Meet The Artist: Mary O'Malley

When perusing through Instagram one morning I was ecstatic to stumble across Mary's beautiful work. I immediately fell in love with her whimsical flowers and knew we had to do an exclusive collection for Hummingbird. 

In her highly detailed original works on paper, Mary morphs nature with the decorative, creating an alternate “natural” world where flora and fauna, dense patterning, and a maximalist sensibility come together to create a new world of hybrid chandeliers, curious bouquets, and abundant gardens. Boldly decorative and unapologetically pretty, these imagined worlds are characterized by symmetry, bold color and shimmering metallic detail that conjure a fantastical and idealized view of nature. They certainly brighten our walls and make for a great shelfie!

I sat down with Mary to learn all about how she began her career as an artist and where she draws inspiration from. Read her short Q&A below!


Credit: Mary O'Malley
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how your career as an artist began?
A: I’ve always loved to draw, and joke that I was born with a pencil in my hand! I was super shy as a kid, so drawing and painting was a way to communicate with the world. When it came time for college, art school was really the only choice for me. I started showing my work regularly after graduate school, and my career started taking off. I’ve been really fortunate to participate in many shows and projects that have been really fun and rewarding.
Q: Where are you based?
A: I am currently living on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. We’ve got it all here: mountains, lakes, forests and the ocean! 
Credit: Mary O'Malley
Q:  Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: My work explores my fascination with nature combined with a love of pattern, decoration, and ornamentation. I find inspiration in folk art, decorative art, textiles, and the natural world. Flora, fauna, pattern and a maximalist sensibility come together to create a whimsical world characterized by symmetry, bold color and pops of neon.
Q:  Tell us about the style in which you paint and the materials you use?
A: My work is highly stylized and draws from various decorative arts traditions. It is intentionally decorative, flat, whimsical and playful. I was trained as an oil painter, but in recent years started using gouache, a water based paint, and fell in love with its saturated color and matte texture. I also love paper, and enjoy working on cold-pressed water color paper, that I then apply to a board. 
Credit: Mary O'Malley
Q: We love your abstract florals and contrasting colors. Do you have a favorite flower to paint?
A: I love all flowers! Many of my flowers are hybrids of different flowers found in nature. I love creating new ‘species’ based on real flowers with a whimsical and decorative twist. Over the years I have drawn so many flowers that I started a digital ‘database’ of all my sketches that I use to create my compositions. 
Q: What are your top 3 originals from this exclusive collection?
A: My favorite piece of this series is ‘Still Life #24: Peonies in Chinoiserie Vase’. Apart from peonies being a favorite flower, this is one of those pieces that seemed to paint itself. Another favorite is ‘Still Life #35: Triple Pink Blooms in Yellow Vase’. I’ve been dabbling in surface pattern design and it was fun to incorporate one of my patterns into this piece. ‘Still Life #25: Pink Blooms in Patterned Vase’ was a challenging piece because the color palette wasn’t coming together, so I decided to take a risk and go really bold with the color, and I think it paid off!
Credit: Mary O'Malley
Q: When you're not painting, what will we find you doing?
A: Gardening, sewing, hanging out with my family and playing with our 7-year old Australian Shepherd.