Creativity Found

Tereza Barnard – from psychology and interior design to painting realist portraits with oils

October 21, 2020 Tereza Barnard Episode 1
Creativity Found
Tereza Barnard – from psychology and interior design to painting realist portraits with oils
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tereza Barnard had a discouraging review of her art as a youngster, and went on to study and pursue a career in psychology. But something didn’t quite sit right for her.
Find out how Tereza changed her circumstances and now earns money and accolade as a realist and abstract painter whose work features in Tom Croft’s book Portraits for NHS Heroes.

Buy Portraits for NHS Heroes here
Instagram: @creativityfoundpodcast
Facebook: @creativityfoundpodcast

Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Creative Commons License

Artworks: Emily Portnoi

Other podcasts cited: Suggested Donation


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Hi, I'm Claire, founder of Open Stage Arts drama and singing classes for adults. Lots of the adults who come to our classes and online events are looking for a creativity that's been put on the back burner during their sensible, grown-up years. I have found this to be true among other creatives, too. So I've decided to find out more about the painters, photographers, writers, printmakers, actors, crafters, teachers and more who have found or refound their creativity later in life. This time I'm talking to Tereza Barnard from her canalside home in Oxford. I started by asking Tereza about her artistic style. I do representational art, which is I think it's like a fancy name for painting what you see, essentially. So yeah, that's what I do. It's very realistic. Isn't it? So I guess yeah, I'm a reali t painter. Although I do bits o abstract within my artworks and I'm experimenting with that more, but it's not, you now, I'm never probably goi g to do just abstract. So yeah, figurative realism is the dis ipline I'm in. Thereza told me about an unfortunate judgement that was made on her when she was younger I think I was just a little bit unlucky. But from what I hear a lot of artists actually had a similar experience. So what happened is that my parents are in a completely different field. I think I discussed that with you in the past. They're, they're both medical doctors. And they don't know anything about art. It's just not their thing. And I've always shown an interest in art, that's not something that they understood, although they occasionally supported it. It's not it's just, you know, not something that they had any understanding, understanding of. And so they were trying to, like, gain a bit more understanding. And they were trying, I guess, to help, and they heard of some guy that used to run, I don't know, maybe he still does, some sort of school in Czech Republic, and it was some sort of an art school. And they decided to show him my portfolio. And he was very dismissive. And he basically said, I have no talent, and I should not pursue art at all. And, and so I were told by my parents, you know, yeah, it sounds like it's a really nice hobby, but like, you know, get yourself a proper job. Yeah. And I guess that kind of shaped me, because I was like, Okay, I guess if there was some sort of special talent then I would know by now. So I guess yeah, you know, I need to get myself a decent job and something I somewhat like, yeah. Recently, I've actually on Instagram have followed this artists that whose work I really like Keita Morimoto. He tried to get into some art college, and he was influenced by particular animation style, showed his portfolio. And he didn't get in. Oh, that's so sad, isn't it? So yeah, it's like, I guess these people that have, you know, like some sort of a rigid view of what your creativity should look like. They do sometimes make the decisions. Yeah, I think this guy was actually a director of the said school. Tereza studied psychology, then began, working as an interior designer, I asked how this came about is just like a real twist of events, I guess. So I finished my Master's in developmental psychology. And back then I have no idea why that was, but UCL took their sweet time sending the degree certificates, which I think maybe if I was in England at the time, then maybe it would have been fine if I was applying for jobs here. And I said, Look, I've just finished UCL, but I don't have the actual degree certificate. But I returned back to Czech Republic and they required that paper. So I couldn't start anything on the psychology front till I get that paper. And so I had a little bit of money saved. And randomly, I stumbled across a business card of a new hotel opening. And it was supposed to be some sort of like a new concept like a kind of arty hotel/hostel. And it just sounded quite interesting. And I basically messaged the person on the business card, who now turned out to be my friend. And we clicked. She talked to me about the concept, which is this new hotel with artworks in every room. And then I met the director of this whole concept. And we also clicked, I think it was just like, you know, basically a bunch of personalities thinking that we could do together, and they employed me on something that I've never done before, and I swear, I will never do again. And that is to become a media marketing manager or something like that. And they were like, well, you're arty, but you have your background in psychology. So you know, you might be good at that kind of stuff. And it was basically looking after Facebook. I hate Facebook. I should have not gone for that. Yeah. But it was, it was basically a foot in the door there. And while I was there, I remember mentioning to the director saying I've always fancied interior design. It's just my little passion. Yeah. And he's like, why don't you design a couple of rooms? And we'll see how you get on. And so I did. And they actually became a success. And they brought them some money. So he's like, why don't you design a couple more? They had some issues with the designers that they had before. And it was around a time when everything kind of vintage and retro was coming back into fashion. And it was really popular in UK and not yet in Czech. So I think what it was that Czech artists and designers didn't have an eye for it yet. Right now everyone does like, you know, this is the classic hipster look. But because I had it in the eye from having lived in London, and they didn't, that's how I got into it. So I still did