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Ernie Morton (Ernest) Baber

 (born 1949)
Ernie Morton (Ernest) Baber is active/lives in California, New Mexico, Colorado / India, France.  Ernie Baber is known for trompe still life painting, etching.

Ernie Morton (Ernest) Baber

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ernie Morton (Ernest) Baber
Each painting by Ernest Baber is intended to be a rich collection of colors, textures and surfaces.  His work, usually with a Southwestern motif and highly realistic, focuses sharply on contrasts and composition.  His style is strongly reminiscent of the Dutch Masters, and he thinks of his subjects as "what Vermeer might pick if he were alive today." With still life that "resonates with history and quality," his career as an oil painter is the culmination of a long process of studying art and its applications.

Baber was born in Denver, Colorado, to a family of itinerant musicians.  Showing early talent for art, he attended Western State College with the intention of becoming an art teacher.  He soon realized that the curriculum emphasizing teaching rather than painting and drawing was personally inhibiting.  Then, after a stint in Vietnam as a Marine, he enrolled in the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver.  But turning to fine art instead of commercial art, he went to New York where he studied painting with David Leffel and Robert Beverly Hale at the Art Students League.  There he found the environment for him.  Artist were from all over the country, and teaching emphasis was on both the basics of art and creativity.

In 1973, Baber went to Europe to see first hand the European masters.  He visited museums in Spain and France and then lived in London for two years.  He later returned to France where he married a French woman, Anne-Marie, who is a craftsperson.  For the next seven years, they lived in India.  He continued painting, but his primary focus was music, playing the sitar, which he studied at Rabindar Bharati University.  In 1982, the couple moved to Santa Fe, a place they found stimulating for arts-oriented people like themselves.

Of his work, Babar continually refers to the importance of "atmosphere, which, for him, is a reference to the darker tones and poetic effects he admires in the European masters.  He often depicts objects emerging from darkness to areas of isolated light. He writes that he also enjoys "doing florals, mostly for their beauty and delicacy but also for what they symbolize in life and nature, the finite and the infinite."

He always paints from actual arrangements, never photographs. Although his work seems perfectionist, he is a relaxed, low-key person.  His still lifes are detailed; his fruit appears to be blemish free, but his work is not "super-real."  Many of his objects are collectibles such as things he has borrowed or purchased in markets, antique shops, etc.  For Baber, "almost always the best paintings are the simplest, especially when it comes to color harmonies. . . . there are infinite subtle possibilities of color when you use colors opposite each other on the color wheel."

LeKae and Taos Galleries, Scottsdale

Biography from
Ernest Baber was born in Denver, Colorado in 1949.  After completing his undergraduate work at Western State College, he served two years in the military and then continued his art studies at the Colorado Institute of Art.

Realizing a passion for fine art, he sought the finest school and instruction, and consequently moved to New York City where he joined the Art Students League of New York.  For three years, Ernest studied under several artists, fine-tuning his talents, and his greatest influence came from the painter, David Leffel.  From Leffel he learned the understanding of light and shadow and developed his 'painterly' technique.

In 1973, Ernest moved to Europe to be closer to the paintings of the European Masters who he so admired.  For several years he traveled throughout London, Paris, Spain and finally lived in India for seven years.

The rich cultural experience of Europe is evident in the paintings of Ernest Baber. Artifacts collected during this period appear in the magnificent still-lives that Ernest paints.  From working with actual displays set up in his studio, utilizing natural light, there is a dramatic quality apparent in his work.  Well-composed and jewel-like in appearance, Ernest's paintings have a magnetic appeal.

In addition, many paintings are framed in a specially designed frame created by the artist's own hand in a 15th Century technique known as "sgraffito".

Jones & Terwilliger Galleries

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About  Ernie Morton (Ernest) Baber

Born:  1949 - Denver, Colorado
Known for:  trompe still life painting, etching