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Why The Internet Is In Love With Libby Haines’ Beautiful Still-Life Paintings

Studio Visit

When Libby Haines posts a picture of her still-life paintings on Instagram, they sell out within seconds. In minutes there’s an endless stream of comments saying ‘SOLD’ in a rapid-fire attempt to claim the Melbourne artist’s beautiful vignettes for themselves.

It’s an overwhelming response that Libby says she never expected when she returned to her childhood love of painting at the start of the pandemic. And she credits social media for giving her the power to become a full-time artist — a dream that once seemed ‘impossible’ to her!

Step inside her home studio, where she creates her colourful paintings of domestic bliss.

27th September, 2022

Libby Haines’ beautiful paintings capture the messy nature of everyday life. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Melbourne artist Libby Haines in her home’s spare room, which has become her painting studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Thoughtful details and real-life clutter characterises her works. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

The scenes are vivid and textured moments from domestic life. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘It’s still quite wild to me that I do this full time, but I do! In between parenting my kids with my husband Sam. He is a surveyor by trade but now makes my fine art prints and builds the frames for my pieces,’ Libby says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘The parenting role is an all-consuming one, and having both of us working from home and being able to share the load is so great,’ Libby adds. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Libby’s weekly painting releases on Instagram are remarkably popular and almost impossible to snap up, priced at just $595. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘The smaller paintings are more impulsive and I usually complete them in a few hours. I paint with water mixable oil paints and I paint alla prima (wet on wet) I love the vibrancy of oil paints and the way they dry exactly as they look wet.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Each month she choses her favourites from her weekly paintings and makes these into limited edition fine art prints. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘Because the scenes are taken straight my life there is often an erratic look to the layout, a cluster of random objects and air of mess. From there I try to reimagine the scene through vivid colours and textures to create a feeling.’ Photo – Courtesy of Libby Haines

Her larger works will be the focus of her next solo show ‘VISITORS’, which is ‘all about entertaining, the food we cook for the people we love’ and the moments before and after these dinner parties. Photo – Courtesy of Libby Haines

Christina Karras
Tuesday 27th September 2022

‘Pre-Instagram, being a full-time artist truly seemed like an impossibility to me’ – Libby Haines

Libby Haines loved making art as a teenager and pursued visual arts in university. But by the time she was finished her degree, she had ‘no desire to be an artist anymore.’

‘I think I felt burnt out from producing and critiquing art constantly and I had no idea what I would want to create,’ Libby says. ‘It was pre-Instagram, and being a full-time artist truly seemed like an impossibility to me.’

She went on to study and work in fashion design and production, and later started her own jewellery brand called Lemon. Despite some successes, Libby says it was ‘really hard to make a profit’ – she ended up funding her passion with various side hustles before calling it quits six years in. Luckily, as one door closed another one opened, and she felt ready to explore art again after a 12-year hiatus.

‘It was the start of pandemic, and I was home with my two toddlers (both under two at the time) and suddenly painting was all I could think about.’ Libby started sharing her dreamy, still-life oil paintings directly inspired by her day-to-day life on Instagram in the lead up to her first solo show with a positive response – so she decided to test the waters by selling smaller works via the app.

‘At first it took a few days to sell one (which I was stoked with) and then from there it was happening within hours, then minutes, to the point where many people were commenting at the exact time I released it,’ Libby explains. It’s since become a competitive frenzy with her 41,200 followers vying in the comments to buy one of her two releases a week. Sometimes, she even gets frustrated and upset DMs from people afterwards who are devastated to miss out on a painting, which Libby admits is a flattering but bizarre position to be in.

‘After years of working so hard to keep my jewellery brand alive I could never have dreamed of this kind of demand for my work,’ she adds. She ‘impulsively’ creates these richly textured paintings from her home studio in just a few hours, often painting from memory alone, while her husband Sam builds the canvas frames from their living room.

But the Internet has fallen in love with Libby’s ability to capture familiar and ‘messy moments’ they recognise from their own lives. They’re often scenes from dinner parties (a theme Libby is now focusing on for her upcoming solo show of larger paintings!) with food, flowing wine glasses and intimate details of a lipstick stain, or tables cluttered with household objects and a stray kid’s toy.

It’s clear we have an affinity for seeing these shared scenes of joyful domestic bliss on social media (perhaps even more so after the challenges of the last few years), and Libby’s works seem to have arrived in the world at just the right time.

Follow Libby on Instagram here, and shop her prints online here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net