Artists in Their Studios: In the Now with Kathleen O’Brien

Harrodsburg, KY, USA

What is your work about (elevator pitch)?

I combine abstract watercolor, drawing and botanicals into collages that appear dimensional. The subject reflects positive aspects of nature as witnessed by the present moment and the cycles of the seasons and time of life.

Do you have a studio routine, strategy or ritual that helps you get in the creative zone?

After morning meditation, coffee, walk and chores around home and garden, I paint or create until noon when I break my fast. I eat and take a siesta, then return to the studio. This includes checking emails and social media. I work until 5, when I cook, talk to the kids & grandkids, friends and husband. Structure and discipline work for me, though I throw in a dose of doing nothing and spontaneity occasionally. 

How has the pandemic affected your art practice?

From outward appearances, it has not affected the practice, because for 20 years I’ve been used to having disciplined alone time for 12 hours a day. Attending trade fairs, hosting open studios and gallery receptions fulfilled my social needs. Slowing down because of age that routine had already begun to slow. With this era, I have had a marked disinclination to sell my work, despite the fact that for many years I have steadily invested and improved my website with the intention to do so. I can’t really explain it other than a notion I’ve had to work on my legacy, but not sure what that means. Inwardly, I await inspiration for that. It involves how to continue to steward our 36 acre sanctuary we’ve been developing for 20 years, most recently building the studio annex. Also, on my mind is how to close down an art business for the end of one’s life. If I were to think what if I could have anything, it would be to have a permanent collection of my work and its many facets from 52 years, so far. That includes an artist residency. 

What is your greatest reward, memory, accomplishment or proud moment as an artist?

The year I received Kentucky Arts Council’s highest award – the Al Smith Fellowship, received a large commission from UK Healthcare, had a feature film produced of me by Kentucky Educational TV and became a Consultant at Kentucky Peer Advisory Network.

What is one thing you MUST have in your studio?

Natural light.

What would you tell your future self about being an artist right now?

Your dad would be proud that you followed his advice to always do the best that you can. Put another way, my mantra from Henry Miller; “let us do our best, even if it gets us nowhere.”

How has the Art NXT Level Academy improve your art career?

ANL has helped me get a bit more up to speed with social media, which is not my favorite thing. Believe it or not, it influenced me to get my first iPhone and use Instagram, even more to enjoy it. So, taking that route I have found a much bigger world of art. Perhaps the most important is the validation of my belief that cultivating friendships and reciprocal relationships leads to one’s true art world. Practicing patience that everything worth doing does take time, and just keep going, don’t quit. I don’t mean to be a brown noser, but you, Sergio are so sincere and willing to go the extra mile with your service; it’s really a first I’ve run across with the other art biz people I’ve encountered. You’ve shown that one can have a digital friend. Thank you.

What is the best art career advice you’ve ever received?

Trust in God, your creativity and keep going.

Social media links

https://kathleen-obrien.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kathleenobrienstudio/

https://www.facebook.com/KathleenOBrienStudio/

https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.obrien.9210

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-o-brien-42807512/

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