Saturday, June 22, 2019


FLYING DREAMS  by Barry Allen Howard.   Sold
I have been a busy fellow lately,  setting up my new website, dusting the cobwebs off of my blog and my Facebook page and getting back into the virtual world after a long hiatus. I have been living up on a ridge in Big Sur in my tiny gypsy caravan and painting a lot of new pieces. 

THE JEWEL BOX, my tiny home and art studio 
 As I now have internet that is more or less reliable I will be posting my newest Hot Off the Easel paintings as well as stories and updates on my tiny life in the gypsy caravan. 
You are invited to check out my new website here: 
where I will be posting my new work. If you would like my blog posts to come straight to you mailbox please subscribe. 
It was a wild winter up here on the ridge with lots of rain and high winds. As you can see in the picture I had to chain the caravan to the ground to keep it from blowing away. Summer has finally come and I haven’t had to fire up the wood stove for a while now. I am painting lots of new stuff and will be posting them regularly. Thank you for visiting my blog and my new website!

Sunday, February 18, 2018


                      MORNING GLORY by Barry Allen Howard  16"x20" oil on canvas  $320

     As I wrote in my previous post, I am taking a short break from working on the caravan to do some oil painting.  This weekend I completed MORNING GLORY.  I began this painting when I was in Bisbee before I came out here to the woods of northern Michigan.  I actually thought it was finished at the time, it's been on my wall for a while and, as is sometimes the case, as I looked at it over time, I realized it wasn't done at all.  So this was my first project getting back to the easel.  I gotta say, after such a long time away from brushes and paints I fell back in love with the process all over again.  
Working on this painting was a purely blissful experience!  While I painted, Jesse was out in the shop working on the third stained glass panel for the bay window of our gypsy caravan.  It's coming along nicely.  
     The painting is available and proceeds will go toward funding the completion of our caravan project.
Thank you for sharing the journey!  

Monday, February 12, 2018



It feels like I've been in the witness protection program.  In July I drove up into the woods of northern Michigan where my son Jesse lives with his wife Jamie and their cat Gypsy.  There is no cell phone service or wifi either.  To get online I have to go three towns over, so I haven't been on facebook for a long time.  I have mostly been in the garage.

The plan was for Jesse and I to build teardrop the trailers but the plan evolved.  Actually it had a life of its own and it kinda got away from us.  Jesse and I decided that we wanted to build something with a bit more room than a teardrop trailer.   We also wanted to include more cool features than a teardrop could accommodate.  So we finally settled on a tiny gypsy caravan.  

Since July Jesse and I have put a ridiculous amount of hours into this and it's still not done.
We wanted to create a space that was filled with light and color and coolness.  So the following is a tour of our journey and some of the details.

we emptied out Jesse's garage, bought the best cheapo tools we could afford and started building workbenches.  
Once the shop was together we bought a 5'x10' flatbed utility trailer and began designing.
     The basic design was inspired by the Romani Gypsy vardos but we made no attempt to follow anything traditional as this was intended to be a modern gypsy caravan for modern gypsies.
We drew from many eclectic influences.  The floor is solid American hickory.  Each board is uniquely beautiful.  
     For the galley countertop we chose a small hand-painted sink and ordered a box of mixed hand-painted Mexican tiles.  Neither of us had ever laid tiles before and it was a really fun new experience.
The roof isn't on yet in this photo.  Some of the carving in the beams and braces is visible here.  

Finished and grouted!

Still need to find a faucet and do the plumbing.
     Once the walls were up we began work on the first stained glass window, an octagon next to the bed area.  After cutting the 22 1/2 degree corners I glued it and clamped it together with a ratchet strap.

The wood frame was put in place and the the glasswork began.  This is the completed star window as seen from inside.

The interior of the caravan is being left natural wood and the outside is painted for color, protection from the elements and ease of maintenance.  All of the gingerbread and scrolly bits are handmade.  Most of the decorative carving was done freehand with a router.  The exception to this is the carved work on the door which was created with a router, a flex-shaft Dremel and tiny little machinists files.
The main panel on this side of the door is a Phoenix bird rising from the flames.  All around the edges of the door are Asian style clouds, a sunrise along the bottom, and the moon and stars at the top.  The door itself is an assymetrical design with a kind of Arabian temple shaped window.  The door jamb trim is deeply router carved.  

This shot shows most of the door.  It isn't hung yet here, just held in place with temporary stops.  

This next photo shows the free-form hammered copper backplate set with glass bits and the glass doorknob.  The backplate is set with lots of little brass nails all around the edge.

Here is the door on the workbench as it's being carved.  Across the bottom is the sunrise, with Asian style clouds climbing up the edge and the Phoenix in the center panel.  The window hasn't been cut out here yet.  

This shot shows the door turned over and my sketch for the dragon that will go in the main panel on the inside of the door.

Cypress trees being carved up one side.  

The moon and stars along the top.  When the carving was completed the door was stained a beautiful mahogany color called Jatoba.  The door has weeks of work in it and there is still more to do. 

