Artist Autobiography for John O'Keefe Jr.
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Art During the Summer before Middle School
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.
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 were the model ship exhibits. Those models were incredible, and the detail on them was so subtle 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.
I did not have access to real modeling supplies, so I used materials that I found around the house. One excellent 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 making 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.
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.
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.
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.