Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, and Happy New Year

Wishing you all the best for the coming year, thank you for reading my posts!
©Kathleen O'Brien, Stroke of Midnight, 24x12", collage
Can you discern the Golden Rectangle and Golden Spiral?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Solstice 12:11 pm EST

I am so happy for the Great Return of the Light. May your days be filled with light and warmth.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Each Day in the Year of the Fire Dog, #327, front

©Kathleen O'Brien, Each Day in the Year of the Fire Dog, #327, back

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tree of My Life

In last week's Winter Joy Retreat I imagined a tree, the soil, roots, trunk, branches, leaves and fruit all representing parts of my life. It was so profound to consider the influences, dreams, ancestry, abilities, accomplishments and write it out, then draw it. I spent 2 days on this, thinking of more things as I went.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Tree of my Life, 22x28",watercolor, pencil, ink

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enjoying the Halcyon Days

Yesterday began the 14 day period known as the Halcyon Days, days of Peace. It is a time when the water is calm enough for the Halcyon bird to lay eggs on it's water nest. I love these days and try to avoid the crazy energy that happens around the Holidays. the solstice falls at the midpoint of these days.

This year I gifted myself with an online 21 day "Winter Joy Retreat" with Cigden Kobu. The theme this year is homecoming. Each day we (about 150 women) receive a joy letter on a topic that threads around the theme. There is a playsheet where we write responses to ideas and questions from the letter. Now on day 15 I can feel an integration happening for me.

One day that stands out is the one we were to think about our values, and what drives our daily and long term decisions. There was a prompt to draw a mandala about that.
©Kathleen O'Brien, mandala of values, details of 16 artworks
Rather than draw I found art that reflected the value and cut a detail of it, added the words. the questions around the border are what drive my decisions.

Next time I'll talk about the family tree...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Revels

After the Open Studio and all the followup I was ready for a rest. For Holiday Revels exhibit at M S Rezny Studio/Gallery, I gave myself permission to choose whatever was at hand. But this year the annual show that features the 8 gallery artists is a benefit for the Hospice of the Bluegrass Fund for Art so I challenged myself to finish 3 artworks that had been avoiding completion.

Holiday Revels was begun last December as a chronicle to all the amazing days of that month, from the Halcyon Days, Day Out of Time, birthdays of my 2 muses Henry Miller, 12.26 and Joseph Cornell, 12.24. Solstice (remember last year 12.21.12 the end of the Mayan Calendar!) the day of the return of the Kachinas who help us through the dark time. Can you see 2 in this collaged watercolor?
©Kathleen O'Brien, Holiday Revels, 20x16x2,
watercolor, pencil, mistletoe, holly, rose petals
As Above, So Below was started last July as a demonstration for the KET filming of The Transparent Nature show.
It  is one in a series I am continuing about numbers, geometry, math. You might have to see this one in person to see the details... 

©Kathleen O'Brien, As Above, So Below, 30x22,
watercolor, pencil, found objects
There Are Places I'll Remember All My Life 1 has gone through a metamorphosis since its pastel beginnings. For about a year traveling the world has been a theme. This one has traces of the symbols used to depict being in different places.
©Kathleen O'Brien, There Are Places I'll Remember All My Life 1,
24x20, first stage before gluing to panel

©Kathleen O'Brien, There Are Places I'll Remember All My Life 1,
20x16x2, watercolor, pencil, acrylic, flowers, found objects 
I hope you can see the show.

UK graduate Paper by Erin McDonald

Erin McDonald, Artist Interview #2, November 23, 2013
A Chat with Kathleen O’Brien

Erin McDonald: Hi Kathleen, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. You live in a really beautiful part of Kentucky and I enjoyed getting to see your home and studio. To start off the interview I thought maybe we could talk about your childhood and what it was like growing up.

Kathleen O’Brien: Certainly. I was born in Yokasuka, Japan in 1948 into a loving and artistic family. As a child I was lulled to sleep by my father’s piano. My mother’s joy was sewing things for me and also my doll’s clothes. I watched my grandfather paint and was allowed to paint my first oil painting at age 12 under his watchful supervision. I was always coloring, drawing. As a service family we lived in many places around the world – Italy, Germany, Austria, Florida and more. This lifestyle expanded my awareness of aesthetics.

McDonald: It sounds like your grandfather was pretty instrumental to you as an artist- would you mind talking a bit more about that?

