Kathleen O’Neil Stevens, Allied Member ASID is an award winning artist and designer with an aesthetic towards time worn sophistication. Growing up in a family of creative’s, she dreamed of being an artist. Observing her Father and Uncle’s old school graphic design, her Grandfather’s sculpture and oil portraits and her Mother’s intuitive clothing and doll design gave her all the inspiration needed to follow her heart. A self taught artist that has realized her dream strictly on a word of mouth clientele though painting murals, rescuing the fine line of a vintage piece of furniture, canvas work large and small, breaking vintage china, designing jewelry or dolly couture. Kathleen currently works from her studio and gallery at the historic Stutz building in downtown Indianapolis. She also teaches and conducts artistic workshops with nationally know artists in various artistic hot spots in the area. Kathleen also enjoys spending time with her family and playing with her new grandson. It seems that dreams really do dance a bit around the edges of reality from time to time.
thalo: How did you create this month’s featured artwork, Mary Queen of Hearts?
Kathleen O'Neil Stevens: This work is a commission I did for a client in Pennsylvania. While in the area on business, she was admiring one of my Lady In The Mirror series published in the Carmel City Magazine. We worked together on selections of vintage china and findings for this piece I created for her personal collection. I simply loved working on this piece for her. She is an amazing person, and was a joy to work with. Mary Queen Of Hearts is #5 in the series.
th: Can you tell us about the various different mediums you work with and if you have a favorite?
KO: As a designer, I am drawn to many different mediums. Canvas and murals, oil, acrylic, pique assiette, jewelry design, fashion, and doll making as well as many others. I love working on my own designs within the process of creating and various mediums required to create my desired effect. Working with varied mediums, I am often asked which one do I love the most. I find the answer to be the one that is in my hands in that moment. . “I love working with vintage findings, fabrics, rich earthy pigments, and quaint pieces of time worn furniture, yearning to instill in each a hopeful new beginning.”
th: How do you describe you work to others?
KO: I love using vintage items, achieving a vintage look in all of the art I create. The time worn piece of furniture that finds my paintbrush, or the chipped piece of china that yearns for a new beginning in the frame of an old mirror. Bits and pieces are combined with vintage findings in my jewelry designs. My canvas work, be it framed or installed directly on a wall, wears a patina that also seems to find me as I work. I find a bit of comfort in creating art with things that have otherwise been determined as no longer useful as is. I would have to say that the common thread that can be found within my lyrical work, will be the feeling of having been there all along, hopefully provoking a smile in the heart.
th: What was the first piece of artwork you sold?
KO: A hand painted Eastlake Wardrobe that I saved from an old barn sale at an auction. The poor piece had been stored in the elements for decades…leaving only remnants of the grandeur of its past life. I loved the lines of the piece, and was inspired to give it a new life. I kind of felt it was my duty, which may sound strange to some. Anyway, it sold to the first person that saw it which closed the circle of life on my first rescue of an old piece of furniture. Functioning art…I love it!.
th: What advice do you have for students or recent graduates who are hoping to pursue careers in the arts?
KO: Always follow your heart. Learn all you can. Listen to the advice of others. Try everything, but listen closely to that inner voice because that is the right path for you.
To learn more about Kathleen and her artwork visit her website.