Barber was born in Europe and came to the United States when he was four years old, where he went to art school and later won a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York before going to the National Academy of Design. William Draper, his teacher, encouraged his talent and helped him to study with Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Massachusetts. There, he was allowed the freedom to experiment with American Impressionism.
He taught portrait and landscape painting beginning in 1974 at the Cape Cod Conservatory of Fine Arts and the Cape Cod Art Association. Barber participated in a number of exhibitions and won First Prize in Oil of the Cape Cod Association five times. He has lived in Cape Cod for thirty-five years, a place that has enabled tremendous variations in light that can be found throughout his paintings. He is married with two sons and currently lives in Hyannis Port.