My work as an artist is intrinsically connected with my life and personal growth. The inspiration for my art come from all areas of my life: from emotion, philosophies, interests and self- exploration. I have a very strong interest in symbolism and mythology and am a avid student of Carl Jung and his work in the area of the collective unconscious. Likewise, I have been greatly influenced by Joseph Campbell and his work with mythology. As for artists, probably the Abstract Expressionists have had the greatest influence on my work. My first introduction to these artists was an exhibition of works on paper by Mark Rothko in St. Louis . This experience left a lasting impression. The excitement of this exhibition stimulated a part of me quite unknown before. It was a turning point in my artistic vision. I feel that we are connected in many ways to the past in terms of creative expression; however, I also believe inour relationship as an artist to this space in time and the expression of our experience of it, whether it be conscious or subconscious. I often create abstract symbols that represent to me a particular philosophy or feeling associated with the basic truths. As with my "Passion Series", each of the mixed media abstract works portrays particular concepts, such as rapture, conception, and the emotions linked to these. These visible forms further represent the singularity of life... that all things lie within the individual, thus all works have an inner glow of vibrant color representing the life force . This is surrounded by black, representing the abyss of the physical world. In my exploration into symbolism I have learned much about myself. Often these insights have been recognized after the works have been completed. In setting up my studio, I titled my first print from my new press, "The Beginning". The piece was an abstract with a V - shaped symbol. I recall looking at the print and instantly thinking, the beginning ... thus it's title. Later, in some of my readings in mythology I realized, the reason this V - shaped symbol represented the beginning for me was that it was the age old symbol of the womb. immediately, this was a perfect visual statement...the womb IS "the beginning". This is where life begins. But this was nothing new since the symbol of the womb is present in most cultures back to the ancient civilizations.
Most important I have found that my journey to self -knowledge has provided me with inspiration for my most successful art. Should I be asked to provide insight for other artists, I would suggest that they look within and the work will come.
CREATIVITY - HISTORY
My earliest interest in creating began in my very early years about the age of six with an overwhelming attraction to color. I always felt I could touch color. Color had vibrations I could feel - both physically and spiritually. Now those relationships and tensions among colors help me create emotional statements. color allows me to create art which is alive. As I began seriously working in art in 1986, my work was traditional realism, and I worked mostly in watercolor. However, several years later I began working in mixed media with a special interest in the texture of painted surfaces. Quickly my work moved into the realm of abstract and non-objective art. Further exploration lead me into printmaking which included monotypes, collagraphs, and multimedia printmaking. My art now is moving more into the third dimension. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of my art is the yles in which I work. Perhaps it could be said that I have no style at all since my work is constantly changing. For me this is quite natural because my life is constantly changing and in light of the fact that the two are interrelated, I cherish this diversity rather than assuming it is a result of indecision. It is just the opposite. I feel stagnant trying to copy myself. The excitement comes from the growth, from taking a particular kind of art into another form. My most successful work is that work which is my first statement ... my first impulse. After that, I find the work loses it's edge unless it is taken beyond that initial point. However, there are several common threads which connect these different works, most significant being color and a sensitivity to materials. These two seem to join all of my works of art. I want my audience to "experience" my work, not just look at it and think "what a nice painting". I want people to feel the emotions associated with the color and symbolism, to take with them a piece of the work within themselves and say to themselves, "I have felt this art." I would hope that as my audience changes that their experience of the art will change, too. As time passes, they will look at the art in different ways and feel a new sensation. I hope that as my art provides insight into myself, my viewers will also find something in themselves through my work. I do not particularly care what they may find, I only hope that they will find something ... and it will somehow contribute in a positive way to their experience of this world and each individual's question, " Who Am I ?"
One Woman’s Treasures were another Woman’s Junk
The Mixed Media Assemblages of Janet O’Neal
As a child, attics, trashcans, garage sales were always my favorite haunts. Boxes, bottles, scraps of paper found on the side of the road became collaged, painted and stored away in secret boxes for future projects. I loved the chase, the hunt, and the surprise of finding odd pieces of other people’s trash. I had done very little of this in my adult life until 4 years ago a fellow artist took me with him on a trip to local antique stores in Oklahoma City and suddenly all of the mystery and delight of junk hunting returned to me like a sacred gift. Suddenly I found myself immersed in the great hunt at flea markets and antique stores as I traveled around the country doing festivals. Coming home with a van load of old tool and mannequins and whatnots .I signed up for hand-built clay classes, bought a kiln, and was on my way to creating mixed media assemblages. Years of painting experience and experiments with texture merged with the found objects and became a new exciting form of art that carried with it my new voice as an artist. The work had moved from the abstract to a form of art that was more of a commentary on life itself and the spiritual side of it. The work then moved back into the Abstract with large multi- dimensional, vividly colored abstracts with deep texture and cast resin additions. The work was more refined than most assemblage work being created today. This I feel makes it stand apart from the rest. Many pieces with the heads and faces stood out as contemporary icons. The colorful abstracts stood out as bold statements of joy and energy. All of the junk had evolved into treasures to remind us all of the delight of life itself and the vastness of the human spirit.