Artist Reviews

Alison Barrows-Young: Featured Artist

ARTisSpectrum, Volume 34, page 64.

In her paintings, Alison Barrows-Young captures the spirit and essence of nature, re-imagining the Idaho woods of her home though the filter of what she calls “visual sensuality.” A teacher of painting for many years, she has increasingly turned toward dedicating most of her time to her own work. Using oils on canvas, the artist gives her landscapes an aura that is at once dreamlike and strongly physical. The lush colors and bold brushstrokes in her images bring each scene to life while also illustrating the artist’s personal, interior vision.

A major part of Barrows-Young’s process lies in the art of observation. “Painting is a daily process of connecting intimately with the natural world that surrounds me,” she says. She uses sketches and photographs to record visual effects, such as patterns caused by light and form, or a captivating viewpoint, then assembles those, along with her memory of the moment, into images that marry a precise sense of composition to a spontaneous sense of movement. In some of her paintings, groups of powerful lines create currents of motion that carry the viewer’s eye along, while in others the intricate juxtaposition of blocks of color brings stained glass to mind.

Light is also central to the effect of a Barrows-Young composition. “The woods and all of its constantly varying aspects of self are the light’s playful partners,” she says, and her ability to convincingly record the ways in which light can animate a scene makes viewing each of her paintings a dynamic experience.  Nature, as she views it, is a work in progress: a place where many points of view combine, but also in which an interior spirit is found.  The strength of her work lies in how she makes us aware of those points of view, while also vividly revealing the “being” she seeks to represent.

By Angela Di Bello

Alison Barrows-Young:  TOP 15 Editors’ PICK.

ART tour International. Spring 2019, pp. 14-15.

Alison Barrows-Young, ‘Journey Through the Years’

Alison Barrows-Young captures the tranquil, peaceful and strikingly intimate spirit and essence of nature, infusing a masterful understanding of oeuvre and light. Through her visual art and an expressionist approach, she uses her figurative depictions for social activism where she tackles struggles in society to communicate the conflicts between humanity and nature.

“What memorable transitions have you experienced in your creative process?”

“A sense of common ground, fellowship, loved ones and the places I have lived have most influenced my creative process. A great many of the artists I made important connections with in my 20’s died of AIDS before we had a chance to really establish our collective vision. I don’t think it is possible to reflect on my generation of artists without considering that. Motherhood and teaching have been huge. My students, youth who have experienced more than they should have in their short lives, mature women fleeing unsatisfying lives, people caught off guard by conditions such as head injuries, were in need of significant mentoring as they faced their studies. Our experiences together affect my subject, material, platform, size and color and promote a sustaining positive philosophy. Today’s radical conservatism has hit very close to home, as my eldest adult child is transgender. She has undergone unnecessary trauma as the socio-political climate has become increasingly contentious. I’m painting, through empathy, edgy, figurative work as she strives to adjust her life. Nature is my bliss so depiction of people indicates my anxiety level. Finally, the places I have lived have marked me. Their visual aspects very much infuse my emotions and memories appearing unexpectedly on my canvas.”

Barrows-Young is a true creative visionary who firmly believes in the remarkable power of visual imagery, inspiring her audience to form a deeper connection with their environment.

By Yadira Roman

Alison Barrows-Young: Editors' Pick


2019, Winter edition, page 18.

The haunting expressionist paintings of Alison Barrows-Young capture the emotional responses of her subconscious mind to life events and experiences. Working predominantly in oil on canvas, the artist blends bold lines with thick layers of color to compose highly detailed renderings executed with textured brushstrokes and strong compositional skills.

Focusing on landscape and figurative subject matter, Barrows-Young presents a profound and realistic look into humanity, making visible our society's internal demons. In her figurative work, Barrows-Young plays with form, color and anatomy to illustrate underlying aspects of the human condition, creating a strong connection between social activism and her artistic practice.

Alison Barrows-Young has also dedicated over 30 years of her artistic career to mentoring art students while teaching classical fine art study in fundamental to advanced drawing and painting. She was born in New York City and raised in Canada, and currently resides in the US Pacific Northwest. Barrows-Young's works have been displayed in a multitude of private and public collections in the United States, Canada, and throughout Europe.

By Yadira Roman

Alison Barrows-Young



American born, Alison Barrows-Young is known for her diverse use of media, themes, and styles. Barrow-Young's portfolio is an intriguing display of figurative, abstract, and elemental work, which speaks to social, environmental, and personal concepts fusing naturalistic imagery with eccentric patterns to stunning effect. Her paintings beam with a kaleidoscope of bright tones, and soft earthy contrasts.

Currently, Barrows-Young is choosing to use icon art formats to shed light on our global refugee crisis through carving, wood burning, and layering of metallic and natural colored inks. Her themes are sensitive to the many challenges the world faces. Focusing on and promoting peace is a signature concept found in all of her paintings. Barrows-Young captures a spiritedness in her depictions of landscapes and human subjects by combining naturalistic detail and stylistic 'expression.'

"Through the years, my artistic voice has gathered into an alliance with my preference to live in the wilderness. To preserve nature, and to advocate for the earth. I am devoted to living peacefully within our biosphere and to nurturing its persistence. Due to global warming, the weather has become unpredictable, and in it's a wild path, life on earth, which once seemed so certain and solid, is now tenuous. From the mountain ridge of my forest home, I am often stirred by how small and insignificant I am in the face of the earth's majesty. I hope to express the absolute awe and the inexplicable peace I feel when facing its force in my painting. Incredibly beautiful, even in its astounding fierceness, it leaves no doubt to the certainty of its life-giving and life-taking accountability."

by Gabe Deter

Alison Barrows-Young

featured in:

'unique realities'


Barrows-Young's artistic vision speaks to her acute awareness of the effect of emotional context upon perceived reality. "Painting is a daily process of embracing one's inner subjectivity with what is outwardly observable," she says. For inspiration, Alison searches the natural world for striking visual relationships, patterns and viewpoints to sketch and contemplate. She relays her findings, once melded into her consciousness, with a spontaneous sense of movement, infused with currents of dream-like imagery.

Barrows-Young's use of light is central to her vision, "the world and all of its constantly varying aspects of self are the light's playful partner," she says, and her ability to convincingly record the ways in which light can animate a scene adds an especially dynamic quality to her work. Alison perceives the natural world as sacred, constantly in flux, ceaselessly offering layers of insight, experience, and complexity, through a wide spectrum of what is known and unfathomable. Her art springs from a wish to connect to the viewer in reverence for our earthly existence.

By Paola Trevisan