Meet The Artist, Betsy O’Neill

August 1, 2017

Betsy O’Neill invited me to her adorable home in Alger Heights on the last day in July.  Abundant color met me from her yard; purple and pink flox, yellow milkweed, and multiple butterflies fluttered, in the way butterflies do, around golden sunflowers.  She greeted me at the door and ushered me inside.  Buzzing with a smile while braiding her daughter’s hair, she offered me coffee.  Through the kitchen doorway, her dining room, with olive walls and purple, orange and green curtains.  An oblong, wooden table sat in the center of plastered walls, each wall displaying a piece of her work.  I was attracted to one in particular, a city scape surrounding a garden.  Inside the garden, a man hunched over, holding the hands of a child, protecting her from the city pollution in the background.  The man stood, exaggerated in his size, larger than the houses that surrounded him and the child.  Titled, “My Father’s World”, she told me about her upbringing on a farm in Caledonia and how she tries to get back to her farm roots, even though she now lives in the city. Betsy paints in the evenings, usually between 9 PM and 12 AM, sitting on a lime green stool in her breakfast nook, she drinks tea, listens to 2Cellos, all while her cat, Cricket, sits on her lap.  Betsy paints with acrylics, which are faster drying than oil paints.  “With three kids and two cats, there’s no way an oil painting would make it here,” she laughed.

She’d love to paint plein air, but time and circumstance rarely allow for it.  More often than not, she sketches scenes on napkins or paper, snaps photos with her cell phone to remember scenes she wants to paint.  Betsy explained to me the urgency she feels with getting something “out”.  Sometimes, that’s the hardest part, similar to writer’s block, some paintings are put aside for a few months and then finished later, with fresh eyes and new experiences.  Sometimes it’s a cat in the garden, other times, it’s the way the powerlines cross overhead, shadowed by moonlight while she lays in the hammock in her yard.  She has a knack for color and her love for Michigan and nature is evident in her work.   If you’d like to purchase any of Betsy’s works of art, visit her on Etsy at  Betsy will also be a part of “Art in the Park” in Holland, on Saturday, August 5 at Centennial Park, 250 Central Ave., Holland, MI.  Be sure to visit her and see her lovely work in person!




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