Brooke O'Connell


Crunch the pony on TV (and my painting too!)

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Hi!  I got some exciting news yesterday... my painting of Crunch had a brief cameo on Australian TV!  Crunch and his owner Hannah were part of a project called HighScrollers.  The project highlights some of the incredibly creative things happening on-line through the use of social media.  Take a look at this cool segment and keep an eye open for a snapshot of my little painting 😉

Magical Moments of a Horse Painter

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Hi! I thought I'd share some pics of the step by step process of my latest painting. I came across an image of a horse being bathed that immediately pulled at my heart strings.  It made me miss those little moments with my own horse that are part of the everyday, but that are so special. I knew immediately upon seeing the image that I wanted to paint it.  I also knew that attempting to paint water being sprayed would be quite the challenge.

The photo I referenced belongs to @cantering_hooves.  If you are on Instagram I suggest you look her up, she is a talented photographer who takes beautiful pictures!  I really appreciate that she allowed me to work from her photograph.








All in all, I am really happy with the result.  There's something about this moment and this horse that makes me want to reach up and pet him.  There's also something about it that I find a little magical... and that's a pretty great feeling!

Thanks for checking in, B

Travelling pony... from Canada to Australia!

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Hi!  I recently completed a painting of an amazing little pony.  His name is Crunch and he belongs to @1itscrunchtime1 on Instagram.  If you're interested in all things equine, you should definitely take a look at this account.  Crunch and his buddy Lippy are both extremely well trained ponies.  They both pull a little cart, and are incredible little jumpers.  It's a great Instagram account! In case you missed the picture of Crunch on my easel, here he is:


My little Crunch painting is now ready for his long voyage.  In the next day or two he'll be travelling across a couple oceans to arrive in Australia.  This will be the first time one of my paintings finds a home in Australia.  I must say it's pretty exciting and really makes me appreciate the wonders of the internet and social media.  I never would have imagined that one of my paintings would makes it's way to such a far corner of the world.  It's pretty cool!  Hope you have a great weekend. B


Horses on the Brain and on my Easel

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Here's a glimpse of what I've had on my easel.  This is Bayley...she is so gorgeous I just had to paint her.  As you can see, nearing the end of a painting my palette becomes a bit muddled. To all you painters out there - do you arrange your colours a certain way?  Warms and cools?  Does it work for you?  I've tried all sorts of things, but still tend to just go for it.  Would love some feedback!  Have a great Monday! image

New Paint Brushes are the Best!

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I have a bunch of new paint brushes and am so excited! There's nothing like using a brand new brush for the first time. I have to admit... cleaning brushes is not my forte and I have ruined quite a few because of my bad habits. For all you painters out there - any suggestions, tips, or tricks about how to keep brushes looking like new? I'd love to hear! IMG_4403.JPG

Saturday on the Artist Agenda

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Hello and happy Saturday!  Here's what's on my agenda today: image

I am pretty excited to have the whole day to myself.  I began the morning with a photoshoot of some new prints.  I just picked them up from the print shop last night and they look fantastic!

Next up on the agenda was tea.  Although I have always loved tea, this past spring I gave up coffee.  Let's just say it's been a bit of an adjustment -especially when your full time job is hanging out with 13 year olds all day :) .  Anyways, I have some fabulous green tea ready to go.

A little update to my blog, and all I have to do after that is pop my ipod into the dock and head into the studio.  I have a good chunk of time this afternoon, so I am really looking forward to submerging myself into my painting.

I hope you have some time for yourself today to do what you enjoy.  Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for checking in. If anyone else has recently given up coffee, let me know how you're doing!  B

A Family Portrait Painting of a Different Kind

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Hi! Over the summer I created a painting that is slightly out of my realm.  Yes, horses and the occasional cow can be found in my work...but pigs, chicken, and geese aren't. I created this painting as a bit of a challenge.  I loved the idea of creating some sort of family portrait of barn animals.  Below are a few images of the step by step.

Here is one of my first sketches:


After sketching a couple different compositions and playing with the placement of my animals, I decided I was ready to start.  I transferred my ideas onto a larger canvas and started painting one animal at a time.  I added a blue wash in the background just to start playing with colour.


