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Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Art of Health

When I started painting at the age of ten in the atelier of The Huntington School of Fine Arts, I remember my teacher, Joe Mack, telling us that we couldn't sit.  Art was a whole body experience that had to be done standing up!

When I got to college I recall an assembly lecture for all artists regarding the health hazards of the artist.  Everything from toxic photography liquids to the dangers of turpentine fumes and the health risks of heavy metals such as cobolt, lead and cadmium for the painters.  I was nineteen at the time and took little heed of the warnings.  What they didn't teach us was the the long term physical damage of the arts.

As a forty-plus year old artist who has been painting for thirty of those years, I assumed that cancer and organ failure was to be my cause of death due to toxic exposure to paint.  Little did I know that my body would fail long before the paint ever got to me!

I have, for the past five years, endured excruciating chronic pain in the form of a herniated lumbar disk in my lower back.  The cause, as every orthopedist I've talked to claims, is being hunched over a drafting table and painting easel for the past thirty years. 

The long term physical effects to the artist are varied including carpel tunnel in your hands, myopia in your eyes due to straining over minute details, and as I have experienced, a bad back from bending over your work.  This is nothing new of course. In researching famous artists this is a condition that is quite common over the centuries.

Unfortunately for the freelance artist there is no Worker's Comp or Disability Insurance. you just have to suck it up and keep painting.  I only wish that that I had heeded my childhood teacher and continued to paint standing up.

Good Health and Good Luck.

WOC

Above:
"Self portrait"
William O'Connor








Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Riddermark

The following is a series of images of a personal work.





"The Riddermark"
17"x48" oil on panel
©William O'Connor 2013

Enjoy.

WOC














Friday, August 16, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Midgard Tales

The following is a series of work in progress images that I did for a commission from Kobold Quarterly....

Enjoy-

WOC











Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making Choices

Someone much wiser than me once said, "To be an artist is to make choices."  Do I use oil or digital? Canvas or panel?  Horizontal or Vertical?  Abstract or figurative?  Cobolt Blue or Aquamarine?    Every brush stroke that  a painter makes is a little choice.

As a commercial artist I am constantly reminded that most of these choices are not up to me.  Illustration, concept art and commercial art are collaborative.  There are art directors, editors, authors, marketing directors and advertising considerations that are making choices with you. So it is very enjoyable when I am given the opportunity to make many of the choices myself.

It is about 3 months until Illuxcon in Allentown, PA.  An event that I look forward to every year.  Its a chance to spend time with a small group of dedicated painters and enthusiasts and share ideas and the work we've been doing for the past year and talk freely without the censoring presence of art directors looming around the corner.

Every year I like to do at least one painting for myself without the restrictions of the client.  This year however I thought I would recruit the help of you, my audience.  Usually, the public is the last to see my work, after its been notated, changed, color proofed and edited.  In this instance I'd like you to be the first to see it and to help me make the choices.

First, The Composition.  I have already made several choices at this point.  This is going to be an oil painting 17"x48", Why?  I like to work in odd formats, and to be honest, I have an empty frame that I sold the painting out of. (Choices.)

Below I have three concept sketches for three possible paintings.  I only have time in my schedule to do one.  Please leave a note suggesting which one you feel would make the best painting.  I'm not promising that I will adhere to the majority, but this could be fun.

As the painting progresses I will share color comps and WIP images to enlist your suggestions again as the painting develops.

Thanks in advance.

Enjoy.

WOC



The Oracle 

"This image was inspired directly from the photo reference. The ominous lighting reminded me of a Pyle or Sargent painting.  This painting would be very dark with a lot of tonal variations and texture, contrasting against the smooth skin of the figure.  Unfortunately this image is very similar in theme to another painting I completed earlier this year including a mythological nude with tree branches. I might be willing to present them as a set."















The Riddenmark

"Inspired by bonsai design this image depicts the windswept plains of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings.  I envision the golden fields of wheat shimmering in the dappled sun.  The winds of war stir the clouds.  The aged tree represents King Theodin, bent and worn, but not broken.  Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli look out across the plain."






Prospero and Miranda: from The Tempest

"This image has been hanging next to my easel for months taunting me.  I love the emotion and the tenderness.  As a father I'm drawn to the narrative.  Steel Grey storm clouds breaking as the storm abates, and fresh sunlight spills across the couple.  Every time I think I'm ready to start I become daunted by the level of work involved, and find something easier to do."






















©William O'Connor Studios

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bonsai WIP

Although I have studied for many years as a painter, even artists have hobbies.  Some cook, some do sculpture, I have a love of Bonsai.  The combination of horticulture and sculpture is very appealing.  Where as a painting may take me several weeks a bonsai takes several years even decades.  Unlike painting there are variables that are uncontrollable to the artist.    A Bonsai tree evolves.  From year to year to it takes on new shapes and new colors, and the artist is required to enhance those features rather than control them.  Above all Bonsai art teaches patience, a trait that I sorely lack.  You must be willing to dedicate years or decades before the work is finished, and then be willing to start all over again. 

Below I have included a few images of a juniper bonsai that I began two years ago from a poor specimen that had been uprooted and discarded to the side of the road.  I brought home to my garden and worked on this found object to give it a second life as a tree of art.  It still has many more years of training and pruning and love before it fulfills its potential, but in that time I hope to learn the art of patience....

















 Once lopping off enough limbs to fit the tree into my truck I've potted it up for trimming.

















Pruned and protected for winter I hope it survives the trauma....


















The following spring the tree has miraculously survived and undergoes additional pruning....


















Second Spring the tree is repotted into a training pot and given a slant....


About five more years of pruning, wiring, jinining and repotting should bring this discarded juniper to it full potential.

Thanks.



WOC




©2013 William O'Connor