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Painter Joseph Ott tries variety of jobs in his journey of life
Macon man's artwork on display at Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville
Joseph Ott’s piece “Boats at Stratford-on-Avon” is on display at Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville. Ott is a member of the Ocmulgee Painters Society, which has other works on display as part of Quinlan’s Spring Exhibitions.

Quinlan Visual Arts Center Spring Exhibitions
When: Through June 3
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
Cost: Free
More info:

Joseph Ott “has done a lot of different things throughout the years,” as he said in a recent phone interview, but he’s now a 61-year-old man focused on his artwork.

The Macon resident is part of the The Ocmulgee Painters Society, a group of artists with its work on display at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center as part of its Spring Exhibitions.

But Ott hasn’t always been so in tune with his art. It has taken him quite some time to get to the point where he’s trying to turn his hobby into a career.

“I have been trying to kind of retool myself to paint for a living, but I’m not quite there yet,” he said. “I’ve got a ways to go before I can start trying to sell.”

Long before relocating, Ott tried to combine his passion with a career.

“I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture back in the 1980s,” he said, later adding he graduated from Georgia State University. “Right after I graduated, my father had helped to set me up with a fine woodworking shop. ... I thought I could do my work, sculptures and all, on the one hand and make money making projects for people, but I never got around to doing the art.”

He said because of the hours and possibility of cutting a hand off, he decided to move to a different path.

“I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do to make a living after that,” he said.

As fate would have it, Ott soon found another job, this time in the movie industry building props.

He explained a school friend asked him to work on the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” and the production manager was soon impressed with his skills.

“The production manager liked my work and I said I’d come work with him,” he said. “So after that movie was over, I just stayed along with him and we did a bunch of movies and commercials. I did that for a couple of years.”

However, the long days took a toll. Ott moved onto another career.

“I’ve done a lot of different things throughout the years, and no one thing I’ve excelled at as a professional,” he said. “I’ve always been an artist so to speak, but never a professional where you make a lot of money.”

And although he’s never done it before, that’s exactly what he’s trying to do now.

But instead of sculpting, he has turned his attention to painting.

“Early on, before I decided on sculpture, I thought my major was going to be painting,” he said. “You don’t have to have a lot of equipment or anything for painting as opposed to sculpture.

Now, Ott just paints, mostly oils.

“I don’t really, really work in any other mediums, well (except) charcoal and graphite,” he said.

Ott is a member of the Ocmulgee Painters Society. He has taken workshops to learn more.

“For me, being with the Ocmulgee Painters has been an incredible experience,” he said. “It’s good to get out with people and intermix. Nothing better in the world.”

While he had been painting portraits, Ott said he’s been “plein air painting.” It is a French term meaning open air painting, he said.

“The plein air painting is way harder than studio painting, and if you can do plein air painting you can do anything,” Ott said. “It makes you so much more aware of colors and sensitive to values and it’s like being a bodybuilder in terms of what you can do strength wise with your paintings.”

As for his work in the Spring Exhibitions at the Quinlan, which will run through June 3, Ott said his inspiration came from a photograph taken by his niece.

The name of his painting is Boats at Stratford-on-Avon.

“I had this photo of the scene that I painted, and I really enjoyed it so that’s what I painted,” he said. “The photo was taken by my niece who had gone to Europe. It’s just a good, strong piece to me in terms of the structure and the geometry of it.”