a bit of psychology on the side, I, I worked, I started working for a clinical psychologist. And I did like one day a week working with her, and then I did the hostel stuff and, you know, basically freelancing the rest of the time. And I remember just not particularly liking Czech Republic, I just kind of felt like a foreigner in my own country because I previously lived eight years in England. And I think it was a really formative eight years, because I moved here when I was 19. And I remember, I lived in Oxford for two years, during those eight years living in England, and I loved it more than anywhere. And so I remember, basically wanting to take a summer job here and seeing how I feel about Oxford if I still like it over Prague and over any other place. And I came to Oxford, and I got this summer job working for one of these schools that teach English, as an activity leader. And I loved Oxford just as much. And I was like, I think I really want to move here. And I met my husband that summer, who just happened to be travelling through here. He's Canadian. So it was just like a chance meeting. And then we kept in touch. And we decided to go travelling together to see if we can work or not. Yeah. And then after that, because I had some deals still working for the hostel and a couple of other interior jobs that I needed to finish, we moved back to Czech Republic. So I was back in Czech Republic for a little bit. And then I got pregnant. And we decided to go to Canada, because I didn't think I could support us with the interiors. So we went to Canada and stay there for a couple of years. And I was still dreaming about Oxford. so in the end, we're like, shall we try Oxford? We did. What was it that finally made you begin painting in the way that you do now? What made you come back to doing some art. So I've never really stopped doing art, although there were times that I did less of it because of circumstances or I would change medium. So I've always been into oil painting, like ever. When I was a teenager I did. I have like a number of oil paintings on canvas. But then because we were moving around, I suppose I switched from oil painting to watercolours. So I did do that. But it was always a hobby. It was always something that I just kind of pulled out when I felt like, you know, the room is quiet and there's nothing else to do and I can, ya know, do do my hobby. But what made me pursue it as a job was actually my husband. He originally worked in the oil field, in the oil construction in Canada. And he was good at it, but he never really liked it that much. He was like, it's a bit. Yeah, I like it. I'm good at it, but I don't love it. And, and he always liked jewellery. And we went through a couple of years of him finding his way to jewellery and the family supporting him in that, to him actually pursuing it and signing up for a really good course and then getting a job at a really famous London jeweller and making a living out. Yeah, quite successfully. Yeah. And he's never turned back and he seems super happy and the change from him doing a so-so job to actually do something that he loved was tremendous to witness. And very inspiring. With psychology, I've always liked it. And I still like interiors, but I don't love that much either of them and not as much as painting. And then I picked up a book and it was a book about how you basically find your true calling. And it was about from the first page I started reading and I was like, well, painting, it's always been painting. I just never knew that I could. And then I looked at my husband and I was like, well, he never thought that he could do jewellery. He just thought that's always going to be a hobby. And here we go. So and he's like, No, I think you should try it. I think if you were meant to be a psychologist, you would have been one already. And you kind of like haven't Yeah, so he's like, go for it. That's so uplifting and inspiring. That's brilliant. Thank you. Tell me more about your preferred mediums and how you work, how you paint. So my preferred one is still oils. I've swapped canvases for aluminium boards, because I work with texture within the paint, and it sits on the aluminium board a bit better. So it's always been oil. That's my love affair. Lifelong. The thing about oils is like, you know, getting the equipment for it, but you can't transport it that easily. And there's like a cleanup that's associated with it. It's just a bit painful, you know? The setup takes a while, the cleanup takes a while. So you have to have more time for it than just pulling out watercolours, or pencils. So that's where the other techniques kind of come into play. Pencils, I think I just kind of started getting into recently, and I've been enjoying that. It essentially started as a necessity because of travelling, I wanted to go and see my parents. And I have a lot of colours here. And they're quite expensive. And we already have, you know, suitcase full of stuff when we're travelling with two kids. So I'm like, I don't want to buy an extra set of colours for my parents house. Because that costs a fortune. I think I will do eventually. But right now, you know, one, two, it's like 20-40 quid, so yeah, can't afford to, you know, buy thousands of paints for a different location. So I was like, I'm just going to pack my pencils. And I've recently started exploring this technique of, basically building form with pencils. And it's using dark charcoal pencils and white charcoal pencils over each other. And it just kind of builds a little bit of a texture and, you know, makes the drawing look 3d. And so that's something that I've been, I've been exploring. But yeah, my number one thing would still be oil painting, but I am more than willing to do some charcoal stuff. You were running person to person meetups before lockdown. And you've been running online tutorials more recently. Is that true? Yes, that is true. I used to do a meetup which wasn't paid. Initially, it was just a bunch of people, each working on their own thing. If they needed advice from me, I was happy to give it, usually it was people that want to do work on their own stuff. That is really nice, because I met a couple of good friends through that. But during lockdown, we just kind of cancelled that and we just kind of meet privately. I've seen my mentor doing a lot of online lessons, and they gave me an idea. And I felt like finally, I've started understanding my technique enough to teach it. Because it's quite a complicated technique. And