An Artist & A Gentleman
By Barbara A. Preston | September 1, 2022
Painter Jeffrey T. Odiorne, Sr., 82, lives on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Cherry Valley Country Club, when he is not in Florida. After decades of “pursuing ideas” in the highly competitive creative atmosphere of New York City’s advertising world, he now does freelance commercial work. This leaves plenty of time for him to pursue his fine art.
Jeffrey Town Odiorne in his home studio in the Cherry Valley Country Club, Skillman. His painting, “Red Moon,” is behind him (top), with abstract landscapes below.
His art has been described as “lyrical, symbolic, and full of joyous color.” He says he is “as interested in the abstract gritty textures of the city as he is in the rhythms and calming beauty of nature.” “As an abstract painter, I create images from my imagination,” he told The Montgomery News during an interview in his home studio.
“Even the still life paintings are imagined and invented. My primary objective is to express an emotion in a work rather than render a realistic image. That’s what cameras are for!”
Odiorne became interested in art as a young boy. “We lived, for 12 years, on the property of a famous artist named Wharton Esherick,” he explained. “Esherick was a woodworker, and he had 40 wooded acres. It was a Garden of Eden for a kid.” Odiorne’s family had rented an 1800s farmhouse from the artist. It had been Esherick’s original studio. In the early 1940s, Esherick had built a studio up on the hillside, and moved his family up there. The artist put the old farmhouse on the rental market, and the Odiornes were the first people to rent it. “It was just an amazing place,” he recalled. He remembers delivering the rent checks to Esherick’s studio. “We would walk through the woods to get there, and you could see sculptures of animals in the woods. I’m really convinced that is where a lot of my interest in art started.”
Odiorne’s mother, Margaret, was a realtor on the Main Line in Philadelphia. His father Alfred J. Odiorne, had played football for the University of Pennsylvania, then was in the life insurance business for many years. The young Jeff Odiorne graduated from The Haverford School, a private day school for remarkable boys, pre-kindergarten-12th grade. The school’s website states that it prepares boys for life by developing men of character, intellect, and compassion who will transform our world. He then studied fine arts at Cornell for two years, before transferring to The Philadelphia College of Art (now a university), where he earned a BFA degree in Advertising Design.
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Odiorne had a tremendously successful career in advertising as senior vice president at N. W. Ayer. “I was very fortunate, as a creative person, to work on what I would call fun accounts,” he said. “I worked on everything from Avon products to De Beers diamonds. I also had Pan Am Airways, advertising for the Bahamas. These are luxury products, travel, leisure ... fun accounts to work on. I love to travel, and I got to go all over the world.”
For the De Beers account, which was based in London, his marketing and advertising team would meet every five weeks “somewhere in the world.” “Because of anti-trust laws, and they were a cartel, they were not allowed to come into the U.S. But we were allowed to attend meetings off shore ... Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and wherever they did business. They took us every year on a tour of their mining operations in South Africa, which was a very interesting trip for me,” he said. “I could have been stuck on the Bayer Aspirin account, which would not have been very fun.”
In 2007, Odiorne began devoting more of his creative efforts to painting. He moved to Skillman in 2015, and maintains studios both in Skillman and Sarasota, Florida. The artists who influence Odiorne the most are: Picasso, Willem De Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Richard Diebenkorn, and David Hockney. Odiorne says it can take from four hours to four weeks for him to complete a painting.
His website, jeffreyodiorne.com, shows a diverse range of his art, including urban cityscapes and Sourland-inspired landscapes. Locally he has participated in the Hopewell Valley Arts Council Tour des Arts, A Return to Art (Montgomery Arts Council), Art- Jam Princeton, and have had solo shows at the Present Day Club and the Nassau Club in Princeton. He is currently working on a series of abstract paintings reflecting his impressions of the Sourland Mountain Preserve. “My working title for this collection is ‘Sticks & Stones’.” An earlier collection titled “Local Color” was also inspired by the natural beauty of this region.