Five Questions for Desmond O’Hagan

From June 27-July 1, 2020 we’ll be welcoming new-to-us artist and instructor Desmond O’Hagan into our studio to teach his 3-day workshop on Advancing Your Pastel and Oil Painting Techniques.

Desmond was born in Wiesbaden, Germany and was raised in the United States. He enjoys working in a variety of media, but his primary focus is pastels and oils. Constantly challenging himself has translated into a fulfilling career in fine art encompassing several one-man shows and participation in group exhibitions in the United States, Japan, China, and France. He is a Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America and is listed in Who’s Who in American Art. O’Hagan has won several awards at the Pastel Society of America’s annual shows in New York City. He has also won the George Innes, Jr. Memorial Award from the Salmagundi Club. At the 1999 International Association of Pastel Societies Exhibition held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, O’Hagan was awarded the Prix’d Pastel Award (Best of Show). In May of 2005, he was inducted into the IAPS “Masters Circle”.

If you’d like to learn more about Desmond, we highly recommend watching this great video profile about his work with pastels here. Additionally, we asked Desmond a few questions about his work and teaching – so read on below.

Q: How did you first begin creating art with the medium(s) you’ll be using in your workshop?

DO: As a teenager, I experimented with oils but not very seriously, even though I had been drawing from an early age. When I was in art college, I tried pastels in an illustration class and enjoyed them. After four years as a graphic designer working at an advertising agency, I returned to both media with a more focused interest.

Q: What is your most unexpected source of inspiration?

DO: Subtle and somewhat overlooked effects of light have always intrigued me. With some experimenting in color and technique, these effects have great potential for paintings.

Q: What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?

DO: One of the greatest challenges is to find unique subjects to paint. It is important to be as creative with your subject matter as you are with your painting technique.

Q: How has teaching impacted your personal art practice? And vice versa, how does your approach to your personal art impact your teaching style?

DO: One advantage of teaching is you are constantly analyzing and verbalizing your painting approach and technique. If something doesn’t work as well as before, you’re immediately aware and able to adjust. I approach my personal art with an open mind to subject matter, color, technique, tools, and a mindfulness of how other artists can positively influence me. I strive for a similar openness and sharing of knowledge when teaching.

Q: What advice has influenced you?

DO: When I first started painting professionally, an older artist mentioned how important it is to be constantly painting. Everything else in the career, although necessary, came in a distant second.