Food + Flowers Collide In Nicole Nelius’ Delicious Still-Life Artworks

New South Wales-based artist Nicole Nelius isn’t afraid of her vibrant still-life works being called ‘decorative’. She explains, ‘Sometimes things don’t need a deeper meaning to exist as art; I love doing things “just because”.’

Working from her backyard studio, the painter and stylist immortalises organic objects like flowers and fruits in sculptural compositions — creating something everlasting and undeniably beautiful!

Christina Karras

A collection of colourful paintings by Nicole Nelius!

Originally a stylist, her work now extends to still-life photography and paintings.

‘I love how my disciplines overlap. My first paintings were actually of a lot of the interiors that I styled, which then evolved into painting more still life’, Nicole says.

Pastel colour combinations help give her imagery a soft and summery quality.

‘I used to paint at the dining room table of our apartment, packing everything away in the afternoon and putting it back out in the morning.’

‘Six months ago we moved to the country and now I have a lovely small dedicated studio at the back of the garden.’

She says the tangerine 70s carpeting is one of her favourite features of the space.

‘The nature outside is invigorating and almost parallels with the colours that I use in my work.’

She also sells prints of her compositions that inspire her paintings!

‘I don’t paint from a formula, so it’s always an experiment and often a struggle!’

Left: ‘Topsy Turvy’ and ‘Melon on blue’ by Nicole Neluis. Right: ‘Flowers in the sink ll’ by Nicole Neluis.

Christina Karras
31st of May 2023

Creativity rules almost every aspect of artist Nicole Nelius’ life. In school, she got marked down for making her presentations ‘too creative’, and when she watches a movie, she focuses more on the art direction and interiors more than the story.

This attention to detail and eye for aesthetics led her to study art history and theory at university, before going on to become a stylist.

‘Styling is also very creative with painting sets and conceptualising worlds, making pictures pretty,’ Nicole says. ‘When I was pregnant with my second son, I took a weekend course at the National Art School [in Sydney] that lead to me exploring painting more.’

‘Once I started sharing what I was doing, people really responded which encouraged me to do more.’

With her styling background, she gravitated towards the intuitive process of still-life imagery. Playing around with compositions, she pairs organic objects like a juicy piece of watermelon alongside lilies and hibiscus flowers, or a pastel stack of summer fruits piled up like a sculpture.

‘It started with having leftover beautiful perishable items after a shoot and wanting to give it another life,’ she explains. ‘I love elevating the everyday, there is magic in the fleeting moments.’

Her work is playful and pretty, and Nicole cites Matisse as one of her inspirations. ‘I appreciate how he wasn’t shy to describe his work as decorative. Sometimes things don’t need a deeper meaning to exist as art; I love doing things “just because”.’

Photos of these sweet combinations wind up as part of her ‘collection’ that she eventually chooses to turn into paintings. Much to her delight, and surprise, people also wanted to buy prints of the photographs, and she’s even explored paintings over some of her images — which are now some of her favourite creations!

As her practice evolved, Nicole’s also gone from painting at the dining room of her apartment to working from her garden studio in her new home in Austinmer, regional New South Wales.

And in a fitting match for her subject matter and style, the space has a 70s tangerine carpet and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing her to look outside for constant inspiration.

Shop Nicole’s work online here or via Fenton & Fenton, Greenhouse Interiors, Jumbled and Michael Reid Northern Beaches.

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