Sunday, February 27, 2011

STAGE 11 - New Paintings


Mark O´ Connell´s complete biography and work:   http://www.markoconnellvisuals.info/




NEW PORTRAITS
The Blue Series 



DEEP IN THOUGHT
April 2011
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GUESS WHAT I´M THINKING
April 2011
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GUESS WHAT I´M THINKING
(Detail)
April 2011
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BLIND MAN
March 2011
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MOTHER & CHILD
March 2011
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THE NEW BUSINESSMAN
March 2011
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ELIZABETHAN WOMAN
March 2011
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Though all these portraits depict different characters, they somehow seem to be connected by a blue shade which at times is velvety, at other times rougher, but is everywhere in the canvas, with lighter blue shades, with brighter tones, too.

There is usually a pattern on the skin or the clothing, which may attract the eye of the viewer,
to draw attention, to prolong the connexion with the piece.

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INSCAPE BUILDING
Mark´s studio
February 2011

PORTRAITS
Dripping & Tattoo techniques

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PORTRAITS & SAMPLES FOR PORTRAITS
Tattoo technique
2010 - 2011

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ARTWORK FOR MARK´S WRITING PROJECT
TALES OF MR FU
Detail of birds
January 2011
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Mark is carrying out an additional project involving the written text and artwork of a collection of books for children, Tales of Mr Fu, under the pseudonym of Mr Fu, the same name used for his Graffiti Project.

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TALES OF MR FU
Detail of unusual animals
January 2011
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STAGE 10 - New Graffiti


MONA LISA
VISITING SOUTH AMERICA
The Amerindian Gioconda

Graffiti for World Tour Campaign
March 2011

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DUTCH MAN
Graffiti for World Tour Campaign
March 2011

Mark has a new project involving graffiti which will take him round the world (World Tour Campaign). He is planning to have some customized graffiti (murals, large scale paintings, graffitis) done for private institutions, restaurants and stores, and electronic music venues, graffiti for blank walls, and, as another part of his World Tour, he will perform and interact with children to reproduce images of worldwide famous painters on blank walls of cities. The children will help Mark complete a large scale painting model by following his painting directions. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci and The Dutch Man are two of his chosen models.

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DETAIL OF MONA LISA GRAFFITI
Tribal make-up

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DETAIL OF DUTCH MAN GRAFFITI
Tapestry tattoo pattern

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Graffiti model for a restaurant in Buenos Aires
WALLS & BLINDS
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NAUTILUS PROJECT
January 2011

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In stores and restaurants as well as lofts, plants, office floors, the idea is to welcome visitors, customers, suppliers with an improved wall, an inviting office door, a unique design on glass windows that will make the premises look different, exclusive, that will define the personality of those involved in the business. Something hip and professional at the same time. As Mark always says: "The possibilities are endless." 

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STAGE 9 - More of the building



The Inscape Building on a wintry but sunny day
February 2011

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Work desk
Mark´s studio
February 2011

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STAGE 8 - Back in Seattle


INSCAPES & OUTSCAPES

LOOKING THROUGH THE WINDOW INTO THE FUTURE



Mark´s studio window
Inscape Building
February 2011

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Before travelling to Buenos Aires, Mark opened his own studio away from home but in Seattle. He chose to rent an office in the historic Inscape Building that used to be the Immigration Building long ago. The construction houses memories of past times when immigrants came to the city in search of a new opportunity. This special place is already inspiring Mark to produce new graffiti work and paintings.

Let´s take a look at it.


Inscape Building
Seattle
February 2011

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STAGE 7 - Second Visit to Buenos Aires


Mark at Recoleta Cemetery
January 2011
Same crypt four years later


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ARE SECOND TIMES BETTER THAN FIRST TIMES OR JUST DIFFERENT?

So after the experience in Barcelona, Mark and his partner, Michael, returned to Seattle and purchased an apartment and moved on with their lives. After Mark´s first visit to Buenos Aires, he kept corresponding via email with friend Maria and they managed to establish a close bond that turned out to be very positive for both of them as they inspired each other to pursue new interests. Mark started taking new directions in his art while she resumed a career in writing.

In her emails she communicated to him her interest to promote his art career in order to make him known in other places other than Seattle. She kept telling him that he should return to Buenos Aires. And he finally did, in late December 2010. He got a chance to go sightseeing on vacation, meet Maria´s friends, eat the juicy Argentine beefsteak, and have lots of icecream and beer.


