W. Patrick O’Brien was born and raised in Houston, Texas. After his parents gifted him with a Kodak Hawkeye camera on his 10th birthday. Patrick developed a fascination for viewing the world through the window of a camera's viewfinder. Because of the limitations of his camera and untrained eye, his captured images were disappointing at best. However, it was his love of music that introduced him to album cover graphics, especially with the psychedelic art of that time, which changed how he viewed graphic content and attracted him to the visual arts.
Initially a Journalism major at the University of Houston, Patrick's interest in graphics was increased while attending a photojournalism class and working in an analog darkroom. He became captivated by the creative process in the darkroom. Patrick attributes the introduction and training in Ansel Adams' Zone System as the greatest impact on his concept of capturing and creating images. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Media Communications, with an emphasis on Audio/Video/Still production.
Since receiving his degree in 1976, Patrick gained professional experience in several graphic arts including commercial photolabs, lithography, aerial photomapping, and motion graphics. He retired after 25 years in law enforcement, specializing in audio and video forensics and multi-media training and production.
Since then, Patrick has challenged himself to create images that are imaginative, engaging, and thought-provoking. He credits Man Ray, Rene Magritte, Jerry Uelsmann, and Aaron Siskind as major influences. He strives to create photographic images that are much more than straight-forward documentations, but are personal and surreal interpretations, transformations and abstractions. Patrick is a member of the Williamson County Art Guild, Texas Photographic Society, and Texas Visual Artists Association. His images have been shown at a multitude of juried exhibits throughout Texas, California, and the UK.
Patrick with his Hawkeye - 1964
A Third Eye
O'Brien's Lesson on Art and Metaphysics
A third eye. Defined as a spiritual concept associated with enlightenment, W. Patrick O’Brien believes he has one. This figurative third eye views and interprets the physical elements of light, shapes, and colors beyond what is considered typical, mundane, or prevailing. It clarifies and removes all ambiguity to Patrick's visualizations. It is what motivates and creates.
Patrick has always been fascinated by the dichotomies or polar differences of our existence: light or dark, love or hate, true or false, black or white. He believes we can define all things under these basic categories. These dualities dictate how we live.and how we view the world. And how we interpret sensory input. We see what is in front of us, as well as what is inside our minds (our mind’s eye). There is a difference in "looking " and "seeing". It is no surprise to Patrick that “image” is the root word of “imagination”, which is defined as the faculty of forming mental images. His visualizations are mental images of light and shadow, interpreted atypically to bring to focus the duality of the mundane and the ethereal, the abstract and the natural. According to Patrick, no other artist describes his motivation better than Rene Magritte, who stated:
"Too often we tend to reduce what is strange to what is familiar. I intend to restore the familiar to the strange."