Los Alamos artist Kate O’Donnell will show her oil paintings in a joint show with local water color artist Anne Marie Trapp at an opening reception 5-7 p.m. today at the Karen Wray Gallery. Courtesy photo
By MANDY MARKSTEINER
What Happens When You Mix Oil and Water? The community is invited to find out at an opening reception for local artists Kate O’Donnell and Anne Marie Trapp 5-7 p.m., today at the Karen Wray Gallery at 1247 Central Ave. in downtown Los Alamos.
Bringing the Outside In
For oil painter O’Donnell, the beauty of gardening is bringing the outside in.
“I’m always bringing in flowers, grasses and leaves,” O’Donnell said. “It makes me feel in touch with the seasons.”
Just this weekend she said she knew it was about to freeze, and so her Bathtub Row home is absolutely filled with vases of colorful flowers and autumn leaves from the ski hill.
This lifelong habit of brightening her home with her own bouquets naturally led to her painting the flowers.
“Every day I just go out there and paint what catches my eye,” she said.
Nourishing Her Creative Side
Most artists have (at one point or another) put their work on the back burner of life because they don’t “feel creative enough.” Preparing for this exhibit has given O’Donnell the opportunity to overcome that simply by setting an ambitious goal and realizing that she can do it.
“I appreciated the opportunity to have a deadline,” O’Donnell said. “I had to prioritize my artistic life, and make sure I had time to do the work. It’s so easy to let other things get in the way.”
Her house is good for creativity, she said.
“I feel like I’m in a rural environment even though it’s in downtown Los Alamos. I am surrounded by museums and humongous old growth trees. You can hear the wind in the pines. The gardens spur my creativity. One flower blooms next to another and it gives me an idea.”
Generations of Green Thumbs
O’Donnell’s earliest memories of gardening are with her grandfather.
“He lived in Pecos Canyon and had a big garden. He would feed me turnips and carrots right out of the dirt. He had a pocket knife and would use it to shave the veggies and hand them to me.”
Now her granddaughter visits her garden and picks flowers, fruits and vegetables.
“I teach her which flowers she can pick and which ones she can’t. What she can eat and what she can’t. You have to be careful,” she said. “We eat out of the garden all the time.”
During the exhibition you can see the fruits and vegetables that she painted, like chilis, grapes and peaches
“Gardening is important to me because it gives me a sense of hope for the future. When you plant you are being optimistic and hopeful for the future and the beauty that it will bring into your life,” she said.
O’Donnell’s Oil Paintings Side by Side with Trapp’s Water Colors
Water color painter Trapp has lived in New Mexico for 15 years and just recently moved to Los Alamos.
“Like many artists, I was drawn to the desert landscape and the brilliant light,” she said.
Trapp grew up on the east coast, in eastern Pennsylvania about an hour away from Philly, and went to Catholic school. She said she has always been drawing and painting.
“My passion for art started when I was around 5 or 6,” she said. “I drew people’s faces on index cards. Others recognized who the person was on the index card. I did a lot of them and took them with me when our family went visiting relatives.”
Trapp lived in California for 13 years. When she moved to New Mexico in 2003, she was able to devote more time to painting. Most of her training was through workshops, which were very intense.
“I was lucky to learn from some great artists and they all had something different to offer. I still attend whenever possible, and I’m still learning thanks to the internet, where there’s lots of well-known artists with video tutorials,” she said.
Her love of photography and abandoned places goes hand-in-hand with her painting.
“Many times, I’ll take a photograph of a great find, and ask, should I paint it? Sometimes I just keep the photograph but if I think I can do it justice, then I’ll try to recreate the scene in a watercolor. I do like to paint plein-air and go out as often as possible with my gear.”
Until 2017, Trapp worked in several art galleries in Santa Fe.
“Working in the galleries exposed me to all kinds of art. I got to look at art every day and was constantly inspired. Although I’ve painted with oil and pastel, my favorite is watercolor,” she said. “I love the ‘unexpected’ things that happen with watercolor, and the unexpected happens a lot.
About her joint opening reception this evening, Trapp said, “Karen has a fantastic gallery and I’m thrilled to be one of the artists in this show.”
For more information, call 505.660.6382 or visit www.karenwrayfineart.com.