Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sue O'Kieffe's Artist Statement

points of light mandalaPoints of Light Mandala - (Healing in Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007


The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. ~ Albert Einstein

For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the minute, the magical and the mysterious. As a child I loved to get nose to nose with nature, marveling at shiny rocks and iridescent feathers. I began making art when I was three years old by rubbing closed eyelids with tiny fists and feeling captivated by the colors I created. That was how I created my first mandala. It wasn’t until 2005, with a runaway passion for all things digital, that I had a vision of creating this spiritual art form using a computer as my brush and Photoshop as my box of colors.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means whole world or sacred circle. Often referred to as the Circle of Life, mandalas represent wholeness and are used in many forms, in many cultural and spiritual traditions, as symbols for healing, prayer and meditation.

dancing in the light mandalaDancing in the Light Mandala - (Healing in Circles series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2007

I still find myself nose to nose with the natural world, shooting photos of beauty I find in my surroundings … an iris surviving in a street corner garden, an unexpected passionflower vine growing wild among blackberries, a simple dandelion gone to seed. When I import these images into my computer for mandala making, my intent is to honor the beauty I see everyday that others may not notice. Nature has a story to tell and I am its conduit. The process of mandala making is a mystery, as I let the images guide me. I manipulate the imagery intuitively and let it unfold from the recognizable to the transformed.

To say we live in challenging times is both an understatement and a cliché. I don’t exactly know why the mandala form brings comfort and solace to those who are drawn to it, but I know that it does. May you see whatever you see in these circles of light and wholeness I feel compelled to create.

~Sue O’Kieffe


So this is what it's all about for me. I'm getting really excited to share my intent with the local art community on Saturday at The Ink People in Eureka, CA

Sunday, February 24, 2008



A group exhibition for the Artists in Business Focus Group sponsored by the Northcoast Small Business Development Center

at The Ink People during Arts Alive!
March 1, 2008
Reception 6-9 pm

411 12th St.
Eureka, CA

Show continues through March 29th
T-Sat 11-4p.m.

passiflora rota mandala
Passiflora Rota Mandala

source image: passiflora caerulean
© Sue O'Kieffe 2007
by Sue O'Kieffe
Circles of Light Inspired by Nature

This show represents the culmination of a year’s work with a group of other fine local artists who use a variety of mediums and voices. It has been my great pleasure to be part of this group, and I would be honored if you would come join me and my friends for this exciting tribute to our talents and experience.

If you live in or near Humboldt County, California, won't you please consider dropping by?

~Sue O'Kieffe

Saturday, February 23, 2008



Mandala Eyes
pen and ink, crayon
© Sue O'Kieffe 2008

Remember the old Beatles tune Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds? Well, that tune was on my mind when I doodled this, cuz sometimes I have those eyes too! I like to maintain a lighthearted attitude, because life is too short too take it too seriously, and angels can fly cuz they take themselves lightly.

Over the past few weeks I have been graced with blog awards from some thoughtful and fun folks who inhabit the blogosphere here. Thank you muchly, Sweet Irene, John Mora, and Diane Clancy for the recognition. I do enjoy the acknowledgment and enjoy watching my girl scout badge sash become more colorful with all these honors!


‘It’s a big kiss, of the chaste, platonic kind, from me to you with the underlying ‘thanks’ message implied. I really do appreciate your support and your friendship, and yes, your comments.’

I have decided to bestow these two particular blog awards to one particular Connie Rose, who has taken to blogging like a fish takes to water (and what else would you expect from a Pisces?)
Connie is in the Artists in Business group I have been participating in since sometime last spring. She and fellow artist Joan Gold and I are going to continue meeting after the business group ends in March. I look forward to continued interaction with these two other women who want to keep the business momentum alive. Enjoy your awards, Ms Rose. I look forward to many more months of learning about spinning and weaving and can hardly wait to see your fractals incorporated in your work. Go check her out!

Monday, February 18, 2008


For as far back as I can remember I have lived near water and loved watching birds. One of the places I most love to visit is the Arcata Marsh. This marsh is an innovative use of wetlands that not only promotes bird watching but also water treatment that has been showcased on PBS and many other ecologically oriented magazines. Last week the weather was sunny and still warm after work, so I headed over to the wetlands to smell that delicious aroma of water and decaying vegetation. I was mostly looking for texture to offer John Mora for more of our ongoing collaborations.

What I have been learning in this process that John and I are sharing is that the vision in my art is shifting again. It is a time for me both of excitement and frustration, as I reach for the right combinations of photoshop techniques to match my internal vision. What I suspect is that there are techniques I haven't learned yet. I am stretching toward the spring sun.

