Artist Interview – Break the rules but learn to draw

Like many of us living in this beautiful country, artist Nicole Maguire is deeply affected by its magnificent natural features. She grew up in Tasmania surrounded by mountains, rivers and farmland and now finds herself in Sydney exploring beaches and harbourside city streets. Elements of these different landscapes can be seen in her abstract works. Recently awarded for ‘Best Use of Medium’ in oils by The Art Society of Tasmania, many would say she had made it but she shyly describes it as an ‘encouraging entry’ into the art world. Now she feels (slightly) comfortable with the label ’emerging artist’, her advice to those starting out? Learn to draw… and a few other words of wisdom. We caught up with Nicole for a chat to find out more.

Nicole in the studio.

Nicole working with golf leaf in the studio.

What makes you want to create art?

Emotional expression and the beauty of our environment. Weathered, grungy patinas and natural rock formations along our coastlines is a current source of inspiration.

We love your piece ‘Emerald’, what inspired this one?

The piece is inspired by time on Bondi and Bronte beaches, watching surfers navigate mother nature.

Do you like taking on commission work?

I haven’t taken on commissions in the past but I would be open to it. My current work, using (artificial or real) gold leaf, is an aesthetic I can see working for commissioned pieces. Enquiries can be made through my website (

What are 3 pieces of art from any artists that have an influence on you and your work?

Futako Tamagawaen (Twin Rivers of Tamagawa)

Makoto Fujimura’s Futako Tamagawaen (Twin Rivers of Tamagawa) – a contemporary use of  traditional techniques.


Brad Kunkle’s Second Sleep –  This work encouraged me to get into gold leaf.


Milan Milojevic’s Dark Nature 2 – a brilliant Tasmanian artist. I am inspired by the beauty and drama of this piece.

Who is your favourite artist of all time and why?

The first painter who inspired me as a young girl is a very reluctant and humble talent in the family, my Uncle Brian.  He told me how he made marks using things such as match sticks, along with traditional tools, to create some elements in his paintings. I was stunned to see he’d use only a few marks to depict tiny tiny figures walking along a beach. It captures the imagination in a different way than if it were a photograph. That taught me something about the joy of painting.
A work in progress.

A work in progress.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?

As a shy emerging artist who took a long time to even start, I am happy to share some lessons learned so far:

  • Don’t worry about painting for others tastes. You can never please everyone and you won’t enjoy it. Let your market find you;
  • Back yourself. There will be doubters but self-doubt is the mistress of all creative u-turns;
  • Learn the rules so you know how to break them;
  • But do learn to draw. Poor drawing skills can limit the success of a painting;
  • Go for a walk if its not working. Come back with fresh eyes;
  • And I used to (and still do) haunt galleries to attend their opening nights… just to hear the opening speech. It’s really validating and inspiring to hear about an established artist’s journey;
  • Follow your fascinations and have fun!

You can buy Nicole’s art online here.

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