Friday, April 15, 2011

A Painting's Life

"Merlin and Arthur"
18"x36" oil on panel
©2004 William O'Connor

The life of a painting is an interesting one. In 2004 I did an oil painting entitled "Merlin and Arthur". It was an exercise in my favorite palette, the white-on-white. I took it to a few shows, I think it may have achieved a few accolades from colleagues and clients, but that was all and it quietly was retired to the attic where is has hibernated for six years.
Recently this little painting has woken up. The original was sold to a collector, the usage rights were purchased for a magazine cover (Kobold Quarterly Fall 2010), and it will also be included in an upcoming book of art in 2011, all in the past few months.
You never know when those old paintings will need to be dusted off for a second life.



©2011 William O'Connor Studios


  1. It's a beautiful painting and certainly deserves a place on someone's wall...not gathering dust in an attic. Congratulations.

  2. Wasn't this a Christmas card from you one year as well? Even more to add to the story. Each good piece should have such a life... Glad to hear it's getting its due.

  3. you're right Jeff-I forgot about that....

  4. You will never know just how much this post about the life of your painting meant to me, for tonight I almost gave up on my art. It’s true that for me my art is writing and not painting. But we still share the same fundamentals - long hours perfecting our craft while starving to do it, and the endless rejections that shred the soul.

    A few weeks ago one of my favorite manuscripts came back brutally beaten, and I knew in my heart the time had come. My story was dead. It had suffered enough - this was its last rejection.

    You have the attic to put your art. I have the morgue – that is, a collection of boxes in my closet where all the corpses rest. I hate going up there. I quickly opened the lid and shoved it on top, trying not to stare at the dead manuscript. Then, without uttering a word to my husband or even myself, the wind left my sails.

    Before I knew it, one week stretched into two, three, four - all hot, sticky and dull. The joy of doing my art had died, and the lack of wind soon had me suffering through one of the most oppressive doldrums I’ve ever faced. And no matter what I tried, I could not find the way out of this stagnate emptiness.

    Tonight- D-day as it were- I finally blurted it all out to my husband, who listened to my heartache. As an artist himself, I knew he understood as he had many things in his own morgue too. I said, “What’s the point of writing anymore if it’s all going to just die? I honestly can’t go on with this. I’ve been at it for 6 years and I just can’t stand to see one more story die. I’m done.” He knew I was serious as I hadn’t written in over a month. An avid fan and follower of yours, he grabbed the laptop and brought me to this blog post. “Look,” he said, “I saw this earlier.”

    I read it out loud. Then I read it again, and then again. I was a sailor feeling the cool gust fill the canvas.

    It was all right there. You could keep creating your art in spite of no one noticing it, because you put your paintings in the attic to hibernate, not to die. You don’t have a morgue. You kept doing your art no matter what. Because they were just sleeping.

    Suddenly the rotting, blackened skeletons blushed forth fresh skin, lovely clothes and took a collective deep breath. I could see their chests rise. Now upstairs in my closet, they rested comfortably in glass covered beds much like Snow White’s, waiting for the day when they too will be done sleeping. The sci-fi lover in me has renamed the morgue - the carbonite pod. Cuz we all know that if you’ve been frozen in carbonite you can always come back to life - just plan on being blind for a while.

    So thank you for this post! A truth so simple I know. But sometimes it’s the simple truths that can hit one the hardest. For me, it’s just the lifeline I needed. I’m back sailing in the current of the wind. And tomorrow I will write again. I decided to post this struggle with the death of my art as a way to document this moment. Someday when I inevitably will have to hibernate another story, I can remember this moment when your own art was able to re-awaken and live.

    Sail on my friend!