I am supper excited to present Alexander’s Library and the paintings from the Grace series at the Lexington Public Library, Eastside Branch in February – March. I am happy that this coincides with the first mid-season celebration of the year, Imbolc and Candlemas. Even though the art work is completed there is much to prepare for an exhibit. One of the important tasks is writing the statement, which I’m sharing here.
Alexander’s Library Statement by Kathleen O’Brien
My paintings depict the energy of the present moment in nature. Multiple layers of color, shadow, writing, and pattern convey this essence. I am influenced by the movement of the seasons and life’s cycles. This essence is explored in my work through my imagination and the visible, spirit and form, beauty and mystery, complexity and simplicity, fragility and strength. In an age dominated by technology, I want my art to spark your imagination and transport you to the tranquility of your soul’s center.
This focus can be discerned in the artist books of Alexander’s Library and the artworks from the Grace series, created in 2021-2022.
Alexander’s Library was begun in the winter. You can follow through time as you experience books with titles like Imbolc, Spring Next Week, Last Day of Winter; Murmurations, Waters of March, Nesting, Summer Hiatus, and There is No Hurry. I began each book by writing impressions of the moment on a large sheet. These thoughts were written with connected words with the intention to sidestep the conscious mind. Some script is an invented language that you might bring meaning to. In this way, the energy is imbued into the paper. After writing I painted both sides with watercolor. The sheet was torn, folded and sewn into a book. The process of constructing then deconstructing and finally reconstructing was empowering for reasons I was to unearth later.
There was something very comforting in holding, turning, and feeling the papers like my favorite Arches Cover. I remembered a small book our family made of original drawings, poems and memories for my mother in her last years. She kept it nearby so she could look at it often. That’s when I realized Alexander’s Library was a legacy project, one of putting my art in a form that could be easily viewed and preserved. I named the collection after one of my grandsons, with a play on the idea of the Alexandria Library. When making a new book, I add my knowledge and experience to an artifact that will be cherished.
Regarding the empowerment of the process, I notice that the first painted marks are often chaotic. Inherent in my creative activity is the chaos I observe in today’s world. The painting is “destroyed” like the Tower in the Tarot. Then it is rebuilt as a book that conveys a visual reinterpretation of finding a peaceful outcome. Transformation.
The Paintings from the Grace series began in the autumn. October 1-4 was created as I noticed the changing patterns of bird migrations, flying to their next season. December is my month of retreat and in meditation, the swan emerged as a symbol of grace. When the tornado of historic proportions struck Kentucky, and stopped just miles from us I understood why this gift of grace was given to me. I poured all the energy of these moments into these prayer paintings, The State of Grace, December, 1-4. Gratefully we returned to tranquil times, and Being in the State of Grace emerged at the beginning of the year. On a dreary January day, sitting mindlessly, staring out the window I noticed a formation of raindrops streaming down in an elongated triangle. It was mesmerizing, and the phrase came to mind that it was a blessing from above, so Blessings1-6 evolved.
I created Angel Play 1-4 in the last days of winter. On Valentine’s Day, the Red-winged blackbird bachelors started to return, coming to roost overnight in the bamboo, with ever increasing numbers each evening. That is a prominent sign of the spring ahead here on Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary. The first layer included words by John O’Donohue from his book Four Elements. Ojo de Dios and Dragonfly are works that I took my time to paint, and included botanicals from the garden, which takes a big focus of my summer hiatus.
I have written much more on these topics; please visit my blog posts: