Australian artist Carolyn O'Neill predominantly paints in oils in an abstract expressionist style. Inspired by a colorful mural at her son's kinder painted by local parents, she decided to pursue art classes and later formal art studies and now paints full time in her home studio.
Over time O'Neill has developed her own aesthetic that is largely inspired by the abstract expressionist movement and obsession with mid-century modernism. One of her favourite past times is op shopping and collecting all things mid-century and beyond. She is much like a bower bird filling her home with furnishings and objects thrifted and found, including a large collection of art and design books.
Stemming from the lived experience as a psychiatric nurse, her paintings frequently explore deeper emotional and spiritual themes; often inspired by the music, biblical references while layering metaphors.
O'Neill's work is intuitive; painting her internal dialogue while seeking to push boundaries and create something raw and fresh. Each work is much like a stepping stone to the next as they are all interconnected.
A self confessed nomad having relocated interstate and within states for her husband's mining career on several occasions. Carolyn and her family are currently based in Port Pirie SA where the beautiful Flinders Ranges are inspiring her current work.
O'Neill's work has been shortlisted for several high profile South Australian prizes including the Gallery M Contemporary Art Prize, The Kennedy Prize and the Tatiara Art Prize. Her work can also be seen the Arts Collective Clair Valley.
Photography by Stuart O'Neill
Photography by Stuart O'Neill.
Photo credits, Stuart O'Neill
Paying homage to the early abstract expressionist painters such as De Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell and Kline is essential as their work initially inspired me in this direction. Amongst others they were the pioneers of this avant garde movement paving the way for artists such as myself and have become a continual influence in the work.
Painting what ever comes out, is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. The paint is often manipulated and dripped, both opacity and transparency weave through, interact and intersect; evoking something deeper. Gestural scribbles and scratches indent the surface, leaving their marks, gradually building up layers and intervals of rest and reflection, back and forth until something begins to emerge.
A conversation takes place and the work begins to speak. Trusting this process, the work no longer seems precious and has assisted in moving past fears of ruining work while demonstrating confidence to move through and persevere.
Seemingly destroying a piece in order to resolve and lift is both mortifying and invigorating. The end goal is to create my best work and give voice to that.
I once read somewhere that "Abstract art is similar to a piece of music which may not describe anything tangible or tell a story; yet may stir emotions. An abstract painting depends on colour and design to do the same."