Interview : Peter O'Connor, artist and gallery owner

 "Gallery Intermarium"  in Cornelscourt in Dublin has just opened its doors courtesy of artist Peter O'Connor and business partner Michael Crowley. Going from his previous profession in building contracting to painting has given Peter a brilliant new life.

Q. How did you get into painting/art?

A. I started painting in 2011 after watching a painting programme on TG4 by David Willis. Prior to this I owned a small building contracting business which I closed down around 2010.  My only engagement with painting before this was a painting by numbers set my parents bought me one Christmas. I always wanted to give painting a try and my opportunity came in 2011. I was 56yrs old at the time. After watching that programme I explored You Tube for about two weeks before I bought paints and a brush and decided to have a go without telling my wife Adrianne what I was doing. I painted two landscapes and after building up great courage showed the results to Adrianne and she was very pleasantly surprised and gave me great encouragement, and still does, to continue at it. After that I did basic lessons with a local artist Ger O’Grady and I also did a short course on drawing in NCAD. I try to do something related to painting every day and every day I learn something new.

Q. You're known for your figurative art and street scenes, what compels you to these subjects?

A. I can’t really say why I started painting street scenes. It could be related to the prints my mother and father had on the walls at home and also the fact I had been involved in the building industry but I really never considered painting anything else once I got going. I suppose the architecture of buildings and knowing about perspective etc made this an easy choice for me. You can’t paint busy streets without including figures. I just love the action and movement of people walking in the street and interacting with each other. The challenge of painting people was also something I couldn’t resist. I think we are all inquisitive and enjoy people watching, trying to work out the story of other people, and that’s why I include figures in my paintings.

Peter with racing driver Eddie Irvine

Q. Who have you most been influenced by?

A. I was initially attracted to the impressionists' style of painting. Monet and Manet were my two favourites. The Irish painter Walter Osborne is another painter I love to look up. His painting of the four people and a baby on a bench ‘In a Dublin Park’ is a lovely but very sad painting. I paint Dublin by night and works by an old French painter called Eduard Cortes are great inspiration for these paintings. There are some wonderful artists around today and every day I try to ‘surf the net’ and see many different styles and techniques. Simon Pasini a wonderful Italian artist and Tony Karpinski an English artist do some beautiful paintings in my eyes.

The Wedding Singers by Peter Metcafe O'Connor

Q. How do you enjoy exhibiting on Merrion Square on weekends?

A. Merrion Sq is a great place to sell paintings however it is also a very tough place to be as you have to deal with the elements and in Dublin you can get the four seasons in one day. You strike up great friendships with the other artists in there and also can have great conversations with passers-by. I don’t do Merrion Sq as much now as I manage a new Art Gallery in Cornelscourt above a pub called ‘The Magic Carpet’. The owner of the pub Michael Crowley and myself opened the Gallery just before Christmas last year and it is working out very well. We share the top Floor with the Dolmen Theatre where top quality RTE actors put on plays during autumn and winter times and we always open on Play nights and it has worked out to be a great little culture Centre. We have about 40 artists exhibiting at the moment in the Gallery, some from Merrion Sq, and this will increase coming towards the end of the year. I moved my studio into a room off the Gallery so I can paint and watch for customers at the same time. 

Q. You do commissions too? Do you approach commissions differently?

A.. Commissions make up about 40% of my work and I do approach them in a different way to a normal painting. The commissions I do are usually for wedding presents or Captain’s prizes or just general gifts and they range from churches, hotels or places which have some significance to people etc. Generally the commission work would be more accurate to colours and more defined than a looser type of street scene. I also do portraits of people and of course pets. I really enjoy commissions and the look of enjoyment on people’s faces when you present the finished article! I will always try and visit the location if possible but mostly I work from photos. I work from photos in my own work but would mix up photos to get the composition I want. 

I know I am a very lucky person to go from a very stressful type of work in the construction business to doing something I really enjoy. I do really feel sorry for people who don’t like what they do for a living but if that is the case you have to take a chance and do something you really are passionate about. We only have one chance!!

Powered by Blogger.