Come­back kid Joe em­braces a new on­line art au­di­ence


AN artist known for hir­ing and paint­ing out of a po­lice cell in Cal­ton, is mak­ing a come­back af­ter five years away from the main­stream and is em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Joe O’Brien, 56, a self­taught pain­ter from Mary­hill, has de­cided now is the per­fect time to take his work on­line.

With the en­cour­age­ment of a friend, he has re­cently launched his web­site www. joeo­brien­art.

Joe de­scribes his work as “sym­bol­ist or sur­real” and ad­mits that they don’t hang com­fort­ably in ev­ery­one’s liv­ing room.

He took the de­ci­sion to re­move him­self from gal­leries when they tried to get him to change his art and “paint less noses and more cot­tages”.

Work­ing from a small stu­dio on Alexan­dra Pa­rade in Glas­gow’s East End, he has de­cided to sell to the wider pub­lic again to “sus­tain his cre­ativ­ity and keep up pro­cess­ing the jour­ney and sto­ry­telling”.

“An agent picked me up and some paint­ings sold to Scot­tish celebri­ties – Michelle Mone and Muriel Gray – I was de­lighted with that,” he said of his ini­tial big break.

“It kept me in house and home but then I had a kind of cri­sis of con­fi­dence where gal­leries were con­cerned be­cause they were start­ing to try and shape my way of paint­ing

“The paint­ings were sell­ing but they were say­ing ‘we can sell more of them if you paint less noses and more cot­tages’.”

He laughed and in­sists he has no prob­lem with paint­ings of cot­tages, but it just isn’t his style. Joe added: “I don’t paint com­fort­able art, I don’t paint art that gen­er­ally speak­ing sits well above the sofa. Al­though, what is an ab­so­lute de­light is that chil- dren see to love them.

“On the one hand gal­leries were im­ply­ing the paint­ings might frighten chil­dren and on the other hand I was find­ing chil­dren, young peo­ple and lots of adults were de­lighted with them.

“I built up a core fol­low­ing of peo­ple for what­ever rea­son love my work and kept buy­ing them.

“But, I be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with gal­leries and with­drew.”

How­ever, it was im­por­tant to keep work­ing in the back­ground and pro­duc­ing work for those who en­joy it and for Joe, who loves what he does.

He said: “My paint­ings are in­ter­est­ing to me first and fore­most and that keeps me paint­ing and they are in­ter­est­ing to that core group of fol­low­ers – that al­lowed me to with­draw from gal­leries.

“What was keep­ing me go­ing was pri­vate com­mis­sion and pri­vate sales. That was a fan­tas­tic feel­ing that peo­ple want to buy my art.”

But, now is the right time for Joe to ex­plore a new av­enue to sell his work and keep him in­spired.

let­ters@ evening­times. Joe O’Brien, 56, is mak­ing a come­back

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