As I’m getting ready for the 12th Annual Autumn Open Studio, I revisited Madonna Lilies, 1 of 3 large works that I’m showing for the first time. It’s also 12 small parts of the larger piece.  I mentioned this artwork for the mid-summer Art of the Garden Tour, but never went into details about the story.

©Kathleen O'Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies

©Kathleen O’Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies, 30×22″

The first idea was to create a series for Mothers Day. It was thrilling to find a bunch at the grocery store for $1, and they lasted for several weeks. I was enamored with the shapes, fragrance and the synchronicity of finding them after our deep freeze trip to Colorado to meet my baby grandson. My friend had us to dinner there, where the centerpiece was lilies, our mutual favorite flower. Having these lilies connected me back to these precious times, just before we closed down.

©Kathleen O'Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies11, 8x8"

©Kathleen O’Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies11, 8×8″

Working from photographs, I explored the shapes and negative spaces in watercolor. In February, the plan was to have them ready for a Mother’s Day event. Then all our plans changed. I became distracted, wondering how to proceed as an artist during a shutdown. So I took the time to put all my efforts into painting and gardening. It was a very freeing time.

©Kathleen O'Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies 9, 8x8"

©Kathleen O’Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies 9, 8×8″

The Madonna Lilies became more abstracted, some kind of expression of the inexplicable. The paintings have many layers. The top glaze is Daniel Smith Primatek paints made from gem Pigments, Lapis Lazuli (historically reserved for painting The Madonna’s robe) Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Serpentine and Minnesota Pipestone.

©Kathleen O'Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies 4, 8x8"

©Kathleen O’Brien, 12 Madonna Lilies 4, 8×8″