Photo of scarf depicting Southwest Scene

Southwest scene painted on silk

About Me

Photo of Mary Kaye O'NeillI came to Arizona in 1993 to leave behind the hectic city life of Washington, D.C. I was drawn to the simple life, where everything in town is just 10 minutes away, or seems that way.

I grew up as the ‘well-adjusted’ middle child of a wander-lust father (who worked as a traveling salesman – in the days when that really meant traveling – for weeks at a time) and an undeveloped creative spirit of a Mom. Such was the life … moving every few years … always being the new kid. Change became a way of life. School was never my cup of tea; I went to college because I was told I had to, but dropped out after 2.5 years. Eventually, I returned to get a BA in Elementary Education, a Masters of Education in Counseling, and later, training to be a nationally certified Massage Therapist.

As an adult, I spent time as a secretary (like Mom!), an elementary school teacher in inner-city Cleveland, a legislative assistant to a U. S. Congressman, a career counselor at a Community College in Maryland, a massage therapist, and finally with the move to Arizona, an artist. I first tried my hand at jewelry, and then years later, as a designer of silk and other wearable art. I am inspired by the diversity of natural textures found in nature, by line and by color. I studied at Yavapai College (with Bill Ford, Dick Marcuson, Chelsea Stone, Keith Horst) and also went to Penland School of Arts and Crafts and studied briefly with Tom McCarthy. More recently my dear friend Mitzi Ash introduced me to silk painting. After that, I was hooked and continued my studies with many teachers thru the Silk Painters International (SPIN) organization in Santa Fe, including Susan Moyer, Karen Sistek, Jean Louis Mireault, Suzanne Punch and all the students I met along the way.

I now spend most of my time in my studio creating, going to yoga classes a few times a week, playing tennis and hiking the many trails around Prescott, Arizona.  I share my special life with my dog, Leki (a long-hair dachshund) named after a whooping crane. My dear husband, Gene Steffen, passed away this last year; I’m finding my way along this brand new chapter of my life. I miss him dearly but know he’s watching over me and guiding me to my best.