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Artist Autobiography for John O'Keefe Jr.
Art During the Summer before Middle School

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USS INTREPID AND MODEL SHIPS

My grandparents were always taking my brother and I to exciting and interesting places in and around New York City during our summer vacations. After a trip with my grandparents to the Aircraft Carrier USS Intrepid I made this cardboard model while sitting at their kitchen table in Astoria, New York. It was the summer of 1980 and I was 10 years old.

John O'Keefe's model of a futuristic aircraft carrier made from cardboard, created when he was ten years old

"Aircraft Carrier Concept - View 1"

Cardboard,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1980 (10 years old)
John O'Keefe's model of a futuristic aircraft carrier made from cardboard (view 2), created when he was ten years old

"Aircraft Carrier Concept - View 2"

Cardboard,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1980 (10 years old)
John O'Keefe's model of a futuristic aircraft carrier made from cardboard (view 3), created when he was ten years old

"Aircraft Carrier Concept - View 3"

Cardboard,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1980 (10 years old)
John O'Keefe's model of a futuristic aircraft carrier made from cardboard (view 4), created when he was ten years old

"Aircraft Carrier Concept - View 4"

Cardboard,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1980 (10 years old)

FASCINATION WITH SAILING SHIPS

After the visit to the USS Intrepid, I became very interested in sailing ships. I wasted no time after my summer vacation with my grandparents before I started drawing ships. Back home in Connecticut, my mother took me to the Mystic Seaport in Mystic Connecticut. What I remember most about the museum was their model ship exhibits. Those models were incredible and the detail on them was so fine they almost looked real. They reminded me of the model ships my Uncle Joe used to build. I decided I wanted to build model ships like that. I made blueprints and building plans that I intended to use to make my own models. Here are some of those drawings and models.

John O'Keefe's pen & ink drawing of the Spanish warship 'Soveriegn of the Sea', created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Sovereign of the Seas"

Pen & Ink on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's drawing in colored markers of an old sail powered warship deck plan, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Ship Deck Plan"

Colored Markers on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's drawing of an old sail powered warship construction plan, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Ship Blueprint"

Pencil on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's pen & ink drawing of an old sail powered warship construction plan, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Side View of Ship"

Pen & Ink on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's pen & ink drawing of an old sail powered warship, closeup aft detail, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Side View of Ship"

Pen & Ink on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's drawing in colored markers of an old sail powered warship contruction plan, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Side View of Ship"

Pen & Ink, Colored Markers on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)
John O'Keefe's drawing in colored markers of an old sail powered warship, closeup aft view, created when he was ten or eleven years old

"Rear View of Ship"

Pen & Ink, Colored Markers on Paper,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1981-82 (10-11 years old)

I did not have access to real modelling supplies so I used materials that I found around the house. One awesome building material I found were toothpicks. I used them to build my first ship models. I had no idea how to construct a hull using toothpicks so I started by building only the decks of the ships. Here is my first toothpick model of a small ship deck. I was about 11 when I built this model.

John O'Keefe's partial toothpick model of the deck of a small sail powered ship, created when he was eleven years old

"Toothpick Model"

Toothpicks,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)

This is a more complex model, also created using toothpicks. The model is somewhat damaged which you can see in the railings, I'm surprised it has not been completely demolished in all this time. I must thank my mother for keeping these early art projects tucked away and safe. I was about 11 when I built this model.

John O'Keefe's partial toothpic model of the deck of a large sail powered ship, created when he was eleven years old

"Toothpick Model - View 1"

Toothpicks,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial toothpic model of the deck of a large sail powered ship (view 2), created when he was eleven years old

"Toothpick Model - View 2"

Toothpicks,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial toothpic model of the deck of a large sail powered ship (view 3), created when he was eleven years old

"Toothpick Model - View 3"

Toothpicks,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial toothpic model of the deck of a large sail powered ship (view 4), created when he was eleven years old

"Toothpick Model - View 4"

Toothpicks,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)

My mother took me to a hobby shop to purchase some balsa wood for my ship models. I used the balsa wood to create this next model when I was about 11. I jumped from one model to the next without completing them when I realized that the materials I was using did not produce the results that I was after. I talked with my parents and convinced my father to buy me a wooden model ship kit.

John O'Keefe's partial balsa wood model of the deck of a large sail powered ship, created when he was eleven years old

"Balsa Wood Model - View 1"

Balsa Wood,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial balsa wood model of the deck of a large sail powered ship (view 2), created when he was eleven years old

"Balsa Wood Model - View 2"

Balsa Wood,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial balsa wood model of the deck of a large sail powered ship (view 3), created when he was eleven years old

"Balsa Wood Model - View 3"

Balsa Wood,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)

Here is the wooden model ship kit that my father bought me. I am still working on it today. I pull it out every couple of years and work on it, and it will get finished one day. I'm not going to buy another wooden ship model ...this one is it.

John O'Keefe's partial wooden model of a sail powered ship, started when he was eleven years old

"Wooden Kit Model - View 1"

Wooden Kit Model,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial wooden model of a sail powered ship (view 2), started when he was eleven years old

"Wooden Kit Model - View 2"

Wooden Kit Model,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial wooden model of a sail powered ship (view 3), started when he was eleven years old

"Wooden Kit Model - View 3"

Wooden Kit Model,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe's partial wooden model of a sail powered ship (view 4), started when he was eleven years old

"Wooden Kit Model - View 4"

Wooden Kit Model,
John O'Keefe Jr.,
1982 (11 years old)
John O'Keefe Jr. Profile Picture
John O'Keefe Jr.
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About the Author...
     John specializes in landscape oil painting done in a style similar to the famous Hudson River School and Victorian era artists. He also specializes in reproduction painting frames, framing supplies and Giclee prints of his landscape paintings.
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