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Mark McCullen: A Small Perspective on Oil Paintings

Some artists boast about how they were born to create and have never lived without a paintbrush or pencil in hand. Mark McCullen, however, didn’t discover his talents and love of art until later in life.

In fact, it wasn’t until his mid-twenties when he enrolled in a sculpture class that he realized he should learn how to draw before moving further. Mark quit his job, enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is now a full-time artist.

Currently, Mark divides his time between teaching art courses at local colleges and art centers, painting hundreds of commissions for commercial interior designers, and providing images for art publishers and giftware manufacturers.

In the past, most of Mark’s work has been in the 36″ to 72″ size rang. More recently, though, due to time constraints, he has shifted towards painting smaller canvases (most of which are less than a foot square). The upside to this is that he can produce paintings faster, thus making them more affordable.


Mark’s paintings have a traditional feel, and yet are imbued with lightheartedness as well. This is intentional, of course, because as he puts it, “there’s no dividing line between realism and non-realism.”

Obviously, Mark’s “realism” is simply his own perspective of that subject. The image below perfectly captures the whimsy he sees in everyday objects, as a pear leans in towards two limes for a secretive discussion.

pear limes

For his small paintings, Mark uses panels of plywood, masonite or whatever he has on hand, but prefers canvas for his larger pieces. Initially, the paint layers are thin and transparent, then he works his way up to thicker, more opaque paint.

Mark often uses a limited color palette, too, which can be seen in the purple and yellow composition below. He does this to stay “loose and vague as long as [he] can” without focusing on lots of other color options.


If you have a moment today, I invite you all to visit Mark’s new blog, Small Paintings, to experience more of his unique painting perspective.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Myles Murphy was born and raised in Ireland, and now lives in Indiana. He spent twenty years in the field of engineering before refocusing his life towards painting, drawing and raku pottery in the 1980's.

Recently, Myles has expanded his repertoire to include oil and watercolor painting, oftentimes en plein air. Besides his lovely paintings, what I enjoy most about Myles is his. . . read more

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