Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

An Eye for Art: Works of Taneytown artist ‘inspired by the Amish and the whole farm life in general’

Patrick O’Brien is a painter and does graphite drawings. His first memory of creating artwork was at Christmas when he was 6 years old. The Taneytown resident received both a set of cap pistols and an easel with a drawing pad on it as gifts.

“My Dad said, ‘Go draw.’ So, I put my hands down and drew the pistols out of the holsters. Then I put the guns back and went over to the easel to draw,” O‘Brien said. It is like two different worlds and a premonition — you don’t know what is going to happen but it is going to influence your future.


“I enjoyed drawing. I drew anything that came in sight.”

He grew up in Los Angeles so he drew orange trees, farmers, eucalyptus trees, vineyards and barley or wheat fields.


O’Brien did not take art classes in high school. After graduating from high school, O’Brien attended the Saint Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara, California. He was exposed to art there. They offered drawing, painting, clay work and stone sculpture classes. One of the resident priests was an artist and used the local limestone to do sculptures.

Patrick O’Brien with his painting titled “Moonrise over Taneytown Road.” Lyndi McNulty photo

“There was a fair amount of freedom in what we could do and express. It was also church related such as statues of saints and angels,” O’Brien said. He graduated from the seminary. Then his life changed and he joined the Marine Corps and went to war in Vietnam.

He did not stop drawing, but he never had time for painting because his summers were filled working as a carpenter to fill the gaps financially.

“My wife, Patrice and I moved from Seattle, where we were living, to Carroll County to be closer to family.” O’ Brien said. When he and his wife moved here about five years ago, O’Brien began his artwork again. He was 70 years old at the time.

O’Brien is attracted to the Regionalist style of art. It was a movement in the 1930s with the expressed idea of providing work for artists as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the Great Depression. The federal government hired more than 10,000 artists. “The greatness of America could be found in the arts, especially the murals,” O’Brien said.

Some of O’Brien’s favorite artists are Maynard Dixon, Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O’Keefe, Diego Rivera, Grant Wood and Edward Hopper.

“I like being able to paint in my region. I have been inspired by the Amish and the whole farm life in general. The rolling hills and landscapes that get incorporated into the paintings,” O’Brien said.

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O’Brien uses acrylic paint and colored pencils. “I have painted everything from a Marine Corps Reconnaissance Patrol in Vietnam to local farms, farm animals, crop harvest, summertime storms and more.


“Art puts me in position to experience illumination, meaning that I can focus on the beauty of something and not worry about the troubles of the world. It is like being in a zone,” O’Brien said.

Painting by Patrick O’Brien titled “Horse, Plow, Farmer, Fields and Train.” Lyndi McNulty photo.

He decided to simultaneously paint a portrait of his wife and a self-portrait. The backgrounds are the same. She is dressed in her bridal gown, holding a jar filled with honey, symbolic of the beauty and the wonder of life.

O’Brien has sold his artwork at the Carroll County Arts Council and Art in the Park. He also attended Common Ground on the Hill at McDaniel College every summer. While there, he displayed 15 of his art works.

Also having a musical side to him, O’Brien studied Irish penny whistle and Irish Bodhran drum playing through classes offered at Common Ground on the Hill. “The drum can be played with a stick or your fingers,” he said. O’Brien also took a class on “Women in the Military.” Another class he enjoyed was “Narration in my Own Story.”

O’Brien is a member of the Carroll County Arts Council. He plans to keep painting and selling his art at shows strictly for enjoyment. He can be contacted at 505-440-0530.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.