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 Robert J. O'Brien  (1954 - )

About: Robert J. O'Brien


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Lived/Active: Vermont      Known for: still life, landscape

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Watercolorist Robert J. O'Brien, born in Rochester, New York in 1954, moved to Vermont in 1977 where he has explored a variety of subjects dominated by the old, the derelict, the buildings and objects worn out by life and the passage of time. He currently (2003) lives in Weatherford, Vermont.

O'Brien was using watercolor as a medium as early as high school in Rochester. He later attended Fredonia State College in New York, receiving a B.A. degree from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1977. But his degree was in geography and map-making, not art. He had jobs as a map-maker and contractor in Vermont, before slowly evolving into an artist who, like most, must work other jobs to support themselves and their families. He since has studied with Marshall Joyce, James Whatford and Tony Couch.

O'Brien uses the dry-brush technique in painting watercolors from photographs taken of objects and scenes that attract his attention. He will also paint out-of-doors in a looser style, especially during trips to Maine, Canada and France. He has visited Provence in southern France three times since 1998.

Essentially a Photo-Realist, O'Brien carefully paints in as much detail as possible within the outlines of a pencil drawing based on a photograph. His subjects include the corner of an old store with a Mobil Gas sign with its flying red horse; an old caboose; a close-up of the front end of an abandoned car; the woven back of an old-fashioned chair seen through a window; and, countering the images of decay, a pristine American flag hanging in front of a freshly painted, white clapboarded house with well-tended flowers in front.

Since 1980, O'Brien has held workshops and taught at a local community college. He is a member of the Academic Artists Association, Central New York Watercolor Society, Chester Art Guild, New England Watercolor Society, Northeast Watercolor Society, Southern Vermont Artists and Vermont Watercolor Society.


From "Watercolor Magazine", Spring 2003
By Karen Frankel

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