Don't you love the cattails and catkins?

arcata marsh
I love John Mora's interpretation, a New Yorker still influenced by overlays of winter frost and blue grey slush. What I love about John's work is his geometry which translates so well into my circular meanderings.

johns marsh
See what I mean?

mandala marshMarsh Mandala - (Circles of Fun) - Mora/O'Kieffe collaborative effort 2008

I wanted to add some color and mystery to this image. I have been really attracted to colors in the purple/burgundy/rose family of late, something that I associate with this time of year and Aquarian/Piscean energies
plum lusciousPlum Luscious Mandala - (Circles of Fun) - O'Kieffe/Mora collaboration

Today I discovered on Marianne's Mandalas and More blog a link for plug-in filters that are compatable with both Photoshop and PSP. (Irene, are you paying attention?) I created a kaleidoscope from a dahlia image and merged it with the marsh mandala first
marsh wreathMarsh Wreath - (Circles of Fun) - O'Kieffe/Mora collaboration 2008

and then introduced it to the second mandala image above.
spring flingSpring Fling Mandala - (Circle of Fun) - O'Kieffe/Mora collaboration 2008

Here's to things melting soon in the North and anywhere else where snow persists. Im so ready for the rejuvenation of spring, aren't you?

Sunday, February 17, 2008


It's been a while since I've written a Photoshop tutorial, and so I thought I would start again with the simple concepts of making selections with the marquee tool, then copying and pasting those selections into new layers to create a multi-layered digital quilt. This image could then be taken in many different directions. You could refer to earlier tutorials I have written for further inspiration. (Hey, I used this process to create texture for the mandala I posted for my Valentine's Day mandala.)

petuniaI started with this image of petunias, created a selection using the marquee tool (press M), then copied(ctrl/cmd+C) and pasted (ctrl/cmd+V) into a new layer. Everytime you paste your copied selection, it creates a new layer.
I built different layers of the quilt using different sized selections from the original background image. Don't forget to change the name of the background image to Layer 0 (double click on Background layer to change the name) or duplicate the layer (ctrl/cmd+J).

I decided to experiment with oval selections as well...
step3...and kept building layer and layer until the canvas was full
step4This last selection will go onto that blank spot on the left down there!
step5Now that all the blank spaces are filled in, I can begin having fun!

final layer palette
This is the layer palette for the final image below. As you can see I experimented with different blending modes for each layer. I like to name each layer with the name of the blending mode I used (double click on layer and rename it.) I wrote previously about blending modes here and here. I rely on this feature heavily in my art.

The final image, my digital quilt, is below. It is really just a jumping off point for whatever you might chose to do next. It is my understanding that anyone using Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Essentials has the capacity to use blending modes. The other tools and commands go back at least as far as Photoshop 5.

petuniad"Petuniad, A Digital Quilt"

Please feel free to use this final image however you want. If you do, please be sure to let me know what further alterations you made and link back to my blog. I always enjoy seeing what other people are doing.

And hey, if you enjoy my tutorials and have even learned a little something along the way, won't you consider making a donation to the cause? Tipping is not just a city in Peiking!

Happy Photoshopping!
© Sue O'Kieffe 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

O Sole Me-me-o!

o mother sun
I was tagged by both John and Bobbie for the great book meme floating around the blogosphere right now.

The rules: Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I am woefully behind (such is the life of a working girl, these days!). But since I was tagged twice, I thought I would offer two book excerpts.

Isn't it nice how this book cover ties in with the theme of my blog? Heh...

From page 123:

Set to guarding the boat, the weavers were unable to protect it -- or themselves -- from naked women who danced around it until the weavers were roused enough for additional pleasures.

(an excerpt from a chapter on Scandinavian sun goddess myths and rites of spring)

unaccompanied women

and from page 123 :

We wore our circle pins sometimes at the neck just below our Peter Pan collar, sometimes on our lapel if we had one, most often on our sweaters and blouses, on the soft spot below the shoulder and above the breast.

(about growing up as a woman in the '50's)

I am not going to tag anyone. If you liked this game and haven't played, feel free to share what's on your bookshelf.

I know I am remiss as well in acknowledging the gifts and awards I have received around the blogosphere. Life, O Life, when will you give me more time for the digital pleasures I crave? Soon, please soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Soothing Presence - (Circles of Wonder) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source images - violets and petunias

In the language of flowers petunias mean "your presence soothes me" and violets say "I'll always be true". I was happy to spot violets in bloom the other day and used them as the inspiration for this mandala. I was excited to use a photograph of petunias I shot a couple of years ago as the backdrop of color and texture such as I've been exploring in collaboration with John.

I offer this color and light and texture and glow from my heart to yours on this sweetest of days. Forget the commercial hype and feel into your heart and tell someone you care about how you feel.

Happy Valentine's Day.

