FLASHBACK TO 2004: Then Noosa artist Hal Barton with paintings from his Italy exhibition at the Beachside Gallery.
FLASHBACK TO 2004: Then Noosa artist Hal Barton with paintings from his Italy exhibition at the Beachside Gallery. Geoff Potter

Noosa loses artist Hal

NOOSA has lost another of its artist treasures with the death of Hal Barton on Friday.

At 88, Hal had been in bad health for the past four years and moved to Russell Island near Brisbane with his wife Christa.

"I nursed him at home for three years and he became very frail, couldn't walk anymore and it got too much for me so he went into a nursing home," Christa said.

"He did not dislike there, he tried to paint there but it didn't work out."

Hal Barton had painted all his life, it was his job, his career, his form of income, he never had to work at anything else.

His love of the Australian bush was reflected in almost all of his works, beautiful paintings that took you deep into the heart of nature.

He was recognised as one of Australia's leading bush painters.

"He used to go out with his canvas and easel and equipment and paint. When he became ill he couldn't carry all his stuff into the bush but because he knew it so well he could paint in his studio from memory."

During his decades in Noosa, Hal exhibited often at the Beachside Gallery in Hastings St where followers would come out to his opening nights to celebrate a new display of Hal Bartons.

In 2003, with his wife Christa, he spent three months in Florence, studying art and painting, and on his return held an exhibition of Florentine scenes, quite a move away from his Australian bush paintings.

"It was a wonderful time, more than wonderful," Christa said.

Although his prodigious talent was obvious to everyone who saw his works, Christa said he was never satisfied and always felt he could do better.

"He wasn't one of those moody people who needed to be in the mood to paint, he was very much committed to his work," Christa said.

"Every painting he did he said "I will get better".

"Even in the last months (of his life) when he wanted to paint but couldn't, the urge to be better was always there. He didn't compete with anyone else, just competed with himself."

A softly spoken gentleman who loved his red wine and his own birthday parties, Hal Barton lived with his wife Christa in Eumundi and Noosa Shire for 35 years before moving to Tasmania for four years as he "needed a change".

"We loved Tasmania but it got too cold, so we didn't want to go back to where we came from, went to Russell Island, and Hal loved it," Christa said.

"He died very peacefully on Friday afternoon. I'd just had lunch with him (in the nursing home) and left him, and 20 minutes later I got a phone call."

Hal Barton's funeral will be held in Brisbane. See the Noosa News funeral notices for all details.

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