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Mark & Maria with friends
Merval pub in downtown Buenos Aires
January 2011

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By this time, Mark had become interested in using the graffiti technique as a new form of expression and before travelling, he expressed his interest in doing some graffiti in Buenos Aires. He resolved to do some research as to the legalities of working on blank walls in the city and decided to prepare six panels of paper with a 16th-century pattern design taken from a book of textile designs from different parts of Europe. He had the pattern reproduced on a large scale and was quite satisfied with the result. The pannels were intended to be used together with a can of Rust-Oleum Metallic copper aerosol to create a different style of graffiti.

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Mr Fu, Mark´s name as a graffiti artist
Documented work
January 2011
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Photographer: Salvador Batalla

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"I thought that on a large scale this could look really striking. The other goal was that I wanted to have bold letters deliver a message that literally said "Make dreams come true" and that in Spanish was " Hacer sueños realidad" . I felt it was simplistic but very graphic and those letters were done in a bright green colour at first and then, laid over that pattern, was this Italian design in purple. I was very happy with the way it looked. It didn´t have to be perfect because, after all, it was graffiti."


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Ready to do some graffiti
January 9, 2011
Mr Fu by Salvador Batalla

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After spending New Year in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata and then a few more days in the country town of San Antonio de Areco, Mark and Maria came back to Buenos Aires to get ready for the graffiti event that took place on a Sunday (February 9) in the Constitucion neighbourhood.


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Finished graffiti with customized Italian panels
Worldwide Graffiti Project
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Constitucion neighbourhood
January 9, 2011

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Hacer Sueños Realidad by Mr Fu
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Worldwide Graffiti Project
January 9, 2011


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Although there was a second project of a more customized graffiti in a restaurant that never got to see the light, Mark felt a surge of confidence and enthusiasm to continue pursuing this new art form in the future.

"The fact that the second project never got to be completed almost becomes irrevelant because the most important aspect of this experience is that I know now that I need to do graffiti more than ever and perhaps not in the traditional form of graffiti, call it a mural, or a large scale project, or a graffiti/mural or a large painting, it doesn´t matter. Though I want to continue with the concept of my paintings that I started before I left Seattle, the experiences that I had with pursuing graffiti in Buenos Aires have inspired me and even changed how I want to approach my art."

Mark will then pursue graffiti in the US, wherever that is possible and in different parts of the world. He will be doing some of these projects with corporate backing and others simply by approaching those private customers or stores that might be interested in a more customized form of graffiti. He also wants to undertake those graffiti projects with a message that he started in Buenos Aires.

" I am having support of a corporate backing but I may also approach some restaurants and some blank walls that I feel could benefit with the use of graffiti. I am also going to use my sales experience and customer service experience to get the interest and the confidence of people, both of companies to back me but also to have galleries. I also want the events to be documented, to be perhaps produced in smaller versions as art pieces ... the possibilities are endless."

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STAGE 6 - Barcelona

MOVING TO BCN


The next chapter in Mark´s life was a move to the city of Barcelona, Spain, where he and Michael had been many times and loved dearly to the point of purchasing an apartment, which they called Casa Tres Amigos as they shared the property with their common friend Josephine. As their apartment was being rented at the time, they spent six months in a cosy little apartment in the city, learnt Spanish, made new friends and pursued a new business.


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Mark seeing some graffiti in Barcelona
2009

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He also connected spiritually with one of his most admired artists, Salvador Dali and visited the well-known Dali Museum in Figueras. He says, with a broad smile on his face: "Visiting the museum is like stepping into Dali´s mind and I welcomed all of it."

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Mark visiting Dali´s house & studio
2009

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Another moment of the visit to Dali´s house & studio
2009


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The critical economic situation of Spain, which also affected the rest of the European Community, made them take the final decision of returning to Seattle.


It was in Barcelona that Mark resumed work with a technique called dripping.


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Several samples of paintings with dripping technique
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Barcelona
 2009

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He remembers:


"This was at a time when I was still searching for the right style. It was an interesting method to blur the features and give a sense of movement. When I moved to BCN, I switched to watercolor due to living in a 40 sq. metre flat and the need for less mess and no smell. Watercolor has less drama than oil, and it also allowed me to create effective drips."




Portrait using dripping technique
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Barcelona
2008

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Mark had temporarily left behind the oil paintings and the tattoo technique of his earlier works that can be observed in the following piece.

