Deborah Donnelly and Chris O’hara are using their talent to help others in the community to see the benefit of painting
Irish Daily – Mirror 8 Oct 2020
Expression beats depression is the motto of a well known Irish artist who’s lifting the mood of the nation with colour therapy. Dublin artist Deborah Donnelly told how in times of stress art can heal and art therapy is on the rise.
Deborah, 43, told the Irish Mirror : “I’ ve had times when I’ ve gone through a bit of trauma, and the only way to feel better is to paint, swim in the sea or go for a walk, you just have to keep moving.
“With painting I find it a form of meditation, you don’t think of anything, I feel balanced after it.
“I have days where I want to cry all day and those are the days I might paint the bright est and most colourful painting.
“My motto is expression beats depression.
“I taught a group of women who had cancer and they said, the only time they don’t think about their illness is when they’re painting.
“They’re trying to bring art wellness into hospitals, I used to teach art wellness to staff in Google but now with my Youtube videos, I can teach art therapy to everybody.”
During Covid, Deborah started painting puffins, they represent a long and happy life.
They’re the longest living bird in Ireland and are believed to trigger the brain to be happy.
Through social media Deborah strives to share her vision of Expressionism with thousands of people and to encourage them to try and paint too, through her youtube videos she makes painting look easy.
The mum-of-three explained: “During lockdown I had to close but I still had to work, I could see outside the window as it’s a public park.
“Everyone was stressed looking and the markings on the footpath were leaving everyone nervous and scared.
“My passion is art and colour therapy so it’s possible to trick your brain to be happy with colour.
“My favourite saying is from the jungle book, if you’re going to be blue be bright blue.
“I had this big donkey painting and I hung it outside my studio and it said, don’t be an ass be nice to your family.
“Then I had pictures of bees and wrote on them bee happy, then an image of women drinking and having fun and I put the message up, don’t worry we will get to see our friends again.
“I kept changing them around and wanted to cheer people up.
“Then I started doing my Youtube videos, trying to lighten the mood, I have my books, how to paint an ostrich and a duck.
“I think when people are stressed they go back to childhood simplistic stuff.
“I had so many people telling me that the paintings really cheered them up.
“A Lot of people start painting again when they have kids, you get good at it very quickly and you can hang up your own work on the wall and stop buying prints from Ikea.
Inspired by her mum who led a
tough life, Deborah always knew she’d become an ar t i st despit e resisting the profession.
She said: “My mother had me in a Mother and baby home in Cork, she got to hold onto me, the nuns were really angry with her and all it took was one nun to tell her she’d be a good mother and so she kept me.
“She’s an artist, we had very little money growing up but art was always fun.
“She inspired my love of art, she would paint around Merrion Square for 20 years, she was always painting us.
“We spent days running around the square as my mum painted and
I remember getting the best soup ever in Holles Street, they used to give it to the new mums and they’d sell it to us, it was only 50 pence.
“Mum has her down days, when she hasn’ t painted in a while, it can get on top of her so maybe I can see that pattern in myself and painting is
just something I have to do.”
Meanwhile, the Irish artist who recently hung his painting on Zara Phillips wall is donating most of his earnings to help budding artists succeed in tough times.
Dubliner Chris O’hara said he wants to give rising stars of the art world a helping hand in these challenging times.
It took Chris many years to give up hi s day j ob as a successful restaurateur and do what h e was re al l y passionate about, painting.
Chris, 50, told the Iri sh Mirror : “Everything in my life before ar t came along was f orced , I was tr ying to f it a square into a circle.”
In the restaurant business for a long time, Chris was stressed and worried if he’d fill the pub on a Friday night or if his next venture would work or fail.
He added: “My artwork organically grows, it stems from something that was said to me a long time ago, if you do what you’re passionate about, they’ll eventually queue up and pay you for it.
“I travel around the country every week meeting customers, it’s a great release and I get to meet people.
“I would spend 14 hours painting alone and time just evaporates, the thing is everyone can paint and once you start your talent shines through.”
Chris wants to give back and help the next generation of artists to f lourish.
He said: “The hub was an idea that I had for a location in town that could be let out to emerging artists.
“It would be a community where artists could rub shoulders and learn from each other.
“That was the whole idea, but I don’t know if that’s possible now because for the best part exhibitions are closed.”
With a plan to move to the idyllic island of Skopelos in Greece, Chris i s pairing down his work to 400 paintings a year instead of 1400 and investing back into the community.
He added: “I ’m going to keep the galleries in Naas and in Navan and I ’ ll paint 400 paintings over three visits, back to Ireland
“The proceeds from these painti ngs will go towards helping to finance and mentor budding artists.
“For example if there’s a young artist who has a talent but just doesn’t have the means to take it further, I ’ ll step in and help.
“They might just need someone to talk to and to explain how for instance I made it in this game, also I plan on renting a studio out for them so they won’t have to worry about finance.
“Help and guidance without interfering is what it’s all about, all artists a p p r o a c h t h i n g s c o mp l e t e l y different.
“I always tell rising artists subconsciously people are buying t he passion for what you do.
“Enjoy it, have a plan and let it unfold.”
See www. deborahdonnelly. com and www. chrisoharaart. com