Paul O’Neill has spent his entire life as a working artist. He is a graduate of Paier College of Art and a student of many accomplished contemporary painters including Ken Davies, Rudolf Zallinger and Deane Keller. In 2004 he retired as a graphic artist, after a career that spanned more than thirty years doing projects with several Fortune 500 Companies, and began to dedicate himself to the fine art of painting.
O’Neill’s work is noticeably influenced by the American Plein Air Impressionists. The American Impressionists developed a style that evolved from French Impressionism but placed more emphasis on recognizable subjects. They espoused painting ‘en plein air’ (finishing their work on location) and depicting the changing effects of light with masses of color while modeling and defining the forms with distinct color variations. Their primary goal was to capture the light and colors peculiar to particular locales. Residing in New England, Florida and Arkansas has provided O’Neill with three distinct geographical locations to work within. The unique light and palette of each is deftly captured in his acrylics and oils.
Open-air artists like O’Neill attempt to capture an immediate impression of what the eye sees, rather than what the viewer know or feels about the work. They study how light appears on subjects in different weather and at different times of the day: an interest that can be traced back to Realism. While much of O’Neill’s work is highly impressionistic, he is also an accomplished realist painter. In his still life, residence and marine painting, his keen exactitude in draftsmanship and perspective is clearly shown. Both styles are represented in his shows.