This week on the Home Life Series, we are stepping inside the creative world of talented Melbourne artist and mother, Libby Haines.
Her remarkable flair in cherishing the joy of everyday moments, and nostalgia of objects through still-life paintings, sees her followers race to bid for the opportunity to own such a unique and exclusive piece of art.
Step inside her Melbourne home studio where we talk all things food, wine and lobsters (heaven!), and discover what a day-in-the life as a sell-out artist looks like.
1. Hi Libby! We are MASSIVE fans of your incredible work and have been counting down the days to visit your home studio and get a look behind the scenes. For those who haven’t yet heard of you, can you please introduce yourself?
Hiiiii…. I’m Libby, I’m a painter who focuses on capturing scenes from everyday life with vivid colours and textures (and a lot of food).
2. From red wine and cheese, to lobsters and oysters, your most recent pieces follow a similar aesthetic focusing on delicious food moments! Where did the connection between art and food begin?
I haven’t always painted food but once I started I think a switch was flicked and now scenes of food consumption take up a majority of my paintings. Most of my inspiration is based off moments taken directly from my life, and as someone who REALLY likes eating, it’s hard for that to not be my biggest influence. I love capturing the feeling of a meal, the movement, the messiness, with wine spills and stains, the juiciness and textures/colours of particular foods.
3. Your still-life paintings have a beautiful textural element that capture these moments perfectly. What is your creative process from start to finish in creating a new piece and what medium do you use?
My paintings usually start with a crappy drawing based off photos on my phone that I’ve taken in a restaurant, out and about and eating at home. Once I’m happy with the sketch, I put paint to canvas. I paint with oils and primarily paint alla prima (wet on wet) which is a process I just LOVE. I apply my paint liberally and very thick, and I think my use of colour is where it really starts to come alive. I usually have a few colour combinations that I’m obsessed with for a few weeks and then move onto others.
The colour is by far the most pleasurable part for me and in some ways, I don’t think it would matter what I was painting as long as the colour combination excited me. When I’ve finished a painting, in all honesty, I usually hate it. Luckily oils take a few weeks + to dry, so by the time my painting has dried I’ve usually come around. My husband Sam builds the frames for each painting and I feel like that’s when I really feel like it’s finished and I feel proud.
4. We have been fan-girling from a distance and loved seeing your career take OFF in the last year with your pieces selling out in seconds. Can you give us a quick trip down memory lane on how you got to this point?
It sounds really cliché to say, but I still can’t really believe the response to my work and the fact that I am able to do this as my job. I was really passionate about art as a teenager and after high school I decided to study Visual Arts at Uni. However after completing my degree, I never considered a career as an artist as an option. I had no idea what I would paint and was much more interested in the world of fashion, so I went on to study Fashion Design and Garment Construction.
Over the years I worked in a few production roles before starting my own jewellery label. Running my own brand for 6 years was the biggest learning curve of my career, and despite lots of successful moments, I was never quite able to get the brand where I wanted it. After deciding to stop the jewellery brand, was when thoughts of painting again began to creep in. It was also the start of a certain global pandemic. I was at home with my two kids, both under 2 at the time and suddenly painting was all I could think of.
It started as a way to get through lockdown, I was painting scenes from inside our house which naturally evolved to food. I was sharing my work on Instagram to the audience I had built with my jewellery brand, and over time my audience started growing and people were responding to my work in a way I had never expected. I thought I would piss people off that I was sharing art not jewellery now, but I guess it’s what people were craving when they were stuck inside too.
5. The way you express yourself with art is not only visible in your work, but in your home too. How would you describe your interiors style and where do you look for inspiration?
My kids are quite young, so even though there is a lot that inspires me interiors wise, I have to be practical (snooze) about what will and will not work in a house that has toddlers running through creating chaos each day. I love colour and definitely am more drawn to maximalism than minimalism in regards to decorating (and also with how I paint- restraint is not a strength of mine.) But honestly, I just pick things I think look cool, and then I get home and realise none of it matches but maybe that’s ok, and either way, it’s too late now so I’ll make it work!
Most of my furniture is second hand, vintage or passed down from family. There is so much character in old pieces of furniture. And anything new that I purchase I try to make considered choices and only buy pieces I really love. I’m a big indoor plant fan, and I think they can elevate any space. My poor plants go through periods of neglect, but I have managed to restore most of them to their former glory.
6. You’ve got the ultimate studio setup right in your home. What does a day in the life look like when you are in creation mode?
My days change, but a typical Monday morning usually starts by creating a small painting to sell on Instagram later that day. What started out as just a way to get my art out and experiment, has now become a central part to my practice. Because I release the painting the same day I make it, it really forces me to work quickly and on a whim.
I usually decide that morning what I am going to paint and it is really based on intuition and mood. It pushes me to experiment with colours and themes, and I think it really keeps my followers engaged. Working quickly means there isn’t time to overthink and I like the expressive brush strokes that come from a painting that has been formed intuitively. If I’m not creating a smaller piece, I’m working on a larger painting for an upcoming show, which takes a lot more time and consideration. Either way, when I sit down to actually paint, I really get in the zone and it is one of the best feelings in the world, all my worries really fall away and it’s a time that I find myself really present and in the moment.
7. You recently sold out your latest art show in Melbourne (congratulations!) - What big goals do you have for 2023?
THANK YOU! The Melbourne show was really fun, it’s the first time I have hung a show myself and had an event outside of a gallery setting. It was scary but I’m so glad I did it.
I took some time off over Christmas and will start my Instagram releases again this week. I actually missed painting so much during this time. I have lots planned for this year, I will keep doing my insta releases and have a few shows coming up too! I feel really lucky to be in the position I am and am trying to be present and enjoy everything that comes my way.