Born and educated in France, Françoise Barnes has been drawing and painting all her life. She is largely self-taught, but, after coming to the United States in the 1960's, she took drawing and painting classes at Ohio University and later, in the 80's, she also studied with the artist Murray Stern. Meanwhile, in the mid 70's she discovered quilts, at the time when America had started to look at quilts not only as bed covers, but also as a contemporary art form, unconstrained by tradition. This became a passion for her, and for the next 20 years she exhibited her art quilts, taught, juried and lectured in the US and abroad.
In 1979, Barnes co-founded Quilt National, a biennial exhibition which has since become arguably the most prestigious art quilt exhibition in the world. Her art quilts are in many private and corporate collections such as General Electric, Aetna, Delaware Art Museum (purchase), Ohio Arts Council Permanent Collection, etc.
In 1992 Barnes made the decision to end her career as a quilt maker, so that she could focus exclusively on painting. She initially worked in a representative manner with oils, but in the end found that the style that suited her best was abstract, using acrylics and mixed media, experimenting with a variety of marks, forms, compositions, and textures. In 2019, Barnes was named one of the "Twelve New Mexico Artists to Know Now" by THE Magazine.
Her paintings are in many private collections.
Françoise lives in Los Ranchos, New Mexico.