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INDIVISIBLE
by Mark O´Connell
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Seattle
2006

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STAGE 5 - First Visit to Buenos Aires

QUITE AN UNUSUAL PLACE



Mark at Recoleta Cemetery
January 2007

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Mark travelled to Argentina in early 2007 to further his studies of Spanish, paint and learn a new culture. He was on his own this time and made the choice to live in an apartment he rented in Palermo, Buenos Aires. He decided to pursue his adventure with no expectations so as to be fully open to the experiences that might come his way. He was in for a little surprise.

He made new acquaintances, among them, Maria, who was his teacher of Spanish at the time and later became a close friend of his and has remained so for the past four years. She helped him get to know the city better and gave him a little insight into the history of Buenos Aires and the character of its inhabitants.

So where did the surprise lie? Mark himself tells us:

" I packed fifteen small pieces of metal to be used as canvases for my paintings with the hope of completing all of them. I wanted the city, which has so much colourful history, to speak to me in its own special way to inspire me to paint something amazing."

He was not dissapointed. Within the first week he was overwhelmed by one of the most visually and spiritually stunning places of Buenos Aires, the well-known Recoleta Cemetery. He not only painted the fifteen pieces but he also took some fantastic photographs.

He remembers that the month he spent there gave him more of an immediacy to produce art and to live life to its fullest.

"This is a city recovering from a horrible economic crisis and these people know how to pull it together and continue on living despite all of their hardships. They are gracious, beautiful, and live life to its fullest. I highly recommend the journey to experience your own adventure."

Mark couldn´t guess at that time that in four years he would be returning to the city and that the Queen of the River Plate had more experiences in store for him to enjoy.

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FILM EXPERIENCE BACK IN SEATTLE

Seven Queers of Bad Luck
When Mark returned to Seattle, he continued to pursue his art but was also given the chance to prove his acting skills when he was invited to participate in a hilarious silent movie. The movie was intended to enter the 13th Annual Seattle Lesbian Gay Film Festival. The theme, "Superstition", was given to ten film makers.

Mark remembers his participation:

" We were given the theme, a camera and a couple of weeks to make this film that we couldn´t edit. Thank goodness for a talented cast!

By the way, Mark is "the villain", later nicknamed "Mr Barnaby" by his friend Maria. He is the guy in black clothes and top hat carrying a cane. Used to wearing costumes and doing his own make-up for Halloween, he accomplished a fearsome villain.

The hero/heroine of the silent movie is Mark´s friend, Andrew.

SEVEN QUEERS OF  BAD LUCK
Superstition: A Broken Mirror!
(6-11-2008)



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SOME HALLOWEEN COSTUMES & MAKE-UP


Mark & friend Kobalt at Halloween
Waxy-candy style


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Mark at Halloween
Striped style

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Mark at Halloween
Polka-dot style


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STAGE 4 - Mark´s Second Love

 INTRODUCING ARTIST MARK O´CONNELL AND LIU CE



Mark at home with his dog Liu Ce

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Now is a pet dog such an important addition to the household? Yes, it is. Particularly in the O´Connell/Hytinen household. She has been with them for around twelve years and she is The Princess and has even accompanied them abroad on their multiple trips and visited museums and stores of capitals of Europe hidden in their ample coats. She is the one that sits on Mark´s lap while he is at the computer and sweetly rests her little head on his arm as he answers friendly messages and business proposals. A bit of a challenge to write like this but quite endearing.

Her name is Liu Ce (to be pronounced as Lucy is).

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THE TOUR - Stage 3 - The Big Move

HERE I COME, SEATTLE


Moving to Seattle, Washington in 1995 was an important step in search of more opportunities. Mark worked in visual merchandising for several years with Nordstrom until he branched off into his own freelance business and put more focus on the fine art. Keeping the creative spirit diverse, he produced a line of edgy shirts under the label of B-ware! and sold in Seattle area stores.

Shortly after moving, Mark met his partner, Michael Hytinen, who has been an incredible support and inspiration in his life and art.



Mark & partner Michael Hytinen on vacation
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Mexico
 2008

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He remembers that before meeting Michael, he had some kind of premonitory dream in which he met a mysterious guy that looked like a Russian nobleman. A little while later, Mark embellished a great door with Michael´s look in the dream. Fantastic!

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Michael & Dogs
by Mark O´Connell

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THE TOUR - Stage 2 - Early Travels & Studies

ACTIVE MINDS, CHANGING LIVES


So off Mark went to Japan first, in 1982, for two months, and then to Australia, where he spent the whole of 1983. The exposure to different cultures, and the reality of how different the world outside of Alaska was, became the inspiration needed to mature quickly as a person and focus his creativity.


