Thursday, May 21, 2015

Perkinsville Artist Calls VT Open Studio Weekend A ‘Win-Win’

By Curt Peterson
Standard Correspondent

Perkinsville water-colorist Robert J. O’Brien, who has participated in 15 of the 23 years the Vermont Crafts Guild has sponsored Open Studios Weekend, says the event is a “win-win” for both artists and their local economies.


A water color of a peony by Robert J. O’Brien.  

“Having multiple studios to visit brings larger audiences to see and buy the artists’ works, and both the artists and the visitors patronize local vendors, spending the money the outsiders have brought into town,” O’Brien said.

The artist has been creating watercolors for over 40 years, 38 of them in Vermont. “I came to the area for a job at a map-making company in Chester,” he said. “I was dazzled by the bright colors and changing light in Vermont, and, after a year I decided to take advantage of them and left mapmaking for watercoloring.”

O’Brien’s paintings capture the contrasts of light and color and shadows. In 2014 alone, his landscapes and architectural studies won him six prizes from various watercolor organizations, according to his website. A Buffalo-area native, O’Brien was educated at SUNY/Fredonia and SUNY/Buffalo; now, he is the educator, operating very popular watercolor workshops full-time.

“I’ve done programs as far away as Hawaii and Alaska in the US, and I frequently hold them in France as well,” he said.

The nearest workshops are in Lebanon and, he says, “Many of my students come from the Quechee, Hartland and Woodstock areas.”

Often more than a dozen students sign up, but he thinks that’s the ideal number for both the teacher and the taught.

O’Brien is looking forward to Open Studios this weekend, which will include a total of 212 participants. “Ninety percent of the studios invite visitors to see their own work, the other 10 percent are galleries or multiple studios that have combined their art,” he said.

The Vermont Crafts Guild website,, has a map, listings and photographs from the participants to help visitors plan their own tours.

“It’s a great way to show off our work,” O’Brien said. “First of all, we artists don’t have to schlepp our work around to galleries. We also forego having to pay gallery commissions, which is nice, and buyers really like to purchase art directly from the artist. I encourage people to get out there and plan a day of visiting studios this weekend. Once they do it, they will make it an annual tradition.”


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