Art, Artists, Influencing Me, Photography, Still LIfe

Influencing Me – Margaret Olley

Margaret Olley is another Australian Artist.  She was well known for her paintings, but also for her philanthropy and was a popular subject matter for many other other artists.  She died in July 2011, and was one of the last of that era of painters.  An era that was important in the Australian art scene.

She was famous for her still life paintings and that is certainly one of the reasons why I loved her work.

Poppies and Checked Cloth

Poppies and Checked Cloth

I love how she laid everything out.  It was colourful and expressive.  Such vibrant colours.

Evening Kitchen Still Life with Apples

Evening Kitchen Still Life with Apples

She has been written about a lot and one of the things that always struck with me is that the still lifes were done around her home.  She would set up stuff and then paint it, but she would move on as the light changed, so she could be painting multiple paintings at one time.

Still LifeYou know when you see this image that it was done in her kitchen.  I wonder how she managed to paint this and use her kitchen.  Was she careful to keep everything in place as she did the painting?

When you look at her paintings you can see different ones were done in similar places or the same place.  You can also see the same items in other paintings.

I have downloaded quite a few images and will include them in a gallery at the end of this post.

She also had a lovely garden, and many of the flowers in the paintings came from her her garden.  I would like to do more of that.  My garden is always so flower poor, well I don’t have good flowers for doing still life images. It has been a dream of mine to have a garden where I could go out and pick flowers to use in images.  One day maybe.

She loved Morandi, remember I did a post on him a few weeks ago.  You can see some of his influence on her work as well.

Set TableThis is not strictly something I set up, it is the set for the play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, but it reminds me so much of one of her paintings.  I know when I was photographing this there was that idea in mind.

Chocolate Cake - Processed ReworkI possibly zoom in more than what she did, and my work doesn’t tend to be as random, as her work appears, but I do like the idea of the ordinary that is in her work.  The everyday.

If you don’t know Margaret Olley, then please look her up.  I would loved to have met her, now wouldn’t that have been amazing.  Check out some of the rooms of her home, she had so many things and I wonder if my home will end up looking the same one day.  It is certainly on its way to getting there.

The paintings are from various sources, though quite a few are from Eva Breuer Gallery and Savill Galleries.


  1. Margaret Olley is another of my all time favourite artists and she inspires me too, especially in painting.
    She has an incredibly interesting story.
    I’m enjoying the artists / photographers you are ‘highlighting’.. so far many of them are ones I have studied also and am really enjoying revisitng them with you.
    Another great post!
    Would you mind if I reblog this post?

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading these posts about artists who have influenced you! Since I am in thr U.S. they have all been unfamiliar to me but I’ve liked becoming acquainted with them!

  3. I loved that Margaret Olley looked within and painted her own surroundings in her own way… her affection of bright colours and everday objects, ordinary & beautiful, which in her rendering she somehow elevated to a higher realm :)

  4. I watched a wonderful interview with her once,she had Barry Humphries interviewing her in her home and yes it was a cluttered and eclectic setting…however her inspirations from her surroundings,though ordinary,proved to be delightful subject matter.Indeed the ordinary is amazing when captured with integrity.I find so many things astounding and inspiring and often they are usually “mundane” objects.Though you may have placed things in your pics it is still an honest snapshot as it brings the same feelings to the eyes of the viewer.My daughter is a street graph artist and she has done some amazing interpretations of things that may be commonplace. It is sad that the art world has lost Ms Ollie as who knows what things she was yet to find extraordinary. Love your pics :)

  5. Morandi, Margaret Olley, Olive Cotton and Jim Dine are all favourite artists of mine and it has been great to revisit them with you.

  6. Very interesting post. I love the kitchen scene. Didn’t she take pictures and work from those at all. I admire people who can take a real object and draw from it. I can do a passable drawing from a photo – sometimes, but even that is painful for me! :)

    • No, apparently she worked from life, well a still life. Can you imagine what her house must have smelt like, all that paint, and turps, it is pretty amazing she lived as long as she did.
      When I was at art school they always told us to draw from life, you got criticised more for doing images from photos. No idea what their problem was.

      • It is good to be able to draw from life, but getting the perspective right can be really hard.
        I am on Google+ if you have time

      • Sorry, I went to bed right after I read your post. It was 1:30. Tomorrow I get up at 6:30 a.m., so I probably wont stay up that long. We should make an appointment! I’d really love to chat! :)

  7. beautiful and her scenes have so much depth and warmth to them. loved your set as well, looks like you’ve captured her spirit and style )

    • I do think when I am setting up a still life I think about her a lot and what she would do. I must do more.

