Tasmanian painter Tom O’Hearn talks about how he became ‘good at drawing really bad’

Artist Tom O’Hearn says he is probably to earn more money heading out into the wilds of Tasmania with some oils than his artwork path is.

As an alternative of mastering landscapes, he mentioned he turned poorly good at drawing.

“I really like being out within the wild someplace with an enormous canvas smudged with oil paints,” O’Hearn mentioned. ABC Radio Hobart.

“However I preserve attempting and it does not actually work.”

Black and white painting sitting on the grass with a bucket of water next to it with paintbrushes
One in every of Tom O’Hearn’s work from his present gallery, Growth Steer.(Provided: Tom O’Hearn)

The Hobart artist is an illustrator, drawer, mural artist, and even an animator – suppose Mambo meets the place wild issues are mixed with some good previous doodles.

Over the previous 15 years, the 37-year-old’s work has turn into prolific round Hobart, along with his quirky murals showing in colleges, cafes, boats, inside nightclubs, alleys and naturally – bathrooms.

“I feel I painted 30 bathrooms round Hobart, perhaps extra. A lot of bathrooms,” he mentioned.

“I would like to color museums however I am going to take what I can get.”

A mural of a large face showing his teeth
Tom O’Hearn’s murals are a well-recognized sight round Hobart.(Provided: Tom O’Hearn)

Celebrating flaws

O’Hern believes the world is simply too busy for all the things to be excellent.

“Everybody seems to be for the right stuff on a regular basis,” he mentioned.

“The whole lot is printed by computer systems, all the things is on a display screen and flat.”

Black and white drawing of a wooden house
Tom O’Hern spent a month on an island producing works for his gallery.(Provided: Tom O’Hearn)

He says it is errors and flaws that make life attention-grabbing.

“Everybody has forgotten that drawing exists ceaselessly and everybody ought to be capable of do it.

“However sooner or later we turned self-conscious about it. We get upset if one thing does not appear like an image.

Ohearn’s drawing usually seems to be like he is writing.

“Like once I draw a hen or one thing it does not appear like I am attempting to attract a practical hen and get each feather good, it appears like a brief hand,” he mentioned.

“It feels just like the beginnings of recent hieroglyphs and I am discovering a kind of written language that does not but exist.”

A man wearing a mask paints a mural on the wall
The murals make up a lot of Tom O’Hern’s work.(Provided: Mel Schmeider)

Study to attract badly

Final weekend, O’Hearn ran a workshop referred to as Draw Actually Dangerous.


However all members had been good drawers.

“For individuals who are beginning out,” he mentioned, “I mentioned to cease being so valuable about it.”

“For extra skilled folks, it is all concerning the irony of turning into an knowledgeable and having all that have and data and that creativity can get in the way in which since you’re coming from it from truly realizing the reply.

“But it surely’s higher to be open and never know what the reply is.”

A lot of his work is generic murals, and he treats each otherwise.

“I appear to assault them in utterly other ways and I am certain it scares the purchasers,” he mentioned.

Everyone seems to be born an artist

O’Hearn went to highschool at Gilston Bay Excessive Faculty on the east shore of Hobart after which Rosney Faculty earlier than artwork faculty.

He is been making artwork ever since.

“Everybody actually begins out with artwork, it is simply that most individuals cease getting concerned in artwork sooner or later,” he mentioned.

A man standing on an orange cement truck with a scary face drawn on its side
Tom O’Hearn painted a cement truck for the Terrapinne Puppet Theater as a part of the Mona Fuma Competition.(Provider: Terrapinn Puppet Theater)

He mentioned that “compulsion and an habit to unhealthy drawing” saved him going.

Early in his profession he moved to Melbourne, discovered to dwell cheaply and labored in chilly, leaky warehouses.

Wide shot of a man standing in front of a large colorful mural in a warehouse
He says he takes a distinct method each time he takes on a brand new mural.(Provided: Nick Hanson)

His first exhibition was in 2005 in Hobart with another artists and was primarily based on graffiti and road artwork utilizing stencils and spray paint.

“It was a totally completely different factor I used to be attempting to do on the time,” he mentioned.

A black board for a boat, which is in progress on a table outside
Tom O’Hearn says he discovered to work extra immediately than when he began out as an artist.(Provided: Tom O’Hearn)

He mentioned that folks appear to understand the time it takes to do one thing.

“The very first thing folks ask once I present some art work is how lengthy one thing took, and I actually really feel prefer it doesn’t make it higher if it takes so lengthy,” he mentioned.

“I attempt to undo it, generally issues take me a lifetime and generally they do not, and sometimes issues which might be completed rapidly I feel are literally higher.”

It is likely to be onerous to justify, he mentioned, however it took 20 years to work on this craft.

Growth Steer

O’Hearn’s present solo exhibition Growth Steer within the Bett Gallery shows the works he produced on “Secret Island” over the course of a month.

“I’d paint a day, generally two,” he mentioned.

“It was a very cool method of working. No graphics, no fixing something, simply see what occurs.

Greater than half of them had been offered, a feat not misplaced on an artist who did the onerous work.

“I spent loads of time in very chilly studios whipping myself up, the place I is also on the seaside to take issues simple and go swimming,” he mentioned.

His different main undertaking for the time being is a public artwork piece commissioned by Hobart Metropolis Council.

A man in a plastic suit holding a paintbrush on a pole paints an orange mural on the wall
This mural was a part of the Junction Arts Competition.(Provided: Mel Schmeider)

Kids know what they’re doing

He believes that younger kids are one of the best at drawing college students.

“You do not actually need to inform them something, they already know what to do,” he mentioned.

“I do not know when self-awareness will stabilize.

He’s very pleased to see his daughter paint.

“I used to be simply an image of an owl my daughter drew, and that is precisely what I am attempting to do,” he mentioned.

“It is only a large free-wheeling owl that I would spend all day working myself on one thing like that.

“she’s excellent.”