O’Brien: Well, my grandfather was a painter and he was actually my first teacher. I had to wait until I was 12 because of the toxicity of the materials. But he was really my hero, and I really looked up to him and so he taught me the rudiments. And then I just kept working at it.

McDonald: I know you said you were in Japan, and you've mentioned a few other places, how did those places really impact your work? *See also Artist Timeline at end of paper

O’Brien: Definitely. The scripts you see in the paintings around you are referring to an invented language. They are marks that appear in all my works I do. They are marks that I intend for it to be a language, but one that the viewer can bring their own meaning to. On a deeper level what it represents to me is communication, because actually, when we were talking about inspirations, that really is probably my biggest value. It’s communication. So I use those scripts to represent that. But I lived in Italy also and I really think that had a big influence. A really big influence on my aesthetic. You know, I have this aesthetic in my life. I like everything to be beautiful and I like to have beauty around me. And then just a certain – integrated lifestyle. I mean, that’s – my real art is my life. Because I make pictures, but I also want to integrate that with really good living. And for me that means growing food, cooking food, and having people around to enjoy it. You know, people around to enjoy the art and all of that. So I’m always trying to think of events where I can combine all of those things. And I’m sure I picked that up from Italy (laughs). It’s like, yeah let’s just sit around and talk about art, look at art and have really good food! Another thing was the music. My father was a pianist and I heard that every night. Especially when I was a young artist. I did a lot of portraits of musicians. But I also think that came from Italy. Because music was everywhere and my parents – remember those huge transparent red vinyl records – but my father had all these records. My father was always playing these. We were always listening to operas, arias, concertos and it was just something that was always prevalent. Even today- I’m listening to different things but it’s still a strong driving force.

McDonald: Can you talk a little bit about your studio or the places you reside in to work and how that affects your process?

O’Brien: I built my house, and I was able to design my own space which is based on the Golden Rectangle, a theme that is also relevant in my work. My studio space consists of Northern windows for bright non-direct light, fail safe storage systems and everything is movable. I am able to put things away easily and quickly to change tasks, like move the taboret and set up watercolors, shelves for pencils, etc., clear a space for framing, find materials for shipping. The things that are necessary to have in my studio are a Big flat table, sitting level, workbench tops, standing level, drafting table, metal sheet and magnets for collage, all my supplies, flat storage for paper, storage systems for botanicals and papers, inspirational things, white walls, windows, Epson printer, computers, phone.

McDonald: Thank you again so much for letting me interview you. It really has been a pleasure.

O’Brien: You’re welcome. Thank you for the interview!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Legacy of the Kentucky Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowships

The reception last Friday for the Kentucky Arts Council's Uncommon Wealth exhibit was truly exceptional. The spacious gallery at the Lyric Theatre was graced with 62 sparkling works of art. The variety represented by the Al Smith Fellowship recipients made it interesting- paintings, ceramics, furniture, bead work, drawing. Fortunately for you, the exhibit will be at the Lyric until January 11, 2014. And after the exhibit travels the state - stayed tuned for updates.

©Greg Orth, Lori Meadows, Executive Director of KAC, KO'B & Mark Whitley, fellow 2012 recipient
I was delighted to be in the company of some of my most admired artist friends: Gwen Heffner, Double White, porcelain, Mark Whitley, Thinking Chair #2, wood, Hunter Stamps, Vicissitude, Ceramic, Marco Logsdon, Circle Painting #3, oil, tar, beeswax and resin on Board, Jeffrey Nichols, Yellow/Red Still Life, earthenware, CJ Pressma, Ruins Overlooking the Pecos River, photographuy, Jennifer Reis, Seven for a Secret, embellished textile assemblage, and more I wished I knew.
©Greg Orth, art and art lovers at the Uncommon Wealth reception
I want to thank all the people who came to show your support! I know you left with smiles on your faces after seeing all this talent displayed in one place.
©Greg Orth, KO'B with Rainbow Parrot, drawing, collage on Panel, 20x16x2"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

5th Open Studio Was Superlative

It was exciting to meet so many new Art Lovers and to welcome back loyal collectors. Thank you all for coming, and sharing your opinions about how you loved the studio, the art, the drive through the countryside. You made it a memorable occasion. I made this 2.5 minute video for those of you who could not make it, and as a souvenir for those who did.

It was good to learn that so many people loved the idea of the ARTTOUR and were able to see some of the other 10 locations.

