Chapel Hill artist’s soaring success

Jul. 19, 2014 @ 11:27 AM

The good news for folks around Chapel Hill is that Elaine O’Neil will continue her series of North Carolina “Luv This Place” calendars for 2015. Her four previous editions, each with 12 different prints of her unique and quirky views of our state’s special places, have become collectables.

O’Neil shares portions of these calendar sales with the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.

Last year she shared her enthusiasm for our area by illustrating “Goodnight Moon,” producing the book in partnership with Missy Julian Fox and Marie Myers Lloyd. That book is called a “lyrical love letter” to their hometown that “captures the uniqueness of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in a warm and playful manner.”

The even better news for her fans and collectors is a new calendar series for 2015 that will feature O’Neil’s special look at scenes from all over the country.

“I think there are so many places and things that we all cherish and hold dear in this great country -- and this is my way to focus on that,” she explained.  “I've tried to pick places from all geographic areas of the country and also included some culture (our great American writers) and baseball (our favorite pasttime for kids everywhere in the USA) as well as our family vacation traditions (the beach).”

O’Neil’s personal calls to bookstores, gift shops, museums and word-of-mouth referrals have made the North Carolina calendars a growing commercial success. She plans the same approach for the national calendar.

 “I'm trying to get it in some bigger stores, catalogs and museum shops, maybe some on-line catalogs, too,” she says.  “It's all new and frightening and exciting!  I plan to send special packages to people who to me are the epitome of America, with true American spirit -- and see where that leads.”

Meanwhile, O’Neil and her husband Glenn have gotten used to life without having their three sons at home. Oldest son Hayden has served in the Coast Guard for eight years. Conner graduated from East Carolina in May and is already at work in construction management. Fletcher is working on a double major in math and biology at UNC-Charlotte.

Meanwhile, O’Neil stays busy in her home studio creating new images sewing together varieties of fabrics and colors to create more original art.

As a supporter of FRANK Gallery she recently contributed a work titled “Cormorant Caravan” to go its current showing of local art with the theme of trees.

She says, “I wanted to show trees as habitat for our water birds.  This piece depicts a dead tree floating (drift wood) as a resting place for cormorants to dry their wings, socialize and nap.  I am drawn to cormorants for their amazing diving, swimming, and fishing ability. Their sleek black feathered wings that propel them through the skies and through the water.”

Similarly, O’Neil’s admirers watch for new examples of her amazing variety of subjects and her soaring success.

D.G. Martin’s regular weekly column appears on the Herald-Sun’s editorial pages on Wednesdays and on line at

Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. Viewers with access to UNC-TV’s digital channel UNC-MX can preview the program on the preceding Friday at 9 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at

Many prior episodes of Bookwatch are available for viewing at