Canadian artist Barry Seguin with some of his work at his home in Nerja. / A. M. SAANDERS

'I am apparently a dinosaur in art'

In Nerja you might come across this Canadian artist anywhere, painting the streets, beaches and seascapes in his own special way

ALEKK M. SAANDERS

Barry Seguin was born in Ottawa, Canada, and has been passionate about painting and drawing since he was a child. After high school, Barry studied design and advertising and later he was successfully involved in business as the owner of a leading graphic design firm. However, it was Europe that really inspired Barry to dedicate himself to arts.

"I guess Paris was the place where I made my mind up to be a painter. In Florence, I applied for arts academies. However, finally I preferred to learn by doing and studying in detail paintings by notable artists such as Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent, Joaquín Sorolla, Edgar Payne, Henry Hensche. My visit to the Prado Museum and the Museum Sorolla was a special moment in my artistic development. So I am a self-taught artist," Barry told SUR in English.

When Barry first went to Nerja it was love at first sight. The first place where he and his wife stayed was Burriana beach. The local streets became Barry's open-air studio. Several times a day he would paint the coastal landscape, literally following the sun and capturing each moment.

"I draw and paint from life. It means I should be in life, nature, surrounded by buildings and people. Otherwise it isn't possible to capture the spirit of the subject. The old town of Nerja is a charming area full of street activity. Here you can feel its real vibration," Barry said.

Unsurprisingly, after moving to Nerja five years ago, the artist chose a house in the very centre. Its roof terrace is Barry's other studio. Indoors, one of the rooms serves as storage for his books, painting and sketches, though it is also a showroom for his developing 3D techniques of foundation drawing, skilfully playing with dark and light.

Barry stressed that painting is drawing. The artist follows a classical way of depicting and therefore he doesn't mind being considered a "dinosaur in art".

"It is important to build a strong foundation to work from," he said. That's why in Nerja the Canadian artist gives classes at the Aneda Galley titled The Artist is Teaching, Foundation Drawing and Painting.

Barry always finds time to help anyone develop their skills, though he is permanently busy with painting. It seems that wasting time is a luxury for him that he can't afford.

"Wherever and whenever I go, I always have a notebook and a black pen with me. I would say I am involved in art every minute. Practising makes perfection," Barry said.

"Skilfully playing with dark and light you can create the effect of 3D the same as they do with the help of any computer programme," he added.

Sun-drenched views of the streets of the old town have been painted by Barry Seguin over recent years. Some paintings are already evidence of the past because they depict houses that don't exist anymore in Nerja.

Additionally, the artist likes to engage with people and to put them on paper and canvas "in a sensitive, personal and technically sound way". For example, a couple of weeks ago, the artist finished painting his fishmonger in the local market, and that painting Barry wants to give him as a small token of appreciation for his devotion to the profession.

As for devotion... almost all Barry's paintings are devoted to Nerja which he considers his home.

Some years ago he showed some of his paintings of Nerja in Canada, letting his compatriots learn more about the picturesque town of the Costa del Sol. In Nerja Barry's paintings are exhibited at the Aneda Galley, and samples of his paintings and drawings can be seen on the website barryseguin.com.

Barry Seguin turned 75 in August, but in his case age is just a number as he has managed to maintain a surprisingly youthful appearance and spirit. This can mainly be put down to playing tennis several times a week and his passion for what he does and where he lives, spending his time permanently painting Nerja. "It's such a privilege to live here," he said.