Barb Yates - Painting Animals With Both Realism and Character

By | 4:14 PM
When I first began this blog I made a post about Barb Yate's work in helping shelter animals because I was touched by her benevolent application of art.  Charity work has been a very fulfilling aspect of her life in helping others and having an avenue to give back for what she considers her God-given talent.  Her talent and skill is accentuated with heartfelt inspiration when she creates hand-painted pet portraits and also in her depictions of various animals domestic and wild.  

acrylic painting, Working Dog, pet portrait
Kaiser, 2013 © Barb Yates


A self-taught artist, she has been painting since 2007.  She is gifted with the ability to capture some of an animal's personality and imbue it in her painting of them. Barb is mainly focused on using acrylic paints, although she also has worked in graphite, charcoal, watercolors and pastels. She has also produced landscape paintings; however, animals are the stars on her canvas. The art she produces has the unmistakable quality of realism.

How did you get started as an artist?

I turned to art as a way of working through the grief of the tragic loss of my dear husband. Through channeling my energy into painting I have found creating art heals much of my sadness, and also has the positive effect of bringing joy to others.  I feel that painting is what I am meant to do with my life, and I believe that it is what he would want also.

What inspires you to create art?

I love animals, and painting them is my passion. My specialty is painting actual animals from reference photos.  I then compose a portrait as if the animal is posed.  It is my intent to show not just how they are but who they are by reflecting the animal's essence in my paintings. My preference is working one-on-one creating custom pieces.

acrylic painting, Adoption Dog, pet portrait
Twix, 2013 © Barb Yates


What’s your typical painting session and environment like?

I have a small bedroom  that I use for my studio. I've actually built my art table myself. I prefer a table top easel, as I cannot stand for long periods, and find it more workable for me. Typically, I try to limit myself to 4 hrs. per session. Within that time, I take a few breaks. But, to be honest, when I am engrossed in a painting, time gets away from me, and before I know it hours and hours have passed.

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

I want to help people have a piece of art hand-painted with loving care that shows the spirit of their cherished pet.  Photographs capture an image of a moment, and the portrait-painting allows me to really focus on the overall essence and feeling that can be derived from many moments captured on film, all combined into the finished piece.  I hope that my paintings show the truth and embody at least some of the character of the beloved pet.


What unexpected responses have you had to your work as an artist?

Aside from heartfelt thank you cards, the most amazing reaction I have acheived was through some memorial paintings' effect on their recipients.  I have been told that aside from wanting their paintings to help them reconnect with their lost treasured pet they are now able to feel, through my paintings, the animal's presence again. This is what I consider my ultimate goal, to be able to bring that animal's spirit to life in my paintings.


Sporting dog, dog portrait, hunting portrait, duck hunter
First Duck, 2013 © Barb Yates

Do you have any advice that you wish to share with the art community?

Watermark everything you put online because artists can never have too much protection. It has been my experience that there is a general lack of knowledge about copyright laws and its application to art in particular. This has resulted in my recently trying to educate and help people comprehend how copyright works and why it is important. For any emerging artists, I would like to offer the advice to make sure you always protect your work. If an artist is going to allow reproduction or sharing of their work my strong suggestion is that they do it in a written agreement in order to protect all parties concerned for any misinterpretations of the agreement.  Especially with internet marketing you will want to be very careful, although a valued asset to any artist at the same time it presents extreme opportunities for art-theft.  


What plans do you have for the future of your art?

My goal has always been to offer to my pet portraits' recipients to be able to truly connect with the animal's spirit through my painting.  Whether that animal is still with us here on earth or passed to be able to look at the painting and not just see the animal but to feel it will be my ongoing and ever-expanding goal. So to be able to offer this emotional connection with my art is my ongoing goal as an artist. Also I strive to never stop learning how to apply my technique and skill to better achieve my goal.

dust bathing horse, painting
Dust Bath, 2013 © Barb Yates


How do you promote your art both on and off the internet?

I am currently represented by the Illinois State Museums Artisan Shop, where 5 original paintings of mine are on exhibit in Whittington, IL at nearby Rend Lake.  There has also been press exposure on the local and national level.

There are a few different ways to read about and see pictures of my art and even works in progress online. 

Barb's links  -



all images © Barb Yates
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2 comments:

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Rebecca said...

I am happy to hear that you so enjoyed reading. I hope you come back again, Sanam!