He began college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington leading to the American College in London, U.K., and then earning a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration in 1989 at the Pacific Northwext College of Art in Portland, Oregon.


For sources, please go to http://www.wwu.edu/ (Western Washington University) and http://www.pnca.edu/ (Pacific Norhwest College of Art).


Why choosing graphic design? He remembers:"It was a choice partly because it seemed practical as a career, but I was also fascinated with typography and the more technical side of art. I also liked advertising and the combination of words and images."


Looking at some of his portraits, we can see the influence of graphics and particularly, typography.




EQUILIBRIO
by Mark O´Connell

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The Dreamer
by Mark O´Connell

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Vanity
by Mark O´Connell
2006

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Love for the commercial art world soon faded with the appearance of computers which took over the field. Mark focused on the pursuit of more hands-on creativity. He designed and produced decorative home products and hand-painted clothing for retail stores which was a constant for many years.

In 1993, he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico for two years. The stay in the high desert proved advantageous as the focus of creativity moved towards fine art. He agrees with this when he remembers:

" Santa Fe has a very large art community and the wonderful light and sun help enormously. Also, in Santa Fe I lived and shared a studio with another artist. This was an important turn in my life." 


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THE TOUR - Stage 1 - The Positive Side

IS THIS THE SAME ALASKA WE ARE TALKING ABOUT?




Truck & Backyard
by Mark O´Connell

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Do you remember that truck in the previous photograph? Well, this is an early painting by Mark remembering those years in Alaska. A springtime portrait of nature with some Dalinian falls flowing down the back of the truck and accompanying fish. What is it with the flying vampire-like dogs?


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Detail of the same painting
Flying dogs

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Another detail of the same painting
The fish in the flowing water
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THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR OF THE ARTIST - Stage 1


The potential artist & his sister Shannon
back in Alaska
1968



Mark & sister Shannon
Another backyard many years later

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Born in Grafton, North Dakota, U.S.A, in 1966, Mark moved with his parents and sister to Alaska in 1968, looking for better opportunities. Mark found that Alaska´s darkness and isolation were not creatively inspiring and decided to start travelling. He vividly remembers the cold.

"The cold was never pleasurable for me. It was so much a part of my life and for the majority of every year. In Alaska, darkness is also a great part of the winter. The darkness and cold made me a very isolated child both physically and mentally. Memories of the cold are not good and made a huge impact on my personality and life. Most of my creativity and dreams were in my bedroom."

Mark may say Alaska wasn´t inspiring at the time but there is a canvas painted by him which reflects the way in which he turned around the wintry image of the past into a pleasantly colourful scene. Please, see Stage 2, will you?

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

THINKING OF GRAFFITI?


Barcelona in the Fall
Mark at the Cathedral of Barcelona
October 2002

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When the above photograph was taken, the artist Mark O´Connell probably didn´t have any idea he was one day going to pursue graffiti. It was a moment in his life when he decided to continue exploring the Old World that he had visited before, to keep on learning about its diverse cultures and incredible art, but at that time he decided to focus on a city that he was drawn to for many reasons: Barcelona.

He remembers all his trips abroad that he continues making. " These travels have exposed me to this day to the best art in the world. I enjoy both the traditional classic art as well as the super modern. I have learnt to appreciate what I don´t understand and be influenced in positive, spiritual and emotional ways by the art I have seen. I can honestly say that some of the most emotionally moving moments in my life have been from experiencing art in my travels."

With great emotion, he also looks back on that first visit to Barcelona and the effect that both the city and its art, particularly the work of major artist Salvador Dali, had on him. "Dali has been the most influential artist in my life. When I was first exposed to him in school, he didn´t inspire me. It was my first visit to Barcelona that started it all. I saw Dali´s house and studio in Figueras, where Dali was born and raised. The museum was like stepping into his mind and I welcomed all of it. Ever since, I have felt that Dali has spoken through me, inspired me, and awakened my spirit. My art has been highly influenced to the more surreal and mysterious."

But many have been the influences on Mark´s spirit, personality and art, and maybe by taking a little look at the history of his still young and fruitful life, we can begin to understand how each new step he has taken in his art career is the result of a natural reaction to what he has been exposed to. Echoing some of the words of a great song by The Beatles, shall we roll up for this magical, mystery tour?