My name is John O'Keefe Jr. I was born and raised in Wallingford, Connecticut, USA, where I raised my family with my wife, Jennifer. While I am comfortable working in most mediums, I specialize in landscape oil painting, similar to the famous Hudson River School and Victorian-era artists.
ART IN MY EARLY LIFE
Like every other artist, I have loved viewing and creating art for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I always drew with pencils, colored pencils, watercolors, and just about every medium I could get my hands on. I received formal art training during my primary school years. When attending elementary school, I received specialized training at the Paier College of Art in New Haven, Connecticut. The first formal recognition of my artistic ability happened in elementary school when I won an award, placing me in the top five of a statewide student art competition. During my middle school years, I was invited to attend college-level art classes one day a week at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Also, during this time, I studied watercolor painting with Connecticut artist Kathy Singer. However, my most beloved art teacher was my Aunt Ann Fucich, who instilled in me a love of art when I was a small child.
John O'Keefe posing with a drawing outside of the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, New York, when he was seven years old
Outside the Museum of Natural History (NYC) at 7 Years Old.
(My Aunt Ann Fucich took pictures)
My love for art led me to seek a career in mechanical drafting. As new technologies emerged, I advanced to more sophisticated 3D CAD modeling systems, new product development, and, eventually, project management. Throughout the years, I completed many university courses and job-specific training to advance my mechanical design/engineering career. Even though my work was very technical, an artistic element was involved in designing new products and the associated documentation processes.
My love for creating art did not stop at drawing and painting. As a teenager, I started pursuing musical skills. My first love is the guitar, and I ran a small recording studio out of my home for a time while also playing guitar in a few bands.
The computer soon became another outlet for creating art. With my computer skills and 3D modeling experience, I began to develop a sophisticated DC-9-41 add-on cockpit package for Microsoft Flight Simulator. The project focused on the Scandinavian Airline Service (SAS) DC-9 airplane OY-KGR. There was extensive programming and many computer-generated renderings and image files assembled in real-time when the game was running, giving the person playing the experience of sitting in a real DC-9 cockpit.
A RENEWED LOVE OF ART
In 2007 my wife, Jennifer, rekindled my zeal for drawing and painting. Her encouragement and support motivated me to create O'Keefe Arts and take up oil painting as a professional artist. Jennifer also enjoys creating art, and we are working together to promote the business and my paintings because of our shared love of art.
I sell original works, accept commission work to create custom landscape paintings, and offer a variety of high-quality pigment prints, i.e., Giclee, reproductions of my artwork. (Websites: www.okeefe-arts.com and www.johnokeefe.net)
John and Jennifer O'Keefe outside of the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, New York, when he was thirty-seven years old
Outside the Museum of Natural History (NYC) at 37 Years Old.
My paintings have been well received in the art community, allowing my works to be displayed in prestigious exhibitions and art shows. In my home state of Connecticut, the Lyme Art Gallery, Mystic Arts Center, Cate Charles Gallery, and the Mill House Gallery have exhibited my artwork. My paintings have won awards, and I have been a featured artist in a group exhibition at the Lyme Art Association's "17th Annual Associate Artists Exhibit". In April of 2009, I was elected onto the board of directors of the Cheshire Art League in Cheshire, Connecticut, and I created and managed the league's website until the fall of 2011. Organizations that I belong to are Oil Painters of America, Lyme Art Association, The Salmagundi Club of New York City, Mystic Arts Association, Cheshire Art League (until 2011), and Landscape Artists International.
In 2012, Jennifer and I created Painting Frames Plus, where people can purchase high-quality reproduction painting frames. (Website: www.paintingframesplus.com)
Below are links to short articles in the series “A Brief History of Painting Frames” by John O’Keefe Jr. Each article includes reference images and diagrams to help you identify frame design features unique to each historical period. New links will be activated as additional articles and relevant materials are added. Please enjoy.
After 21 years, I have a home recording studio update! In 2020 I decided to overhaul and rebuild my home recording studio completely. The overhaul includes new furniture, upgraded outboard gear, instrument upgrades, improved soundproofing, and proper room acoustic treatments for a better room frequency response. I am modernizing everything as my budget allows. The studio design will focus on editing and mixing first and recording second.
Studio Update – The Details
Acoustic treatments will achieve an optimal room frequency response. Improved soundproofing will keep our neighbors happier when the studio is in use. The visual aesthetics will change to make a more comfortable and relaxing environment. There will be no more blinding white walls that the studio had originally. The new look will have a fantastic, darker, psychedelic vibe with controllable LED lighting. I will write in detail about the studio rebuild in future posts.
