Lord Colin O’Neal has spent, over the course of the last decade, his time painting, traveling and selling his works across America. While spending his career in the pop art scene on the east coast he started to comprise artwork that was for personal enjoyment on the side. This practice of relieving his creative urge beyond that of commissioned pop art pieces amounted to a collection of work that, at its core, had no expectation for it to be shown or seen by anyone beyond close friends and family. This collection and style is what O’Neal has become to be known for and skilled at. Raw, creative painting, using technics that are unorthodox with a hint of traditional training seeping through. It’s the concepts that came into his mind and wouldn’t leave until the image haunting him was out on paper and clear from his head. This is Colin, his thoughts and feelings about the life he was living in the moment of each piece he painted. There’s a story behind them all, born of sadness, wonder, happiness, confusion and self reflection… He would say,”But don’t we all have those stories?” Well, yes we do. And here’s one person’s stories drawn and painted on the page, on display for us to judge or enjoy.
O’Neal, three years ago, moved back to his home state of sunny California in the San Francisco Bay Area. “It’s the greatest place I’ve been in the U.S., it really has opened up my creativity in many ways being home again.”
O’Neal has had two successful shows in San Francisco in 2011 and 2012. His last show being in Los Angeles hosted by Krysten Ritter and Kimberly Van Der Beek and sponsored by OldSchoolNewRules.com and hosted at Confederacy in Hollywood in late 2013. The show was a huge success bringing his Ink and Watercolor works to the young Hollywood scene for the first time. His two latest series were “Authors in Ink” where he dripped ink onto the paper to create portraits of different authors of many sorts, mostly related to writing of books but some of movies and scripts. The other series was “Animals Love Fashion Too!” where he illustrates animal heads on very fashionable human attire.
Examples: ‘Authors in Ink’, Woody Allen, Edgar Allan Poe and Charlie Chaplin.
Edgar Allan Poe:
‘Animals Love Fashion Too!’
Panda in a Super Fly Suit.
Elephant in Casual Wear:
Lord Colin O’Neal Interview:
BellusMagazine (BM): What inspires you?
O’Neal: I don’t know if there is, in general, a specific thing that inspires me to create my art but i do know that with every painting i find myself first having had an experience that helps create the intention behind the piece. For example, with a painting i did called “What to Wear?”, I was sitting outside of a party i was attending and just not in the mood to socialize just then. I think we’ve all had that moment when you’re just not in the mood to do what’s about to come up but you push through. Well, i was sitting in the car thinking to myself, “What face/mask do i need to put on tonight? I just need to be happy for everyone’s sake and well as mine.” Thus the painting’s concept was born. It’s out of an ordinary experience and i’m just trying to communicate the concept behind it.
“What to Wear?”
BM: When did you know you wanted to do art as a career?
O’Neal: I guess that’s always been there in my blood. It took a long while and rough road to get here and to be doing it as a career but a journey i’d take again any day to be able to paint and draw for a living.
BM: What do you hope people get from seeing your work?
O’Neal: I hope they get whatever they want to get from it. I always have been a firm believer of letting the audience discern for themselves the meaning or communication behind a piece of art. One person’s interpretation can be far from another’s. I learned that way back in high school when i didn’t want to tell people the real meaning of a piece i had done so i turned the question around and asked,”What does it mean to you?” and the answers were so varied and so far from my meaning. It really taught me to just allow other’s to experience their own emotional reaction without your input.
BM: How did your last art show happen?
O’Neal: Long story, but the short version is that, a now very good friend of mine and stranger at the time, saw my work on Instagram and was blown away and enthusiastic about putting on a show for me. That was Ilaria Urbinati, a celebrity fashion stylist at the top of the game. She Showed my work to actress Krysten Ritter and promptly she agreed to host the show. With various other twists in the story, Kimberly Van der Beek came on to co-host with Krysten. And Kimberly’s blog OldSchoolNewRules.com sponsored the show. It was amazing! By far the most successful show i’ve had to date. I sold 80% of the work and i have been busy with commisions for the last 6 months just related to the show directly. I owe a lot to Ilaria, Krysten, James and Kimberly. They have been great supporters and nothing short of amazingly helpful in getting my career off the ground in L.A.
