Commission a portrait Ideally live sittings are best, but when painting children, pets, or a posthumous portrait, a selection of good, clear photographs is perfectly fine to work.... find out more > More artwork View a selection of other artwork by Jenny O'Brien including landscapes, commissioned work and the "Little Old Men" series... find out more > Portraiture in history For centuries the role of a portrait artist was highly regarded, fulfilling the requirement for image preservation that photography later... find out more > HOME ABOUT GALLERIES PRESS ARTICLES CONTACT
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Galway Now magazine, August 2008
Excerpts from article written by Lynda Cookson
Jenny O’Brien’s mother is an artist and used to keep the cereal boxes for her children to draw on. “There was always loads of arty stuff around the house.. and I thought everybody’s house was like that. I remember when I was five years old I wrote on the wall and then tried to blame my then-unborn brother!” Her dad was a guitar and trombone player so Jenny was always encouraged to either draw or play music – her instrument being the piano. When she got to secondary school she had to choose between music and art. Art won and though she continued with piano lessons, she didn’t go down the academic route with music.
She was born in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in 1976 and when she was three the family moved to Cork, from there to Wexford, and in 1995 Jenny moved to Galway. She had been doing a teaching degree in NCAD in Dublin for two years, with her parents full approval, but felt that there was no focus on the actual learning of her discipline.
She knew she wanted first and foremost to be a painter and felt too young to teach.“Even now I get asked for ID” she grinned. “You have to learn what it is you’re teaching before you can teach”.She transferred to Galway to do a Fine Arts Higher Diploma. Jenny’s final exhibition centred around portraits. Exposure to variety in the arts while doing her degree in Galway gave her a focus and she found portraiture to be her natural inclination. “I’ve developed my style over the years and can recognise now when a painting is working and when it’s not. My standards are higher, (the paintings are)…still a bit refined, but less brown and dark… I’ve come out of my gothic style now!”
Jenny works with oil on canvas but for smaller paintings she used little pieces of board, and because it needs to be so precise she uses brushes only. For portraits she uses very fine brushes actually meant for acrylics, working from good photographs – which she prefers to take herself. “I want to get a likeness, and the character of the person. “My techniques are pretty traditional.I work up layers of paint with glazing. It takes a while. I don’t just reproduce a photograph, but think a painting can be a stronger image because it’s what you see in someone as well as what their face looks like.”
Jenny’s work to date has been mainly commission based but recently she has begun working on new paintings with a view to a solo exhibition.
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