Margaret OLLEY

Lismore, New South Wales, Australia 1923 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2011

  • France, England 1949-53

Katie's quinces 1976 Creation Notes: Brisbane
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on composition board

Primary Insc: signed l.r., oil, "Olley". not dated
Dimensions: 91.5 h x 122.0 w cm Frame 1000 h x 1310 w x 50 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1976
Accession No: NGA 76.563
Image rights: On behalf of the Estate of Margaret Olley
  • I have many ways of working. One is working directly from a model or from using still life; this I don’t arrange and then paint it immediately. I always have a very definite idea of what I want to do. Sometimes it doesn’t come off immediately, sometimes it does, and this is a very satisfying thing. Other times I paint for a whole day, and then leave it for several weeks; it might go on for a month or even six weeks, taking out something, repainting again.

    I very rarely make a detailed sketch, I mean a completed sketch, a detailed sketch of what I intend to do: I might make little thumbnail notes but never very detailed, because I feel you kill the painting you want to do …  painting to me is like drawing, you draw with your brush or your palette knife, so whether one is using a paintbrush or water-colour or a pen, it is all creative, and I never mind which medium I’m using.

    I prefer to work direct from models or still life, have an actual thing there, and then change it afterwards, because I find I am far more stimulated by having the actual thing there than relying on one’s memory which is a sort of a risky thing. You can be more interested in the actual painting of whatever you are doing.

    I never like to work directly on to a white ground. I might spend weeks building up a surface. As a matter of fact, anybody coming in could take it as an abstract painting, but I find this – it is really actually the bone of a painting – I must have this, before I really start on a painting.

    Margaret Olley, 19631

    1 Margaret Olley, interview with Hazel de Berg, 8 October 1963, Hazel de Berg Collection, National Library of Australia (transcript 101, p.1–2).

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002