Interview with Kiwi artist, Bella Mary O’Mahony

One serendipitous aspect of the business rebranding process was the realisation that I cannot just rely on others to grow my business. Though support is essential and always grateful received, it is up to me to leave my cosy ‘hobbit hole’ and promote my own work. However, I realised that we are a community, and I can also support others, and promote their work, which is why my blog will now include a new feature: interviews!

I am excited and delighted to interview Kiwi artist, Bella, of Bella Mary O’Mahony Illustration.

Bella Mary O’Mahony

Hi Bella. Thank you for your willingness to share your art journey with our readers.

I was very taken with your realistic depictions of nature in your artwork and have so enjoyed following you on Instagram. I love your delicate botanical watercolour paintings.

What is your background?

I’ve lived in Dunedin most of my life. My mother and older sister are artists, so I grew up surrounded by art, colour, pattern and endless inspiration.

After I left school, I went to art school for a while, dabbled in university and ended up training and working as a hairdresser until the end of 2019.

Why did you decide to become an artist?

I was on maternity leave from hairdressing when my brother asked me to do some drawings for him. I hadn’t done any drawing for a while after dropping out of art school but enjoyed it so much I kept doing it in my spare time once I went back to work at the salon. I started doing more commissions and eventually got to the point where I was getting burnout from keeping up with them all alongside hairdressing and parenting, so made the exciting/scary decision to leave the salon and put all my energy into art.

What inspires your work?

There are specific colours and combinations of those colours that give me no end of inspiration. I love gardening and choosing paint colours for the house and furnishings, I get so much satisfaction in surrounding myself in colours that I adore. I think my paintings are an extension of that. I just want to look at them and have the simple pleasure of admiring a beautiful portrayal of nature in an incredible palette.

What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

My greatest challenge is having so much motivation and excitement to work but being unable to find as much time as I would like whilst also being a busy mum to a 3-year-old!

I really identify with you there. I am not a mum, but I tutor children and I know that two or three lifetimes would not be enough to paint or embroider all my inspirations.

How do you stay motivated, productive and disciplined?

I don’t have too much struggle with that, as I mentioned above. If I had all the time in the world I might but because I have to schedule my time around my busy life I really cherish and look forward to any time I get to paint.

What are your thoughts about using social media to expose your work?

I’m a massive fan! As an awkward introvert, I absolutely embrace sharing my work from the comfort of my home. I’m constantly blown away with the support and real connections you can make on there.

Same here!

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only take your most necessary art materials, what would they be?

A notebook and travel watercolour palette.

What advice or tips can you give to other artists?

Enjoy yourself. Don’t let the business side of things take away from the joy of making art. Just follow your enthusiasm and you’ll attract likeminded people.

So true. Good artwork is its own best advertisement.

What creative project are you working on at the moment?

I’m painting some incredible parrot tulips.

I can’t wait to see this painting. It is so beautiful.

If we return to being stranded on a desert island, please share your favourite book, movie, food and music, if you could take these with you.

Book – ‘The Shipping News’ by Annie Proulx

Not a movie but the BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice’ miniseries.

Food – macaroni cheese – I’m a simple girl.

Music – probably something classical like Debussy that wouldn’t get on my nerves too much if I’m going to be stuck there a while.

I have put ‘The Shipping News on my ‘must read’ list (although it will probably be via audiobook while I am painting or sketching).

What is your favourite animal and plant?

Animal – all the birds (is that cheating?)

Nope! Every bird is an amazing inspiration for an artist.

Plant- Hellebore (at this particular moment)

We noticed some really unusual hellebore colours this season. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens has an amazing display of hellebores.

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your work. It has been fantastic chatting to you. Where can we see more of your work, Bella?

Please check out Bella’s Instagram profile and follow her.

Check out next month’s blog. I will be interviewing Carey Knox, a herpetologist.

Until next time…

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