F I N E         A R T



Making clay figures, heads, busts, masks, and often running away to watch and talk to a master painter at the seaside is how I recall the beginning. Fascination with clay was unwelcome by my Primary school teachers and provided my first experience with consequences for going outside the boundaries of established curriculum or conventional wisdom. Working in clay was taboo, though my Primary school work was admired. Getting caught making and hiding clay figures under the school was my misfortune leading to punitive action before my Primary school body.

The master painter remains a vivid and profound impression on me as though only hours have passed. Recalling some details from our encounters; black bicycle with a finger bell and metal basket, scruffy loose black attire, short black nappy head and facial hair, glistening waves at the sunny seaside with beautiful sailboats and ships, portable easel, doing impressionist paintings depicting the landscape while under the shaded canopy of breadfruit and almond trees, sun rays beaming through, life lessons, and a two-dimensional face lacking any features as if looking into a black hole. My family often talked about my being returned home by strangers, and occasionally in baskets on their heads. This is a glimpse into about the first six years of my life which included Origami, Chinese carving, map, and kite making.

Nearing the age of ten, my father recognized my fascination with his art collection from various corners of the globe, and gave me my first oil painting supplies. His paintings from France and Haiti along with crafts from Africa were the most influential. Also, his childhood Native American Indian artifacts, crafts and cultural influences from India, China, South America, and Japan made an impression. I began with landscape and portrait paintings, and was often called upon to participate in school exhibits and art fairs with tempera paintings and linoleum prints. An SAIC student introduced me to nudes and fashion design. Portraits of two United States Presidents are the only remaining work done before teen years.

I later returned to carving while in the scouts pursuing a merit badge to become an Eagle Scout, and carved my fisted hand in wood. A neighboring troop member influenced me to dye the fist black and wear it as customary in scout arts and crafts ritual. My hand would in time serve as a motif in my paintings. In high school I submitted a design for which i was honored with an award for architecture.

Years later, when both men were in the same hospital, my father introduced me to a professor from our state university. Among the many topics they discussed, one was their hopes for my architectural future.During my final visit, I stood daydreaming in front of a painting outside of my father’s door. Weeks later, I received a gift of paint supplies. After a period of creative drought, I did nude, still life, and landscape paintings.

With the exception of one painting I gifted to my sister, a large number of my paintings mysteriously disappeared, all within a matter of days. A priest advised, avoiding or painting by whims was not the best option. It wasn’t long after that I painted my crowning achievement depicting motion.




"I enjoy working between the real and what I think of as another varied perception, or pushing the envelope of reality," said O'Neal. "Attention is focused on synthetics, detail vs. absence of detail. The influence of other technologies, such as photographs, time arts [sound, video and music] and the digital world, also impact my work." …current focus is an illusionist and abstract realist style, a result of an early fascination with optics." - Bill Cunniff, Chicago Sun Times