Exquisite Portraits And Still Life Paintings From Fiona O'Byrne

Studio Visit

It can sometimes feel like if you haven’t found success by your thirties (or thereabouts), that younger, brighter, fresher-faced contenders have somehow overlapped you. But for every wunderkind like Taylor Swift, there is a Vera Wang (aged 40 when she entered the fashion industry), Jon Hamm (waiting tables until 29), or Bram Stoker (wrote Dracula at 50!).

was 36 (honestly, still so young) before she took her first painting class, after establishing a career as a landscape architect. We chat with the artist about her incredible paintings, and pursuing art as a career.

16th May, 2019

Tonal painter Fiona O’Byrne at work. Photo – for Btslive.

Fiona with her stunning portraits and still life works. Photo – for Btslive.

Painting in process. Photo – for Btslive.

A suite of tonal paintings. Photo – for Btslive.

Studio detail. Photo – for Btslive.

Inspiration board. Photo – for Btslive.

Still life, with still life! Photo – for Btslive.

‘Lucia, 12 years’ by Fiona O’Byrne. Photo – for Btslive.

Fiona finds inspiration in nature, books and galleries. Photo – for Btslive.

Miriam McGarry
Thursday 16th May 2019

‘I needed a new outlet for my creativity.’ – Fiona O’Byrne.

Growing up in a country town, spent most of her childhood drawing horses and cartoons, while her friends played sport. When she moved to Melbourne, Fiona combined her creative skills with a love of environment, and trained as a landscape architect. As her professional career progressed, computers ‘rugby tackled’ the hand-drawn landscape plans out of the role, and Fiona explains ‘I needed a new outlet for my creativity.’

At 36, Fiona enrolled in her first painting class, and after a few years ed artist and teacher who has become both a mentor a friend. Fiona’s precise and characterful works are predominately painted from life, where she has the subject (still-life or a model) in front of her. Her process involves an initial application of dark tones to establish a resemblance to the person or object. Fiona explains ‘once I get a likeness to my subject, I switch into colour and the focus becomes more about edges and brushstroke quality.’

Fiona finds inspiration in the natural world (including drawing upon her landscape architecture expertise and painting plants), in books, galleries, and by looking to other artists such as Australian , and international ‘painting giants’ and .

Working from a tiny weatherboard studio at the back of her garden, Fiona is currently working towards a group show in November at in Kew…. and convincing her supportive husband Steve, and kids Lucia (13) and Remi (10) to occasionally sit for a portrait!

Follow Fiona O’Byrne’s art on her Instagram .

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