An Interview with Leith O'Malley

Mission Share the Love

Leith O’Malley – Life, Loves and Leunig

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In a quest to continue the mission here is my second interview with the creative and incomparable Leith O’Malley.

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………………… The Return of the Red Dust Girl, Oil on Canvas 120 × 90 cm

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Can you remember when it was that you first realized that being creative and making art was going to be a large part of your life?

I think my first memory was sitting at the kitchen table when I was nine or ten years old and drawing TV cartoon characters. My older brother Wayne used to draw quite a lot back then himself so I more or less followed suit. Cartooning mostly. I just loved the act of drawing and still do. It’s an integral part of my plans for any painting.
There wasn’t any real moment of realization that I would even continue doing this or creating art at this level and it has become a bit of a monster just quietly … this infatuation, or addiction to creating art. It’s hard to flick the switch off sometimes and for all it’s beauty and wonderment there is also burden. An urge to compete against yourself, to improve with every new work.
So yes, a long way from that kitchen table and the wonderment remains.

In Kafka’s interview with myself I mention how I find your work intrinsically Australian. What is it that has moulded your style and what have been your influences?

Well thankyou very much! I am quite happy with that. “Intrinsically Australian”.. it has a nice ring to it Marilyn.

Seriously though, I would say that my diligence in continuing to chip away and work on my own style, making my own marks and keeping the work honest and meaningful.. at least to me was a good decision early on. Most of my favourite painters are Australian and it makes sense to think that living in a regional area surrounded by bush or desert scrub has eventually crept into my palette.
Influences? I think that recognising the difference between being inspired by someone elses work as opposed to being influenced by it is very important, and understanding this years ago was a watershed moment for me. My goal to continue to blur the line between art and illustration, and to try and remain as original or separate from other peoples styles as possible has helped my work remain fresh and accessible.

Honesty is a big ingredient. 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 a little more obvious.

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You are a successful professional artist with a long list of achievements and exhibitions behind you. How has redbubble aided your development as an artist and what inspirations of other artists work have inspired you?

Professional sounds way too organised Marilyn, but I’ll take it ;)

Redbubble is unique in that it has a really respectable and professional online presence about it and that is important to me.

Not only is it an ideal platform for creative people to promote themselves but it is also a really good place to get feedback on what you do and network with an intelligent and good humoured artistic community. I’m really just like most people here who love creativity, I’m just fortunate enough to be having some success or at least achieving some of my goals. As you know there are some amazing photographers, poets, writers, painters and illustrators here and I’m lucky to rub shoulders with them (as long as they don’t mind getting a little paint on their clothes ;)

On the inspiration front, I’m inspired a lot of the time by everything and anything and am always filling up little art notebooks with ideas for drawings or paintings.
For the record, here are a few of the artists who have kick started my charcoal..

Cartoonist – 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!

Artist – 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 still something about his painting which is really exciting for me and rewarding on return reviewing of his work. Also showed me that great art can also have a sense of humour!

Filmmaker/Artist – 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.

Other Favourites
My favourite contemporary Australian artist at the moment is Esther Erlich and once again it’s the risk taking on canvas that has me interested. I also love the paintings of Rupert Bathurst, Ryohei Hase, Dion Archibald, Shaun Tan and Tonje Moe Pettersen.
It’s a bit like music though where week to week you discover something else exciting from a particular artist.
Last week it was Frans Hals.
So much good work out there and a lot here on redbubble too!

A fantastic insight I think you will all agree and join with me in wishing Leith all the success in the future.
Be sure to check out his website leithomalley.com

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An Interview with Leith O'Malley by 


In a quest to continue the mission here is my second interview with the creative and incomparable Leith O’Malley.

Comments

  • Phil
    Philabout 6 years ago

    A great insight to a great talent ! :)
    I find Leith’s work inspiring.
    Seeing Leith’s work in the flesh at a gallery on Melbourne Street last year and reading a blurb he’d written re the joy of mark-making sparked a web of dusty neurons into action to give priority to the joy of putting charcoal on paper. Thanks Leith.
    A great Talent!

  • Leith
    Leithabout 6 years ago

    Wow Phil, I don’t think there’s a better compliment than when someone says they were inspired by you.. really made my day!
    I might add that looking at your own works here at rebubble makes me see you don’t need much help mate, some exciting pieces coming from the end of your own charcoal and brushes I see!

    Most appreciated :)

    -Leith

  • Marion Chapman
    Marion Chapmanabout 6 years ago

    interesting interview and wonderful art

  • Mundy Hackett
    Mundy Hackettalmost 6 years ago

    Very insightful, thank you!

  • © Karin  Taylor
    © Karin Tayloralmost 6 years ago

    ge’ez I enjoyed that

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