Congratulations to artist Brian O'Neill, our latest Instagram winner! Brian is a fine art painter based in Rochester, NY, who paints realism oil, landscape, figurative, still life, and abstract acrylic with mixed media: "I create art to fill this world with as much beauty as possible. Art is powerful and transformational, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I get to do this."
Describe the type of art you create.
My artistic creations are as varied as my imagination. All my paintings are created in either oil or acrylic. The realism work is rendered in oil with subjects ranging from portrait, figurative, and floral, to a mixed media landscape with precious metal leaf in gold, white gold, and silver. My abstract work is made with acrylic combined with metal leaf. When I am pouring resin, I am always working on a solid substrate, such as a braced wood panel. The abstract work draws inspiration from the natural world by evoking images of horizon, surf, fire, and geology. Most people can be intimidated by abstract work; however, I have heard repeatedly from collectors and admirers, that they find the recognizable hidden within the abstraction, with just enough room for their own interpretation.
What's your art background?
My art background goes back as far as my oldest memories of childhood. I was always drawing, creating, and was encouraged by High School art teachers to pursue art as a professional career. I did not take the conventional academic route with art, instead, I was self-taught for many years and had a successful gallery career. However, in my mid-thirties, I wanted to take my technical abilities to a higher level of believable realism.
To that end, I began a four-year apprenticeship program with world renowned artist,
Anthony Waichulis, founder of Ani Art Academies. What I discovered was a repeatable practice based on logic and discipline that transformed both my representational and abstract work.
Are you a full-time artist or do you create around work hours?
I have been a full-time professional artist for over 20 years. I teach as well in my studio in the same academic approach I was taught in for realism drawing and painting skills.
What do you love about the mediums that you use?
Exploring ways to combine mediums for a dynamic interaction is exciting. The smooth, glowing gradations of oil juxtaposed with glowing metal leaf is interesting to me. The immediacy of acrylic, drying rapidly allows me to make subsequent layers quickly, resulting in an energy that is palpable to the viewer. Oil requires patience, which I enjoy about the process, but I also love the almost instant result with acrylic, I get the best of both worlds.
When did you discover resin?
I first discovered resin many years ago while exhibiting at a gallery and a fellow artist began to use it. This is when you still had to use respirators, so I avoided it for that reason. I loved how it enhanced the work and transformed it in a magical way. I knew one day I would jump into the possibilities of resin, and I am grateful the chemistry has evolved as it did.
How has resin impacted your artwork?
The addition of resin to my abstract work has made a major impact both aesthetically as well as opening my work to an additional gallery and client base. Traditionally, in my contemporary abstract work I used lightweight gel mediums to build many layers of rough texture, which add a tactile experience to the work. However, I have experimented with resin on both smooth a textured work and I presently prefer a smooth finish. So, adding resin now has altered my layered process for paint and pushed me to use larger construction knife tools such as sheetrock mud trowel, to create the illusion of texture, while maintaining a smooth finish in a final layer. I also use venetian plaster blades for this purpose since they have a rounded corner and will not leave marks in the paint surface.
Can you provide a rundown of your process?
Process is defined by which medium I am working with. In the case of abstract work, I draw my inspiration from the natural elements such as air, fire, mineral, etc. If I am creating a custom work for a client, interior designer or gallery client,
the process begins with a conversation. It is vitally important to listen to my client’s
needs while making sure the result if indicative of my work. Size is usually the first
question, location is next, and from there I ask the most important question, how do you want to feel in relationship to the painting? There is always a pause because most people have never been asked that question before. The answers usually vary from, peaceful, excited, hopeful, and so on. I then interpret these answers in color and composition. I always create a small demo painting which can give insight into my mind and what I envision. I usually see the painting done before I even pick up a paint brush, but the client can’t see that, so it is my responsibility to show them so we both move forward confidently. Listening to my spirit is equally important to paying attention to technical knowledge. If I leave a painting at the end of a workday with unresolved issues, the moment I step into my art studio the next morning, the way forward to clear and direct—intuition and trust and very important artist tools in the process.
Why do you want to make art? What motivates you to create?
I create art to fill this world with as much beauty as possible. Art is powerful and transformational, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I get to do this. My motivations to create encompass all aspects of my life, however, regardless of the result it is to bring love and joy to others. I create to provide people with a lasting memory of their time working with me in the hopes that when they look at the painting, they take a deep breath and feel a connection to beauty.
Does where you're from or where you currently live influence your work?
Yes, living in upstate, Western New York, I am inspired by the vistas of the Finger Lakes region, the Adirondack Mountains, and the vastness of Lake Ontario. I live in the city of Rochester, but it is only about a 45-minute drive before the beauty of the country is rolling past me.
Does art help you in other areas of your life?
Absolutely! I love food, wine, cooking, gardening, design, etc. When I am working in my garden or creating a delicious meal, the process is like painting. I see in layers, exciting color combination, opposing flavors, texture, and unexpected moments that I realize happen from a spiritual place that I don’t get to control, but I do pause to notice and give thanks. It is in the sharing of my efforts with others where I receive the gift of intentional purpose in this lifetime. An affirmation through sharing art in many ways, not limited to 2-dimensional work.
How do you define success as an artist? What does success look and feel like for you?
I have been blessed with a long-time career in a field that if you make it, it’s like
winning the lottery. There are many types of success that I have experienced, first, as I just mentioned in a sustained career, and then there are the subtle successes that most people don’t see. For example, maintaining a clean, neat, and well-organized workspace. I can’t make good art in clutter and chaos. Part of success for me as an artist is having a studio that reflects my inner joy and serenity. Success looks and feels like the opposite of worry and stress—clarity, efficiency, and productivity.
Where do you sell your work?
I sell my work directly to my collectors, through art dealers, art galleries, and creating custom work for the clients of interior designers. My work has been shown in galleries across the U.S., Canada, Japan, and England, as well as being included in national museum tours.
To see more of Brian's work:
Congratulations on your win, Brian!
Every month, to celebrate our community of artists, ArtResin will send out a 32 oz kit to two lucky people who have tagged us on Instagram, showing the work they've created with ArtResin.
Don't forget to tag YOUR ArtResin work with @art_resin on Instagram, and YOU could be our next winner!
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