The Heroine’s Journey of Johannah O’Donnell

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I like how peaceful the actual art-making process is. The way I go about designing and executing my ideas is very methodical. Having a plan with predictable outcomes is nice, especially when so many things outside of my studio are out of my control.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? A day at the beach with my husband and our dog. It doesn’t get much better than that.
What is my greatest fear? My greatest fear is developing Alzheimers or dementia. Both run in my family, and I’ve seen first hand how devastating these diseases are. The idea that a whole lifetime can fade away like that, it’s a really scary thing.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I have a really hard time recovering from bad news. I have a tendency to dwell on the negative, so even though 20 good things could happen for me, but it’s the 1 lousy thing that sticks with me.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? I really admire artists who venture outside of their comfort zones. Mark Ryden is a great example. The work he did for the American Ballet Company is amazing. Alex Gross is another favorite of mine. His work is ever-evolving and really amazing.
What is my greatest extravagance? I am not at all extravagant. But every year, we do shell out for Disney World passes. I am a big fan of themes environments, the calculated unreality of them. They’re a nice break from everyday life.
On what occasion would I lie? I would lie to spare someone’s feelings.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? I have a hard time with the social aspects of being an artist. I love the solitude of painting, but actually going to the art openings and talking about my work, that’s really awkward and difficult for me.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I think I was the happiest about my work a few years back when the whole lowbrow art movement was really picking up steam. There was definitely a lot of excitement in the air. I feel like there’s a been a pretty big shift in the art world since then, and I’m still kind figuring out where my place in it is. That said, I’m always happy about the prospect of making new work/tackling new concepts.
If I could, what would I change about myself? I would be a better hustler. I’m really not good at promoting myself. I have a lot of admiration for artists who have that end of the business locked down.
What is my greatest achievement in work? I hope that’s still to come! I am very proud of the body of work I created for my solo show at Bold Hype Gallery back in 2011. It was a ton of work, almost 2 years in the making, but I managed to pull it off.
Where would I most like to live? I love Florida and have a hard time imagine living somewhere else. That said, we visited a good friend in Amsterdam a couple years back, and fell in love with that city, so yeah, I could see us living there, too.
What is my most treasured possession? I’m not a very materialistic person, but I do really love my car. It’s just an old VW, but it’s paid off, and it gets me where I need to go. I love the idea that I can just get in it and go anywhere. It’s a very American mindset, I know! We own a lot of amazing art, so that collection would be a strong 2nd.
What is my most marked characteristic? That’s a really hard question to answer. I think of “characteristics” as traits other people see in me, not something I see in myself, and I have no idea how other people see me. If I had to pick something, though, I guess it would be my ideas about right and wrong. I have a very strong sense of justice, and injustices really hit me hard.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Our neighborhood. We live near downtown, and the area is very walkable. There are some lovely parks right down the road where I walk our dog. That time outside with him, and away from technology, is when I do some of my best thinking.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? We’re lucky to live in an area with a lot of cultural diversity, so we have plenty of great places to grab food. One of my favorites places is Pho 88, a neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant. Another is Market on South, which has great vegan food. Stardust Coffee and Film, Spacebar, and Barley and Vine Biergarten are some of our favorite bars. All are just a stone’s throw away.
What books influenced my life and how? I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve been reading him since I was a kid and I definitely think his writing has inspired my aesthetic. Would be hard pressed to pick just one book, but I think the “Dark Tower ” series is definitely up there. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman was another big one, as are “Cloud Atlas”, “The Bone Clocks”, and “Slade House” by David Mitchell. Margaret Atwood’s “Maddaddam” trilogy is also amazing. All these books are so incredibly imaginative and rich with imagery.
Who are my favorite writers? Stephen King, David Mitchell, Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Margaret Atwood, Patti Smith
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Well, I’m a big Game of Thrones nerd, both the books and the series, and Sansa Stark is a big hero of mine. Not sure where her character arc is going, but the amount of steel she’s shown so far is impressive. She’s gone through hell, and it’s completely changed who she is.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My dad, Michael O’Donnell. He’s an amazingly talented and creative person, and he’s taken that talent in so many different directions. It’s really inspiring to see that in someone.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? I think “Requiem for a Dream” is definitely a movie everyone should see, but only once.
What role plays art in my life and work? Well, since I’m both an art teacher and a painter who’s married to a sculptor, I would say it’s a pretty big part of my life. Let’s just say I can’t imagine my life without it.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? That would be my husband, Adriaan Mol. He’s been so amazingly supportive of my work. He builds my panels and frames, he travels with me to art openings, and he gives me the space I need to make my work. I am so incredibly thankful to have him in my life.
Whom would I like to work with in 2017? You know, I’m kind of a lone wolf, not really the collaborative type, but my husband is such a big part of what I do, so I definitely want to continue working with him!
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017? Eek. I’m way to shy to actually want to meet any of my art heroes. I’m sure I’d make a mess of it. That said, I’ve “met” a lot of artists I admire online, and I’m so amazed at how supportive and kind they’ve all been.
What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? Well, I have a few things in the works for different shows, but I think I most look forward to diving into a large-scale piece I’ve been cooking up in my brain. It’s been a while since I tackled a big crazy painting just for the heck of it.
Where can you see me or my work in 2017? You can see my work on my website anytime. Also on Instagram. I have a couple shows around the corner, one with WOW x WOW and another ​at Gristle Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I guess it means that I will die with a paintbrush in my hand (hopefully).
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
Rebecca Rose
Adrien Cherry
Jennifer Payne
Emma Mount
Heather Harris
Emily Coleman
Zofia Bogusz
Janae Corrado
How can you contact me?

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