Patrick Byrnes was born in Busan, South Korea in 1984 and raised in Chicago. As a child he adored art, spending Saturday mornings drawing in youth classes at The Art Institute of Chicago, filling his sketchbooks with fantastical images of dinosaurs, aliens, mermaids and comic book superheroes. He earned his undergraduate degree in art history and English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. While he continued to draw during this period, maintaining a satirical comic in the university newspaper, his primary focus was writing about, and traveling to view, great European works from the Renaissance onward. He would spend hours transfixed by the grand paintings of Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt and Velazquez.
It was after university, upon Byrne's return to Chicago in 2006, that he began to realize, or perhaps remember, that he desired not merely to study art but to create it himself. Unsure how to proceed, he worked briefly for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, then eventually found an administrative job at The Art Institute, where he simultaneously enrolled in the school's continuing education courses. A life drawing class taught by Diana Stezalski brought him full circle from the Saturdays of his adolescence and introduced him to the methodology of the 19th century European atelier. Inspired by this formal rigor, Byrnes spent a year studying under Simona Dolci at the Florence Academy of Art, then relocated to New York in 2010 to study with Jacob Collins, Edward Minoff, Scott Waddell and Joshua LaRock at the prestigious Grand Central Academy. Here his technical skills and appreciation for naturalistic representation deepened with each year of careful application and the study of great academic masters such as Sargent, Bouguereau, Zorn and Repin. He graduated in May 2014 and currently teaches cast drawing/painting and portraiture in the full-time and part-time programs.
While Byrnes is interested in the formal aspects of a wide array of painters, he endeavors to work exclusively by direct observation from life, seeking to capture the unique and beautiful nuances that direct observation allows. For some paintings he will first make a detailed drawing in graphite before transferring to linen canvas and painting in oil color, while othertimes painting alla prima.
Patrick Byrne's immersion in the methodology, philosophy and studio practices of the classical atelier continues to inform and refine his draftsmanship, while his determination to evince the beauty, dignity and grace of the human form provides the inspiration for his work.
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