her work. And, it’s that easy way that she has with the brush that makes her artwork in such great demand.

“It wasn’t until 1999 when some of my work appeared in Southern Accent magazine that people started to notice my work,” Hicks-Barnes said. “That’s when I took a giant leap forward as a landscape artist.”

Those who viewed Hicks-Barnes’ artwork quickly identified with the low rolling hills, the lush woodlands and the sparkling, inland bodies of water.

“That’s when it really hit me that I could be a landscape artist – a professional artist,” Hicks-Barnes said.

She had found her area of interest and her area of concentration and Southeast Alabama offers some of the most beautiful landscapes around.

Her favorite landscapes for her paintings are found in and around her home a Dublin in South Montgomery County. However, she said Pike County also offers scenic beauty in its hills, dales and woodlands.

“I paint mainly from photographs,” Hicks-Barnes said.

“The lighting in photographs never changes and I like that. I have a camera with me at all times and it doesn’t matter what time of day or what kind of weather, if I see a scene that I like, I stop and photograph it.”

Hicks-Barnes’ favorite times of the year to photograph are spring and summer and she likes the colors in the fall. But the winter is not of particular interest to her.

Most of Hicks-Barnes’ landscapes are painted from photographs taken at a distance and appear to be a mass of colors.

Her work is distinctive and popular with those who appreciate the landscapes of the rural South.

Sandra Hicks-Barnes landscapes are on exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts on East Walnut Street in downtown Troy through May 15.

Center hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Admission is free and the public is invited.