Shane O’Donnell Fuses His Profession of Photography and His Love of Painting in a New Creative Pursuit

Passion project.

  • Category
    Arts, People
  • Art & photography by
    Shane O’Donnell
  • Written by
    Linda Grasso

By all measures, Shane O’Donnell has found success as a freelance photographer, whether he is shooting for a high-end fashion brand or a start-up cosmetics company. Or a magazine—Shane is a regular contributor to Southbay, having shot numerous covers and articles over the past 12 years. But about four years ago, Shane found himself longing for a different creative experience. Something more personal.

“I have always admired painters, so one night I decided to go the art store and buy some paint, brushes and small canvases. I wasn’t sure what I would paint, so I perused an older photo project I’d done that I called The Beauty of Decay. They were still lifes—essentially of worn-out, everyday items,” he explains. 

Not knowing exactly where he was going, Shane started creating paintings of those photos. With a fondness for Americana—everything from roadside signs to neon motel marquees—he ultimately decided that would be the focus of his new creative endeavor.

After a brief period of experimentation, Shane got his process down. First, he takes photos of things that catch his eye. Second, he projects them onto a canvas and pencils in the line art. Then, using the original image on his computer screen as reference, he slowly adds paint.

“I love neon and dilapidation. I love the patina of the old and the glow of the past.”

“I don’t paint like most people. I am self-taught, so I don’t paint complete layers and add as I go. Instead, I paint in segments or areas until I am happy with it. Unless there is a large area of a specific color, I stick to that one section of the painting, adding color bit by bit.”

Then something unexpected happened. Shane started showing his paintings to friends and clients, and much to his surprise they offered to buy them.

“Selling the pieces happened by word of mouth. Look, I enjoy the challenge of it, but I’m the first to say I’m just amazed that there is a painting at the end of all of it!” he chuckles.

Shane’s works have been shown at the annual Art Walk in El Segundo as well as shows in Manhattan Beach and Venice.

For more on Shane’s work, go to

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