Celebrating Mid-Summer Studio Update

Happy Lughnasa, time of the first harvest. This time last year life at Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary was all about “Art of the Garden”, growing food and flowers and how that showed up in my art, prompting Valentines in July. This year, to quote a friend, I’m trying not to garden. Yes, the weather, with plenty of rain, has been supportive of the green things to grow on their own with help from Greg’s soil and attention. My summer hiatus from marketing has allowed me to focus completely on art making, event planning, website beautification.

The year has been spent working on “Alexander’s Library” behind the scenes.  Referring to my journal helped me see that I haven’t been idle. For fun, I made this infographic.

Info-graphic of How I spent the first half of 2021, by Kathleen O'Brien

Info-graphic of How I spent the first half of 2021, by Kathleen O’Brien

“Alexander’s Library”

“Alexander’s Library” is coming along. I’m still painting and making books on the subject of seasons. The next step is to make videos of each. Being a total novice at that, I’m dragging my feet a bit. For starters I created an image that will be the first frame of each video. It took many tries with the brush and sumi ink to be satisfied. The plan is to have a premier of them at the 13th Annual Autumn Open Studio on November 6. My hope is to see many of you in person! More surprises are in store.

Studio Specials

I’ve been supplementing the book making with making small collages, two series so far, “Backstories” and “Tributaries”. Like this years’ Studio Specials, they will be released sometime in the fall. It’s untypical to be making so much art and not showing it, I just want to spend time making, and I’m allowing for that (hiatus!). Here’s a look at one. Seeing this again brings to mind a phrase I heard on my morning walk, “shade, shadow, shelter”. I wonder how many people notice my obsession with drawing shadows on my art?

©Kathleen O'Brien, "Backstories 08"

©Kathleen O’Brien, “Backstories 08”, watercolor, graphite, pastepaper, ink, collage

Sprucing up the Website

In my art group, ArtNXTLevel I shared my story page as I begin my website update. My artist friend Keira McArthur, wrote; “I love your story, Kathleen. It’s rich and deep and flows like a river. Somehow, I want to know more about the curiosities you have too. Like the way your work connects so organically with the land, is so beautifully co-created with plants and geography, trails and paths and things that grow.” Having peers to review steps along the way is priceless, thank you, Keira. There is still much to do, but this kind of cheer motivates me. Stay tuned for the final, or have a look now.

My Story

“My Story” page image of 4 stages of my art life

Art online

“Beginnings/Endings” shown through Arts Connect has just ended. The artists in and around Lexington are lucky to have a advocate like Kate Savage to provide opportunities for us through these challenging times. She hosts valuable artist reception/artist talks via zoom where the public can hear the artist comments and ask questions. It was fun, and a great way to meet new folks.

Beginnings-Endings 1, 2, 3

Beginnings-Endings 1, 2, 3


The art trip to New Harmony Indiana was an expansive launch into the world after being shut in so long. The experiences fueled a story about it on the blog. I truly appreciate the freedom to travel, and now we plan a trip to visit the grandsons. One I’ve only met at the age of 2 weeks, when we arrived just before having to stay home. How does travel stimulate you? It cleans the slate of ensconced habits, and shakes awareness of the present moment.

Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden with the Atheneum in the background

Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden with the Atheneum in the background

End of an Era

It’s sad to lose a friend, one who was friends to hundreds of Kentucky artists, Gwen Heffner, Information Specialist at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. Gwen was the first person to represent my art in Kentucky at Contemporary Artifacts Gallery when we moved here 22 years ago. She was such a supportive person.

It was serendipitous meeting, noticing her gallery in Berea. We stopped in to look and buy something for our anniversary (which ended up being one of her porcelain vases). She asked about my art and I just happened to have some art in the car. She started representing me on the spot. If you are not an artist, you know you never do that, but it was organic, unplanned.

Many years ago, she helped me formulate my Open Studios around the 4 seasons- 4 directions theme through a KY Peer Advisory Network consultation and encouraged me to become a consultant as well. She had a sharp eye, I could always count on her to pick out my best work, and give honest critique. She helped me be represented by KMAD, KMAC. I hired her to curate the show/convention I conducted for the Society of Layerists in Multi Media. It was a high point to be in the exhibits she curated for the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea over the years. Many thanks go out to Gwen from me and many others.

Curator Gwen Heffner and I by my "Abraham Lincoln's Kentucky" and "Pleasant Hill Botanicals" at "225: Artists Celebrate Kentucky's History" reception: photo, Greg Orth

Curator Gwen Heffner and I by my “Abraham Lincoln’s Kentucky” and “Pleasant Hill Botanicals” at “225: Artists Celebrate Kentucky’s History” reception at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, photo, Greg Orth

Gwen loved gardening and flowers. We scheduled her visits here to Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary around floral events like our Lilac Festival, this one in 2015. Another favored time to catch up over summertime lunch was Morning Glory extravaganza.

Gwen Heffner visits the Lilacs at Sumwise Farm and Sanctuary

Gwen Heffner visits the Lilacs at Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary