The story of Libby Berry and her dream of painting as only the great Masters could, is today an exciting reality. Since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years ago, through the various schools of Old Master painters up to the turn of this century, certain knowledge and technical understandings were handed down, master to student. These were the "secrets" which enabled them to produce such masterpieces that communicate so eloquently, evoke so much emotion, and command so much admiration through the unmistakable quality of life with which they seemed to be endowed.
Libby began painting at the age of 12 and it wasn't long before she knew this was her love, her dream. She graduated from Marietta College in 1964 wth a Bachelors degree and Teacher's Certificate in Art. In her early years as a “struggling artist”, she engaged in such jobs as Advertising Art, letterhead designs, calligraphy, and even interior design. Frustrated yet undaunted and with the standards of excellence set by da Vinci, Libby spent the next several years relentlessly researching art and life in pursuit of her dream of finding what Leonardo knew that she didn't, which would enable her to paint today as the masters could then.
The search led halfway around the world to galleries, museums, books, and authorities, in pursuit of the knowledge she sought. Libby soon discovered that what she wanted to know was almost totally unknown today, so she proceeded to look for and define those common elements observable in the great works of yesterday. Exciting results began to emerge which led to the first major discovery: "The qualities of life are created by a common technical use of color. It looks like a symphony orchestra sounds." From this breakthrough, that the key to life on canvas is linked directly to a special use of color, it was not long until Libby suddenly saw the way color actually interacts in nature. She had found the key and was eager to put it into action.
By the end of 1976 she had completed her first painting applying what she had discovered. It was a near lifesize cheetah. In five short years, Libby's paintings had already commanded prices over $20,000.
Since that first painting, Libby has continued to define and refine the knowledge and techniques she discovered. By 1990 she had taught over 200 students of all ages and walks of life. And she continues to teach today all with astounding results.
The elements of painting that Libby has rediscovered have been lost to artists and scholars for a long time, it is her hope that through her teaching she can shed some light on a lost art and help to renew and instill these qualities back into art today.
Libby Berry’s rise to prominence in the Wildlife Art field has been dramatic and unprecedented. Her originals and prints are in collections across North America and are collected internationally as well. Some of her more prominent pieces include the commissioned painting of the University of Washington Husky entitled “Reach For The Top” which is now in a private collection. Her painting of a Himalayan snow leopard, entitled “The Summit Meeting”, also in private collection, was under consideration by the US State Department as a gift to Mikhail Gorbachev from President Bush. Libby has had numerous Art shows including a group showing at the Seattle Sheraton and at the Bush Point School on Whidbey Island, Washington. Each year Libby and the New Renaissance Artists show at the Studio Tour on Whidbey Island.
Libby's portrait of Secretariat was shown at Claiborne Farms in 1977 which gained her a very memorable meeting with the world famous thoroughbred himself.
Another prominent painting sprang from the Milan restoration project of Leonardo's "The Last Supper". Libby was asked if she would create a painting on canvas of St. Matthew from "The Last Supper", and to bring him fully back to life to show how he must have looked when Leonardo first completed him. Her completed painting is shown here next to a picture of Saint Matthew from the wall of the Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan, Italy.
Libby continues to paint full time at her beach house on Whidbey Island Washington and also teaches year round.