Friday, August 31, 2012

Collaboration with Laverne Zabielski

It's been exciting to play with Laverne's gorgeous dyed silk and shibori wool scraps for our collaboration. I recommend any artist to experiment with materials they don't usually use. She invited me to the challenge for an exhibit at MS Rezny Gallery. See details about this below. We started with an abstract painting I did on Arches  paper. Because of travels and the distance between our homes, we sent the piece back and forth to each other by mail. This is the second stage after she sewed some of her fabric on.
© O'Brien and Zabielski
I added more painting and drawing and sent it back to her.
© O'Brien and Zabielski
Laverne then wrote on the collage. You will just have to come to the gallery to see the finished artwork.

Collaborative Exhibit
Gallery Hop
September 21, 2012

MS Rezny Gallery
903 Manchester St.
Lexington, KY 40544
859 252 4647

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Talk about Inspiration Inspires

The Lunch with the Arts talk about inspiration was well received by the group of about 30 people who came to the Community Art Center last Wednesday. I was touched when Paul Stansbury sent me a note saying he "was inspired by some things you said during the presentation  to write something." He kindly allowed me to share the short story he wrote. He really heard the underlying message I was giving.
© 1988 Kathleen O'Brien Long Path to Peace, oil triptych
photograph by Jerry Downs

© Paul Stansbury

A pale glow began to seep up from the black horizon. Untah worked in the dying glow of the fire to finish before the sun cleared its earthly shackles. He intoned a greeting to the Spirits as he poured the finely ground lapis lazuli into the shallow shell bowl before him. The dull azure powder formed a bright spiral in the oil as he carefully mixed the ingredients. Blue was the color of the sky. The spiral represented the never-ending cycle of life and a path to the Creator. Once mixed, he would dip his finger into the unguent , then recreate the spiral in the center of the painting on which he had labored through the night.

He had started the painting ritual the previous day as dusk rolled over the parched plain. Teheht and his wife, KaHe sat silently at a respectful, detached distance. They had called for him; but, like all who sought out his help, they were timid and suspicious. They had waited until hope was almost gone before summoning him. Dust whorled all about, provoked by the hot breezes that swept through the dying grasslands. The bleak summer of drought had devastated the crops and there would be little to sustain this family through the long winter to come. Sickness, driven by hunger, had spread through the land. It was only in these times that spirit painters were remembered. He knew if his painting failed, this family might not survive.

As the day's light drained away, Untah had unpacked his belongings under the watch of their sad eyes. Shell bowls were set out, ready to receive Untah's sacred ingredients. He opened worn, deerskin pouches to examine the powders he would use to mix the spirit paint. Each powder held its own significance. The yellow sun was represented by crushed sunflower petals. Ground lapis lazuli for the blue sky. Red for life-giving blood came from dogwood bark. The bright green of algae brought harmony and healing. White, from ground gypsum, insured peace and happiness. Regal purple extracted from hibiscus embodied mystery and magic. Finally, black, gleaned from the charred ashes of a thousand gathering fires, to paint the Telling Glyphs.

Untah mixed and remixed each in turn for his sacred painting, as he had since he became a spirit painter. Then, he set out the quills, brushes and bones he would use. He paused to chant a prayer over each.
Untah laid the fire from the wood Teheht and KaHe had gathered. He unwrapped a tattered blanket and withdrew a large bundle of moss. He spat on it and placed it on the fire. Billowing smoke welled up, swirling with the prairie dust in the evening's breath. As Untah was engulfed, he inhaled the thick vapor, its pungent, earthy odor burning his nostrils. He raised his head and blew the smoke out toward the heavens to carry his prayer upward. There, drifting forever among the stars, it would join with the smoke of the great gathering fire of the Spirits.

He knelt down, pouring thick, amber oil from a hollowed gourd onto his hands to prepare the delicate surface to receive his paint. Through the night, he methodically created his complicated tableau, adorning the surface with symbols to entice the Spirits. Without looking away from the painting, he knew Teheht and KaHe had studied his every move, striving to make sense of the symbols, hoping against hope he would prevail. They had remained silent and maintained a reverent distance, but Untah could hear KaHe's labored breath holding back sobs.

Now, he had reached the conclusion. The bright blue track spun outward in an ever widening arc. He chose a fine tipped bone, dipped it in the black paint, and, starting at the very center of the spiral, painted the Telling Glyphs along its ever expanding path. They revealed the story of all that had been. A large portion of the spiral remained unembellished, symbolizing what was yet to come. As the sun spilled over the horizon, he painted his last glyph, the eagle, to carry the Telling to the Spirits, so they might know what was and understand the story must not end now, there was more to be told. He took the bone stylus and placed it in the dying embers of the fire. Later, he would retrieve its ashes for his leather pouch.

