10 of the Best Still Life Artists of 2021

Ah, the timeless appeal of still life paintings. A principal genre of Western art, still life artists take to this art style in celebration of material pleasures, or as an observation of the brevity of life. Still life may centralise cut flowers, fruit, wine, game or everyday items as its subject matter. Given its popularity amongst collectors, there is an endless variety in techniques and approaches to the genre. Below are ten of the best still life artists giving their own current imprint onto a traditional, ageless style.

Natasha Junmanee: A Still Life Realist

Local Sydney artist Natasha Junmanee at work on a painting

Natasha Junmanee at work.

Based in Sydney, award-winning artist Natasha Junmanee creates stunning still life and floral paintings with a rich use of colour and a strong interplay of light and shadow. A favourite on Bluethumb for her unrivalled depth of realism, her work continues to be admired by collectors, fellow artists and interior designers; it even made a guest appearance in the 2019 season of The Block.

The Brevity of Life by Natasha Junmanee. Still life oil painting for sale on Bluethumb.

The Brevity of Life by Natasha Junmanee

True to the spirit of still life, Natasha’s work integrates “symbolic objects depicting the beauty of stillness, memory and transience” within the fine detail of each painting. You’ll find a constant intention to capture beauty through colour and composition within her portfolio, while provoking thought on cultures, philosophies, place and time.

Jos Kivits: A Still Life Dutch Master

Technically, Jos exercises three art styles here – a seascape, a landscape and a still life! We love the tale this Banquet tells as a result.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Jos Kivits has taken a leaf out of the Dutch Masters’ book. Needless to say, his paintings are awe-inspiring pieces that boast technical skill and an impressive sense of accomplishment. Jos offers a neo-classical approach to still life and landscape paintings, honouring a traditional take on art.

It feel like a long time since we were Planning for a trip; Jos encapsulates the romantic quality of the moment with a more traditional representation of such an act.

Jane Reynolds: An Award-Winning Still Life Artist

Meet the face behind the figurative: Jane Reynolds!

There’s no mistaking the work of Jane Reynolds. Formerly an animation artist and producer for visual effects in film and television, Jane specialises in the geometric form, colour and light of quotidian objects – finding beauty in the everyday still life. Jane’s approach to her work is a somewhat in-depth, often meditative study of her still life subject. Her uncanny ability to breathe beauty into the mundane earned her the Still Life Award in last year’s Bluethumb Art Prize.

Jane’s most recent artworks didn’t last the afternoon before they were snapped up by keen collectors. Featured: Arrangement 78

Jane’s usual subject matter includes discarded items; by capturing collected subjects in a new space, she gives them new value and a stage to continue living on. Interestingly, despite the general demeanour towards these unwanted items, Jane’s paintings never stick around for long.

Mia Laing: ‘Quintessentially Australian’ Still Life

Mia with a freshly finished artwork – and a top-looking breakfast spread!

Over the past five years, Mia Laing has increasingly become celebrated on Bluethumb for her undulating ability to create fun, stylised and narrative twists to everyday life. The playful spirit in which she captures the personality of her inanimate still life subject, and tells their story, remains ever-present. Her oil paintings frequently touch on the quintessential Australian lifestyle.

Who says wattle can’t be enjoyed all year round? Mia Laing eternalises one of Australia’s most beloved flora in this painting, Winter’s Gold.

Last year we spoke with Mia to discuss the techniques and concept behind her narratives, as well as her experience of navigating the turbulence of 2020. Read the interview here.

Laura Thomas: A Rule-Bending Still Life Artist

Interior favourite and Rising Star artist Laura Thomas brings a new flavour to a traditional style.

UK-born, Melbourne-based artist Laura Thomas has quickly become a much-loved still life painter within Australia’s art and design community. Her distinct and naïve style playfully breaks the rules of traditional, figurative art, providing the perfect antidote to these weird and complex times we find ourselves in.

Laura consistently explores shape, pattern and negative space to create a sense of ambiguity. Featured: Picnic Rug

Towards the end of last year, Laura Thomas took part in our exciting collaboration with Disney Australia on the release of the feel-good film, Soul. Click here to find out more on the artist’s process behind her work, and her own inspiring advice for following the creative part within us all.

Melissa Ritchie: Still Life with Symbolism

Born in Georgia USA in 1978, Melissa Ritchie moved to Australia as a baby and grew up on the South Coast NSW. Melissa started portrait and still life painting in 2012; since then, she has been a finalist in many Australian Art Prizes, including the Archibald Prize, Pirtek Still Life Award and the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award. Melissa successfully captures a narrative through symbolic gestures within her work.

