Changing Times


“Nieuwe Wulven Bos,”, Houten, The Netherlands – Up at sunrise to paint this beautiful world!

MAKE THE CHANGE IN YOU…

If there’s something we can learn from this surreal new situation, it’s that we collectively need to do things differently. It’s a forced halt to life as we know it. We cannot continue with our destructive old patterns. The world, nature, our bodies, hearts and souls are crying out for change. We have forced this situation on ourselves. How long would we otherwise have kept going, deaf to the screams of the woodlands, jungles, animals and people around us?

Halt. Stop. Breathe. Breathe some more. Listen to the loud stillness in our hearts. Hear the silent screams of mother nature. Stop resisting and embrace the love and pain surrounding us. Welcome all of it. Little steps. Vow to do it differently. Focus on the flickering little flame inside of you. Cherish it and watch it grow. Then share your light with others. The smallest gestures of kindness, even a little smile or a nod of acknowledgement is worth its weight in gold. Spread love. Spread light. First step; make the change in you and in doing so save the world.

My Mother

Pictured two Summers ago  together with my mother hiking in the mountains near Castletownbere, Co Cork, Ireland.

While reflecting on the theme of strong, inspirational women in my life, I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Just over two weeks ago my mother Mary underwent critical heart surgery in Dublin. With some 1000km between us, I texted her up until she was whisked away for the operation. When I asked her how she was feeling prior to the operation she said she was feeling great; “like I’m going to a musical with my hospital gown on!” I was blown away at how ecstatic she sounded. At such a nerve-racking moment she showed complete faith and acceptance of what was to come and comfort in all the  good wishes, prayers and love that were being sent her way. This to me was a wonderful example of a strong  and inspirational woman of which I’m very proud to be her daughter.

Do you have or did you have a strong woman figure in your life? Would you enjoy the opportunity to reflect on this person during a creative painting workshop? Then the International Women’s Day painting workshop that I will be giving is right for you.
Sunday March 8th (on International Women’s Day), the painting workshop is from 2-4pm,  costing 40 euro of which 50% goes to the charity; Cordaid Memisa.
For more info, see previous blog post.

 

International Women’s Day Painting Workshop

During the painting workshop on the 8th of March to celebrate International Women’s Day, this year we are going to focus on inspirational women the world over. Prior to the workshop your homework is to choose one special woman. It should be a woman you admire for their contribution to you or to the world. It may be somebody famous, e.g. Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Georgia O’Keeffe, Audrey Hepburn, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Ann Frank, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey,  Indira Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Charlotte Bronté en Coco Chanel, to name but a few!

Or it may be somebody you know/knew, e.g. your own mother or someone dear to you. You choose one woman and gather images, text, information or recitations of that person. Bring these to the workshop to use as a base for a collage-based painting in acrylic which we will create during the workshop. It will also be a fun time to share with others why this person inspires you.

The workshop takes place in my studio in ‘Kunsthuis Houten’, de Slinger 2, Houten, The Netherlands on Sunday March 8th from 2-4pm. Participation costs €40 euro of which 50% of the proceeds will be going to Cordaid Memisa, an organization that supports and educates people in need in the world, in particular pregnant women in Kenia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Irak and also in the Netherlands: https://www.cordaid.org/nl/projecten/.  The workshop will be given in both English and Dutch.

To sign up send an e-mail before March 1st to: okeeffeart@outlook.com

Part 2: Painting Revealed

“New York”, 95x150cm, acrylic on canvas, 2017

To understand how “New York” came about I will take you on a journey back in time. In September 2016 I participated in Spirit Business Event in Hilversum ( a 2 day event organized by two Dutch business coaches, with special guest, American spiritual leader and life coach, Gabrielle Bernstein). During the event we worked with visualisations, meditations and more. As part of this we needed to focus on a dream or desire. For me that was to exhibit my paintings in New York so I focused on that and let it go.

The following Summer of 2017 we decided to take a big family trip To the U.S., mainly to re-visit our friends and old neighbours in Minnesota where we had lived from 2011-2014. We combined this with a trip to New York state and city. Prior to our visit I had been checking out New York galleries on internet in search of my ideal gallery. Agora Gallery was top of my list which I visited. It was exactly how I had visualised it; the large glass front, the pristine inside, the exquisiteness. I knew right there that this was the one.

It was my first time in New York and my impression was one which was overwhelming for the senses. A cacophony on non-stop sounds. Yet its New York, a city that symbolized hope, new life, new opportunities, for so many emigrants including Irish over the centuries. It was also a city of contrasts. The busyness of downtown with a wave of throdding feet, the most on a mission to get somewhere. And then you had the calm, carefree jungle of Central  Park, where time sat still as people relaxed on the grass or benches, in a care-free low tempo mode. And of course we did the usual touristy trips to The Statue of Liberty and surrounding waters, The MOMA, Natural History Museum, Empire State etc. It was a most intriguing experience.