This is the dragon side of the door, again encircled with asian style clouds and cypress trees. Next to the door is the beautiful little wood stove that we ordered from Canada.  This is really a lovely little airtight stove with brass trim.  It sits on a pedestal that holds a stack of the 7" "logs" that fit into the stove. On the sides are a complete set of miniature stove tools. the stove pipe is double-walled stainless steel.  We can't wait to fire this thing up!

A view through the temple shaped window opening after being cut out of the door.

This is the glasswork on the workbench before wrapping the edge of each piece with copper foil and then soldering the whole thing together.  I use little pieces of painters tape to hold everything in place to get it all fitting together right.  

The finished glasswork for the door.  Lots of bevels and various textured clears and a few sweeps of color.  I suspect it's gonna be dazzling when the sun hits it. 

The drawing below shows two of the four panels for the bay window.  Somehow, I had it in my head that these would be relatively simple designs...but I was wrong....these four panels ended up having almost 500 pieces of glass total.  Jesse and I worked on the first panel for 10 days to complete it.

Here the flowers and leaves of the first panel have been cut, grinded, and foiled.

The first panel for the bay window completed and held in with temporary stops.

Two done, two more to go!  Seen from the inside, this is where the head of the bed will go.  When the other two panels are finished it should be a glorious place to wake up in the morning!

The bay window as seen from the outside as it currently is.  Also shown is the carved and painted sunrise mounted on the front.  

We found these beautiful lamps in a second hand shop, so tarnished we couldn't tell if they were real brass or not.  They are!  Got em for $2.50 each!  Polished them up and made stained glass flame panels to go inside  We absolutely love them!  We are going to make two more with the stained glass panels to go on each side of the door under the overhang.  Inside is another one without the flamey parts, to light up the coffee bar area.  

Below, Jesse painting under the eaves.

Night time in the shop...just the carraige lamp lit.  I am looking forward to doing some decorative painting on those wheels and fenders.

We put a generous overhang above the door and made these filigree supports.  In this photo the roof isn't finished and parts of it are still being held on with clamps.

Pardon the clip on light in the next photo.  This shot shows the view from the bed area, (which isn't completed yet).  It was important to us that one could sit up in bed and watch the fire in the wood stove. 

This view is looking from the entryway toward  the bed  area.  Part of the platform is there and we've put the curtains from  my van in to simulate the curtains we don't have yet...but we have the tassels!   Eventually the completed bed will be in with a nice place to sit up and read.
      Much remains to be done on the inside of the caravan.  We still have to finish the bed, build the shelving, a heat shield for behind the wood stove, and the stovepipe needs to be put through the roof.  Also, plumbing for the sink,recessed lighting and wiring, enclose under the counter, and build the coffee bar cabinet for the cappuccino machine.


Friday, May 19, 2017

FIRE IN THE SKY (a new series)

FIRE IN THE SKY a new series.  Many of the places I have lived have particularly dramatic sunsets and sunrises. When I lived in Key West in the early 70's the entire island would meet down at Old Mallory Square to watch the sunset, play music, and watch the dolphins who came to watch us. The sunsets there were unforgettable.  New Mexico and Arizona are also famous, rightly so, for the spectacular pyrotechnic lightshows that mark the end of the day there. I've spent many years in both places and been awed by hundreds of such nightly displays. Whenever I travel through Tucson, I camp out in the hills outside of town. I often spend those evenings watching a glorious sunset as a backdrop to the saguaro cactus and the lights of Tucson below. Hawaii is another place I called home for many years, where rainbow filled days transform into gorgeous sunsets and sometimes, Moonbows.                                      Big Sur,  is another locale with impossibly beautiful sunsets. During the last supermoon eclipse, my neighbors who live on Clear Ridge, gathered at the top of the ridge to drink wine and watch the eclipse. The top of the ridge is just up behind my microhouse, so it was just a short hike up the hill to join the festivities. From the top, one has a 360 degree panoramic view of the Big Sur coast. It was absolutely ablaze on that night. The color changes and special effects seemed to go on for hours. It isn't really possible to set up an easel and paint it, it changes constantly anyway. Photos don't really quite capture the hugeness of it I just turn on the "record" button in my head and watch...hoping to retain some of what I'm watching. When I get back to the easel I call back some of those impressions and attempt to bring them to life. It's a lot to work with and the challenge of capturing some of that magic on my easel is a never-ending journey. These 8"x10" paintings on canvas are the first of a new series which are my impressions of some of the dramatic skies I have witnessed.  These original paintings are available for $60 each plus shipping.  Please message me at or on my Facebook page if you are interested. Thank you for following my work.

Monday, May 1, 2017


DESERT HIGHWAY 5"x7" oil on panel. SOLD

Driving east on highway 10, I was still basking in the afterglow of my camp out in the chuckwalla mountains.  I relaxed, played some guitar, soaked up the sun and got quite a bit of painting done as well.  I worked on some of my miniatures, inspired by the rock formations, the desert vistas and the warm earth colors...

