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Hometown Heroes: Painter Codie O'Connor

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It’s easy to love Codie O’Connor’s paintings, with their calming sunset colors and freeform shapes, so we couldn’t wait to meet the Hometown Hero behind them. We stopped by her studio on a recent visit to Austin (while getting set for our new store!) where she gave us a tour and talked about everything from the backpacking trip that still inspires her to the importance of putting your work—and yourself—out there.

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Have you always been interested in painting? When did you start thinking of it as more than a hobby?

I’ve been interested in painting and art in general for as long as I can remember. My mom is an artist and I spent a lot of my childhood following her around in the studio—from there I guess the interest just stuck!

Painting as more than a hobby came about sort of unexpectedly. I never imagined turning it into my main source of income. I started to share my work through social media less than a year ago—prior to that I was pretty timid about putting it out there. But once I did, it was a natural evolution into a small business. I still approach painting with the same starry-eyed childlike excitement, though!

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So what’s a typical day in the studio for you?

I like to wake up early, make tea and listen to music. My day could take any shape—there’s always lots of painting to do, emails to answer and orders to package up—but I never want to feel monotonous or routine. As long as I’m getting my work done and feeling productive, I go with the flow and take things as they come.

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How about essentials you keep on hand while you work?

A productive day painting means spending a lot of time by myself in my studio, so it can be pretty quiet. I need music or conversation to fill the space. Neil Young is big time for me so I’ll put one of his records on and spend the day singing and painting away. I’ve also been listening to lots of podcasts. I’m currently excited about a new one from Jen Gotch called Jen Gotch is OK...Sometimes.

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You have such a defined color palette and style—what are some of the inspirations behind your pieces?

I started to paint in this style while I was backpacking through Indonesia. My boyfriend and I were spending our days on the beach, listening to a lot of psychedelic rock and my paintings and drawings started to take on a whole new form. When I go back through that sketchbook it’s clear that my current work is a result of that little pocket of time. As for my palette, the tones I use are inspired by a number of things, from the ocean to the desert, to the faded mustard and pinkish hues that show up in photos from the ’60s and ’70s since they were all shot on film.

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Okay, any words of wisdom for others looking to show their art to the world or turn it into a career?

I used to be afraid to show my work to other people and that’s been a huge regret of mine. Diving in headfirst and sharing art has shown me a whole new world. I’ve collaborated with other artists I admire and seen my paintings in the homes of families across the globe. All of this has been way beyond anything I could have dreamed up and wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t open to sharing what I was making. My advice would be to go for it and share your passion—you’ll be surprised by the connections you can make.

Thanks, Codie. Meet more Hometown Heroes and shop their goods here.