Kathy O’Leary is a contemporary realist painter residing in Eureka on California’s far north coast. Like many artists her interest in drawing, painting and designing began early in life and continued up through her college years when she began majoring in “commercial art” in order to make a living with her work. However, she became disenchanted with the commercial aspects of art and left the field, directing her efforts toward other studies, work and raising a family.
During the hiatus from the practice of doing art she maintained a connection with fine art and craft, through galleries, museums, books and magazines, and collecting original art for her home. In the early 90’s she returned again to producing her own art and has been working at it full time ever since.
Her basic training in commercial art and illustration provided a solid grounding as she explored and experimented with different mediums, finally settling on oils to express the beauty of the natural world she was so drawn to paint. Long hours on the job and living in a rural artist’s colony provided her with many artistic resources with which to quickly learn and practice the skills needed to become a professional in her field. She gained further experience and knowledge working with several accomplished artists and attending workshops including workshops through Plein Air Painters of America and studying with Scott Christensen, Carolyn Anderson, Mark Kerckhoff, and Jim McVicker.
Today, Kathy works exclusively as an oil painter. She works both en plein air, when weather and circumstances permit, and on larger format paintings in her studio from field sketches and her digital photography. While she occasionally paints still lifes and figures, the main focus of her work is the California landscape. She takes several trips yearly (sometimes for weeks at a time) around California to paint on location and photograph. Recent trips have included 10 day painting excursions to Yosemite, with other painters from her north coast region, painting at several regional land trusts with the California Art Club (including Southern Sierra Foothills Land Trust, San Luis Obispo, and the Tejon Ranch), painting in the High Sierra Lakes area, and most recently painting in Joshua Tree, Cochella and Anza Borrego deserts of Southern California during the last three years..
Kathy’s work has won recognition and awards in regional and national juried exhibitions. Her work can be seen regularly in several galleries in Central and Northern California, including: Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, The Studio Shop Gallery, Burlingame, and Strawberry Rock Gallery, Trinidad and Sewell Gallery, Eureka, CA, and in many California Art Club (CAC) and Oil Painters of America exhibitions.