I loved what Brandon Long  from Community Art Center shared on Facebook; We had a great time at your studio. It was the one place that my baby  didn't want to be held. She kept wiggling loose so she could see what was next. My girls loved the display case with the hand made dolls. J. later found a gingko leaf and pressed it in her sketchbook so she could use it in a collage. So inspiring. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

look for this sign

Look for this sign as you drive through the countryside for this weekend's Open Studio ARTTOUR.
©John A. Dixon, ARTTOUR sign, 18 x 24"
And I will look for you coming down my driveway at Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary to Kathleen O'Brien Studio.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Map to the ARTTOUR Open Studios

Click here to find a printable map to all 12 locations on the ARTTOUR. This is the first year that there are 12 locations in Mercer and Boyle counties. I am very excited to see the interest that will be generated in the arts. In the past years I have teamed up with Pleasant Hill, Mike Frasca and Fox Hutt, so now we have really expand! Enjoy a scenic country drive November 2 - 3 and stay awhile.
©O'Brien & Dixon, thumbnail of the ARTTOUR map
On the same website, find a printable itinerary;
©O'Brien & Dixon, thumbnail of the ARTTOUR itinerary
And you may follow us on our Facebook Event Page.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You Will See New Art in a Gorgeous Setting

I just got so excited watching last year's Open Studio video. It brought back memories of talking with you about art & life. And just seeing, again, some of the art that went home with you brings my mission of art more clearly into focus. So as I hang my latest I look forward to hearing your responses in a few days.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Monad, watercolor, drawing, rose petal, found image, ink, collage, 12x7.5"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Surprises & Prizes at the Open Studio

If you remember after last years Open Studio I sent an email saying if you printed it out and brought it to my 5th annual Open Studio you would have a chance to win an original collage. Well, if you forgot, contact me, I will resend the email to you. There will be more surprises. I'll show you here 1 prize for the first 6 visitors who want a souvenir from Sunwise Farm & Sanctuary;
©Kathleen O'Brien, Flower Seeds
but I'm not saying all...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Surprise for Your Kiddies

Here at Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary we have hundreds of birds. they are distracting at times. Like on a dusk walk if we see a big bird, we know it is the owl. I thought for my 5th Annual Open Studio I would make a coloring book about a few birds you may see while you are here.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Some Birds You Might See at Sunwise Farm & Sanctuary, coloring book
While you are here seeing lots of art, you might want to walk on our numerous trials to have a walkabout, probably escorted by one of our or neighbor Corgis.
©Kathleen O'Brien,  trail back to the house from Honeysuckle Haven with Corgi
I will be sending updates to our ARTTOUR facebook event page. You will want to find out about the other 11 participating locations' activities!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Table of Elements with only 25...

...or is it a Magic rectangle of 5 x 5. If you look really closely while your are here at the 5th annual open studio you will see that the tiny heart shaped petals are glued onto parts from the periodic table of elements.This multiple is not quite a magic square, yet upon closer look each of the red numbers adds up to 65 horizontally.
©Kathleen O'Brien, 7 Elements, watercolor, drawing, solder, petals, collage

What are the 7 elements that you see?
©Kathleen O'Brien, 7 Elements, detail, watercolor, drawing, solder, petals, collage

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wood Fired Bread Oven Preparations

In a few weeks we will fire up Greg's masonry bread oven to cook harvest fare for the open studio. We enjoy it, and we know it's getting close to the time we'll see you.
©Greg Orth, wood fired bread oven
Greg's book,  "My Experience Using "The Bread Builders" Book, or How I Made a Masonry Wood Fired Oven" is available on Amazon.com. It has many photos of his meticulous step-by-step process.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Greg working on the oven
And you might enjoy watching this video we made last year, just before 4th Annual Open Studio.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Show 1901 "Transparent Nature"

The Kentucky Life show #1901 on Kentucky Educational Television is now online.
©Kathleen O'Brien, page 24 from WOW Journal, watercolor, ink, KET card, 7x5"

It is about half hour long and the segment about my art "Transparent Worlds" is the last 10 minutes. I am very happy with it. It is amazing the detail closeups they capture. The first 2 segments are very interesting, about Bardstown being named America's most beautiful small town, and Doc Shuffett, who I would like to have as my doc. I think you will enjoy the whole show. Please let me know!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Simply Numbers

