Combining classical art training with modern composition, California artist Christine O’Brien’s oil paintings capture the feeling of a perfect day on the beach, the rich detail of native flowers, or the nostalgic beauty found in old collectibles. Visit her website to see more.
Drawing my surroundings began at age five. My style, even then, was full of detail. I was always striving to make a view of reality my own depiction of perfection.
In college, I was trained in a rigorous classical guild environment where we studied the masters and rendered the live figure. My studies also included architectural illustration and graphic design. This cross training greatly influenced me and is incorporated into the subjects and realistic perspectives that I paint today.
Living in southern California, I am inspired to paint beach life and botanicals. I travel with both a sketchbook and a camera.
My sketches capture the essence and ideas for paintings, and I also make notations on how I might depict the feeling of an ocean breeze, the calming sound of the waves and the carefree life of figures relaxing or frolicking in the sand.
The flowers of California plants such as Birds of Paradise and Lavender are visual treats that thrive in the landscape by my studio. I enjoy highlighting the subtle variations of the flowers in order to capture their majestic feeling and the intense beauty of their blooms.
Observing my environment also triggers ideas for still life paintings. While jogging past a yard sale last year, my eye caught a glistening reflection from one of the collectibles for sale.
I immediately knew how I would depict its nuances, bigger than life, on a canvas. I now frequent resale shops for formerly owned collectibles to use in a still life series, which I call my “Tchotchke Series.” These paintings are a way of taking once valued sentimental items and giving them a new legacy as a piece of fine art.
I love the creative process of oil painting, from beginning to end.
I hand-stretch my canvas or linen and start the painting by toning with an oil wash. My second layer is a proportional sketch in soft pencil. Then, subsequent layers define the composition and build up specific details.
Through this elaborate brushwork and imagery enhancement, I work to create dynamic perspectives that evoke a mood in time.