Leith Omalley artist interview - artist portfolio - artist biography
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Australian figurative painter / artist  - Leith O'malley
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Figurative Australian Artist - Painter Leith O'Malley
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"I guess that like a musician, creating art can transport you to another world and for my own part this has become a very addictive but rewarding ritual.
Leith Omalley

Australian Painter - Leith O'malley Artist Probe - Interview with an Artist

Leith Omalley - Contemporary Australian Painter

Leith O'Malley - October 2003

+1 ::: Why are you an artist?

Creativity simply drives me.
I love the act of creating something from nothing really and for some reason the world always seems a better place afterwards. Why am I an artist? It really isn't something I can try and explain in just a few lines but I will say it is an extremely intoxicating, passionate and rewarding act for me which can be both a frustrating and exhilarating journey.
Brett Whiteley nailed it when he called it "a difficult pleasure".

+2 ::: Could you tell me some more about your art?
I'll try…
It seems to be evolving although I'm not sure where it is all leading at times. I like to move between various mediums but have a fondness for oil. I like to express parts of my own personality or interests within my paintings and generally avoid commissioned work that I have no attachment to. I am fairly isolated from metropolitan art circles and am certainly not influenced by art trends. I tend to lean towards a figurative expression of some kind in my most recent work and have a sort of 'to thine own self be true' approach to what I do and paint.

+3 ::: You seem to enjoy working in different mediums using such things as oils, pastels and digital mediums. Do you just like variety or are there other reasons for the changes in medium?
I generally get a little stagnant or bored with my own work if I stay in the same (place) medium too long, so I like to keep moving. Also, some of my ideas simply call for a particular medium. My love of illustration and graphic art often draws me back to the line orientated mediums such as charcoal, pastel or the computer. Experiment I say..
The trick is being able to retain your own style throughout the medium changes and knowing the limitations. Like music, I have a broad appreciation of many different forms of art and thankfully don't have that blinkered approach where everything needs to be categorised, or you must stick to what you do best. I just let art lead me in all sorts of interesting directions and get just as much enjoyment out of looking at Robert Crumb* stuff as I do Goya* or Rembrandt*.

+4 ::: What Artists have influenced you and why?
Michael Leunig*
For showing me that less really is more. He is able to say so much with so little detail. Definitely an inspiration early on and I'm a sucker for satirical cartoons!
Brett Whiteley*
His work helps remind me from time to time to take more risks and think about challenging or engaging the viewer. There's also something about his paintings and also Van Gogh's which makes me feel somewhat welcomed…like the familiarity of meeting an old friend - I can't quite work out why though. Also showed me that great art can also have a sense of humour!
George Gittoes*
Definitely one of Australia's greatest living artists and a little under appreciated. His art workshops many years ago gave me an introduction and insight into art from both sides of the canvas and inspired me to give the brush a more prominent place in the arsenal. Yep, blame George.
Vincent Van Gogh*
It's all been said by too many others, but you have to ignore or put to one side the popularity and commercialism to really appreciate his brushmanship.
Contemporary Artists & Illustrators
The internet has opened my eyes to an endless array of known and unknown artists who now influence and excite me the most. Some of these gems include Brad Holland*, Joe Sorren*, Jack Unruh*, Nicoletta Tomas*, Sterling Hundley*, John Puglisi*, Yuko Shimizu* and Sara Shamma* to name a few..

+5 ::: What do you do for fun (apart from art)
Hey, isn't life serious and art fun?
No seriously, my other love is family and music. I occasionally sit in on electric blues harmonica with local blues and boogie bands and have also been learning to play tenor saxophone for a few years now.

+6 ::: What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
I'm inspired all the time and am always filling up little art notebooks with ideas for paintings. The inspiration behind a lot of my work comes from wanting to express something within myself and usually associated with the things I love (or dislike) about life or have experienced. Some are metaphor, others more obvious. Music is big influence and of course emotion plays it's part.
I keep motivated by looking at other people's art or by (as mentioned) changing mediums. I just really love all aspects of creating art so motivation isn't too much of an issue.

+7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
I actually have a Diploma in Business Management and don't have too many problems keeping everything above board on that front.
I registered as a business several years ago just to make sure the taxman is satisfied. It's kind of a grey area this art and tax business..
Billy Bragg* has a great title for one of his albums, it's called "Talking to the taxman about Poetry" which I'm sure most artists can relate to.

+8 ::: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years I'll be looking back and hopefully seeing a vast improvement in my painting along with an extended CV! My agent will be on the phone saying "the Porche is waiting to take you to the airport Mr. O'Malley".

+9 ::: How did you start with the jazz series and where are you going with it?
The jazz series "Jazz is Art, Art is Jazz"* started with me painting a few jazz inspired pieces just for pure pleasure. This progressed to producing promotional art for the Adelaide Jazz Festival and eventually exhibiting the work on a regular basis in an Adelaide restaurant/gallery space. The owner is happy to let me rotate the works through and there are no constraints on what I present. I decided last year to have the work exhibited on line as well so its kind of neat to have the series existing in both a real and virtual space. The bonus of course is that I have the opportunity to sell both originals and limited edition reproductions of any of the works.
I intend to continue producing jazz orientated works but am taking a short hiatus to explore a few other ideas which have been brooding in the background.

+10 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Don't try to be a famous artist. Just focus on doing good work and building up a body (or portfolio) of work you can be proud of. Put it online!
Believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Be critical of your own work and learn how to take criticism from others.
There are not better artists, just better publicists.
Engulf yourself in art. Learn more about it and don't have blinkers on. Study traditional and contemporary art styles and mediums.
Follow your heart and enjoy yourself, but be prepared for some disappointment along the way. Promote yourself.
Find like-minded souls to share your frustrations with!

Information - related websites

Personal website of Leith O'Malley Jazz is Art, Art is Jazz

+3 ::: Robert Crumb: www.crumbproducts.com

+3 ::: Francisco de Goya: webmuseum - Goya
::: Rembrandt : webmuseum - Rembrandt
::: Michael Leunig: www.curlyflat.net
::: Brett Whiteley: artquotes.net - Brett Whiteley
::: George Gittoes: www.gittoes.com
::: Vincent van Gogh: www.vangoghgallery.com
::: Brad Holland: www.bradholland.net
::: Joe Sorren: www.joesorren.com
::: Jack Unruh: www.jackunruh.com
::: Nicoletta Tomas: www.nicoletta.info
::: Sterling Hundley: www.sterlinghundley.com
::: John Puglisi: john puglisi
::: Yuko Shimizu: www.yukoart.com
::: Sara Shamma: www.sarashamma.com
::: Billy Bragg: www.billybragg.co.uk
::: Jazz is Art, Art is Jazz: Leith's Jazz page


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