New Work: Playing With Fire, inspired by nature

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 32. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 40 x 28 x .25 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 32. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 40 x 28 x .25 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

My burned paper series, Playing With Fire, has had a nice run for over a year now. Commissions have been for versions of two basic designs: concentric circles and diagonal lines. While no two pieces can be alike given the medium, I'm interested in evolving this series to new ideas.

I've begun experimenting with using patterns in nature to inform the work. This stemmed from research for a new commission in Dubai, inspired by sand dune patterns in the Arabian Desert. Once I started looking at other patterns in nature - veins of a leaf, a knot of wood, shattered ice, waves, shells, even migrating birds - I realized that the possibilities are endless.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 31. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 40 x 28 x .25 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 31. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 40 x 28 x .25 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

Another solution I'm experimenting with is creating work with less dimensional depth to allow for less complex framing. The work to date has been 2.5 to 5 inches deep, requiring an investment in special framing. The work will still need to be custom-framed, but designers and collectors will have more options at the shallower depth.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 30. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 20 x 28 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 30. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 20 x 28 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre.

Stay tuned here as the experiments continue!