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Artist in the Spotlight
Meet Rich O'Donnell

Rich O’Donnell is an award-winning painter of seascapes, landscapes, urban scenes and more. His primary medium is acrylic with some watercolors.

O'Donnell is a member of the Associated Artists of Southport and the American Society of Marine Artists and the Wilmington Art Association.

O'Donnell's paintings have recently been selected by Up Your Arts (a Brunswick County arts support organization) and the Southport Wooden Boat Show for exhibition at upcoming events.

Each year the Southport Wooden Boat Show and AAS (FSG) partner to conduct a contest to select a painting to be the image to be used on the SWBS posters and T-Shirts for that year. On the First Friday in September, all of the poster contest painting entries are displayed at FSG.  The artist who painted the winning poster is present to sign posters and T-shirts and the SWBS staff are on hand selling raffle tickets (and the posters and T-shirts). 

In 2023 the winner of the SWBS poster contest was Rich O'Donnell for his painting "Cruising By". 

Congratulations Rich!! 

Please come by on Friday, September 1st and say hi to Rich!

Some of Rich's recent paintings!
Click on each painting to enlarge and see the title. 

Let's Get to Know Rich! 

1.  How did you get involved in the local art scene and join Franklin Square Gallery?

I painted when I was young but didn’t start painting full time until I retired. We moved to Southport in 2014, from Long Island, NY.   I really liked this gallery and asked about how to join and become a member.   I started entering shows and got to know the other local artists.  I wanted to be more involved, so I became an active board member for the gallery.  I’ve served for several years, first as Vice President and now as the City Liaison. 

2.  What inspires you and influences your art?

I’ve always lived and worked at and along the coast.  I find it very beautiful and enjoy capturing coastal scenes.

3.  What else inspires you?

I’m very inspired by other artists’ paintings.  I appreciate and admire a well-done, realistic painting.  Paintings that are interesting, maybe historic, and tell a story.  I like attractive scenes.

4.  What do you consider your style?

My style is representational but not quite photo-realistic. I strive for a realistic image with the most striking elements of the image highlighted in the painting.  

5.  How has your style evolved over time?

Quite a bit actually.  It’s changed a lot. I used to paint with watercolors and transitioned to acrylics 7 years ago.   I like the bolder, richer colors available in acrylics. 

I also started painting larger paintings than before.  In high school, my art teacher used to tease me because I would be drawing a very detailed piece in a tiny little space.  He’d come by, look over my shoulder and tell me to draw bigger. It was funny.  Now I want to paint bigger and bolder. 

6.  What are the hardest parts of the creating process for you?

Getting started on a painting.  Mostly the composition.  I generally start with several photos  and like to mix up  the scenes for my landscapes and seascapes.  I keep playing around with it until I’m satisfied, always keeping my end goal in mind.   I usually have a pretty detailed drawing before I even begin to paint.                                                                                                

7.  What gives you the most satisfaction in your art?

I’m the most satisfied when I can stand back and look and see that I really captured what I wanted to and it all looks great.  Did I get the water right?  Does it show off the best features?

8.  What would you most like to try in your art?  Is there a new trend or style or medium

that intrigues you?

I’d like to try a looser style and even bigger canvas.  Maybe a 6’ x 6’.  (Rich is grinning big). As far as new trends are concerned, maybe paint more historical scenes.  I’m really interested in historical scenes and there’s a lot of history around this area.

9.  Do you have some advice for those starting out and/or for those who don't think they can create?

​I’d say, ‘Give it a try!’ Try different mediums, talk to other artists and potters about what they do and hear their ideas.  I think they might be surprised about how well it will come together!   It’s important to commit time and energy.  Think it through.  

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