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Overall, my work is about making opposites connect to create a poetic effect. I look for contrasts, both those inherent in the subject and those formal ones that exist in the creative process. Although I will plan a composition, I want media manipulation and expressive marks to push reality beyond the descriptive.  To further evoke a mood, feeling or idea I might exaggerate and reconfigure the subject so that notions such as strength and flexibility might be evidenced by the elements chosen.

Shapes and color are important no matter what the subject, and the organic and lyrical forms found in nature have been most prominent.  Rocks and water provided a myriad of elements to suggest both mood and movement.  A long focus on clouds and the sky went from the specifics of light and weather to the more ephemeral aspects of the air.  The woods provided visual metaphors for relationships between the forest and the trees.  Manmade structures have on occasion provided a hard edged departure in the landscapes both for visual contrast and to hint at the contemporary ever-changing realities of place.

Other than landscape elements, I am attracted to subjects or objects that I can explore both visually and ideally.  I collect bird figurines and images and use them as inspiration for compositions that vary both symbolically and stylistically.  The actual objects can be arranged with other things for an endless variety of interpretations, and the reference photos stimulate me to combine things in ways that don't exist in any real time and space. For some reason "the birds" have become my freedom to explore aspects of the many modern art movements that I have admired and explained to my students over the years. They allow a search to continue for imaginative possibilities.

Teaching art at all levels necessitated constant experimentation in a variety of media and techniques.  Coupling this with the investigation of various historical perspectives leads me to create in series with each differing in direction.  Mixing watermedia techniques and mediums allows me to be flexible and change direction in the process.

Nature has a grounding and calming effect on me, but I am also drawn to the dynamic and mystery of change.  Movement and an overall compositional pattern are often characteristics of my work, which hovers between the real and the abstract.  I often respond to the close-up view and shapes that contain and frame more fluid aspects of paint and subject. What I focus on is for formal reasons, but also hopefully because it reflects a state of being and the working process dynamic of intuition vs. calculation.


Artist Bio

Elizabeth Betty O'Brien

"Elizabeth (Betty) O’Brien is a regionally known artist who works primarily in watercolor, mixed watermedia, and monotype printing.  Best known for her landscapes"...more

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