Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 02/10/2007 - 14:42.

Don O'Neill studio observation mirror

I had the opportunity recently to visit the studio of watercolor artist Don O’Neill, who’s been a long time resident of Riverside, California.  Riverside is an old citrus growing town, with a deserty climate sporting avocados and date palms.   Don’s studio is a model of organization, complete with areas for studio painting, original and  print sales display racks, gallery wall space, framing shop, photographic studio, kitchenette, toilet, and accommodations for a couple of in-charge felines.<--!break--> A proud member of the American Watercolor Society,  (thus the AWS after Don’s signature on his prints – an artist must win a certain number of juried exhibitions to qualify for Society membership)  Don has painted scenes from his world travels, though I think his heart is in his concentration on the landscapes, plants, and architecture of the inland Southern California valleys.   I was impressed by Don’s skill in depicting the bark of the Blue Gum Eucalyptus.   As a Blue Gum matures, the older bark is shed in long, dry, strips which often slough over a limb crotch and then remain hanging down along the new distinctly colored skin of the trunk.   The strips remain festooned down the trunk for years,  giving the older trees a distinct wizened mature look.


Like most artists,  Don juggles between pleasure painting which he intents to sell eventually, and commissioned “business” painting  and the business of teaching watercolor classes (to put food in the cats’ bowls).   In his studio (photo above), over his draftsman’s-like sloped easel,  Don has an angle-adjustable 5’ by 3’ mirror mounted reflective side down.  Via this mirror, students who take painting classes from Don can sit at their areas opposite Don and watch Don’s mixing and brushwork – though the students see Don’s work in “mirror image”, reversed from left to right. – which is fine for an image but wouldn’t be too easy for text.  Very cool tool….Sort of similar to Gaudi’s mirrored viewing of his string weighted model for visualizing the compression vectors of the Sagrada Familia.- which was recently displayed at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Barcelona” exhibit.


I will come back to this blog post in the next few weeks and add more images of Don and his work. 



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