Watercolor painter Ginny O’Neill is hot for hot-pressed

Posted in More Stories, Spotlight, Virtual Gallery, Visual Art

BY PATRICIA DUFF
Whidbey Life Magazine editor
Dec. 16, 2013

Freeland painter Ginny O’Neill likes to work wet and loose with watercolors.

Take a look at the slideshow of her work which is featured on the WLM Virtual Gallery this month.

“I just recently began doing more people and animals,” O’Neill said.

“It may be my favorite thing to do. I just love painting portraits and I love painting dogs. If you love them, which I do, you can just feel them and you can capture their soul in their eyes, and that is the most important thing to me − getting the eyes.”

A Portrait of Buster–Commission;WC;9x12

“Portrait of Buster” was a commissioned work by the watercolor artist Ginny O’Neill. / All photos courtesy of the Ginny O’Neill

O’Neill started getting into the watercolor process 10 years ago and learned hers style on “hot pressed” paper from fellow Whidbey Island painter and teacher, Patti Gulledge-White.

“I work on hot pressed,” O’Neill said referring to the kind of paper she uses for her paintings. Ninety-five percent of watercolor work is done on cold press; the paper determines the look of the painting,” she added.

Hot-pressed watercolor paper has a fine-grained, smooth surface, with almost no tooth. This makes it ideal for large, even washes of color. With the hot pressed process, the paper doesn’t absorb the paint quite as much and gives the painter the opportunity to move the paint around before it dries, O’Neill said.

“I start out with lots of layers; very, very pale layers and then, when I start to work up the subject, I continue the layering, building up the color. Everything is very loose,” she said.

That’s followed by the painter’s attention to the details, and then finally, some dry brush work toward the end.

“So it begins wet and loose and then goes to dry and detailed,” O’Neill said.

She said the process is time consuming, but worth it because it allows her to get atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest, with its wet air and fog.

“It just allows you to do that by building up layers for more richness of color and more depth,” she added.

Bainbridge Ferry;WC;8x12

“Bainbridge Ferry,” a watercolor on hot-pressed paper by Ginny O’Neill.

O’Neill always had a passion for drawing as a young person and was painting by the time she was out of college, but family and work put that passion on hold. She took it up again in 2001, when she moved to the island and found Deon Matzen’s popular oil painting class. After discovering watercolors, she began studying with master painter Patti Gulledge-White, who O’Neill now assists in her classes at Gulledge-White’s Maxwelton Valley studio.

O’Neill currently shows her paintings at the Brackenwood Gallery in Langley and at the Kristen Gallery in Seattle. Check out her recent paintings here at the WLM Virtual Gallery.

Stay tuned for a look at the work of the other featured Virtual Gallery painter for December, Rebecca Collins.

(Pictured at top, “Last Run of the Day,” watercolor on paper by Ginny O’Neill.)

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