Barry McCuan was born in New Mexico on the Llano Estacado near the Texas border in 1945. While growing up in the Texas Panhandle, he was introduced to art by his father, Dale McCuan, who studied in the early 30’s at the Dallas Art Institute. McCuan’s early years were filled with art books, sketches and frequent trips to art museums. He became familiar with the Taos Society of Artists through the extensive collection at the Panhandle Plains Museum, in Canyon, Texas. He later studied art and architecture at Texas Tech.
McCuan enhanced his university studies with numerous gallery and museum visits. Extensive trips to South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Orient broadened and enriched his artist’s perspective. The early influence of the Taos painters and the impact of a Monet exhibition propelled the artist towards a career in art. After arriving in Santa Fe, in the 1970’s, McCuan worked and studied with Stiha, Buck McCain and Juan Dell.Working primarily in oil, he prefers to paint on location, enjoying the beauty and the spiritual quality of the land. There is an expressiveness and warmth to his paintings, his use of strong brush strokes and rich harmonious colors captures the textures and the quality of light unique to New Mexico.
In 1995, McCuan and his wife, Lynne Windsor, an English painter, spent half a year capturing the beauty of the countryside of Great Britain and southwestern France on canvas. He was finally able to see with his own eyes the native landscape of the French Impressionists, that so moved him in his youth. McCuan strives to breathe the spirit of this experience into his works. His sense of composition and design, combined with his love of the land, creates a very distinct statement and style all his own.
As McCuan explains, "The land has an emotional and physical effect on me. This is why I am primarily a plein air painter. My desire is to convey in my paintings the essence of a place. Sublimating the aromas of the lavender in Southern France, the ocean smells of Florida; the fragrant marjoram as I stand on the roadside in Italy and paint a field of sunflowers or the luminescence of a late New Mexico afternoon - when the light makes that leap to another level of saturation, are all important factors. Being totally immersed in the nuances of the land is what inspires me to paint and is essential for the renewal of my spirit."