The Tale Of Jessie & Olive Breakwell


It’s impossible not to fall in love with the vibrant, often offbeat, colourful and enchanting paintings of Melbourne artist Jessie Breakwell. Her subject matter is varied – from nudes, to jungle and farm animals, to feathered friends – her brush strokes big and bold, intricate and detailed. Most importantly Breakwell’s large-scale art automatically invokes a smile and happiness. What’s not to love about a cheery line-up of zebra with watermelons for hats? Or a paddock of sheep being watched over by what appears to be an enormous brightly feathered toucan? It’s all a bit fabulous and oh so much fun.

While she studied fine art and painting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and went on to hold sell out exhibitions in London, LA and her hometown of Melbourne, Breakwell credits her mother for inspiring her to explore the art world. “The one thing I always knew was that I was going to be an artist. My mother encouraged me from a very early age and I think in a way I really wanted to be like her. My mother was an incredibly entrepreneurial and creative woman, making jewellery for Georges and having a very successful interiors business. Sadly she was sick for many years when I was young and we forged an amazing bond in trying times. In the short amount of time we had together she made an enormous impact on the woman I am today. I am pretty sure she would be very proud of me,” says Breakwell.

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Mother to 4-year-old daughter Olive Maggie Breakwell Smith, the Melbourne based artist encourages budding creatives trying to make their break. “Obviously it’s a very raw thing to be an artist so it’s easy to take things personally (try not to). Get going on social media, form your own identity, don’t wait for people to come to you, take your art to them. When I first started, I would email my website to five new people every day, i.e. interior designers, people like Mary McDonald from Million Dollar Decorators. It really had a huge effect for me, just to get it and yourself out there,” she enthuses.

The artist and entrepreneur loves the flexibility of working hours that suit her young family. Breakwell is currently focused on her printing business and developing new business ideas for a homewares line. And she’s most proud of? “My independence and ability to truly give my daughter a life that she loves and having the time to enjoy it with her. Time is a really important commodity and I am fortunate enough to have a business that allows me that.” So take a step inside Jessie Breakwell’s colourful world and learn more about the mother, artist and her one time stint as art tutor to the wild Ozzy Osbourne children…

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Motherhood has taught me more in four years than I have collectively learnt in 40…
It’s very hard to quantify, but I would say the most important thing I have learnt is the ability to empathise more easily and understand that everyone has a story! My life isn’t just about me anymore and that’s great! Like many others, I feel that mothering has also given me a huge amount of inner strength and a love that I have never known.

My beauty routine is fairly basic…
I have very sensitive skin so just a light cleanser from my dermatologist. I don’t really like to use micro abrasions as it takes all the oil out. I love MAC face and body foundation, I have been using it for years and it looks very natural.

My exercise routine consists of lots of running…
I am a member of the St Kilda sea baths gym and if I’m honest I rarely use it. I love the outdoors far more than being stuck in a gym so running around the lake or along the beach is more my style. I tend to turn into a beetroot when I exercise so I’m not really interested in having a whole load of 20 something gym bodies around me. I do love yoga - it’s the yin to my yang of running.

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I love that Melbourne is so easy…
It’s beautiful, full of amazing parks, people here are on the same page and most importantly it’s home. I have a lot of close friends and a beautiful partner with a similar aged little boy who make it a pleasure to be a mum. Having lived and traveled to many places there is no other place I would prefer to call home with Olive.

Olive’s room is very eclectic and colourful…
And to be honest generally messy most of the time (she gets it from her mother).

As all mothers know, don’t stress about the milestones…
All kids are different and they all have their quirks and develop at very different paces. Just enjoy because it doesn’t last forever.

I am very fortunate to have a job that allows a huge amount of flexibility…
I also have great friends family and a lovely partner to help keep me in a pretty relaxed space. I really do make time for myself. It’s something I don’t crave as it’s readily available. I became far more focused after Olive arrived and being a mum gave me a real direction, a sense of self and a huge amount of confidence to explore my often-neglected creative side.

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A happy home is filled with happy people…
Laughing children, yummy food, banter, crisp sheets and I am lucky enough to have a few people to help me keep my life pretty easy, as domestic organisation is not my forte but I have a deep appreciation for it!

My home is very colourful, ever changing, eclectic and fun…
My home is full of memories and items I have collected over the years as well as a solid rotation of my own works as they are going through the process, I am not at all interested in having someone else style my home as then it would not be my own.

Many years ago I worked as a nanny for the Osbourne family…
Ozzy was actually the one that needed the most looking after. They really encouraged my creativity and Ozzy and I used to draw and paint a lot together, he was a huge fan of posca pens.

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Being an artist I am truly focused when I am painting something I love…
If it’s not happening for me at that moment I tend to focus on the running of my print business and thinking of new business ideas like the homeware business I am about to embark on.

I am most proud of my independence and ability to truly give my daughter a life that she loves and having the time to enjoy it with her…
Time is a really important commodity and I am fortunate enough to have a business that allows me that. Being a mum, there is absolutely nothing in the world that can describe the happiness I feel when I am with olive.

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Jessie’s little list of loves:
Posca pens.
Meeting fabulous and interesting people.
Laughing at my daughter’s crazy chitter chatter.
Hong Kong
Pressed juices
Winter in St Kilda.
Watching Olive and Max scooting down to Il Forneo (my favourite St Kilda café) with my partner.
Running around Albert Park lake.
Op-shopping for amazing old (albeit slightly cheesy) Australian paintings that I can 'Jessify'.
My Alison Jade dual brow highlighter.

Photography: Nikole Ramsay  Words: Georgia Macmillan Hair: Zebulen Howell

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