Meet Onnie Seabrook
It’s about time we uncover the beautifully crafted works of Onnie Seabrook. With her mature and established style, she echoes the class and talent of the true painting masters. Being fairly young and sustaining such skill and prestige leaves her with an impressed, intrigued and diverse following.
Sydney based painter; Onnie, uses thick applications of paint to enhance her sensual and natural themes. I find her subjects fascinating. With few colour choices and strokes, she recreates the serenity, movement and complexity of the landscape and the warmth, depth and character of human beings. Her dismissal of realism and engagement with impressionism and sometimes abstraction, allows Onnie to prioritise charisma and originality over detail and documentation. The enchanted nature of memory is suggested through her unpredictable and unconventional choice of colour.
Onnie’s works resonate with everyone; you don’t have to be a beach goer to appreciate the homely nature of the surf club, or a sister to comprehend the bath banter at suppertime. Her works are timeless and though the scenes may be focused on the Northern Beaches, they are still universal. The experimentation with natural canvases such as wood has been successful exploration and has contributed to her originality and charm. Onnie’s skill and technique is to be commended and thoroughly supported as artworks of this quality should be shared and relished by all.
A brief insight into her artistic journey and practice ..
What influences you stylistically?
For figures; Ben Quilty and Lucian Freud. For landscapes I'm stylistically influenced by Post-Impressionism. I love Van Gogh, I love his mark and paint application and colour choice. I also like some of the more pastel Post - Impressionist paintings. Grace Cossington Smith and Frank Auerbach influence my landscapes too. Something all these artists have in common is their thick or painterly paint application and they have good colour choices. They change or exaggerate the colour so it’s more aesthetically pleasing rather than realistically depicting what is really there.
Please describe your art process?
I just paint straight onto canvas, usually from a photo I have taken. I commonly use oil and canvas, sometimes acrylic and wood. When I'm using oils I usually don't use any other mediums, just oil paint, it’s thicker this way. I mix up colours I like, rather than trying to match the exact ones in the photo. I just use the photo as a guide. For example, I hate cliché bright blue skies so I always knock my skies back with heaps of white and dull the blue down a bit with some brown.
How has your artist experience evolved over the past couple of years?
My experience has evolved greatly over the past few years, both with my practice and exhibiting. I started studying at the National Art School last year and did my foundation year, which really developed and strengthened my artistic practice. The interaction with other artists at NAS is also so great. I've also exhibited in several galleries and gained a better understanding of that world; what work sells, gallery commissions etc.… My HSC work was chosen in the Manly Art Gallery ‘Express Yourself’ exhibition and I have exhibited in group shows at the Butcher shook Gallery in Paddington and Chelsea Lane Gallery in Avalon, which I now work at too. I've also had a solo show at StudioTenSixFive in Palm Beach.
Conceptually, what do you like to express?
I have no deep underlying concept. I'm not exploring any crazy issues about the world. I'm just expressing the style and subject. For me the act of painting and the space you get into when you're painting is enough to explore for now, while I'm still exploring and defining my style.
Where did you study and develop your art making practice?
I'm currently deferred from a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School; I've completed my first year there. I did HSC Visual Arts at Barrenjoey High School. Really it goes back to primary school, I went to a Steiner school, which encourages creativity and instead of sport and dance classes after school I chose art classes. I've been practicing painting and art from young age.
What direction can you see your art taking in the future? Is there any upcoming exhibitions or projects that you would like to share?
The Chelsea Lane Gallery has a staff show coming up so I'm working on that and a few commissions. I'm going to Europe in August, so I'm going to see and be influenced by all the art over there and come back and finish my degree. I hope to keep on exhibiting and taking that further. I guess I’ll get a feel for how well I can actually go with that, but it would be great to make a living out of it, if not merge it with something else but I’ll definitely be painting to some extent until I die.
What have been some of your favourite pieces and why?
These are the best pieces because I was in the right headspace and flow when I was painting them. When you get into this headspace, you know from the very start its going to be a good painting because you have complete control and are on top of it from the beginning. I did them all quite fast. It's the best feeling in the world but it takes practice master.
What does art mean to Onnie?
I used to go to Canberra sometimes with my family, over the years, and we'd go to the National Gallery. Jackson Pollocks, Blue Poles, 1952 is there in their permanent collection. There’s a seat in front of it, I'd always sit there and stare at it for a while, something about it completely drew me in; before I knew anything about him or Blue Poles. That’s what art means for means for Onnie. The experience you have when observing a painting is an awesome feeling. It’s the same feeling you get when you’re painting yourself, a reward, from the physical and mental involvement in the process of creating; it’s one of the best things in this world.
To follow and get in contact with Onnie Seabrook please visit her
Instagram @ondineseabrookart or Email email@example.com
By Lucy Murray