Russell Barnes combines handcrafted art and nature photography to create light scenes. #k5evening

TACOMA, Wash. – Some artists look to the sky for inspiration. Russell Barnes looks the other way.

“I look for the little details that most people overlook,” Barnes said. “I take my time and walk through the woods like I’ve lost my keys.”

We hike Snake Lake Trail in Tacoma, where Barnes finds just the spot to perch a handmade musical skeleton, a mossy branch in dappled light.

“I don’t want it to look photo-shopped,” Barnes said as he affixed the artwork to the branch. “So I’m trying to mess things up a bit.”

For this photo, Barnes dips a paint brush in flour.

“A relic from my old painting days,” he says.

When drawing, it whips the brush like a wand. Flour particles float from the sky

“Oh yeah!” he says, when he sees the results. “I think that’s the picture. See that sunbeam coming down? It’ll be easy to take those wires out there and make it as immersive as possible.”

“I really try to find a middle ground between imagination and reality,” he said. “I try to bring them as close as possible.”

For 15 years this self-taught artist has been painting on canvas. The last painting Russell sold took eight years to complete.

“It’s something I’m incredibly proud of, but I knew it wasn’t a lasting thing as far as my creativity goes,” he said.

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Then one day on his Instagram page “chromatic.habitat” he posted a brand new work.

“I had this idea of ​​cutting out a design of this little dog that I used to have,” Barnes said. “I put it in my hand and it surpassed the paintings I’ve spent countless hours on.”

Barnes didn’t look back.

“I didn’t even know how to use a camera when I started doing this or how to edit photos,” Barnes said. “So it was all a process of self-discovery and hands-on experience.”

He has thousands of Instagram followers. Russell hopes to inspire the artist inside everyone.

“I think everyone has an inherent creative nature,” he said. “It’s just that some people lose touch with age. I think that’s kind of sad, so I try to bring people back into this world and connect them with their inner child.”

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Take it from Russell Barnes, the inner child is having a great time.

“Every day I go out to photograph my works, I feel like I’m playing with toys or something,” he laughed. “I can just draw anything from my imagination and bring it to life. It really is like a dream come true.”

Russell Barnes has launched a second project to involve children in art. Using the same process, he takes children’s art and immerses them in real-world photographs.

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