Kelly O’Hara has a beautiful blue bob and vibrant smile. Her art is big and makes you stop in your tracks even in Motor City Comic Con‘s artist alley, which seems to be overflowing with talent.
We were beyond thrilled to score an invite to the con with our friend and super talent Jay Fosgitt. It was a kid-free weekend for Heath and I, and we road-tripped over to Plymouth, Michigan on a beautiful Thursday.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from MCCC, but it was far from being overrun with brands, PR-groomed panels and body-checking enthusiasts. The first thing that struck me was the family vibe. And the artists. So many artists.
Which is why Kelly O’Hara’s eye-catching art is all the more impressive. Although her works appear in galleries in the greater Detroit area, cons are where she enjoys meeting people and retailing her sci-fi and fantasy inspired prints.
As we make our introductions I see people being drawn over to her pieces with a kind of visual magnetism. I understand this completely.
There is something about her Lilu that is so real — even in it’s ultra-stylized water colour and ink — that you will find yourself holding your breath. You can practically feel the wind whipping around her face as she stands on the side of the sky-scraper surrounded by hovering police vehicles.
A quick glance around Kelly’s table pulls you into the details of Groot’s knotted body and Rocket Raccoon’s mischievous eyes. Deckard and Pris are captured so clearly that you find yourself humming Vangelis. Han Solo’s smirk is bang on.
But the works that catch my eye the most— the ones that inexplicably make me miss my daughter are a series that, it turns out, O’Hara has actually used her daughter Charlotte for inspiration and modelling.
“This one,” she says, pointing to a gorgeous, surreal landscape of toys and colourful objects “…these are her favourite things. I felt really inspired to put them all together…it seems really powerful all of a sudden, doesn’t it?” Her blue bob bounces as she looks at her work through new eyes.
I point to a Dalhi-esque parade of Disney-inspired characters along a shoreline.
“That was one of Charlotte’s dreams. It was really vivid. I love hearing about them..”
My favourite of her series is another ‘Charlotte’ image. She is standing in front of a house, her stance unwavering. There is something about it that begs a story. It reminds me of my favourite chapter books from elementary school with a dash of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always thrown in.
The painting takes me far away (as good art does). I am thinking of my old school library, the thrill of discovering written adventure, and wondering in particular what this young protagonist might get herself into. It’s a while before Kelly’s voice makes its way through my reveries.
“She’ll be here on Sunday…”
I can’t help but smile ear-to-ear and I realize that I am more excited to meet Charlotte than I am to run into any of the con celebrities in the green room. She does not let me down.
Sporting a home-made Raven costume from Teen Titans Go, Charlotte is a whir of smiles and stories. Over the course of the day we play pretend, we explore, and we talk about important things like candy, TV shows, and Halloween.
“What do you think of your mom’s paintings?” I ask her during one of our walks around the con floor.
“They’re pretty neat. You know, I’m in a few of them.” She informs me quite seriously. “You know what? I love to draw too. If you want we can go back to the table and I’ll make you some special art. You can even take it home.”
True to her word, sometime later Charlotte hands me a piece of matte board with a beautiful drawings on both sides. One is of the Teen Titans ‘T’ tower and herself as Raven, and the other is her standing beside a rendition of me. I hug her small frame and tell her I love it. She looks up at me and flashes another smile.
Behind her I see Kelly watching our exchange, drinking in the details of the moment as both a bemused mother and an artist. I can’t help but wonder and hope that it might plant a seed for another of her works.
And I can’t wait to see where it takes them both.
Follow Kelly O’Hara on Facebook to see more art, find out which con you can find her at next, or to connect regarding a commission.
This was not a sponsored post however I did ask for 3 prints of Kelly’s work which I thought I might incorporate into a giveaway but will instead be hanging in my house because I love them too much. There. Full disclosure.