Bit by bit it started coming together and I eventually got to the point of adding details and highlights.  One of the hardest parts about this painting was creating a nice blue for the background.  For some reason I tend to always leave the backgrounds for the end.  Normally it isn't to hard to paint it in, but because of the amount of creatures that I had to paint around- it became a little tricky.  It was also tricky trying to get a nice smooth and even finish.


Anyways, I hope you like the "Family Portrait" I created :)

For all you painters out there -here's a question:  do you paint your backgrounds in at the beginning or at the end? I'd love to hear!  B

Weekend Painting

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Hi!  Here's a little 5"x5" painting I did this weekend.  It was kind of fun to work on something so small and to zone in on this horse's nose.  If you're a horse person you probably already appreciate your horse's nose... I felt it worthy of a little painting :). Have a great week and enjoy the weather!  B image

Love Horses?? Enter my Contest!!

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.photo Hi Folks!  I've decided to run a little contest for all those horse lovers out there.  The rules are simple…to enter you must:

a)  Follow my Instagram

b)  Post your photo(s)** to Instagram and use the hashtag #horsepaintingcontest

-each participant may enter up to 5 pictures-

c)  Tag me in the photo or write @brookeoconnell in the caption.

When I hit 200 followers on Instagram I will randomly choose a lucky winner.

The prize will be a beautiful 8"x 10" custom horse portrait based on the winning photo.  Shipping will be included.

Spread the word, tell your friends and family, this would be a great gift for anyone who loves horses!

** Please ensure the photograph belongs to you.  I do not want to infringe on anyone's copyrights.

Good Luck!

Horse Painting Update

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Hi!  I haven't posted in a while but here's an update: As mentioned in my previous blog post, after 10+ years of being out of the saddle... I was thinking of getting back into riding.  Last fall I booked some lessons and it's been amazing.  It's been great to reconnect with "barn life" and be so close to horses again.  The simple things like leading a horse, brushing, and tacking up, really put me right back into that world.

I was very excited (and a bit anxious) for my first lesson.  I expected to just do a bit of trotting and cantering, but I was really happy when my trainer said I should jump a few verticals.  It was sooo fun!

I must say it's been an incredible experience to reconnect with a passion in this way.  If there's something in your life that you've been thinking of getting back into -do it!  You won't regret it.

In my last post I had a step by step of one of my paintings.  I thought it would be good to post the finished work.  I hope you are having a great summer. B

Horse News

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Hi!  Here is an update on one of my latest paintings.  I met this horse a few years ago while traveling in Ireland.  I took quite a few reference shots of him because he was amazing and I knew that someday I would paint him. I am currently in the process of creating layers of washes for the background.

BrookeOConnell_IrishHorse2 #3

BrookeOConnell_IrishHorse2 #2



The painting is still wet so please excuse the glare.  The canvas is 36" (h) x 30" (w).  In the next few days I will adding layers of paint and building up certain areas.  I will post more pictures as I go.

In other news, after 10+ years of not riding- I have decided to get back in the saddle.  As I mentioned in my last post, I was once a full-time rider but distanced myself from the sport after selling my horse.

I am really looking forward to reconnecting with this passion and making new four-legged friends.

I hope you are having a good weekend.  B

Commission Piece: Pony Love

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Hi folks! As you may have noticed I have been on the horse painting bandwagon lately :) . Many of you know that I use to have a horse and for a long time riding was a huge part of my life. As a young girl- horses were always on the brain. Since selling my horse I have been removed from that world, but in the past year I have reconnected with that passion through my painting.

Here is a new piece I have been working on. The subject matter doesn't get much better- a super cute kid and her fantastic pony.

Here are a few step by step pictures to show you how things have been progressing.




Things are starting to come along. I will post more pictures soon. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Thinking of Spring

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It's been quite cold here and although I do like winter, I can't help myself from thinking of my spring gardening plans. The painting below was done for a friend, and was inspired by the thought of changing seasons. 20130126-153442.jpg

Looking forward to seeing some of these little guys soon. Have a great weekend, B.

Mural update #3

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I spent a few hours painting the mural today and things are starting to come together! Here are some pictures. Keep in mind this is a work in progress :)



The image with the fiddler is a work based on a Marc Chagall painting, and the village scene on the right is Van Gogh's Starry Night. Both of these paintings were done by students in grade 8 - pretty amazing!


I've started outlining things in black and am really happy with how the dragon has come to life.