  8. Among all of the really nice images here the two that struck me most were the one of Ms. Olley herself and the one of the cluttered room in her house – they both spoke volumes about her. Nice post. Another in the continuing series … D

    • No don’t feel bad, she is Australian, and well known here, well fairly well known in art circles.
      I tried to work out where you were from, if you aren’t Australian, then I can totally understand.
      Didn’t she have an amazing face?

      • Absolutely…I’m American born an have lived in Italy for over 30 years…the world is big…can’t take it all in…tried to reblog, but don’t know if I actually got through, but I posted on the Facebook for sure.

      • That explains it then. How interesting. I don’t know if it worked either. I have never tried reblogging anything. I don’t know if that is bad on my part.
        Thank you for share though, I do appreciate it.

      • Wouldn’t know if it’s good on my part :-). Seems it didn’t get through…it was awaiting your moderation, but I moved on, so…

      • I don’t normally have to approve, I don’t think, but I didn’t get a notification. Sorry. :)

  9. Her paintings are beautiful Leanne. Certainly something I would hang up on my wall.

  10. Her work is wonderful isn’t it? Like you I enjoy how vividly she paints the mundane. Especially the flowers. I love all the flowers.

    • It is Liz. Makes you look at your ordinary stuff and wonder what you could do with it. I wish my house wasn’t the way it was, I would love do some photos that are similar.

  11. I never heard of her before, thank you for sharing her work. Remarkable. I can see why she is admired.

  12. thank you for sharing, I don’t know this artist and find it very fitting you post this subject today because it is the International World Art Day :)

  13. Palimpsest says

    Ooh, another wonder! And one who has the exact same interests as I do: the extraordinary beauty of the quotidian. My house is as cluttered as hers, too. I keep trying to clear some space, but I never manage it for long.

  14. This is the first time I’ve seen Olley’s work! I will read more about her and I quite agree that she has influenced your work… both of you have incredible talent.

  15. What a cute talented lady. Her place looked like a hot mess (well – that one room did). Yet- she captured everything so neatly in her art.
    Love your pic too! Looks liek a nice place to have some tea & a nice conversation.

    • Thank you RoSy, I think that was what made me to turn to painting 10 years ago, the fact that you could just not paint things in your image if you wanted. Of course, I can do that on the computer now, but I delete them afterwards. I love the ceremony of tea and conversation, one of my favourites.

  16. A cluttered room, have two of them … at least close to that stage. :)
    BTW, very nice photo of the cake with the tea.

    • I don’t have rooms like that, our house is too small, but I could see it potentially happening one day. I am finding it hard to find places for the things I want now. Thanks David.

  17. her paintings are beautiful…full of texture, detail, colour and life really! I’ve never heard of her so thank you for sharing!

    • It is wonderful to introduce an Australian painter to others, so I am glad you enjoyed her work.

  18. ciao! there is something about the still life colours that bring to mind matisse in a more contemporary light. just (extra)ordinary.

  19. Thanks for sharing this, I am a new fan of hers now. I also loved seeing the picture of her living room, I need to show it to my husband so he realizes that I’m not that messy!

    • It is wonderful to introduce and share the artists that inspire me, and even better when everyone seems to really enjoy them as well.

  20. I’ve certainly heard of Margaret Olley, unfortunately at the time she passed away, but hadn’t realised how beautiful her paintings are. I’ll have to investigate her work some more.

    • Yes, do look for her paintings, they are gorgeous, and there are so many. There has also been a biography written on her.

  21. Much of Ms. Olley’s work has quite an amount of ‘Cezanne-influence’ it seems, Leanne…and I had never heard of her! (Note to self: Brush up on Australian artists!) Her works are gorgeous, yet simple, with ordinary subject matter that is so splendidly executed it makes one stop and look closer…I think that’s the appeal.

    Thanks for this post…I’ll have to squeeze in some research time…somewhere?

    • She was a great lady, and not just a painter, I think, she was a darling of Australian art, if I can put it that way. Everyone mourned her, because of art, but also because of what she represented, a long line of Australian artists from a period that was pretty amazing.
      I hope you enjoy what you find out about her.

  22. kuujinbo says

    Love your “Influencing Me” series – great source of information. :)

    • That is wonderful to hear. When I first started them, I thought people would hate them, but I have been overwhelmed by how popular they are. Thank you.

  23. Pingback: The art of the mess | Muse-ings

  24. Oooown the way she paints make me think she’s such an adorable and bright person! So nice!
    Also, can I have a piece of that cake? Pretty please?

    • YOu will have to wait your turn for the cake.
      I think she was, definitely a character and someone a lot of people loved.

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