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Marilyn O’Reilly – The Artist’s Interview

Orange Umbrella

Not only is Marilyn O’Reilly a talented artist, with detailed drawings and beautiful acrylic paintings of countryside scenery, people, animals and snapshots, which are exquisite moments in time; she is also an accomplished blogger with in-depth and interesting tips for painting and drawing. Throughout her art and her blog, one can really see Marilyn’s personality shine within. This only allows the viewer to have a deeper connection to her work, something which can not always be apparent with many nameless artists.

So grab a cuppa and sit back and enjoy an Interview with Marilyn O’Reilly.

You can check out her work on her website:

Read her insightful and entertaining blog

Buy her art from her store

Marilyn is on Instagram

Please tell us where you grew up and where you live now?

I grew up in a tiny little fishing village on the east coast of Newfoundland, Canada. After high school I moved first to Manitoba and then to Vancouver, BC and lived there for six years. For the past 30 years I have lived in an isolated mining town in Labrador, which is in Northern Canada. We have very long winters and very short summers, so I have lots of time spent indoors to paint and write.


What was it that took you to an artistic career?

I have always been “artistic” although I started painting and drawing later in life. When my children were young I did all kinds of crafts, sewed, made quilts and even did some woodworking. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had to leave my career in business, I decided to start painting to fill the gap in my days. Art became therapy for me and I am enjoying the challenge of producing work and learning to use new mediums while dealing with the affects of Parkinson’s. I have had to modify some tools and techniques over the years to accommodate my tremors and that makes the whole process of creating that much more interesting. Sometimes, when you think life is giving you lemons, it’s actually nudging you onto the right path.


In what way does your personality affect your work?

I am a very positive person, so I never say “I can’t do this”, which leads me to try new things. I am also a bit of a perfectionist and a neat freak so doing realistic paintings and drawings is a natural fit. This type of artwork is getting harder for me to do so I am branching out into a looser style and am enjoying it, much to my surprise. Art, I am discovering, can really help to grow and enhance your personality.

Which artists do you admire and why?

I’ve always been a Dali fan. I love his surrealist style, his larger than life persona and the way he was comfortable just being himself. Dali also had Parkinson’s like tremors later in his career and continued to paint and create despite them. This helped inspire me to keep creating even through the symptoms of the disease.


What are your favorite artistic mediums and why have you chosen them?

I primarily paint with acrylics. They are fast drying which works well with my style of painting many thin layers. Acrylics are also very forgiving in that they are easy to paint over when you make a mistake. Having Parkinson’s means lots of mistakes, lol. I also love graphite drawing. I find the pencil easier to control and the laying down of graphite, blending and shading is almost meditative to me. It is very relaxing and a great stress reliever to loose yourself in the drawing.


What do you like most about creating art and is there anything that you do not enjoy?

When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s I thought I had come to the end of my usefulness in life. Art gave me back a sense of accomplishment and gave me a way to encourage and help others. Art has also given me a way to explore and express the emotions I can’t articulate with words. If there is anything I don’t enjoy about creating it is that little inner critic that we all have. That little voice that tells you how awful your work is or how your subject is not quite right or maybe you should rethink the whole color scheme. It takes quite a bit of positive self talk to silence this unwelcome guest.


What challenges and successes have you had in marketing your work?

Living in an isolated mining town, we are an 8 hour drive from the nearest town so there aren’t a lot of opportunities to show my work in galleries or shows. Most of my marketing efforts have been through my blog and social media. Word of mouth has also been helpful in getting commissions although I have stopped taking new commissions for now. The internet has made it possible for anyone to get their work seen, so learning all the ins and outs of online marketing is a priority for me right now.


What is your process for writing your blog?

Most of my blog topics actually come from questions my readers ask on my blog or through social media. I try to answer their questions from the perspective of a beginning artist and not get too technical. Most people just want the basic steps to painting or drawing and a little encouragement and motivation. My main goal is to help as many people as I can and encourage them to express there own creativity without feeling judged or restricted by “rules”.

Purple Pansy

What goals do you have for your work?

I am curious by nature and want to experiment with as many mediums as possible. I know a lot of artist would advise me to stick to one medium and master that, but you never know what you will fall in love with until you try. You don’t know what you don’t know. I love to learn and diving into new mediums and practicing things hands on is a great way for me to expand on my artistic knowledge that I can share with my readers. I recently renovated my studio and filled it with things that make me happy and inspire me, so I hope to increase my volume of work and film the process for my readers.

Marilyn O'Reilly

Marilyn O’Reilly

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