The Tale Of Clare, Louis, Ruby, Mietta & Perri O'Donoghue |

The Tale Of Clare O’Donoghue

Melbourne-based artist Clare O’Donoghue loves colour. It’s everywhere in her beautiful home from her walls to her furniture to her bright canvases. The vibrant energy also comes from having four children in the house: Louis, 18, Ruby, 17, Mietta, 5, and Perri, 3. “Each day is different. There’s always lots of chasing my tail from things I didn’t get to complete the day before. Perri is home full time apart from four hours a week, so it’s tricky to paint all the time during the day. She is one busy bee, so there’s a lot of working at night for me. When everyone is tucked up in bed, I work. It’s better for everyone and the only way they would have dinner on the table, plus it’s the best time for me to paint as I can get a good, quiet, peaceful block of time to create pieces. My secret dream is to have a cleaner – that would be a game changer,” says O’Donoghue.
A career as an artist was always on the cards. It was during a stint in retail that O’Donoghue would often paint pieces for friends and family on the side. “They would order pieces, then their friends would order pieces and it snowballed from there. It has trickled along ever since.” These days she works closely with interior designers on custom commissions and has also launched a range of soft textiles with Nerida Hansen. We’re so excited to get a peek inside O’Donoghue’s sunny home and find out more about this talented artist…


There are many things motherhood has taught me…
“Firstly the fact that I am capable of being a mother was more than I ever would have imagined and that has been a magic surprise. I think we have super powers. Who would have known that if you kissed a sore knee it’s instantly fine? At times, it has taught me how to survive on very little money wise, but still manage to feel so wealthy in love and life. My eldest son Louis whinged for nine years solid (and I mean SOLID), which gave me patience I never knew existed. Overall the biggest thing would be how grateful motherhood has made me. I am so grateful to have had one child, let alone four, to have had healthy children is something I feel beyond grateful for. There is not a day that goes by, regardless of how difficult, that I don’t say to myself ‘you are so damn lucky’. I also appreciate everything they have taught me.

Before I had children I was working full time in retail…
After my first child arrived I became a stay at home mum and focused on my painting. My work load has increased dramatically from first becoming a mum, not just by adding three more children to the mix, but having a lot more commission work also. Luckily for me, I realised promptly night shift is the way to go!.

Date nights are essential…
Buy a tandem bike preferably with cup holders for a little tipple on the way to your favourite restaurant. We smile so much our teeth hurt from the wind down the hills. It feels refreshing to share in some events childfree, so you can actually relax and hang out uninterrupted. The aim of the game have a lot of fun.

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I am not huge on beauty products but cannot live without moisturiser...
The following is going to sound ever so strange, but I would urge every girl to give it a go. I wash my face with sand everyday, yes sand straight from the river, then moisturise. My skin feels like velvet after it. When I am home, I am usually makeup free. If I am going out into the world, I’ll put some mascara, blush, illuminator and lipstick on and I’m done. I despise foundation.

I run everyday…
I would never survive without it. When I was pregnant with Louis, I walked each day, then while pregnant with Ruby I walked each day with Louis in the pram. With Mietta, I walked up until I was 18 weeks but then suffered really badly with stitches, so rode my bike each day. With Perri, I walked with Mietta in the pram and had the most horrendous restless legs at night. As soon as I would go to bed BINGO BANGO, so I was up all hours walking around the block. It was great for fitness, but not great for tiredness. Then I had a double pram and started running with the girls from when Perri was four months until they got too heavy. Sometimes I still take Perri if I am feeling like a challenge.

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My children’s rooms are unique and happy…
They have all their little creations in there. I am not really great at being on-trend. We collect odd little pieces along the way from our travels and keep Shannon’s mum’s treasures (as she is no longer with us) in pride of place. They love to hang their kinder and school things all over the place and they have a revolving door of different paintings.

If you have the option to attend a mother’s group, GO…
It was so brilliant to have met a fabulous group of new mums to hear how things were going for them and talk about how things were going for you. I was lucky we were all vastly different, which made it even more interesting, having the common ground of being a new mum made it so powerful. All our firstborns are coming up to 18 and we still discuss how challenging they can be. Also if your baby isn't well and you’re told that everything is fine, but your gut instinct is telling you otherwise, stand tall and tell someone you don’t feel like everything is alright. Lastly be kind to yourself, sleep when your baby sleeps, like my grandmother always said 'darling the house work is not going anywhere it will still be there when you wake up’. Rest when you can as you will enjoy it more.

Throughout school my greatest love was art…
I was shocking at all other subjects. My studio art teacher in year 12 said I’d end up being a textile designer. These days, I do a lot of work for interior designers and stylists as they can say the size, colour and style of a piece that is needed and I custom make it to suit their client’s space. Knowing that I have created something that makes someone feel good in their space daily is such a privilege. I also love creating new things different styles and products I love to experiment with different mediums. My studio art teacher has turned out to be correct. I also have also a range of soft textiles with thanks to Nerida Hansen who approached me about creating some beautiful pieces combining my paintings with fabric.

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I think my wardrobe is pretty relaxed…
Although my best friend told me I look like I am going to a wedding when I am paying the bills! I tend not to save things – I just wear them. I like to wear shift dresses in summer and in winter I like jeans or silky harem pants teamed with a good top and jacket and usually coloured boots. A standard joke in our house is that my clothing is almost all from reduced racks, as I love all the pieces no one else wants. That could say a lot about my taste!.

The hardest part of motherhood is the worrying…
I just hope they have a happy, full life and pray I have supplied them with the right tools to do so. I don't worry about many things in life, but when it comes to being a mum, I worry about my children. I’m not sure if that will ever change – it hasn't changed 18 years later! The best part is the absolute, unfathomable, immense, deep love they have made me feel. I could never have imagined a love so powerful and for this I am forever grateful. The joy they have brought to my life is immeasurable."

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Clare’s little list of loves:
Watching Mietta who is in prep, learn how to read and write. I am loving the little ‘I Love My Mum’ notes everywhere, although not loving it so much when I see it on the walls.
Chin Chin. We just cannot divert from this restaurant. It’s SO GOOD. On date nights, we then stay at Sofitel. I have a routine down pat: purchase every magazine under the sun and lots of peppermint crisps and to make the most of it, leave home early.
Being able to really have a good joke and laugh with Louis and Ruby especially now Ruby is though (cross fingers) the worst cranky phase of teen girl time, we really love having a good laugh, usually at my expense.
Creating my lights. I love lights so it’s a dream come true to be combining my paintings with lighting. I am really looking forward to my floor lamps coming to fruition.
Double vodka lime and sodas in a short glass with lots of ice, shared with any of my girlfriends. A favourite little spot is Salt lounge in Queenscliff. It’s so gorgeous in winter with an open fire or stunning views from the balcony in summer.
Spring Rolls. Oh my goodness!
Port Fairy. It’s the most divine little town and my beautiful friend has just opened a superb homewares store there called Penny and Reiby. She has incredible taste we have been frequenting there a bit lately. We love toasting marshmallows in the bright roaring fire.
I know this is super daggy, but I have just discovered The National Geographic channel (after all of us being sick for three weeks and loads of couch time). I absolutely love all the animal facts. Who ever knew that a polar bear’s fur was clear?
Singing and dancing with the little girls. We crank it up and dance like no one is watching, the joy on their faces makes my heart burst.
My new linen cushions. I am adoring the warmth and texture in these ones and the colors have translated beautifully onto the linen.

Photography: Nikole Ramsay Words: Georgie Abay

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