As a kid my family made regular trips to West Virginia. The three hour car ride transported us from the suburbs of Maryland through stretches of mountains and small county towns on rural roads. I passed the time mostly looking out the car window at passing countryside. I didn’t know it at the time, but that scenery still informs my explorations into my surrounding landscape. It might be a glimpse of a line of trees or the way light hits the side of a shed that compels me to engage with that place in paint. Painting on location requires a “tuning in” to the scene and attempting to capture something essential before the light shifts or fades. Refinements are left for later in the studio. The act of engagement in these attempts are rewards in themselves, regardless if they transform into a finished painting or not. My hope is that the viewer can experience a bit of that same wonder I feel.
ABOUT GERRY O’NEILL
Gerry O’Neill began drawing as a child and never stopped. The youngest of six kids, he always had someone to outdraw, outwit or outrun. Armed with a degree in commercial art, Gerry worked in Washington DC advertising agencies before striking out on his own as a freelance illustrator. The ‘90s saw Gerry relocate to Durham, a place he loves. “I was really taken with the city’s old-time character and the rural landscapes that surround it. I used to love just driving the backroads and looking at the open spaces.”
Early attempts at painting these landscapes were discouraging. Things clicked when Gerry attended a plein air painting workshop with Utah painter John Poon. “John taught me a simple approach that enabled me to paint outdoors on my own. Painting on location became almost a sport.”
Gerry continued his studies with painter Donald Jurney. “Donald is able to capture the poetry and atmosphere of a place—its soul, more than a factual description.” Gerry continues to search for that poetry and soul among the meadows, barns and bridges of greater Durham and beyond.