You will see a lot of new collages at my 5th annual open studio. Since the summer time numbers, math, geometry have continued to hold my interest. This multiple is simply numbers. When I was painting I wanted to have every color, I felt like a kid. That stage was really loose and fun.  Each number was drawn with ink, then laminated over the watercolor. Each piece has that number of petals, mica & scripts. Either I am regressing, or this was created for a child's room. Or both... .
©Kathleen O'Brien, Numbers 2,detail of Numbers 1-9, watercolor, drawing, collage

©Kathleen O'Brien, Numbers 1-9, watercolor, drawing, collage

Thursday, October 3, 2013

For Ms. Rosa

When Becky from Tribeca Trunk told me Ms. Rosa's daughter bought her 9 Bird Eggs for her birthday, from the Light, As a Feather exhibit it made me very happy. Happy to know how joyfully it was received. Since you asked to know more about it, Ms. Rosa, I write a few thoughts about one of my favorite artworks.
©B.N. Ochenkoski, Ms. Rosa's gift of 9 Bird Eggs by Kathleen O'Brien
I usually begin art making without any preconceived ideas. This piece was different, I intended to create collages as a multiple about bird eggs. It required some research about birds habits. You can also see this as a magic square of 9.
©O'Brien, 9 Bird Eggs, multiple collage, 30 x 30" 
After painting the backgrounds abstractly with watercolor, I drew each egg with Prismacolor pencils. Each one in the collage is the exact size one would find in a nest. Each drawing was glued onto the painting.
©O'Brien, 9 Bird Eggs, detail of Mocking Bird Egg
Mica pieces that I formed to size represent the number of eggs one would generally find in that birds nest.
©O'Brien, 9 Bird Eggs, detail of  Meadowlark Egg, mica
For each bird I attempted to gather botanicals that each would use in their nesting materials. so in this example of the Song Sparrow - one of my favorite song birds - you see leaves and grass glued onto the painting.
©O'Brien, 9 Bird Eggs, detail of  botanicals, Song Sparrow Egg
In all my work I have scripts that are an invented language, a universal language that you may bring your own meaning to what you see. This is symbolic of the importance to everything in life, of communication. Notice how these strips of scripts are aligned in 3 rows, intended to feel connected. This symbolizes our connection to all life.
©O'Brien, 9 Bird Eggs, detail of  Bluebird Egg, script
May you enjoy this as much as I have cherished it, and belated Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sharing Figs

Part of everyday for the past few weeks is spent gathering figs. And we are also harvesting our first lemons. Imagine.
©Greg Orth, figs and lemon
For YOU and the 5th annual Open Studio I have concocted a fig, lemon, caramelized onion & orange thyme jam to go on crackers we'll make in the bread oven. (see next week's post about Greg's wood fired oven). 
©Greg Orth, fig tree & 6' zinnias
Gratefully, we had plenty of rain this summer so our fig tree this year is immense, with hundreds of figs. And we were looking up at those zinnias, unbelievable. Along with giving bags of figs away, eating fresh ones everyday, i have made fig - lemon marmalade, fig - orange marmalade and dried so many. Soon your can taste for yourself

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Through Art You Meet the Nicest People

My recent reception for Light, as a Feather at Tribeca Trunk was a big success with 8 sales so far. The even more fulfilling aspect for me is making new friends with the people who support the arts by buying art. First of all, I am so pleased to get to know Becky Neal Ochenkoski, owner of TT and enthusiastic art collector. What intrigued me was that she curated some of my most subtle, and favorite artworks to be shown together.
©Greg Orth, KOB & Ochenkoski with 3 Book of Light pages & 3 Treasure Maps, collages by Kathleen O'Brien
Becky's assistant, Sydney Fulkerson, is starting to collect art early in her life. She is enrolled at UK studying Merchandising, Apparel, and Textiles major with a minor in Business. It pleases me deeply that a student would value my art to the extent that she would acquire 2 pieces, Homage for Nightingale & Light of Autumn 4. 

In Sydney's words: "I was drawn to Homage to Nightingale because of the text about the Nightingale and how the male sings a love chant. I am giving this to my parents as a gift for Christmas for them to hang in their lake house that they built for their 25th anniversary."

"I was drawn to Autumn Light 4 for the colors, but also mainly for the word "elegant" used in the piece next to the long, thin, simple leaf used that also represents "elegant." The piece spoke to me on a personal level, as I like to think of myself as being somewhat of an "elegant" person."
©Greg Orth, KO'B with Sydney Fulkerson holding Homage to Nightingale & Light of Autumn 4, collages by Kathleen O'Brien
Jeff Kerr & Sharon Tognoni fell in love with Memories of Summer 3 and I fell in love with them. Jeff is in real estate and they have been decorating their new condo. How I love that they are decorating with my art! It means so much to an artist to hear about the joy it brings in to a person's home environment. I enjoyed hearing Sharon's plans for their fresh rooms. 

