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Finding Simple Pleasures

Finding Simple Pleasures

Sara O'Leary-Whitney is a contemporary Australian artist known for hyper-realistic, large-scale renderings of daily objects. Her work Simple Pleasures, is available to purchase here or in store. 


Tell us a bit about yourself 

My name is Sara O’Leary-Whitney. I am 23 and currently based in Coogee, Sydney. I’ve always loved physical creation, dabbling in different mediums for much of my life. I’ve spent many years oil painting, with some sketching and drawing here and there but about a year ago I  decided I wanted to create a fine art piece that was strictly pencil on paper. So I guess besides the colouring in since I was a 3 year old, I’ve been creating these pieces for about a year ;)



You have a very impressive life-like style, what inspires you to draw like this and how long does each piece take? 

Thank you! I can see my growth each piece I create, which is exciting and motivating for more to come. I always say that I love to draw what I see and not what I think I see and so I am often so focussed on certain areas and the intricacies that I can notice. There is something so exciting to me about sitting down and knowing that I won’t see the end result for months, but trusting the process and just having to trust myself. I'm very inspired by the tones and textures that objects can create, and pencil allows me to present these details in a beautiful manner. That is what has inspired me to draw this certain way. Many, many hours are spent on these pieces, reaching up to 80 hours for those of larger scale. My patience is quite unbelievable these days. 


Simple Pleasures is currently hanging in Hall of Harper and is available to purchase both in store and online. Could you tell us a bit about this piece? 

Simple Pleasures is quite simply an ode to this long list of moments in time that bring about happiness that is uniquely our own. They can be easily forgotten or replaced by daily life, yet when we allow ourselves the time to partake in such moments, there is an undeniable sense of euphoria. A “for example” piece of work, my most personal piece yet. I have had many moments in my life that I can honestly give thanks to sharing a glass of red wine for. My pencil works are often in admiration of the textures that objects create when placed ever so deliberately in a field of white, as if to accentuate certain qualities, and this brought about elegance to a simple glass of wine, as if stained glass was creating the vivid patterns of colour that you see. 30 hours went into the creation of Simple Pleasures. 



What is the next piece you are currently working on? 

I have actually just completed my next piece, All Tied Up, which similarly places an object at the centre of attention. Also pencil on paper, she is my love letter piece. I am now loosening up my wrist with a series of oil paintings. SKIN will be a collection of six mini canvas paintings. For the new year I am planning a new series (how fitting) that combines a little of my fluidity with these hyper-realistic components, but more of that to come. 


Right now I am slowly compiling many of my pieces for my first exhibition!! My mind is filling with ideas, which, of course, change each day with my personal growth or the people I meet or many other factors - All the external things that have an impact on where I want to display my pieces and the why’s that follow. 


You can find Simple Pleasure hanging in Hall of Harper Boutique. 

To see more of Sara's pieces


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