hotel art

April Studio Update

April Studio Update

The easterly winds from Siberia have finally stopped blowing here and sweet Spring is for real, it seems. All the more reason to embrace good things happening in the studio, including new work and a minor studio accident!

December Studio Update: A Year to Remember

As 2017 winds down, I am grateful. While it has been the hardest year of my life (one reason I am thankful it is over), it has also been one of unexpected opportunity, growth, and new beginnings.

New Commission: Inspired by the Coastline

When a private collector came to me wanting one of my Playing With Fire pieces for her home on the water, I was excited to see where coastal inspiration took us. I presented three sketches, all slightly different takes on her theme.

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #1 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #1 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #2 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #2 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #3 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

Kelly M. O'Brien, sketch #3 for coast-inspired client commission ©2017

The client and her husband selected sketch #1. This one was actually my favorite, inspired directly by the topography of where their home is located in Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. Place and homeland have featured prominently in my work since moving overseas from the US in 2011, but not necessarily in my Playing With Fire series. Here was an opportunity to marry the two – my more abstract work with themes and inspiration that are close to home.

This has been one of my larger burned paper pieces to date, so safety was paramount in what I fondly call The Burning Shed. I use an unfinished stone out-building on our property to do this kind of work, complete with stainless steel workbench, certified respirator, fireproof jumpsuit, fire blanket, fire extinguisher and ventilation fans. Action video below!

And the finished framed piece:

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 40 . Paper, gold leaf, flame. 52 x 47 x 2 inches. ©2017. Private commission.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 40. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 52 x 47 x 2 inches. ©2017. Private commission.

Something that excites me about this piece is that the work is becoming more object-like and sculptural. By floating the artwork inside a larger frame, all sides of the piece come into play. In this case, the object's irregular shape was informed by the state of Connecticut, but the float allows me to be otherwise unconstrained by the rectangular shape of a frame. Stay tuned on this idea!

The path from sketches to finished product was a bit more complicated for this commission. The size of the piece presented some framing challenges, mainly due to color restrictions for the larger mount board (matting) on which the artwork floats. The client's interior designer specified Pantone colors for my framer to match, which meant the board had to be painted. The UK uses a different color system, so we had to visually match Pantone paint sample cards to the RAL system here. All very geeky and boring if this isn't your thing! Luckily, it is mine, and we got it right in the end, thanks to the patience and professionalism of my framer, Ian Pittman and his team at The Framing Workshop in Bath.

Frame check for  Playing With Fire No. 40 . Kelly M. O'Brien ©2017

Frame check for Playing With Fire No. 40. Kelly M. O'Brien ©2017

Another challenge was creating something interesting and layered without making the final framed work too deep, as the artwork hangs on a wall over which a large flatscreen TV glides up and down. Instead of simplifying the design, I found ways to retain the layering while staying within the client's design specs.

Overall, I'm really pleased with how this piece turned out. Many thanks to the team at The Framing Workshop in Bath, to HMC Logistics for the TLC of their art handlers and expertise to get the final product safely into the client's hands, and a huge thank you to this collector for the opportunity to create something special for their home.

New Commission + New Toy: Dubai Hotel project

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 25  and  No. 26 . Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches each. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 25 and No. 26. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches each. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai. Images: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

What happens when you take a blowtorch to paper? All kinds of toasty, crispy, singed wonderfulness! These two recent commissions for The Address Boulevard Dubai are evidence that you can do so without burning down the studio.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 26 (detail) . Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai. Image: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 26 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai. Image: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

Contrary to what I thought would happen, taking torch to paper allows for a range of effects. From subtle surface browning - kind of like toasting a marshmallow - to complete combustion, the possibilities are surprising. As I work more with a torch, I'm eager to see how the work evolves.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 25 (detail) . Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai Image: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 25 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 35.5 x 29 x 2.65 inches. ©2016. Commissioned for The Address Boulevard Dubai Image: Z. Al-Gafoor, Image Centre

I'm very pleased for this work to be landing in a completely different part of the world, and grateful for the continued support for my work by the team at Soho Myriad Fine Art Consultants.

New Commission: Paper Wall Panels for Norwegian Cruise Lines

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 22 , detail. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 22, detail. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

This new commission for Norwegian Cruise Lines recently shipped out for framing, once again through the capable hands of the fine art consultants at Soho Myriad. This is our third custom project together (and nine total pieces) since September and it feels like we're starting to get it down to a system. I really appreciate Soho Myriad's experience in the business of commissioned commercial art—and am happy that I tend to be a quick study!

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 21 and 22 . Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 21 and 22. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

The two pieces we're creating for NCL will go on their Hawaiian cruise ship, Pride of America, in dry dock for refurbishment through mid-March. They were originally to hang in the revamped Mandara Spa, but once they were finished, we realized that their depth might require them to be placed elsewhere.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 21 , detail. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 21, detail. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 32 x 32 x 2.65 inches. ©2016.

With these pieces under my belt, I am itching to try some new ideas for this series. We have another commission in the pipeline, so it might be an opportunity to play with fire even more.