~Sue O'Kieffe

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I loved this Sunday Play Date. Never mind I've been playing all weekend with John Mora's rendition of my photo of egret at the marsh

I converted his cave painting into a colorful fabric quilt by using a simple hue/saturation adjustment layer and cranking the colors up loud
egret soup
When I play with John's imagery I like to make one mandala simply from his patternings, which lend themselves so well to my own geometric reinterpretations. Bird head becomes bird This could be a very fancy kind of embroidered badge. Girl Scouts would be envious. Ha!

bird loveBird Love - (Circles of Fun series) - Mora/O'Kieffe 2008

Exploring more of John's quilting revealed a sort of stained glass abstraction

bird under glassBird Under Glass - (Circles of Fun series) - O'Kieffe/Mora 2008

But when I overlayed the image above with a mandala created from a wild purple aster...voila!

sunburst mandala
Sunburst Mandala - Circles of Fun series - Sue/John playdate fun 2008

A question was raised about taking art from my blog for the purpose of collaboration. The art that I make in cahoots with John Mora is available for your own interpretation. The rest is not. Please and thank you. The Management.


On another note, I really do intend to offer up more Photoshop tutorials in the near future. What would you like me to write about?

Saturday, February 09, 2008




pen and ink, crayons
© Sue O'Kieffe 2008

A somewhat more personal take on the process of transformation, conceived on a cold January night where the only warm place I could find was my bed. I love winter dream time.



pen and ink, crayon
© Sue O'Kieffe 2008

The boy robins have returned to scope out real estate for their ladies fair who shall come later, ready to nest. Come late January I hear the boys singing in the trees who welcome the guys with open branches. I love trees, have for as long as I can remember, and have doodled many. This is my latest.

Welcome Oh Such Sweetly Singing Harbingers of Spring!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I remember the first discussion I heard back in the mid 90's about digital collaboration with other artists. I was involved in a collage group back then and one of the women in the group was just beginning to explore working with her art digitally. I think her husband worked for one of the first local companies that offered computer assistance to other local companies using PC's for the first timein their offices. "So you'd scan your collage and then email it to another artist who could play with it too, but it takes forever to send that email." It sounded wonderfully exciting to me, except who had a computer and would I ever want one?

Well, things have sure changed since then. Fast forward thirteen years where there is really nothing to stop anyone on line to capture whatever they want. Hopefully, most who do or might have good manners and remain respectful with integrity of other artists' intellectual property. Most of you who read my blog on a regular basis already know the good fun I've been having with John Mora who Im feeling good considering an online friend and colleague. I think we compliment each other's styles well. Great Grannie Bobbie suggested a round robin challenge, and so I am offering up these images for others to use as a creative exercise. My only request is that they not be used for financial gain without speaking to either John or myself, lest you be plagued with years and years of bad karma bugging your computer.

John's original image can be viewed here. His image was created from a sampling of Babaloo's which can be viewed here. I took his image into Photoshop, put it on a dark purple background, reduced the opacity, blended it with overlay and oversaturated the colors using hue/saturation using an adjustment layer

stay mora

This mandala emerged, and I thought it was ok enough, but a little too busy with too much detail. When I create my mandalas, the source images and resulting mandalas are high resolution (240 ppi) which I later reduce to 72 ppi for use on the web. The excessive detail is created from reduced pixel content.

emerald isle 1
A year ago another online friend gave me permission to use his photographs of crystals, which I played with but was never satisfied with the results. The image on the left below is an amethyst captured in slow motion (I think the light trail was a flashlight beam). The image on the right is a photo I took of a cactus growing not to far from where I work. I created mandalas from both of these images and layered them, used different blending modes, adjusted with hue/saturation and curves, to create the final image seen below.

amethyst lightoutburst mandala

emerald isle mandala
Emerald Isle Mandala - (Circles of Fun) - collaborative energies 2/2008

I hope you will consider playing with us and letting us see what you do next. No awards, no fanfare, just good fun. Isn't that what art is really about, anyway?

Saturday, February 02, 2008




pen and ink, crayola and neocolor ii crayons
© Sue O'Kieffe 2008

I debated whether or not to post this doodle. It is a bit edgier than most; or maybe it is just it seems to be more of a reflection of my inner world than most. Long week, etc. I know that my mood will pass and that even the harder days need to be expressed now and then. It took me a week to finish this page. I will add it to my flickr set. I have other doodles there maybe you haven't seen yet.

For those of you who might be new to my blog and are wondering what in the world this woman is doing doodling outside the confines of the traditional mandala circle, back in November I began this activity during a challenge to be creative every day for that month. Leah has urged participants to go on and be creative every day in 2008. And so I am.

I will say I liked playing with the colors in my brand new box of 96 choices. The crayons seem to flow easier on the page and I love the names of some of their colors...wild strawberry, timberwolf, robin's egg blue. Playing with the shading and mixing of colors was quite satisfying

Tell me, if you would, what you see here and how you feel when looking at my colorful blot.
Oh, and yes, after having been a blogger for almost a year on this space, I just today registered myself with Technorati. Somehow I thought I had done that eons ago. If you feel inclined to add me to your favorites on that site, you can click on the widget at the bottom of the page. Thanks, John Mora, for remarking on your own similar action. Otherwise, I probably would have gone on figgering I was all good to go and had already staked my claim over there.

Happy Saturday, everyone, and please stay warm and dry out there (those of you in the northern hemisphere at least. )