Growing up in a country town, Fiona O’Byrne 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 contacted artist and teacher Lee Machelak 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 Glen Morgan, and international ‘painting giants’ Vilhemlm Hammershoi and Andrew Wyeth.
Working from a tiny weatherboard studio at the back of her garden, Fiona is currently working towards a group show in November at Ladder Art Space 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 @obyrnefiona.