Mystery and the mundane: chatting with alluring Sydney painter, Lucy O’Doherty

Lucy O’Doherty is a wildly talented artist based in Sydney with a knack for injecting mystery and surrealism into suburban Australia. Her work mainly focuses on domestic scenes and landscapes, most of which would be entirely mundane if it weren’t for her ability to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and the supernatural.

Last year, she was awarded the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, which allowed her to embark upon a three-month residency in Paris and Ireland. The work she created as a product of this trip is currently being exhibited at the China Heights Gallery in Surry Hills (only for a few more days!).

We had a chat with Lucy about her intriguing style and her favourite part about working with oils.

Lucy O'Doherty

Following an inspiring residency in Paris and Ireland that came from winning the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, we had a chat with Sydney artist Lucy O’Doherty about her mysterious work.

HAPPY: Where do you draw inspiration from? Does this change between projects?

LUCY: I’m inspired by buildings, interiors and landscapes that feel mysterious, dreamlike or otherworldly. The subject matter might shift slightly between projects but those general atmospheres are always what I’m most interested in.

Lucy O'Doherty

HAPPY: Describe your creative process.

LUCY: I start by doing very quick sketches of a place I want to paint while I’m still at the location, either just line drawings or smudged pastel drawings to get a brief idea of composition and a potential palette. I’ll take photos for reference, particularly if I’m painting a structure and want to be aware of certain details. When I get to the studio I’ll use those and my memory of the place to start an oil painting. How I remember a place feeling is important to me and that will have a big impact on the colours I end up using once back in the studio.

Lucy O'Doherty

HAPPY: What are some themes or motifs that you find consistently crop up in your work?

LUCY: Domestic settings mysteriously devoid of a human presence, a nostalgic palette, remote structures in the landscape, empty restaurant interiors and the atmospheric effect of mist are all things I tend to be regularly interested in.

Lucy O'Doherty

HAPPY: What’s your favourite part about working with your medium?

LUCY: The slow drying time of oil paint. It makes it easier to achieve a subtle blend and hazy lines.

Lucy O'Doherty

HAPPY: What are you working on now?

LUCY: For the last six months I’ve been working on a solo exhibition called ‘Silent Skies’ which will be at China Heights Gallery in Surry Hills from June 29th to July 14th. It’s 30 oil paintings and pastel drawings of locations I came across while travelling for half of last year thanks to the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. I’ll be having a joint show with one of my favourite photographers Harry Culy in Wellington, NZ in October at a new contemporary gallery opening up called Millers Obrien. I’m excited to show with Harry in a new space and hopefully also explore the New Zealand landscape.+

Lucy O'Doherty

Check out more of Lucy’s work here.