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Exploring Your Passion

Through the lens of artist Patrick Reid O’Brien

How many blues and greens do you see when you open a box of crayons? When looking at “Night Moves,” it seems the box may be missing a few shades. This glorious painting has so many vibrant shades of blue and green which are completely different from the blues and greens in “Good Morning Charleston.” Judging from the personality in his art, Patrick sees amazing colors that may be overlooked without his passionate heart for art. In fact, his roots are deeply embedded in both painting and architecture design. His great, great, great, great grandfather (that’s 4 greats!) won a commission to design both the restored dome and wings for the House and Senate in the Capitol Building after the original burned in the 1800s. The original paintings of this famous building hung on the wall in his grandparent’s home. His grandmother and mother were both artistically accomplished and he and his father loved to sit and draw together at the end of a day. O’Brien felt the passion to be an artist at the age of 6, but not in architectural design. He shares about driving down the road and being distracted by the view of the world around him. He sees so much color and texture and knew his art would focus on these aspects. Because he was raised among artists, his young decision was an “automatic organic possibility.” 

After college, O’Brien began working in a design studio and later combined sales with his art to try a career in advertising. But after a strong pull to pursue still-life art and positive encouragement from his biggest fan-his wife, he took a leap and pursued his painting full time. Traveling fun places and seeing the world in a painting is one way he began sharing his talent. “I wanted to create an homage to places, but not just travel posters.” He favored a more worn look with falling down barns where the sun shines through the slats of weathered wood. Looking at these pieces, the viewer is able to visit the location without ever boarding a flight or standing in line at security. The pop of the sparkles around the Eiffel Tower and the tranquil mood of St. Thomas both call for a well-deserved vacation. Today his art has paid tribute to over 2000 destinations.

In 2020, O’Brien moved from his home in Baltimore of 56 years to Charleston. The undertow, he says, caught his ankles and the low country vibe was calling his name. Walking along the marshes, the tide displayed an abundance of colors, shapes and textures which were all different depending on the time of day he watched. These observations are present in his vibrant paintings of life in the marsh. As an accomplished artist, he professes that he is still a student of art, continuously studying the master painters. To challenge himself artistically, he paints pictures from his mind instead of photographs. What an incredible task to take all of the stimuli his brain is processing and let it flow through his paintbrush to the canvas. Each cloud, each heron feather, each window, each ripple of the water seen in the mind of an amazing artist. And now we can also see what this artist imagines in more colors than the crayon box can hold.

To explore the art of Patrick Reid O’Brien or to commission a painting, visit his website at