About the Artist
Based in
Petoskey, MI

In a professional career spanning 23 years, Petoskey based Kevin Barton is one of Michigan’s most well collected contemporary artists with artwork in collections across the nation. Mr. Barton’s art has garnered numerable awards and accolades over the years including the Manoogian Museum’s Gold Medal Award and Signature Member status with the American Impressionist Society. His work has been honored and featured on and in many publications, covers, events and by contest firsts as well as having been showcased in numerous group and solo shows.
Barton is glad to reside in northern Michigan with its wealth of subject matter befitting his tastes and talents with painting. From the Great Lakes with its bays, to its diverse architecture, gardens, townscapes and sunsets, it provides endless opportunities for his artwork. His painting has also taken him to places like Sedona, California, Chicago, New York City (with a group show at the prestigious Amsterdam Whitney Gallery) and most recently to Key West and Naples Florida.


Artist's Statement

“It looks just like it… but it doesn’t.”
This is one of those instances where kids say the darndest things. The word “art” means different things to different people and could range from photo realism to abstract expressionism. Yes, Barton enjoys capturing the specific details of a subject, yet he wants people to know they are looking at a “painting”. To look at his style is to see the world made of paint. The heavily textured and brightly colored paintings that result engage the viewers imagination and uniquely instill in them a sense of participating in something timeless while the sense of loose detail always gives the collector new things to find in a piece. He enjoys plein-air not only for the quality and sensitivity to light it brings, but also for the sense of spontaneity and creative solutions it brings to the process and brush work.

Exhibitions and Events

2011 Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Gold Medal Winner
2013 & 2016 Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Second Place
2014 Crooked Tree Arts Center Paint Out, Best of Show
2015 Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival, Awards Judge
2016 Crooked Tree Arts Center Annual Paint Out, Awards Judge
2017 Crooked Tree Arts Center Paint Out, Best Farm Scene
2011, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2021 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival Poster Contest, Winner
2019 Paint Grand Traverse “Small Wonders,” Best in Show
2021 Crooked Tree Arts Center “Play it Forward” Autumn Paint Out, Best Of Show


Meet the Artist



What has plein air painting taught you about yourself?

I’ve had an idea in the back of mind that may never happen, comparing painting and life lessons! An easy one is just getting started is half the battle. What artist hasn’t stared at their panel too long thinking about what to do and then once they get going it all starts to flow. So is it with many tasks and leaps in life.

What is the furthest you have traveled for your art/plein air?

I’ve traveled to Europe to see some of my favorite art in person while I have yet to plein air paint there. In the US I have painted on the West Coast of California and Key West. So I’ve painted as far west and South as the me can in this country! Itching to get back to Sedona.

Can you share a fond, or unusual, memory of plein air painting?

I had a commission cottage painting where I wanted the water in the foreground, so I came up with this, what I thought a clever idea, even floating my gear in a raft. During what was a charming lakeside dinner with the patrons, I abruptly had to exude myself, because my legs felt like they were on fire! Well I had washed my legs occasionally the first day and had been fine… yes, I had the worst case of swimmer's itch you can imagine up to my knees!

What is a recent thing that you painted or drew a picture of?

This answer would change almost daily. Today's answer is my entry for the Mackinac Islands Lilac Festival poster contest.

What is your favorite plein air subject, location or time of the year to plein air paint?

I used to say the subject isn’t as important to me as what it brings to the canvas. In truth, I’ve painted Bill’s Farm Market in Petoskey more than anything else. There are so many vantage points and with the rotating of the crops, it has provided endless subject matter for me.

What is something that looks fun that you want to try?

I have more fun things I’d like to get back to. Bass playing, snowboarding and I could even see cruising around on a skateboard. No more stairs, I need my wrists intact nowadays!!