Copyright © Barry W. Van Dusen.  All rights reserved.

about the artist

Barry W. Van Dusen (born 1954) spent his childhood in the Sebago lake area of Maine where he first developed an interest in the natural world.  Barry's father, a designer and skilled draftsman, encouraged Barry and his brothers to learn to draw at an early age, and Barry cannot remember when he did not draw or paint.

   When Barry was 10 years old, the family moved to central Massachusetts, where he found new landscapes to explore and ecologically astute neighbors and teachers who encouraged his interest in natural history.

   In high school, Barry's favorite subjects were science and biology, but faced with the decision of how to further his studies in college, he decided to pursue a course in art, for which he had an obvious inclination.   After graduation, he worked for a succession of graphic design studios and advertising agencies, but became restless with the commercial nature of the projects involved.   In 1982, he began an association with the Massachusetts Audubon Society which offered him opportunities to work with nature subjects on a professional basis.  This partnership strengthened Barry's scientific and ecological understanding through close work with the Society's many gifted naturalists and also introduced him to a network of independent scientists, authors and publishers.

   Through the early years of his career, Barry continued to study birds and nature on his own, and he began to produce "exhibition paintings" of the natural subjects which he found so appealing.  Through a friend, he discovered the work of European wildlife artists, and was immediately intrigued with their approach stressing direct observation and field sketching.  It soon became a part of Barry's own methodology, and his work took on a new sincerity and conviction.

   In the last ten years, Barry's skills as a field artist have afforded him the opportunity to work and travel with other nature artists on projects sponsored by the Artists for Nature Foundation.  His travels to Ireland, Spain, India and Peru with the ANF, and his exposure to international artists with similar convictions, have deepened  his commitment to fieldwork.

   In the United States, Barry has developed a strong market for his originals through regular exhibitions in New England, and his work has gained a wider audience through his participation in prestigious annual national exhibitions such as Birds in Art (Wausau, Wisconsin) and Art of the Animal Kingdom (Bennington, Vermont).  In Europe, too, his art has found a receptive audience.  He regularly exhibits with the Society of Wildlife Artists (London) and his work has been exhibited in France, Holland, Ireland and Scotland.

   Barry and his wife Lisa reside in Princeton, Massachusetts.    

Education and Training

Barry graduated from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1977 with a degree in visual design and illustration.  Until 1985, he worked as a commercial designer and illustrator, but since then has specialized exclusively in natural history art and illustration.

Painting Style

The paintings of Barry Van Dusen have been described as a unique blend of impressionism and realism.  His exhibition paintings always arise from direct personal experience. Built upon a foundation of fieldwork and strong draftsmanship, they are carefully planned but freely executed in a direct and painterly manner.  

   Combining a lifelong interest in nature with a formal art education, Barry has developed a style that acknowledges the importance of science and biology while maintaining the primacy of artistic expression.  

   Barry has invested many years developing a personal watercolor style with which he explores and interprets the many moods of nature.  Among his influences he cites the American masters of watercolor - Sargent and Homer - as well as contemporary European masters of wildlife art - Lars Jonsson (Sweden) and John Busby (U.K.).


Barry is a strong proponent of working directly from life, even with difficult subjects such as wild birds.  Over the years, he has filled countless sketchbooks with hundreds of drawings done on location - a practice uncommon among American wildlife artists.  While he finds field sketching and painting to be an end in itself ("an ongoing process of discovery"), this work also serves as inspiration and reference for more ambitious works produced in the studio.


Barry paints primarily in transparent watercolors and oils, but he also employs gouache and a variety of graphic techniques in his work as an illustrator.


Although birds have always been his favorite subjects, Barry commonly paints landscapes and botanical subjects, along with occasional people, mammals, insects and other animals.   


For a selected list of publications which feature Barry's writing and artwork,

go to bibliography


Barry's work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and Europe.  

For a selected list of exhibitions go to exhibitions and awards