There’s something about a creative person who has been on their path for a long time. The certainty and steadiness of their vision shines through their work with a clarity that is breathtaking. As an artist still in the midst of gathering the threads of my voice to me, Kathleen O’Brien’s vision and the softness and grace of her images spoke to me immediately.
That clarity (and her resemblance to my childhood neighbour) make me connect immediately when we met in an online gathering of creative entrepreneurial folks. I’m delighted she said yes to this interview.
Kathleen O’Brien has been a visionary artist since 1968, expressing herself through oil painting, beaded artifacts and watercolors, drawings and botanicals combined into collages that appear dimensional. Her core intention is to share art that is layered with meaning and healing energy.
What does it mean to be an artist? And when did you know you were an artist (aka intensely creative person)?
An artist integrates their thoughts, feelings, energy & intuitions into aesthetic creative expression in all facets of their life – their art, domestic environments (home and garden) and relationships. They share their expression with the world.
I accepted that I am an artist in 1968 when I sold my first painting.
When you consider the words luscious and soulful, what comes to mind? Is there anyone you know who embodies these traits? When do you feel luscious and soulful?
These words, especially soulful, bring to mind honestly seeking and knowing my deepest self and authentically expressing its wisdom and vision.
Henry Miller comes to mind. So honest, so true, so deeply human.
I feel luscious and soulful when I dance and make art and love.
What do you love most about your body? And why?
It’s ability to heal and respond to care. It reminds me to be conscious.
What brings you pleasure? What senses are involved?
Walking on my land with my and my neighbors Corgis. All senses are involved plus I often get inspirations and ideas.
If you had to throw a dinner and dance party how would you do it?
Everything would be ready – clean house and gardens, and menu prepared. Set a beautiful table, pick many bouquets from the garden. Get the candles, lanterns and outdoor & indoor lighting set up, maybe a bonfire. Choose the music. When the quests arrive, I am ready to party with them, not be slaving in the kitchen or worrying over anything.
Where/how do you find your inspiration?
From nature, birds, flowers, scenes of beauty. From listening inside my heart through meditation and Shamanic Journey. I start my art making with a prayer, a blank sheet of paper, and see what happens.
What does your ideal day look like?
A regular day: Wake up refreshed. Walk the dogs. 8 directional exercises. Work in the studio. Meditate. Some time with a friend or kids either by phone or in person. Cook a great dinner to be ready when my husband gets home. Work together in the garden. Watch a cool movie. Read a bit. Good night’s sleep.
An extraordinary day: traveling with my husband any place we have never been, exploring to our hearts content, hiking, soaking in a hot springs, star gazing.
What advice would you give to your younger self? How old is she when she needs this advice?
To 20 year old, finish college.
What is your most treasured possession? Tell a little story about it.
One day during a lunch break from Naropa, I walked along Boulder Creek. In the refreshing water I found a small, black, flat, smooth stone with an exact circle hole in the center, another pebble lodged inside the hole. I instantly knew for certain that it was a stone used for fire-starting left by the Arapahoe, a gift for me from my distant past.
Inspired resources: please share any heart-moving soul-shaking artistry or experiences that have moved you. What made it so powerful?
My visit to the newly formed Joseph Cornell Study Center at the Smithsonian in the late 1970’s, inspired and influenced my aesthetic and my love of the art of storage forever. Joseph Cornell’s mysticism and process gave me permission to be spiritual and use found materials in my art.
Learning how to draw and create the golden rectangle and spiral from my brother, an architect became a determining factor in the underlying structure of composition and design. It is in much of my art, and I designed our home as a golden rectangle.
Who are your favourite artists? And why?
Jean Pless. She is a true Renaissance woman, master of anything she tackles with extreme originality; home design and building, printmaking, painting, soil maker, chair maker, seamstress, cook and baker (grinds her own grain by hand) doll maker, plaster maker – all living off the grid. And she always does exactly what she wants to do, without regard to marketing. (you won’t find her online!)
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your art?
Art is a spiritual practice for me. I create something knowing it is meant to serve someone in an uplifting, harmonious manner. I think art is imperative for the world.
ps – if you know of any amazing artists I can profile in this series, send me an e-mail with their info – I’m always excited to connect with interesting amazing creatives.