Catharine O’Neill

For many years in different ways, I have been making art. In summers during my high school and university years, I studied at art schools. While in graduate school and for a decade after, I wrote and drew magazine and newspaper cartoons. Later and for many years, I drew and painted in colour while writing and illustrating children’s books.

Oil painting is something I began five or six years ago. This has made possible a more spontaneous way of painting. In oils, colours can be tried out and painted over until the right solution is found. I am finding this much more fun than painting with watercolours. Although there were often happy serendipitous moments, watercolours are harder to change once put down on paper.

What to paint when there is no text? Anything can be imagined in colours and shapes that reveal the strangeness and beauty in the world. For awhile I have been painting figures as part of interior or landscape paintings. The interpretation of a figure requires a bit more logical consistency than a hillside of trees or a bouquet of flowers. It’s challenging to me. How many times can one change the arch of an eyebrow? But, when it works, very satisfying. I hope to paint more pictures with narratives, people not posing or still but doing things. More like cartoons and children’s books.


  • 1966 Hockney Valley School of Fine Art, Ontario (summer)
  • 1967, 1969 Banff School of Fine Arts (summer)
  • 1969 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (summer)
  • 1970 University of Michigan Art School
  • 1975–1987 Magazine and newspaper panel cartoons
  • 1987–2018 Children’s books for Canadian, American, and British publishers
  • 2019–2024 Drawing and Oil Painting

4 Responses

  1. I think Diana Ozolins says it very well for Catharine’s work. The artist creates a magical world not only with the characters that she puts in it but with her tiny brushstrokes, the magical harmony, vivid colors as well as the composition. Catherine is a storyteller that brings you in a world of wonder. She is an accomplished artist and brings me joy when I look at her work. I would be glad to see her in the gallery more often.

  2. These paintings fill me with delight when I look at them, They are complicated compositions with quirky perspective and a multitude of color shifts in each shape – like a dream or a trip down the rabbit hole in Alice’s world. I like being in this magical world, and as a painter I am totally engaged in gazing at the colors for a long time. These paintings are not quickly tossed off, but created with a lot of thought, revision, and careful brush strokes. Originality, point of view, and communication are hallmarks of Katherine’s painting.

  3. I greatly enjoy Catharine’s art and would enjoy having her as a member… I have known her for many years and know that she continues to expand and explore in her art.

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