Celebrating my 50th year as an artist brings me to this century. As we were building our home I painted my last oil painting of Cosmic Nest series. The scene depicts a cosmic celebration of the millennium for my ancestors. The Grail featured in the painting is a wedding glass of my parent’s seated on a bardic table of remembrance that overlooks fireworks and galaxies.

The ancestors infuse the drink with the energy of love and support that vitalizes the table from which we can be nurtured. There’s my grandfather’s Christmas orange, a shamrock from the old country, a Jasmine blossom from grandmother, a gold coin for abundance and a talisman from a feathered friend. The archway leads us through and out to their realm beyond. The symbol of the archway, begun from a photograph my mother took has been a recurring one that I wrote about in this post.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Grail", oil painting, 2000

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Grail”, oil painting, 2000

My last two oil paintings were in my first exhibit in Kentucky at Gallery on the Square. They were painted on boards (from the building) as triptychs. When the side panels are closed the piece looks like a double doorway with knobs. Each of the pieces were installed with interactive objects.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Healing Pool", oil painting, 2001

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Healing Pool”, triptych oil painting, silver leafed oil painted gourd, 2001

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Talisman for the Children", oil painting, mirror, driftwood, milagros, silver leaf, feathers, 2001

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Talisman for the Children”, oil painting, mirror, driftwood, Milagros, silver leaf, feathers, 2001

With the new millenium came a whole new media, mixed media collage. For one thing it had been a year since I had a working studio. Secondly, I wanted a media that could be finished quickly. I love oil paints, especially the fragrance and the vibrancy, but painting in old masters style meant waiting ages for the layer to dry before painting the next layer, and one year before varnishing it to completion.

Switching to watercolor and acrylic freed up a loose and simple style that includes botanicals easily found on the land, dried and glued. Use of Arches Cover paper provided a surface for graphite and colored pencil drawing. This was the beginning of a prolific output.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Favorite Climber", watercolor, drawing, morning glory leaf, collage, 2001

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Favorite Climber”, watercolor, drawing, morning glory leaf, collage, 2001

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Summer Energy", watercolor, drawing, zinnia petals, collage, 2001

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Summer Energy”, watercolor, drawing, zinnia petals, collage, 2001

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Love Birds", watercolor, drawing, rose petals, collage, 2002

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Love Birds”, watercolor, drawing, rose petals, collage, 2002

You might recall the “Rolling Requiem” project for the first anniversary of 9/11. Mozart’s Requiem mass, K. 626, was sung around the world for a 24-hour period by chorale groups in honor of those who died on September 11, 2001. When I found out about the project I decided to create collages all day while listening to the Requiem, Mozart’s last and in my opinion, most profoundly beautiful work. It was my way of participating in the event.

Afterward I contacted Madeline Johnson, the creator of the event. She had much good feedback from people around the world about art’s ability to heal. She was touched that she and the project had inspired my artwork. I sent the 8 collages to her, and they became a part of the Seattle Symphony collection. Below is Requiem, Sanctus, to see more from the series, named for the movements from the Mass, see this post.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Requiem, Sanctus", watercolor, drawing, rose petals, collage on paste paper, 2002

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Requiem, Sanctus”, watercolor, drawing, rose petals, collage on paste paper, 2002

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