I mentioned in one of my previous posts that the concept for this mural is "the wonder of books". Since this mural is being done for my school, I've tried to capture themes that are familiar to our students. The books represent science, art, history, geography, math, language, and music.

The music book has been one of the last ones to be done. Here is what's been painted so far...


This page will be instruments of the world.

If you are interested in seeing the other books please take a look at my previous posts. Cheers, B

Saturday painting with music, coffee, and memories of Bermuda

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Hi!  I've been away from my paints for a couple weeks now...but am happy to have a few hours to paint this morning.  Coffee, music, a little sunshine, and memories from my last adventure.

I am working on a small landscape based on one of my watercolour paintings from my trip to Bermuda.  As you can see, I've been working with a black ground.  I love how vibrant the colours are against the black.

Here are a couple other shots of the step by step.

It's getting there...but still have more work to do.  Hope you're having a great Saturday. B

20 Best Twenty

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Great news... my artwork is being featured on 20 Best Twenty!  If you haven't come across this website yet -take a look... it's a wonderful site that features a variety of artists and handmade products.

Here's the link:

Bermuda Paintings

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Hi, I finally managed to scan all my watercolours from my trip.  Here they are:

This is a view of Warwick Beach, where the sand is pink from all the coral.  Large dark coloured rocks line the beach making it very dramatic.  It is a beautiful place.  I found the waves to be quite large and the undertow very strong.

This one is of John Smith's Bay, one of my favorite spots.  The water was beautiful and the waves weren't too strong.  I really liked this spot because you could see parrot fish swimming around.

Here's a painting of my bike!  The beach is St-Catherines, just outside of the Town of St-George.  It was a lovely spot.

This one was painted from a place called Turtle Bay.  It's a view of the houses and the lighthouse across the way.  I loved all the pastels and white roofs.

This view is of the cliffs along the South Shore by Spittal Pond.  As I painted, it got really stormy and I had to take shelter from thunder and lightning.  I sat on a stump under some trees for about an hour waiting for it to blow over.  Although it's clearly not good to be under trees during a lightning storm...i figured it was better than being exposed on steep cliffs.  : )

Shelley Bay is a great little beach with very calm waters - perfect for floating on your back.  The weather was beautiful and the clouds were amazing.

This is a view of Flatt's Village.  Lots of pastel coloured houses, boats, and people fishing off the docks.  I visited a wonderful aquarium there, where i was enthralled with a baby octopus and the young sea turtles.

That's all folks, hope you like my paintings.  B

Back from Bermuda

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Hi there, just back from an amazing adventure in Bermuda.  This was solo expedition #2 and I had a great time!  Arrived on a beautiful Wednesday morning, came off the plane onto the tarmac (love that!), and was hit by the humidity. Oh the humidity!!

Flowers, palm trees, and butterflies everywhere.  Chickens and roosters running around all over the place.  It was great!

Buses went on strike just after i had bought a bus pass and had gone to the beach.  I found myself stranded at a bus stop after spending a few hours swimming.  Luckily, a nice woman who had come to tell people waiting at the bus stop that the buses had gone on strike, offered to give me a ride back to my B&B.

The next day i was off to rent a moped.  Wasn't sure I'd survive the week driving on the wrong side of the road- but somehow I did.

The water was amazing and i swam a few times daily.  Checked out a number of beaches all over the island and most of them were virtually empty!  It was paradise.

The people were warm and friendly, and i fell in love with all the brightly painted buildings.

I visited the Botanical Gardens, which were amazing.  Some of the trees and flowers blew me away.

I made friends with a local and had dinner with him a couple times.  Notice the's so hot and humid in Bermuda even the cats pant.

I ate some great food, managed to read 2 books, painted, meditated, and swam.  This was my view most days:

It was heaven.

One day I got caught in a downpour and was completely soaked.  Having nothing to loose i decided to go swimming in the rain.

After swimming for about an hour, i got out of the water and put on my wet clothes.  I headed to a little restaurant that was perched on a hill across the way.  I ordered a cup of coffee and tried to dry off.  The view was great so i pulled out my paints and got to work.  Here's the painting:

The sun did eventually come out.  Below was my view which includes my bike.

I painted 7 or 8 paintings in total.  I will post them asap.  If you are thinking of going to Bermuda...go!!  It's heaven on earth.

Hope you liked the pics.  Cheers, B