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Daily Inspiration: Meet Michael Barringer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Barringer.

Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born in Granite Quarry, NC. Both of my grandfathers, Arthur and John, were creative – talented as blacksmiths, stonecutters and farmers. I think that creative impulse came down to me through the family heritage. Chuck, my father, loved nature and all forms of music, and my mother, Martha Ann, is a voracious reader and great cook, so that inclination to be curious came down to me, too. I really enjoyed drawing from a very early age, and my parents always supported me by buying whatever art supplies I needed and paying for art lessons. So, I have always enjoyed tremendous support and encouragement from my family, as both my parents, and my older brother, Keith, have all given me much needed advice and direction along the way.

While at UNC-Chapel Hill, I studied literature and art, which provided a way for me to channel this creativity and curiosity into learning about the world as a whole. This was a sort of awakening. I moved to Atlanta in 1989, thinking a career in advertising would be a good fit for me but found myself spending more and more time drawing and painting. While working at Abstein Gallery in the framing department, I met other artists. We would get together after work and have critiques of our drawings and paintings. This led to Paul Abstein agreeing to show some of my work in the gallery, and I was fortunate to have clients become interested in what I was doing.

With this success, I expanded my relationships with galleries around the country, being able to show my work in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio, New York, and Georgia, of course. Some time spent in the Graduate Drawing and Painting program at Georgia State in the mid 1990s was invaluable. Here, I had the high honor of studying with Medford Johnston. I learned from him the level of dedication, focus, and commitment that it takes to be a maker of images and how it is a never-ending personal evolution. Of course, Jordan Ahlers has been an irreplaceable supporter of my work for over 20 years.  He and his wife, Shifra, and their team at Momentum Gallery in Asheville provide nothing but the best to their clients.

In Atlanta, I am represented by Alan Avery Art Company. I have known Alan for 30 years, and we have a relationship based on mutual respect and honesty. I have been a full-time artist for 29 years, and for twenty of those years, my family and I have lived in Lilburn, where I maintain a studio on our wooded property. My talented wife, Mindy, has worked at CDC for 30 years as a Visual Information Specialist. Our son, Ben, is a Junior at Georgia Tech, and our twin daughters, Becky and Jessie, are rising Seniors at Brookwood High School. Bandit, our dog, has the run of the place.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have been extremely fortunate in all areas of my life.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Critical praise: “Michael Barringer’s engrossing abstract images are typically replies to poems. Memory, bodily impermanence, and the spiritual journey are among the topics. To render these intangible themes, the artist compiles imagery in layers of gesso, charcoal, pastel, acrylic, and oil pigment that reveal themselves to the viewer only gradually. The eye finds as much pleasure in discerning what has been obscured as in interpreting what is readily apparent. Symbolic revelations come to the viewer alongside pure physical delight.” – Jerry Cullum, for ARTnews

“It ALL seeps in,” Barringer says, describing his many influences, which include poets, novelists, jazz music, the quilts of Gee’s Bend, photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, ancient cave art, and the natural forms he has encountered while walking through nature or traveling to such places as the Alaskan wilderness and the California redwood forests. Each of these encounters connects him to what he calls a “larger existence,” raising questions about how the multitudinous aspects of human perception and the natural world fit together and what drives humans to seek out a relationship with spirit. His paintings are both a response to such experiences and questions, as well as entry points for viewers into their intuitive, introspective, and revelatory encounters.” – Christelle Thomas, for

Each painting I make is a symbol. They are not directly definable by rationality and remain open-ended in meaning, existing as objects for our intuition to decipher. These paintings are rich in detail and subtle in their construction, so I like to think that the viewer will enjoy a slow, rewarding revelation with extended looking.

Using acrylic paint, modeling paste, charcoal, graphite, colored pencils, and pastels, I build up a stratified surface of intention and a fortunate accident. I often lay down the paint in pieces, masking off forms, just as a quilter fits together swatches of fabric. I enjoy this piling on of one pure color with another, as it vibrates with visual energy and may produce a strong emotional response, one beyond the reach of words.

In pleasing contrast to these heavier, bold forms of color, I draw lyrical shapes of smudged pigment or fine lines. I use templates to trace circles and ovals, enjoying their groupings into organic forms or their existence as trails of fading line work. I finish the surface with satiny glazes of oil paint (patinas, veils?), which appear in subtle squares, biomorphic shapes, and other boundaries. Suggesting faded parchments or fresco walls, this surface speaks of accumulated histories. In the end, the work reveals itself gradually, just as an archaeological site sheds its collective history.

I make a rigorously formal art, but I have faith that this meditative system of replication and mantra-like activity will produce objects of joy, warmth, and plentitude. And rather than explaining away the work, I again have faith that these objects will operate on their own terms, leaving the viewer to enjoy the literal act of seeing. Selected Public Collections which have my work:

Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia
Georgia Power, Georgia
Federal Reserve Bank, Missouri
Delta Airlines, Georgia
Ritz Carlton Hotel, Texas
IBM Corporation, Georgia
SAS Corporation, North Carolina
UPS Corporation, Georgia
Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia
Saks Fifth Avenue, Georgia
Memphis Cancer Center, Tennessee
King and Spalding, Georgia
Alston and Bird, Georgia
Walt Disney, Florida
Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Presidential Suite, Tennessee
Fire Mountain Resort, North Carolina
Duke Medical Pavilion, North Carolina
The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio
Post Properties, Georgia
Warner/Fidelity Investments, Maryland

What does success mean to you?
Being able to use my talents and interests to highlight the rich resonance of this shared life we all have together.


  • A painting that is 15 x 13 is $1600
  • A painting that is 48 x 36 is $5600
  • A painting that is 48 x 72 is $10,000

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