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. co.uk Joe O’Brien, 56, is making a comeback