Untah chanted his prayer of thanks and settled in to keep vigil over his painting. While the sun arched slowly across the sky, he remained silent and still, eyes ever watchful for a sign. While he waited, he thought of Oolmawa, his wife, and Chenat, his son. They too kept their vigil, waiting for him to return from his journey. He missed them, longing to enjoy the comfort of his wife, and dance with his son around the fire. But it would be many days before he would rest his head in his own dwelling. After his work here was done, he would make his spirit walk to the four sacred mountains. Climbing to the high plateau that stretched out as far as the eye could see, he would add his Tell to the never ending spiral. Only then could he return to his family.

As evening descended, something in the painting caught his attention. He drew his face close to the symbols, searching for the sign. Beads of sweat welled up through the paint on the child's brow. She stirred and opened her eyes. Untah smiled. The Spirits had been pleased by his painting. He knew this child would live.

The End

Thursday, August 16, 2012

25 years ago today

...a group of us were meditating in a circle under an Aspen tree. It was sunrise of the Harmonic Convergence. The high altitude of our location near the Continental Divide, the freshness of the pristine morning energized our focus - world wide peace. We could feel the connections to the thousands of people around the world meditating in sync. A Hummingbird entered the circle giving a close visit to each person as if we were flowers. I know because I was squinting, not wanting to frighten the bird away.
© Kathleen O'Brien Each Day in the Year of the Fire Dog # 200
Harmonic Convergence took place over a 2 day period. It was a grand time of celebration and sharing and caring. I had the honor of being in Jose Arguelles's study group Earth Ascending for several years before through the local branch of Planet Art Network.
© Kathleen O'Brien Each Day in the Year of the Fire Dog # 201
These are the only 2 of the postcards that go side to side. I took a drawing I did on that day in 1987, tore it in half and cropped the sides.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 8

Le Ballet Ruse!
© 1981 Kathleen O'Brien
Karsavina as the Firebird, pastel, 12x9"

+ more
- one of the most
powerful art
of all time is

Monday, August 13, 2012

Advocate Messenger Article about Lunch with the Arts

Mariel Smith from the Community Arts Center wrote this article for yesterday's paper;
Lunch with the Arts to host Kentucky artist Kathleen O'Brien

Lunch with the Arts 7

Van Gogh, so beloved by so many people 
for his extraordinary transcendent vision, 
was my first inspiration in the painters category. 
At age 17 went on a pilgrimage throughout Holland 
to see his places, his paintings.
© 2012 Kathleen O'Brien, Van Gogh Shrine

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 6

© 2007 Kathleen O'Brien
Dimensions 1

The grandest inspiration the Golden Mean. My architect brother taught me how to draw a Golden Rectangle from a square. And then after learning about the proportion of 1/.618034,  I stayed up until 2 a.m. figuring all the ratios and fractions up to 100. I was hooked. That was in the early 80's.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 5

Wallace Black Elk
© 1984 Kathleen O'Brien
graphite drawing

Grandfather Wallace Black Elk shared his Earth wisdom with us around the campfire waiting for the Stone People Lodge to begin. You can hear some of his stories in his book Black Elk, the Sacred Ways of a Lakota, by Wallace Black Elk and William S. Lyon. Ho Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related.

I am eternally grateful for his inspiration. It is an integrated daily guidance.  And I am profoundly in awe of his integrity and courage he showed on behalf of all Earth people.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 4

The Earth Herself inspires me on a daily basis.
© 1995 Kathleen O'Brien Earth Spirit, 9x12", oil

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 3

©Kathleen O'Brien Becoming Beautiful, 5x4", 1971

Inspiration: the present moment. When I go inside my heart, into that silence, with a sincere request for the image that is ready to be revealed, it IS revealed. This has been my inspiration from the early days of art making. The subtle reflections in the glass of my 1971 drawing are the present moments, then and now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lunch with the Arts 2

Always the drive to synthesize...

©Kathleen O'Brien  1978 First Born's Baby Book, handmade leather bound book 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

New Review Page

©Kathleen O'Brien 2012 detail, Gladiola Garden, 36x28"
salutations! The REVIEW page is down on the right side. There you will find an excellent review  by John Andrew Dixon of the Gardenshapes exhibit at Danville's Community Art Center, June - July 2012. He has launched his new blog The Collage Miniaturist.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lunch with the Arts

©Kathleen O'Brien Always Merry and  Bright
My presentation will be about inspiration. To begin, it is encountered in soul and streams forth from there. It is essential to meditate, ask and listen. There are so many more inspirations to talk about...

Lunch with the Arts presents
Kathleen O'Brien's "Gardenshapes"
Community Arts Center
401 W. Main St.
Danville, Kentucky 40422
noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, August 15

Sponsored by Little Oil Company
Come to Lunch with the Arts this month and get up close and personal with Kathleen O'Brien's whimsical mixed media collages which combine watercolor, pieces of text and fabric, and hand drawings to make arrestingly detailed yet delicate works. Meet the artist behind these works and get insights into her unique artistic process.

To reserve a catered box lunch ($10), order lunch online by 6 pm, Monday, August 13,
by clicking here .Community Arts Center

$5 admission if you bring your own lunch - no reservation required.