In Arsenal for Today (Grey), Melissa Ritchie depicts a day in the life of a busy working woman. The list shows family commitments, the glasses represent vision, while the headphones show focus and the Ventolin depicts breath.

Katerina Apale: All Things Bright and Beautiful

Katerina Apale surrounded by flowers and paintings

Now settled on the Central Coast, Katerina Apale has brought an admirable artistic background to the Australian arts scene.

Born and raised in Latvia, Katerina Apale has shown work in over nine countries, including her home country and Australia where she now resides. Katerina calls painting her “dialogue to the world”, when she finds verbal communication insufficient to express her feelings and ideas.

For this piece, Katerina approached the process differently with a large scale canvas and finer details than before. A
symphony of bright colours meets the intricate figures waiting to be found in the ornaments.

While she has in the past painted a variety of subjects, in recent years, we’ve seen Katerina concentrate on still life as her preferred subject matter. Her evident love of colour and and bold shapes, however, have loyally remained the same throughout her artistic career.

Andria Beighton: A Retro Take on Still Life

Andria Beighton with her recent Bloom collection.

If you’re a fan of TikTok, there’s a high change you’ll have seen Andria Beighton‘s oh-so-satisfying art peels, in which she slowly reveals strong shape and line that construct her painting. Andria takes inspiration from the 20th century’s brutalist architecture, as well as the mid-century bold graphics that are now so iconic in ever-cool vintage posters from the era. Expect sleek lines, block colours and a heavy retro feel within her work.

The vessels in Andria’s Bloom collection are modelled on vintage vases and jugs, but re-visited with a contemporary twist.

We spoke with Andria on her practice and those viral-worthy videos we know and love so much – click here for the interview.

Nadia Culph: A Still Life Photographer

A simple composition and intuitive colour contrasts mark the signature style of photographer Nadia Culph. Nadia is immensely skilful at manipulating and controlling light. Her close-up still life imagery is inspired by all of “nature’s curiosities and wonders”. Nature’s blooms move to the forefront of each photograph, and have ultimately bolstered the wonder of nature that Nadia was initially inspired by.

“I liked the idea of creating a floral patchwork of texture and colour,” Nadia comments on this work, Paper Daisies.

Angela Hawkey: A Lover of Still Life and Landscape

Angela Hawkey is also popular for her luscious landscapes!

“Even when starting with a subject or idea in mind, I freely deviate from the plan. I love the unexpected surprises and naturalness that comes from a relaxed style of painting.” Angela Hawkey‘s approach to the canvas takes a free-flowing, unplanned and unpredictable mindset. Colour and texture take centre stage in Angela’s work, which forge thick, layered landscapes, abstracts and still life. Raised in an artistic household with creative traditions, Angela has grown to experiment in photography, graphic design, ceramics – the list goes on. With an equally talented sister also with Bluethumb, it’s safe to say that creative licence runs through Angela Hawkey’s blood.

Flowers in Vases by Angela Hawkey

Emilie Maguin: The One to Watch

Emilie Maguin is relatively new to the Bluethumb scene, but has fast made her mark with her still life portfolio. Based in Perth, her bold and playful work focuses on a poetic depiction of the natural world, using strong colour and pattern to get there. Her work could be considered somewhat naive with its flattened perspective. “Colour, symbolism and story telling are the heart of each composition, and every painting is considered a message in a bottle, waiting to start the conversation with its perfect recipient,” Emilie shares on her work. Layers of heavy acrylics and pastels build up the textural delight of her paintings.

A Yahtzee of sixes and proteas in a German pottery vase make up the composition of this bright and cheery artwork.

By no means a comprehensive list, the talent continues here in our new still life curation. Shop the full collection here.

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5 Comments

  1. Lance Ross says:

    Most of these are not traditionally described as ‘still life.’ They are abstracts. ‘Still life’ refers to how life-like the work is.

  2. Paul Buttigieg says:

    What about Sue McCutcheon, I and my friends all love her work?????????

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, Sue is a wonderful artist! We had a hard time choosing ten artists and as mentioned in the blog, this is by no means a definitive list 🙂

  3. Helen Washington says:

    Hello,
    Very surprised that Elena Kolotusha was not included. Her drawings of glass, shells feathers, etc are quite amazing.
    Also, you might like to contact Gregory R Smith and see if he would like to join Blue Thumb. He is an amazing still-life artist. Contact him through the Victorian Artists Society.
    Regards
    Helen

  4. Pastel Art Prints says:

    Great Information and awesome painting work!

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