Upon reaching the third grade I entered a worldwide art contest for children sponsored by UNICEF. My entire elementary school got involved, and my entry into the contest was a painting of pro football player Jim Brown. Much to my surprise, I won 1st place among all of the entries from around the world. From that day on I knew I wanted to be an artist!
My specialty is people. More specifically, faces. I’m fascinated by the story the eyes tell, and many people comment first on the eyes of my subjects. I don’t sketch out the drawing in the traditional way most artists do. Every one of my drawings begins with the subjects’ right eye—the one to my left when I’m facing the illustration board. Yes, I literally start the reflection in that subjects’ right pupil. The subject guides me from there.
Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of selling original pieces to Muhammad Ali, Marvin Gaye and Billy Paul of the song fame, "Me and Mrs. Jones"…and presented President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush with a portrait that I completed before an exhibit that I participated in at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, TX. I draw a limited number of commissioned originals annually.
FUN FACTS about me:
I had a speaking role opposite Oscar-winning actor, Denzel Washington, in the movie, "John Q", where I played a personnel manager in the film. In my role in the movie I interviewed Denzel for a new job. If you saw the movie you know I didn’t give him the job!
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky around Muhammad Ali, as my dad George King, Sr. was Ali's first trainer for the then “Cassius Clay’s” debut professional fight.
In my career as a creative director I directed and/or produced TV commercials starring Teri Hatcher, Howie Long, Vanessa Williams, Ving Rhames, Shaq, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dan Marino, Alex Rodriguez and Daisy Fuentes, among others.
My art business has been designated as a "Trusted Art Seller" with The Art Storefronts Organization, which means you can shop with confidence, and know that I stand behind the quality and value of my products.
"ART IS WHEN THE HEAD, THE HANDS AND THE HEART COME TOGETHER."
-- Barry King
I was blessed enough to know early on that I wanted to be one thing and one thing only. An artist. As an artist, I always found the most interesting thing about people was the face. I find inspiration in the human face, and especially one’s eyes. It’s incredible that there have been billions of people created through time, yet it’s amazing that our creator has only two ears, two eyes, one nose, one mouth a chin, cheeks and hair in which to create the billions of faces through the years—yet each face still has its own “look”. Now I know it’s said we all have or have had a twin somewhere on the planet, but I find it simply amazing that there aren’t hundreds of “twins” in existence in the world.
As for the technique of my photo realism style, I never took a lesson so I don’t draw like most, as I don’t sketch out the subject. For me drawing is like math and measurements. I start each portrait with the subjects right eye—the one on the left side as I look at my board. I begin with the reflection in the pupil of the eye. As I draw it’s my “gift” of near perfect proportions and perspective, but art shouldn’t be perfect. It’s my visual interpretation of the subject. If three artist draw, paint or sculpt the same subject each piece should stand on its own merit of each artists gift. One viewed in my view is no better than the other, just chosen based on the connection the viewer feels for their particular choice of the three final pieces. It’s like I heard an actor in the competition for “Best Actor” in the “Oscar” ceremony say that until all actors play the same role, how can one be deemed “Best Actor”. I only add that I would call the winner the “Favorite Actor” based on votes—but “Best”? I get so much from the likes of Rembrandt and the depth of the light he used to create a richness in his subjects and I love the “story” that a Norman Rockwell created around his work and how it touches one’s heart.
• At the age of 9 in 1964 I won first place in a worldwide art contest for children, sponsored by “UNICEF for Children” that had entries from children from around the world.
• At the age of 16 in 1971 I was commissioned to do a portrait of R&B singer, Billy Paul, of the hit record “Me and Mrs. Jones”.
• In 1975, I personally sold original drawings of boxer Muhammad Ali to Ali. My favorite of the drawings was the one of Ali with his wife Khalilah and his mother Miss Odessa. Muhammad paid me for the artwork, and that favorite one of mine he let me keep and wrote a personal note on it to me. It said, “To Barry King, my Brother from Brother Muhammad Ali. You will be a great artist some day, so stay in school and work like the champ you are. Oct 16, 75”.
• In 1976, I met Motown recording artist, Marvin Gaye and personally sold my original drawing, “The Five Faces of Marvin”, to him.
• In 2005, the curator of the Ali Center in Louisville Kentucky added a copy of my original drawing of Ali, his mom and his wife to the centers permanent collection.
• In 2019, I was invited to participate in an exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. It was a month long exhibit in February titled, “Past and Present: From a Black Artist’s Perspective”. I gifted an original portrait of the president’s mother, Barbara Bush, to President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush during the exhibit.
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