BM: Do you get to give back and help guide other aspiring artist?
O’Neal: YES! Very much so. I have been helped beyond belief in my career and believe that it’s something i should give back to anyone needing advice. I have at least once a week some new artist asking me questions of technique, the business of art or just asking for inspiration. I take the time to thoughtfully answer everything that comes my way. I really take joy in helping other’s bring out their passion and ability.
BM: What are you currently working on?
O’Neal: The next series is something really dear to me, i’ve been wanting to do this series for about the last 6-7 years now. It’s my version of all the childhood stories or poem characters that i loved growing up to. Starting with people like Peter Pan and Alice and her Wonderland, from Rapunzel to The Princess and the Pea. It’s a bit of a darker version of the characters then people are used to. I’ve been reading these stories and really trying to visualize my own interpretation of the character’s looks. I’m not just taking a Disney drawn piece and revamping it, i’m creating my own version of the person. I have seen my latest works as combining the child like feeling of Dr. Seuss with the imagery and quirk of Tim Burton.
(As a preview of the style for these pieces to come, O’Neal gave us a look at his sampling watercolor technique with a portrait he did of Krysten Ritter.)
BM: When can we expect another art show?
O’Neal: I’m creating all the pieces now for the storybook characters and i’m expected to have them all done and ready to be shown by September or October. I’m still working on the details of the show, place, date, etc.. but it’s looking like an October show will be about right.
BM: What is your creative process like?
O’Neal: For the most part, i work in the mornings on getting the concepts pulled together, writing down the idea, the general look i’m going for etc. Then i spend the afternoon and evening creating the art. If it’s a small watercolor piece that i can do outside of my home then i’ll go to a local coffee house and sit there all day painting and drawing. But for the most part i sit in my studio painting all day and night. There’s something really nice about the evening, the phone stops ringing, the text stop coming in and you can just get to work with no distractions.
BM: I’ve seen that you’ve done some time-lapse videos you’ve shared on YouTube of your work. What do you like about videoing and showing the process of your work?
O’Neal: It all started with just being asked a bunch of times, “How do you do that?”. I really love the idea of bring performance to the visual art area as well. It adds another element to the experience of the painting. I did a piece, my third video, where i painted Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. All of which had died at 27. I thought this would be a great story to tell through the process of making a painting. First it starts with me painting a birthday cake, which turns into me painting three portraits, Cobain, Joplin and Morrison. Then those all become the afro that’s Jimi Hendix’s. It ends with me painting over the former three portraits and you’re left with just Hendrix. It’s a fun way to get to the final result of a painting. I love watching other artists do time-lapse videos of them painting. There’s some truly inspiring artists out there making great videos of them working. ***You can find his YouTube time-lapse videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/colinoneal/videos ***
BM: What advice can you give to other aspiring artist out there?
O’Neal: Just to be themselves. You need to stay true to what you like to create. Stay true to the style you like to see. There’s an audience out there if you just do what it is that you love to do. I just urge people to take the time to get good at what they do though. Practice a lot and get your technique down so that the intention of the piece shows without the struggle of ability. I live by this rule of how to be competent: 1) Aside from that, it’s just to have fun creating it. That really goes a long way and some people are just “too cool” to be happy about their art or the process of making it, i just have a great time with it and i hope that comes through in the work.
BM: Lastly, where can people find your work?
O’Neal: The best place at the moment is Instagram (lordcolinoneal). I love it, it’s such a great way to get your work out there for many people to see in a simple platform. The art community has been really supportive and encouraging on Instagram. YouTube you can find my videos of me painting as well like we talked about. My website is being fully overhauled to allow for purchasing and a better interface for people to explore the art. I hope to have that fully up in the next couple of months.
Thank you so much for having me here, i love your magazine and the space you’ve created for artists to be themselves.