Peter Barker was born in 1954 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the son of a well known musical family on both his mother’s and father’s side. Much of his childhood was spent in the surrounding countryside, where his inherent love of nature was instilled through bird-watching, fishing and breeding butterflies and moths, hobbies which would feed his interest in conservation. It was also apparent in those early years that Peter had an innate ability to draw and paint all he observed.
However, at the age of 14 he started playing golf and four years later he turned professional to pursue a dream of becoming the greatest golfer the world had ever known! The dream did not quite come to fruition over the ensuing twelve years, although did include some notable tournament wins, including the Bedfordshire Professional Championship in 1979.
His dormant artistic talent finally blossomed into an inevitable vocation in 1983 when he quit professional golf and embarked on a new career as a full-time artist. Although self-taught, he did receive much early encouragement from renowned artist Caesar Smith and in 1985 his work was accepted by the Stamford Artists Gallery, followed in 1987 by the Ringstead Gallery.
Peter’s passion for the British countryside is reflected in his work which conveys an acute sense of observation and knowledge. Often he returns to the same wood, stretch of river, or coastline, portraying it in different weather, season and time of day. In 1994 he was approached by Anglia Television and a short film was broadcast showing him sketching by the River Welland and painting in the studio.
He has not settled into any one niche of painting; rather, he finds painting such a wide variety of subjects, from landscape, marine, wildlife, still-life and portraits, both on a large scale and small, in oil, pastel, acrylic or watercolour, keeps his work fresh and his desire to paint unceasing, limited only by the number of hours in a day. He paints both in the field ‘en plein air’ and in the studio at home in Rutland.
Now, with numerous highly acclaimed solo exhibitions behind him, his work graces collections as far afield as the United States and Australia and is thus in ever-increasing demand. Work has also been accepted by the Pastel Society (where he won the Frank Herring award in 2006), The Royal Institute of Oil Painters (where he won the Ranelagh Press Award for ‘an exceptional small oil’ and the Stanley Grimm Memorial Award for the favourite painting as voted for by the public)and the Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries in London.
Peter adores the craft of painting and feels honoured to be able to pursue his passion and earn a living from it. He studies great painters via their books and exhibitions and among contemporary artists he greatly admires and who have influenced his own work are David Curtis, Peter Brown, Trevor Chamberlain, Harley Brown, John Lines and Richard Schmid.