Get Eliot O'Hara essential facts below. View Videos or join the Eliot O'Hara discussion. Add Eliot O'Hara to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
June 14, 1890
July 30, 1969
Guggenheim Fellowship, 1928
Eliot O'Hara (June 14, 1890 - July 30, 1969) was an American artist and educator known for his masterful watercolors, especially his impressionistic landscapes. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine has over 120 of his watercolors representing all aspects of his work. His paintings are in the collections of many museums in the USA and have been the subject of exhibitions throughout the United States. He was an influential educator through his nearly 40 years of teaching, writing, and film making.
Eliot O'Hara was born in 1890, in Waltham, Massachusetts to Daniel and Mayfred O'Hara. His father was the owner of the O'Hara Waltham Dial Company and Eliot went into the family business. In 1923 he began teaching himself to paint with watercolors while continuing to work at the family factory. In 1927, O'Hara took a few courses at the Boston Museum School and at the School of Fine arts and Crafts in Boston and then, in 1928, he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in painting.
Moscow Church, 1929
In 1929 O'Hara undertook an epic journey through Soviet Russia. Traveling by train, horseback and foot, he produced 130 sketches and watercolors that he later completed at a studio in Paris. The paintings were exhibited in the Soviet Union and at galleries in London, Boston, and New York. A selection of the paintings toured throughout the United States. He remained an avid traveler and plein air painter throughout his life, locations for his paintings include Peru, Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia, and Thailand.
In 1931, he opened the Eliot O'Hara School for Watercolor Painting in Goose Rocks Beach, Maine. The school was active until it burned down in the Great Fires of 1947. After the fire, O'Hara continued to offer classroom instruction at summer workshops around the United States. O'Hara authored his first book of watercolor instruction in 1931, his final book was published in 1966.
O'Hara died in Washington D.C. in 1969 from cancer of the kidney.
Beginning with his first exhibitions, O'Hara was noted for his technical skill in watercolor. He preserved and advanced his mastery of the medium throughout his life, achieving a "miraculous" level of skill. For O'Hara, mastery was not an end but a means to achieve expression of his artistic voice. He wrote that "the problems of techniques and materials are of relatively minor importance" and that the goal is to use technique to achieve "the greatest possible emotional thrust.":161
Marathon Key, 1968
O'Hara mainly painted outdoors, finding in nature a reliable source of inspiration. His later landscapes became less complex tending towards simple washes with spare, obvious brushstrokes. These later restrained and abstracted landscapes, of surprising simplicity, evoke a calm, profound power that "stand with the finest of American watercolors".
O'Hara worked primarily with transparent watercolors but he was open to other media. He taught himself several printmaking techniques, made collages:88,105, experimented with acrylics, and sometimes painted with gouache and casein.
O'Hara taught watercolor painting at his school in Maine and at classes sponsored by universities, museums and art associations around the United States. O'Hara said that his teaching was "predicated on the assumption that art itself cannot be taught", therefore his teaching focused on the development of technical skills as a means to self expression. His student, Carl Schmalz, attempted to capture the organization and content of his classroom teaching in the book "Water Color Lessons from Eliot O'Hara".
In addition to his classroom teaching, O'Hara wrote books on watercolor painting and made art education films.
Bowdoin College Museum of Art: contains several portraits by O'Hara. In addition, there are works by other artists donated to the museum by Eliot O'Hara; some of these works appear as illustrations in his books.
^"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4KX-JLB : 17 October 2017), Elliot O'Hara, 14 Jun 1890; citing Birth, Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, , town clerk offices, Massachusetts; FHL microfilm 2,110,841.
^EX-FACTORY HAND WINS PRIZE FOR A PAINTING. (1931, Jul 29). New York Times