Colorful oil paintings, abstract landscape painting by Paula O'Brien

Paula O’Brien, Visual Artist

I’m a colorist, I paint the LIGHT.

In the last few years, my work has shifted to the West Coast world of abstract landscapes, and digital painting.

I see infinite beauty in the world. I look for the energy and light; the light, shapes and spaces between objects; the shimmering energy that comes from these objects and people into the world. I look deeply into my subjects, from the beautiful West Coast landscapes that greet me each morning to rusting fishing boats to dazzling contemporary dancers and I fall in love with the beauty of the light falling upon their forms, their shadows and reflections.

My artistic vision, interesting cropping, composition and color combinations define my expressive abstract signature look.

I mainly work in palette knife oils on canvas but am also enjoying dramatic loose digital painting I can’t squeeze my paint tubes. In oils, I often work very fast in a loose alla prima style. My mark making is very deliberate and individual. My favorite mark making tools are cold wax, silicone tip and wooden skewers to squiggle through lines.

My painting mojo:

  • be fearless!
  • juicy and colorful!
  • what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Visit my studio anytime

Visit my home studio / gallery space.
In Lower Gibsons, BC, a 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver.
Please call ahead to view paintings 604-740-4842


Seeing my life through my artwork as one long continuous line is fascinating, to see how early steps resonate so many years later. Life drawing and drawing from direct observation form the underpinning and foundation of my practice and give my vision wings to fly.

Early years to 2006

Glimpses of early art that shine a light on my life path forward, trans-Atlantic sailing, Goldsmiths College, wearable art, life with two small and very active boys, circus art, sewing patterns, artwork carved out during the very busy business years.

2007 - 2017

Life drawing, painting from life models, Nutcracker Ballet, dance painting, beginnings of iPad life drawing, urban sketching & Dennis's candle gently blows out...

2017 - 2020

Art anchors me as I navigate my new path forward as a single person. Plein air painting and digital painting explodes! West Coast abstract landscape oil painting & new romance... Life drawing in Covid times.

From the blog

Abstract tumbling male

Tumbling man, digital life drawing 2019 Digital life drawing, dripping paint effects. Abstract male nude. Loose and juicy, abstract digital life drawing, iPad painting with Procreate app with Apple pencil.

digital life drawing, colorful female nude digital painting

Life Drawing with Adobe Sketch

I’ve been taking my iPad to life drawing now for about 2 years without fail. Sure, I bring along my sketchbook just in case I can’t use my iPad for some reason but the results are more fully developed and experimental than things I would achieve with just my sketchbook! I enjoy having my full …

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self portrait painting, self portrait drawing, digital painting

Self portrait drawings & paintings

I recently found these self portrait drawings from around 1980. An eyeglasses wearer from age 6, it’s always a challenge to draw my own face from life. I need the glasses to SEE but they get in the way of my face. So drawing my own face without glasses is always a challenging compromise. This …

Self portrait drawings & paintings Read More »