In Jeff's words: "The painting, Memories of Summer 3, spoke to us immediately,yielding a peaceful feeling of effervescent joy. The summer days are fading with the cool silver rain, causing the leaves to descend with the lasting memories of another resplendent summer in Kentucky, to linger in our hearts and minds forever. Memories of Summer 3 is a reflection of a lasting and beautiful sensation of contentment, that is harmonious with humanity and nature. WE LOVE IT !!!!!" 

©Greg Orth, KO'B with Jeff & Sharon in front of  Memories of Summer 3, collaged drawing by Kathleen O'Brien
So thank you to those others who will bring home my art from this show and all of those of you who shared your appreciation of my art. It means so much to hear things like,
"this isn't just art, this is a 
window into the universe." 
WOW! that adds up to success for me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Uncommon Wealth Exhibit

As a recipient of Kentucky Arts Council's Al Smith Fellowship I have the honor of being in the 30th Year Celebration Exhibit Uncommon Wealth. The juror Jenine Culligan, Senior Curator, Huntington Museum of Art selected Song for a Rainbow Parrot for the exhibit. 
©Kathleen O'Brien, Song for Rainbow Parrot, watercolor, drawing, botanicals on Arches Cover, on panel varnished, 20x16x2"
The works selected of the 62 artists in the exhibit, out of the 175 possible fellowship recipients in it's 30 year history will be on display in the gallery of the 
300 E. 3rd St., Lexington 
Oct. 7, 2013 – Jan. 11, 2014. 
The exhibit will then travel around the state throughout the year, which may necessitate breaking it into two to three smaller exhibits. The final, closing exhibit will be in Louisville in the summer of 2014.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

4:44 pm today

Autumn arrives later today, bringing with it a whole new perspective, the power of strength & introspection. 
It is a time of equilibrium & balance, thankfully.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Equinox, Day = Night, diptych collage with gold leaf & zinnia petals, 24 x 24"
Autumn is associated with the direction West, & the element of water. Some of the other associations; 
Animal, Bear      Color, Black 
      Time of Day, Sunset     Time of Life, Middle Age
 Ancestral Observance, Samhuin      

 Gift of foreknowledge

time of learning how to be comfortable with not knowing allowing trust instead of control

place of the ancestors,
who stand behind us to help break harmful family patterns

time of letting go of our attachments

place of the sitting meditation 

Free 4 the picking

First of all, Welcome to you, Autumn at 4:44 pm ET today.
Here is a sneak peak for some collages I am working on for the Open Studio November 2-3. For some mysterious reason I am inspired by numbers and geometry lately. This is a series about Magic Squares.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Magic Square of 4, in shadow
The series began with the thought of using my 4 leaf clovers. Walking the Corgis at a brisk pace, I will suddenly stop and gaze at a 4 leaf clover. It is so mysterious to me, this has happened countless times.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Magic Square of 9, in process
I am not bragging, but my poor husband has never found one. This does not mean he is poor, but we have been putting our heads together about how we could transfer this luck to the lottery. Does anyone have any suggestions? 
©Kathleen O'Brien, Magic Square of 16, in process
Oh, do come to the Open Studio, maybe you can take one of these home with you for a little bit of luck. Or find one yourself on our trails. there must be hundreds out there!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For Colorado part 1

Gold, Silver, White Energy for Colorado was ritually, prayerfully created and transformed September 17 from Rain Dance 5.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Gold, Silver, White Energy for Colorado, acrylic, watercolor, drawings, collage, 2013, 24x24"

Rain Dance 5 was ritually, prayerfully created and transformed from Rain Reaches the Water Table and Rain Waters the Sweet Grass from June - August 16, 2007 during a prolong drought.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Rain Dance 5, acrylic, 2007, 24x24"
The original collages Rain Reaches the Water Table and Rain Waters the Sweet Grass created in October 2002, humbly asking for rain.
©Kathleen O'Brien, Rain Reaches the Water Table & Rain Waters the Sweet Grass, watercolor, graphite, collage, sage leaves, grass, 2002, 24x24"
My deepest prayers continue for the people, the land , 
the animals and all growing things.