Phelim Donfield

I was born in Dublin in 1966. I am a self taught artist. My father was also an artist and so I grew up in an atmosphere of painting. Despite this I received no formal art lessons from him. I started painting from a young age and entered and won many children’s art competitions including Texaco on several occasions. My prizes included bikes money, computers, games and art sets. This encouraged me to continue and as a teenager I spent all my holidays selling my paintings door to door around Dublin.

I chose not to go to art college as I felt the environment wouldn’t be for me and instead continued to develop my practise by drawing and painting on a daily basis. To help fund this, I started teaching art to kids and adults in several schools around the city. Up until this point I worked solely in acrylic, however I started experimenting with oil paint.  I discovered I loved the textures and smells and the blending facility and as a consequence oil painting gradually became my medium of choice for many of the following years.

I continued making my living by selling my paintings and also dabbling in some commercial art projects including interior murals and signage.

In 1992 I founded Brushstrokes Art School. As with any business it has over the years faced many challenges. However we have continued to thrive and next year in 2022 we will have been teaching for thirty years, during which time we have taught thousands of people how to paint and draw.

This has also informed my painting as teaching many people of varying ages and from different backgrounds has allowed me to see and think about art from a variety of perspectives.

I tend not to get involved in the art community, however in the early noughties I  submitted to and exhibited with the RHA, Iontas and The Arnott’s Portrait Competition. My work had been featured in publications such as The Sunday Business Post and The Irish Independent. I’ve appeared on RTE’s Nationwide and taught art live on air on Ireland AM.

I’ve been on a self imposed hiatus from painting since 2012, keeping my hand in with an occasional commission and of course, demonstrations for my students.

The Mothú and Neamhaí collections are my first large bodies of work since that time. In some ways it signals a return to my roots  as this is the first time in over thirty years that I’ve worked exclusively in acrylic paint.