Born in Africa, David Barnes spent much of his early childhood there. For most of his life he worked as a chartered accountant, later becoming a tutor in financial management for the Open University. It wasn't until his retirement in 2006 that Barnes began to paint seriously. Barnes took inspiration from Kyffin Williams, as well as other Welsh artists and French impressionists. The resulting style is highly textured, characterised by thick impasto applied with a palette knife.
Barnes' main source of inspiration are the landscapes of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Cornwall. Mountain and seascapes feature heavily, often with atmospheric skies and deep earth tones.