I have a couple of students sign up. it is very much I guess, like the monthly meetups that I had, except they're on Zoom. It's the same people and we work on projects together. So we would set up a project, for example, now we're working on a full head portrait. And I demonstrate live and they ask questions. I tell them why I use what colours I'm using. For example, I work with texture, and I explain how basically putting texture in light areas will create a bit of a 3d look when you look at the painting from a distance. I wanted to hear more about Tereza's involvement in the Tom Croft book Portraits for NHS Heroes. I followed him on Instagram, he's local, and he's a very helpful artist, and I'm an emerging artist. And he's always been very helpful. You know, whenever I had any questions about how, basically how our business works, he's always given valuable advice. And I've seen when he first posted it, the feeling that I think a lot of us in art community kind of had when COVID first came about, it was a really weird feeling. Because let's face it, art is a bit of a luxury. You know, it makes you feel like oh, here I am, you know, that people basically fighting for their lives now. People fighting for them. Yes. And here, I am just gonna sit in my easel and paint. I think the feeling that a lot of us had was that it makes it a little bit vain. And he was the one that was like, yeah, that's basically how I feel. So how I'm gonna work against that feeling is I'm going to actually offer a free portrait to an NHS person. And, you know, if there are any other artists that want to do that, message me, basically comment underneath, and I was one of the first ones to comment there. And I was like, I think this is an excellent idea, like, hundred percent do it. He was personally actually allocating people on that first comment. And that's before I think he even had the hashtag and whatnot. And then he, like, it just completely took over. And then he did the hashtag and then other people could basically join in without him having to allocate. But yeah, I think, because we know each other, we're a small community, like as artists, and especially representational art and portrait art. I think there's not that many of us here. So I think we, you know, a lot of us know each other. Yeah. So I think I just posted my artwork, and he repost everyone's artwork. Like, I don't think he can do now everyone. So many now, but he reposts artworks of other artists and then he randomly contacted me and said, Yeah, do you want to be in the book? And this like, hundred percent? Yes. Yes. So who did you paint? I painted a girl called Charlotte Cooper. And she works as a neonatal nurse in Manchester. And I still have her on Instagram. And she seems like a really lovely girl. So I'm really glad that I got teamed up. Yeah, it was a nice experience. We had to work from photos. But I instructed her how I wanted the photos to be taken, like where I want the light to be hitting her face that kind of stuff. And she did really well. And she gave me a nice flattering picture. And yeah, I painted that. lovely. That's brilliant. And for the future, near or far. Um, so it's in the very beginning, but I'm talking about potentially doing an exhibition together with Philippa James, who's a photographer. So hopefully we'll do that. Yeah. And I think we're going to approach one subject, and I'm going to paint it and she's going to photograph it. And we'll see. We'll see how that goes. And then I have some, a couple of other paintings that I have in my head. One of them I've already started prepping for. So I'm looking forward to that. But yeah, I guess more. Just I've got more paintings planned, but um, in terms of style, I guess I'm venturing out a little bit out of the realism and employing other things. I think there seems to be a thing that a lot of artists just kind of want to forget the 20th century, that it didn't happen. And I get that. But now I'm kind of coming back to it and thinking, like, I really like the old style of painting. And I think it's really important for us to basically know our profession to know the trade, yeah, and be good tradesman. But at the same time, I kind of want to explore other things. And so for example, right now I'm exploring how to put time into a painting, like how to represent time in a painting, and how to slow down the viewer from viewing the painting in like one second, and like, how to guide the paint, how to guide my viewers, in terms of where I want them to move around the painting, how I want them to view it, this kind of thing. Wow. So yeah, that's something I want to work on a little bit more just at the beginning of that. That's amazing. There are many, many podcasts out there, it's difficult to know where to start. So for each episode, I asked my guests for their recommendations. You're welcome. I don't listen to many podcasts. In fact, I listen to just one. And it's for artists, it's called Suggested Donation run by two artists based in US, and they do a lot of representational art. And they invite a lot of representational artists that are, you know, they are, like realist painters and whatnot. And it's really interesting to listen to them if you're into painting. Yeah. If you're not, I don't know if that would be for you. But I think, for anyone interested in painting and for anyone interested in realism, I think that's the one to listen to Brilliant, excellent. If people want to view your work and connect with you, where should they go? To my website, I'm on Instagram. I think that's the only social network I'm really active on a times. I do do local exhibitions. I do do international exhibitions. But I do tend to announce it usually on the Instagram page. I did do one physical exhibition this year. That was nice. But yeah, everything else seems to be online. Yes. Yeah. And I guess that's how it's gonna be for the foreseeable future. Definitely. Yeah. Thank you very much, Tereza. Thank you. Creativity found is an Open Stage Arts production. If you'd like to help fund future editions, you can buy us a coffee. That's k o hyphen f i. The online platform that helps creators receive financial support from fans. Visit slash openstagearts. If you have found your creativity as an adult, and would like to talk to me for future podcasts, drop me a line at On Instagram or Facebook follow @creativityfoundpodcast where you'll find photos of our contributiors' artworks, and be kept abreast of all that we're getting up to.

Tereza's art