Studio Update – Outboard Gear Upgrades
Studio Update – Computer and Software Upgrades
Studio Update – Instrument Upgrades
For my entire life, I owned and played only one guitar, a 1985, all-black, Ibanez Roadstar II, 6-string electric. A while back, I restored all the original electronics after I shifted away from my Heavy Metal phase. However, as part of my studio rebuild, I purchased a second guitar, a 2009 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro. Check it out.
Home Recording Studio Update – Future Planned Upgrades
Here are some additional upgrades I have specified for rebuilding but still need to purchase.
Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair – Tilt Limiter and Seat Angle, Butterfly Back
Lynx Studio Technology: Aurora 16 with LT-USB (AD/DA 24/196 16 channel Converter)
Gallien-Krueger: CX410 Bass Cabinets (2x)
Gallien-Krueger: MB Fusion (500W)
Gallien-Krueger: 1001RB Power Amp
7-string electric guitar… still researching.
Good quality vocal microphone… still researching.
GIK Acoustics: 242 Acoustic Panels for 1st-order reflection control.
Bass traps won’t be selected until a room frequency analysis has been completed, and the “trouble” frequencies are identified. Traps will be custom build to target those specific “trouble” frequencies.
Purchased by my mother for about $15.00 at a local thrift shop, this sizeable Rococo reproduction painting was an excellent find. She asked me to frame it for her, prompting me to dig into the picture’s origins.
Rococo Reproduction Painting
The painting has no artist’s signature, and there are no identifiable markings on the stretcher or back. It is old, and there are visible signs of wear on the canvas and painted surface. There is a lot of dirt buildup and yellowing of the varnish. The canvas is very dry and brittle. There is cracking of the painted medium in certain areas, and the painting could use a restoration.
Narrow strips of wood and two fitted cross-members hold painted canvas in place. The frame is not outstanding in any way and is probably not original to the painting.
The composition of this painting is derived from elements of two famous paintings by Rococo artist Francois Boucher. (1703-1770) During a general search of the 17th through 19th-century painting styles, I stumbled upon a painting by Boucher, The Bird Cage (1763), that partially matched the reproduction painting. Further research into Boucher’s works led me to a second painting, The Shepherd’s Gift (1740), that matched another portion of the reproduction painting. You can imagine my excitement.
The Bird Cage draws from the man and woman. The artist might have referenced black-and-white images of the original paintings and thus the variation in clothing colors on the reproduction, but that’s just a guess.
In conclusion, researching this Rococo reproduction painting was a fun project.
Antiques on the Farmington, located in Collinsville, Connecticut, was home to this beautiful Victorian frame still life. Looking for suitable quality antique frames is always a highlight for me when I go antiquing with my wife, Jennifer. Finding old carved frames is rare in a typical shop, but there are usually many 19th and 20th-century frames to be seen. Loss of compo ornamentation is a common problem in picture frames from this period.
Victorian Frame Still Life
The finish is original; however, it needs a serious cleaning. Notice the closed corners – the compo ornamentation lines up nicely, with intent and symmetry. Also, the compo is in relatively good condition, with only a few losses here and there. (look for the white spots where the compo has flaked off.)
A notable design feature is the beaded sight edge. I am still determining what design is on the top edge, and I have found no reference in my many frame books.
In conclusion, this is a unique old frame. During my years of frame hunting throughout Connecticut’s many antique shops, this is the first time I have seen a frame designed like this.
We stopped at one of our favorite antique shop collectives, Antiques on the Farmington, located in Collinsville, Connecticut. We found this wonderful Victorian frame portrait with many excellent features and an engaging photographic image that is probably original to the frame. (I often wonder about the people depicted in these types of finds. Who were they, and what were they like? What did they do for a living, and what was their family like?)
Victorian Frame Portrait.
Some notable Victorian features are the oval sight and center frieze with a leopard pattern.
You often see today in antique frames that they have been over-painted with bronze or copper paint, or even worse, Shabby Chic. (gag!) Using bronze or copper paint was a common practice to cover up damaged areas of the finish rather than have the frames professionally repaired. One positive indicator that the original finish has been over-painted is the lack of luster and reflection that metallic-leaf (or true gold-leaf) often gives off, resulting in an overall flat appearance across the frame. Depending on the paint’s thickness, you will also notice a loss of detail in some design elements and compo ornamentation. (I’m not a fan of over-painted antique frames or Shabby Chic, but each to his own.)
In conclusion, this is a nice-looking Victorian frame despite some visible signs of touch-up and repair work. The frame is in good condition and retains much of its original finish, and I also like that it has a nice patina.