Meet

Erik Barthels

Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
I am from Lake Charles, LA and now live in Mandeville, just north of New Orleans.
New Orleans is known for its creative atmosphere. How does the city inspire you?
I’ve always had a soft spot for the idiosyncratic – places, signs, handmade objects, and people that are beautifully askew, and there is no shortage here. I can’t think of a more colorful, captivating place to be. It’s cosmic and timeless and always engaging.
Who are a few artists that inspire you and why?
I’m particularly fond of Dan Walsh’s paintings – his layering of color is direct and simple, yet it hums in an otherworldly kind of way. Recently, I’ve been enamored with the work of Ryan McLaughlin as well as Shaker gift drawings and abstract Tantric painting – all striking, simple, and small.
Slant
I’ve always had a soft spot for the idiosyncratic – places, signs, handmade objects, and people that are beautifully askew, and there is no shortage here. — Erik Barthels
When you are not in the studio, where can people find you?
You can probably find me in a park nearby, chasing after my kids.
Watercolor is known for its difficulty as a medium. How do you control (or not control) the way in which colors fill the paper?
Complete control of watercolor isn’t possible for me, which is liberating. Instead of brushes, I use squeegees to push and pull drops of watercolor across the paper. I have a rough idea of the composition I’d like to make, but there are always imperfections and surprises. I move around quickly in the studio, as this helps with sustaining momentum and keeping my focus away from the pile of unsuccessful paintings.
You’ve created a delicately bold conversation on paper. Do you focus your attention on color over form, vice versa, or do they share equal importance?
Color is always my primary concern. I spend a good time mixing paint, building up a color palette for a session’s work. If I can get off to a running start with colors I’m happy with, all other decisions come easier.

More From Erik Barthels

More from Meet

Browse Artist Interviews
E6f6a0d9 7190 4bf1 bc64 a13776d11e4a
Meet Matthew Ward

Ceramicist Matthew Ward talks about his favorite objects, his first time working with clay, and the priorities of pattern and form.

More from the Journal

Browse Posts
37d2e2ac 8889 4aae 8cce 255e007dc919
In Good Company Oscar Health

Headquartered in Nolita's historic Puck Building, the offices of Oscar Health underscore their commitment to redefining the age-old health insurance industry.