Cardiff, United Kingdom
Mediums: Oil paints, acrylic paints, pencils
Favorite Quote: 'The only real and lasting truth is a 'self-realized' one'
Favorite Book: 'Darkness Over Tibet' by Theodore Illion
Favorite Movie: The Wicker Man (1973)
Perpetual Fluidity © Michael O'Gorman
I'm a self-taught British artist who specializes in surreal oil paintings. I love to create detailed and elaborate artworks in which viewers can lose themselves for hours at a time, forever discovering new narratives and motifs that redefine their previous assumptions about the piece.
Please tell us about your first experience creating.
I'm not able to remember the first time I ever created artwork, since that would be going back to early childhood. I can, however, remember when I created my first serious piece of art. It was back in 2002, when I was 17 years old. I had an A3 piece of paper before me, and I intended to create the most complex, detailed drawing I could. Four months later, 'Black Water' was finished, and my desire to become a professional artist had begun!
Breaking the Fourth Wall © Michael O'Gorman
What music do you like to have playing while creating art?
I love progressive rock, but I seldom listen to it when painting because it's too elaborate to function as background noise. Instead, I prefer to listen to films or documentaries. These have to be films that I've seen before, though, so that I don't have to pay attention to the plot!
If you have a job besides being an artist, can you tell us about it?
I've had a lifelong interest in natural health, and write for a handful of well-known health news websites. These sites provide me with my main income.
What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?
I'm hesitant to explain my artwork to others, since I feel that Surrealism is one of the few genres of art in which the viewer is better qualified to interpret the artwork than the artist himself. Moreover, imaginative art tends to benefit from ambiguity. That said, I like to incorporate one or more of the following themes into my pieces:
Anthropomorphism – The notion of giving human characteristics (especially faces and limbs) to non-
human subjects. Aside from being fun to create, anthropomorphic subjects are also easier to connect to surrounding images due to their interactive nature.
Contrasts – I've always liked to explore dark subjects using a colourful, vibrant palette. It often conflicts the viewer's emotions in a manner that – hopefully – invites curiosity rather than bewilderment.
References to the artistic process – Some of my paintings draw attention to the artistic process in a facetious manner. Notable examples include a painting of a person who is bullied by others because he was painted alla prima (a fast and hurried painting technique), and a painting of an oil mother and a watercolour father giving birth to acrylic children. I know, I need to get out more!
Memoirs of a Fertile Imagination © Michael O'Gorman
I begin by drawing the outline of the new artwork onto a piece of paper. I would draw it directly onto the canvas, but sadly it's difficult to erase pencil on canvas (and, as a perfectionist, I erase a lot of pencil lines!) Once I'm satisfied that the outline is complete, I transfer it onto canvas using tracing paper and can begin painting it.
I paint like I draw – on a table with my arm resting on the canvas to improve precision. For this reason, I always paint from top to bottom, so my arm doesn't brush against drying paint. I was genuinely shocked when I learned that most artists paint upright using an easel. Who can paint like that?!
To be honest, I've never derived inspiration from the external world. When conceiving a new painting, I simply sit down and sketch what comes to mind. If I simply copied what I saw in real life, how could I call it mine?
Black Water © Michael O'Gorman
How do you promote your art online?
I create galleries on good-quality portfolio sites and get involved with the community, linking to my website when possible. I've also encouraged art lovers to share my artwork on their blogs and sites.
I can't claim any direct stylistic influences, but I appreciate the work of several well-known surreal artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Jacek Yerka, and Zdizslaw Beksinski.
Can you recommend another artist you admire?
I'm fond of the British artist David Whitlam, whose work I first encountered on DeviantART. I like Whitlam's art not just because it is good, but because it is immediately recognizable and uniquely his own. He is one of those artists that never needs to signature his work since no-one could emulate it in the first place.
Tell us something interesting in your life
I've travelled across over forty countries to date, and lived in countries as diverse as Thailand and Ecuador. I always end up crawling back to the UK, though, since nowhere else feels like home!
Do you have an embarrassing moment in your life?
I've had many embarrassing moments in foreign countries where I got lost and couldn't really help it because I couldn't speak the language. It's like being a child again!
If you could live your life over again, would there be anything you would do differently?
I regret not dropping out of school at sixteen and becoming self-employed as young as possible. Instead, I wasted time and resources on a literature degree that had negligible real-world application and which, in retrospect, actually interfered with my real education (which came almost exclusively from independent research). I don't blame myself for it, however; I was young and simply did what society expected me to do. I haven't listened to society since, and my life has improved tenfold!
What plans do you have for the future of your art?
I plan to create more paintings and to continue promoting my website. I don't know if I'll be making any stylistic changes to my artwork. In fact, I'm not even sure if I can. People with a unique style tend to be prisoners of it.
Hemispheres © Michael O'Gorman
Can you share some good advice for emerging artists?
Create your own website and use that as your central artistic hub. Aside from looking unprofessional, relying upon a third party website to host your main portfolio also binds you to its owners' whims.
Moreover, pay for the best possible digital reproductions of your artwork, since these scans are:
- How 99% of today's audience will view your artwork, and
- Your ultimate legacy. Think about it; two hundred years from now, what state will your original artwork be in, assuming it still exists at all? Traditional artwork yellows, darkens, and is ultimately ravaged by time. Faithful, good-quality scans, however, are permanent, and can be admired by your progeny for millennia!
Cardiff, United Kingdom