EVENING LIGHT 5"x7" oil on panel $30 plus shipping

My next stop; El Dorado Hot Springs,  a regular stop off of mine whenever I am traveling highway 10.  I discovered the place by pure serendipity several years ago.  I had been traveling through the heat of the desert summer and I was hot and dry and a cold beer sounded really good. I took an exit that advertised a gas station and a country style cafe.  It seemed promising.  The cafe wasn't open but I noticed a small wooden sign that said "Hot Springs" with an arrow so I decided a shower and a warm soak sounded like a decent substitute for a cold beer...a short way down the road I found a cool and funky place that featured a variety of tubs and pools, rooms and microhouses that could be rented as well as campsites.  It is a great place to relax and refresh after a long drive through the desert. 

RED EARTH 5"x7" oil on panel $30 plus shipping

While I was camping in the chuckwalla mountains I got in touch with a long-time friend who, as it happened, was heading west on highway 10 as I was heading east, so we agreed to meet at the hot springs and share a campsite.  We had a great visit, shared some food and beers and next morning, fully refreshed, I went continued east and he went west.  My next destination was Tucson to visit my sister.  She had just bought a house there and I arrived in time to help move boxes and furniture.  We had a great time catching up, and I was able to get some more painting done.

DRIFTING AWAY 5"x7" oil on panel $30 plus shipping

From Tucson I headed south toward the quirky little copper mining town of Bisbee.  I lived in Bisbee briefly, several years ago, loved the place and have wanted to return ever since.  So Bisbee here I come...

(The little paintings pictured were done on my trip from the coast to the desert.  They are painted on artist grade gessoed Masonite.  They come with a miniature display easel.  They are available unless marked sold.)

Saturday, April 29, 2017









 As you remember last time...our hero, (that would be me...) had made his escape from the Armageddon-like devastation in Big Sur and was pointing his trusty minivan, Pacifico toward the arizona desert.  After a few brief stops and an overnight stay at a rest area, I reached the Chuckwalla Mountains near the strange little town of Desert Center.  I pulled off on a very sandy dirt road and drove until I found a beautiful, quiet place to camp out.

After a long nap in the warm, dry desert, I stepped outside, pulled out the guitar and played a little blues to nobody but the surrounding rocks ,  and to a very large ( judging by the footprints) cat of some type that I felt sure was napping somewhere in the shade nearby.  Hope he likes the blues... 






     I camped out there for a few days, relaxing from the drive and doing some reorganizing in the van.  On the way out I decided to check out Desert Center.  I usually stop in at the little cafe there, (which is the only thing there that's still in operation, other than the post office.)  I've always been kind of fascinated by the place.  The last remnants of what was once a fairly thriving town.  The cafe was closed this time with a note on the door saying building maintenance was going on, but I had my doubts...I saw no sign of any work being done and the note on the door looked old and faded...sad if it's the end of the line for the was all that was left.  I walked around and took some photos, then headed off toward the Arizona boarder.



 Next stop:  El Dorado Hot Springs....

Friday, April 28, 2017

GOLDEN MORNING by Barry Allen Howard

GOLDEN MORNING by Barry Allen Howard
I haven't written a blog post in quite awhile due to technical difficulties.  Long story and not that interesting so I won't bore you with it.  Anyway, after much work and head-scratching and a moderate amount of swearing, I think I may now be back in Blogger-World!   At least I hope so...if you are reading this then it worked!      So a long overdue update;   Last time I posted my blog I was living in a Microhouse I had built about 18 years ago.  
      I lived there on top of a ridge with a magnificent view of the Big Sur coast and painted my pictures of Big Sur and helped take care of my friend's llamas, alpacas and goats.  I stayed for almost a year and a half and began to miss the freedom of living in my van, so.....from there I moved back into Pacifico, (my beloved minivan) and lived along the cliffs.  My friend Jim let me park below his house on an unused fire road with access to a little shack/bathhouse that I converted to a little painting studio. It was a lovely spot where I could hear the waves at night and the coyotes in the morning.  I would drive down to the cliffs in the mornings, set up my French easel, and sell my paintings out of my micro-van-gallery to the passing tourists.   Life was good...and then came the fire that swept slowly buy surely through Big Sur, filling the air with smoke and ash and driving the tourists away.  It lasted for two months and a thick fog came with it that lasted for 4 or 5 months, and no tourists stopped to admire the view because there wasn't one.  My fortunes were diminishing.  Then came the rains... Lots and lots of rain!  The cliffs became saturated, my studio started growing mold and then came the mudslides.  Highway one began to fall away in places and the cliffs slid down onto the highway in numerous places, closing off all traffic to the south.  Then to the north the bridge started to sag and it was closed, cutting off all access from the north.  Big Sur became an island.  The highway was empty, phone service went out, the power went out, and many of the locals lost their water supply.  There was no way to get rid of trash, people couldn't get propane, gas at the local station began to run low and along the highway it looked like the aftermath of natural disaster.  Tourists staying at the local inns had to be helicoptered out.  There was very little food available.  Deetjen's, ( a much loved historic inn) suffered major damage with redwood trees destroying several buildings and a mudslide that buried several cars.        Eventually the road crews were able to open a lane to the south for a few hours so locals who wanted to get out could make their escape.  I was out of business in Big Sur for the foreseeable future so I headed out and pointed Pacifico toward the desert.  (To be continued).....