Los Angeles, CA — Internationally collected artist Chantal Barlow is exploring a new medium for her paintings, finding creative inspiration in one of the most sustainable materials on Earth and — on a personal level — paying homage to her maternal family heritage.
Barlow’s portfolio features paintings made on birch, maple, oak, redwood and poplar, as well as recycled wood. She loves the texture of natural materials beneath her brush and the unpredictability they bring. During a recent visit to her mother’s native country, Barlow discovered a beautiful new canvas that is opening up new possibilities for her fine art.
“On a drive to the Algarve in Portugal, I passed through several acres of oak cork trees that had been harvested for their bark and marked with a number, representing the years passed since the last harvest,” Barlow says. “Inspired by these cork farms and seeing the expansive use of cork interwoven in so many aspects of everyday life, I'm moved to use this sustainable material as my canvas — creating pieces that are intimate windows into who I am and where I come from.”
In addition to producing half of the world’s cork, Barlow notes that Portugal is known for its history of sea exploration that goes back centuries.
Barlow is using cork to further explore a “nautical aesthetic,” and she has found a Portuguese word that describes her artistic style well.
“’Rustico’ is a Portuguese conversational term for mixing old and new aesthetics — a harmonious sight often reflected in the blend of centuries-old buildings and newer construction,” Barlow says. “I love mixing old traditions, materials and styles with contemporary taste.”
Barlow’s cork paintings will initially be available exclusively through her website at www.ChantalBarlow.com . Later, she plans to make some pieces available through Saatchi Art and the online art marketplace, Artfinder.
All of Barlow’s cork artwork will come framed and ready to hang.
Cork is a pliable, versatile medium for creating fine art, and it’s also one of the most sustainable materials available. This makes cork-canvas artwork ideal for decorators and art buyers who seek Earth-friendly interior design elements or art that pairs seamlessly with LEED-certified projects. In Portugal, the bark of the oak cork tree (quercus suber) is harvested every 9 to 12 years during its 200-year life span. Oak cork is unique because it has the ability to regenerate its bark after removal. The process leaves the tree unharmed.
About the artist
Barlow Began exhibiting her artwork in Los Angeles in 2011. Saatchi Art has featured her artwork in several of its online collections, and West Elm choose Barlow for an exhibit at its Beverly Hills location, describing her as “one of Los Angeles’ most exciting emerging artists.” Her acrylic on birch painting, “Allure,” was featured in Angeleno Magazine and shown at the Designer Showcase at Wattles Mansion in Hollywood last year.
Barlow also dedicates much of her time and creativity to the Unconventional Apology Project (UnconventionalApology.com), a portrait and interview series that she founded to give a voice to survivors of domestic violence.