On returning back to the Netherlands, I went to work expressing New York in paint. The only inkling I had was that there sure needed a lot of red in the painting, representing for me both a hardness, a fight for survival mentality, blood and life. It also needed to be bright and light, its sense of hope and dynamism which I think the combination of red/yellow/orange portray.  Also the excitement and buzz of the city needed form. You can hear Sinatra singing in the background. Hard and soft, full of life, bold and dynamic. And this is the painting that emerged. Its currently exhibited at The Yellow Door Gallery in Baltimore, Cork, Ireland.

Also on returning home I initially procrastinated in applying to Agora Gallery but once I did, after a skype interview with the head of the gallery, I was offered a one year contract of representation and an exhibition in May 2018 which meant a return trip to New York for the grand opening and the fulfillment of a dream.

 

 

 

 

Part 1: Painting Revealed : Fire & Water

Fire & Water, 2007, 50x70cm, acrylic on canvas

It was 2007 and the theme I proposed for my adult painting class in Bunnik, The Netherlands, was that of the four elements: fire, water, earth and air. Inspired myself by the theme, I began contemplating the elements of fire and water interspersing as an idea for a painting. I liked the idea of red and blue as base colours. I knew I wanted a strong contrast and that although fire generally has a more transparent quality and often in the direction of yellow, that wasn’t going to work for me visually. Transparent yellows meeting blue would have resulted in greens and yellows which I didn’t want. It was important for me that the meeting of the red and blue, the fire and water was of equal strength, pure and sharp. If you look at the painting where red and blue now overlap you can play with seeing red in front of the blue and vice versa.

Other than this vague idea I had no idea what form the painting would take. The first version which is not seen here was made on paper of A4 size approx. I initially grabbed a large household paint brush and slid the brush with dark paint back and forth horizontally. I then turned the painting upside down and immediately saw mountains. No denying the silhouette of a mountain. A painting was born.

I then proceeded to play with the paint and imagined the sensation of being a bird skimming really low and fast over the water. A sense of speed was important, hence the addition of lines in the water. The initial version looks very similar to this one except for the size and the fact that the waters edge was more straight across and not curved.  When completed. I thought it had potential but wasn’t quite there. Hence, I remade the idea on canvas and added the curved waterfall edge to increase the sense of dynamism which is a common factor in my paintings.

“Fire & Water” has been exhibited in the Netherlands, Ireland and the USA many times. For years knowing it was gem, I refused to sell it. A good friend of mine and avid art collector said if I ever changed my mind about selling it, she would be interested.  Just a couple of years ago I finally succumbed to parting with “Fire & Water”. The painting  found a most glorious home at my friends house in Switzerland, with spectacular views of lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains. And I can visit it!

I consider ”Fire & Water” to be a pivotal painting in my life’s works so far. The reason is not only because of its striking beauty, strong composition and dynamism,  but also because it represents a time in my development when I was between styles; between figurative and abstract. Its figurative, yet fantasy. Representative of a landscape yet is expressive in its colour use. It was a point when I was saying goodbye to painting more realistic Irish landscapes and before my current abstract phase.

Now and again a painting  seems to form itself in front of your eyes and “Fire & Water” was one of those easy births. A painting of which I am proud of even after all those years.

2020 The journey alone…

This is a journey we travel alone and yet are completely connected. On a molecular level we are bursting with pulsating atoms of energy. We go about our daily lives feeling and absorbing many types of energies. Here I will be applying the written word to make sense of the intangible, wavering at times between what makes sense mentally and what the heart knows.

Many things can be a catalyst for experiencing our senses on a new level. A good book, a robin resting, a petal falling, morning dew drops, a beautiful song, a serene poem and even a painting that speaks to you. And it is the latter that I wish to investigate; the connection we can have with art. To do this I will be reflecting on paintings of mine. I plan to share my story, my struggles and thoughts behind the chosen artwork.

Interaction and feedback by you the viewer are most welcome, as each connection and interpretation is unique and I too hope to understand my paintings more by hearing how a painting resonates with you.

For the duration of 2020 I plan to regularly highlight a painting of mine. With more than a quarter of a century of artworks to choose from, the style and content will no doubt vary a lot. If you’d like to nominate a particular painting of mine for me to write about, just let me know. A full overview of my painting collection can be found on my website: www.oliviaokeeffe.com

This is a journey we travel alone and yet are completely connected. Lets enjoy the journey that this new year brings.

 

Abstract 2010-2015

Conquering Ireland…

On my mission to conquer Ireland in 2019, the kick-off is set on the beautiful island of Sherkin, situated in the south-west. From July 30th-August 5th  my solo exhibition will take place in the local Community Hall. Above are a sample of photos taken during my visit to the island last Summer. Sherkin has a tradition of being a magnet for artists and many of the local artists who live on the island will also be exhibiting on Sherkin throughout the Summer.

Art/Light Installation Impression

Especially for the Culture Night of Houten ( my home town in the Netherlands) on March 30th, ( https://www.cultuurnachthouten.nl/ ) I went out of my comfort zone and created an art installation with the use of simple materials including rope, wool, branches, neon paint and black light. This installtion took place in the passage way of a small shopping centre. Stepping inside the black draped curtains, an exciting and magical journey revealed itself, while soft Celtic background music set the mood. Due to the dark setting and blacklight / UV lamps, it was tricky to capture the installation on camera. However is a photo impression: