Light Chasers
Plein Air Painters of the Suncoast

Mary Louise O'Connell

Mary Louise O'Connell's Photo
Ever since I first walked into kindergarten, I was determined to be an artist. That day I saw a painting on the wall decorating my classroom that inspired me. It was such a wonderful painting—to my five-year-old eyes—that I could barely look at it. I could hardly wait till we were able to paint so that I could make that same painting, but of course then I had to wait until “art” was scheduled.

I’ve been trying to figure out what painting means to me ever since. I’m sure that I am happiest when I’m putting paint on canvas, and I can lose myself in the process. I’ve come to realize that painting is always a learning experience, and that for me, painting relates directly to writing, another passion. With written expression, the writer always adds, deletes, changes, ever so slightly, the words on the page to make the piece a reflection of meaning. In painting, the same process occurs. Especially when I am working on a portrait, I find myself adding just a little bit more paint, different value, slightly warmer, slightly cooler, etc. to capture the mood of the sitter. My concern is to sculpt the figure, face or object so that it lives. One of my favorite ways of painting is to take my easel outside. I have worked up and down the East Coast, including wonderful times on the coast of Massachusetts, Maine and Monhegan Island. I've painted in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, as well as the Carolinas. I recently moved to Sarasota, FL and joined other plein air aritsts of the Lightchasers group.

I participated in group shows over the years and have been accepted in several juried shows in Ridgefield and New Haven CT. I exhibited my work in my very first one-person show in 2009. Over 25 pieces were installed in the Upstairs Gallery at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, and in 2014, I put on "My Favorite Things" in that same space.

At the beginning of 2010, I put the finishing touches on a new portrait of my parents, Joe and Irene O'Connell. This painting was accepted in the 2011 exhibition, "Gender Identities," curated by artist Nancy Moore at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. In 2013, I completed "Sisters Before the Wedding," depicting my sister and me before her wedding. It was part of a curated show, "The Women," at the Guild. In 2014, I was invited to "Re-Imagine," a curated show at the Guild. Also in the summer of 2014 the Sarasota Arts Center's exhibition, "Coming Home," accepted "Stormy," the painting on my home page.