Kelly O’Neal began her career by producing one-of-a-kind hats and apparel with rare and antique Asian fabrics that found their way into several popular television shows and adorned both pop stars and movie actors. Her transition from three-dimensional artistic pieces to two-dimensional drawing and painting began in the mid-1990s. Since then, her work has been shaped by diverse influences, including iconic women’s accessories in contemporary pop culture, traditional forms of Japanese figurative woodcuts, medieval French architectural details, the emotionally-charged colors of Mexico and, most recently, the richness and abundance of Africa’s animals and foliage. Her paintings have been exhibited in the United States, Canada, France, and Switzerland. She was educated at Toronto’s OCAD University.
For me, art manifests from the questions we ask ourselves, the struggles we face, the sacrifices we make, and the materials we are seduced by. My aim in creating my paintings is for my viewer to sit back, in a comfortable chair, smile while gazing at my work, and imagine who? I do not view my shoes and dresses as being inanimate objects, but as portraits. Portraits with mystery: who is the person behind the scene? The viewer of my painting engages his or her own imagination. Once that is achieved, the process is complete – the portrait is intimate; the painting is finished.
Here are a few examples of her work.