- Martin Driscoll's paintings draw nourishment from both his Irish and American roots.
Born in New York, Driscoll has dual citizenship, thanks to his Gaelic-speaking mother, and his training is American, in the tradition of the great illustrators from Norman Rockwell to Frank Reilly, with whom he studied at the Art Students League. Reilly, a very prominent illustrator, photographer and cinematographer in his own right, developed a scientific approach to color that changed the way studio art has been taught since then, and his understanding of intensity emerges strongly in Driscoll's images.
Driscoll paid for his education with a night job at Pan Am Airlines that led to work in the airline industry for 27 years. "I went to art school not thinking of becoming a commercial artist," he said. "I wanted to learn something I would love all my life."
His first big commission in the art world was a mural for an Italian restaurant in New York, a canvas 56" X 6" long. He and his wife lived in one room of their railway apartment in Manhattan while the long canvas, unrolled on the floor, was painted with images of knights taken from stills he was able to collect from dozens of movies. He took a two-week vacation from his job and managed to finish in 18 days, working 18 hours a day. Shortly after it was installed, he took his parents there for dinner. His pleasure at seeing the piece in place was followed by a quick exit when his father recognized the mobsters who filled the restaurant, a revelation to Driscoll.
With his brother-in-law he bought a house in Hampton Bays, Long Island, and when he went into a shop to frame an oil portrait, the owner asked him if he did pastel work. He ended up doing fast pastel portraits on the lawn in front of the quaint building on weekends. "We'd schedule eight portraits a day and I'd work for 45 minutes with a 15 minute break," he recalls. "Thank God I was used to painting with a roomful of students because there would be 40 or 50 people watching."
Eventually, more responsibility with the airline industry made it impossible for him to continue in both worlds. In 1978 he stopped painting seriously, not resuming until 1996. When he began again he expected to have to find his technique again, but the results astonished him. "I had been painting in my mind all along and my body remembered what to do," he said. "I was much better than before."
Long Island residents may want to check out renowned Irish artist Martin Driscoll's paintings and prints of rural Irish life displayed at Sunflower Fine Art Galleries today and every day between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
With collectors ranging from Liam Neeson, Jean Butler and Celtic Thunder, local artist Driscoll has been called "The Irish Norman Rockwell" and his work is published right here in Garden City !
SUNFLOWER FINE ART GALLERIES, MIRRORS and PICTURE FRAMING
172 Seventh Street
Garden City, NY 11530