Our Q&A this week is with the outstanding Mr. Derek O’Rourke, a painter from Scotland who’s survived wars, PTSD and cancer, and has worked in both the military and fire service.

How did you get started as an artist? 

When I became a member of Blind Veterans UK about 6 years ago I was asked if I would like to do some sort of course at their centre in Brighton.  I thought I would have a go at art.

And that is when I was asked where I had studied art.  I had never used a paintbrush before in my life.

What inspires you to be creative?

I think starting to lose my sight gave me a new look at life and gave me some sort of unusual inspiration to express myself in another way.  I think there is something hidden in everyone and it takes a turn in your path in life to show itself.

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process is out-of-my-head visions and things that jump out at me, or emotions. I get very emotional with some paintings and actually cry sometimes.

Gurkha Warriors

What is your favourite medium to work in and why?

Acrylic is my favourite medium as it is easy to use clean up and paint over. My paintings start off in all sorts of colours before I have finished.

How do you tackle a blank canvas?

A blank canvas scares me until I get going. I sometimes start with one idea, then end up with something completely different. I just let my mind take charge.

What do you find the most challenging about the creative process?

The most challenging thing about the creative process… The challenge is letting my mind go in and out round and round until something happens.

The Big Yin

In which ways do you differentiate your work from that of other artists?

I can’t see my finished work from a distance of more than 12 inches so I have to rely on others to criticize my work. After serving in the Royal Navy and the Fire Service my experiences have given me a great imagination and ability to be in touch with my emotions.

What are your essential tools?

My essential tools are good quality paint and brushes. Also important are my fingers and a good paint coat to wear as I get paint everywhere! I use a range of magnifying glasses as I can’t paint without them.

Falling in Love

How would you describe your studio/workspace?

My workspace at the moment is my daughter’s hallway. I am just about to move to a house with the Scottish War Blinded in Edinburgh.  Then I’ll get a large shed built for a studio.

Any tips for preparing a portfolio?

My portfolio is my website. It took me ages with a magnifying glass to make but I didn’t give up.

Golden Gate

Do you have a favourite art tip that you can share with our readers?

Try using your fingers to paint. I get a great sensation and emotional feeling blending in colours.

Where can our readers find out more about you?

You can find me on my website! And here is a short film made about me by Bass Rock Films.


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