Local artist inspired by Hudson Valley

Two years ago, I met Julia Whitney Barnes at a house party via mutual friends. Through the power of social media, lives and talents are revealed. Her work is stunning. Here is her story.

Julia Whitney Barnes Portrait with mural by Sean Hemmerle
Julia Whitney Barnes Portrait with mural by Sean Hemmerle

Julia Whitney Barnes is a Brooklyn transplant/Hudson Valley artist whose work can be seen in public and private collections. A multidisciplinary artist who has created site-specific paintings in locations ranging from huge exterior walls in Brooklyn to intimate porch floors in the Hudson Valley. Each unique painting is custom designed, and hand painted using the highest quality archival materials best suited for the application. Julia makes scale drawings for every design and works with clients to decide upon an ideal color palette to transform each space. The paintings can be performed on a variety of surfaces including plaster, drywall, hardwood, engineered wood, plywood, pressure treated wood, brick, concrete, etc.


The Hudson Valley move

In the summer of 2015, Julia Whitney Barnes moved from Brooklyn to a hundred-year-old house in the City of Poughkeepsie, along with her photographer husband, Sean Hemmerle. “I work in the attic of our house and like being high up, seeing the view changing season by season. I had to make it my own. It was a sea of beige. After renting for many years it was thrilling to make major changes like tearing a wall down to let more light and ventilation into the space. I painted the floors various checkerboard blues and grays”, says Whitney Barnes.


Julia Whitney Barnes dining room wall with stars
Julia Whitney Barnes’ Dining Room Wall

The Inspiration

“My floor and wall murals are inspired by patterned surfaces from around the world. I also look at a lot of stained-glass windows, traditional quilts, and paintings from every time period. My maternal grandmother was a quilter as were several of the women in our family before her. My mother is a UCC minister, so I spent time playing in churches throughout my childhood and as adult I like to go to a variety of religious and secular buildings adorned with stained glass. There are countless religious paintings of the renaissance era and I like to pull references from the floors depicted in the paintings.”

“When we moved here from Brooklyn, I didn’t know what to expect. I had studios in large industrial buildings with a hundred artists and built in community. It felt like a huge leap to move to Poughkeepsie. I actually really like how small and welcoming the art scene is here. NYC is only two hours away. I like that so many of my neighbors are artists or creative people and how multigenerational the art scene is here”.

Julia Whitney Barnes White House Porch geometric Painting
Julia Whitney Barnes
White House Porch Painting

Whitney Barnes says, “I have my favorites artists. Some early influences were Hudson River school painters like Frederick Church and Thomas Cole. Visiting their homes and studios were part of the draw of the Hudson Valley”.


We are surrounded by inspiration by where we live, our travels and memories. Creating an inspiring space for everyday life, work or art is something we can create to suit our lifestyle. How cool is that? I’m feeling inspired myself. There may be a painted deck floor in my future.