The living is a good one: Their home and work studios occupy 6,000 square feet above the ocean in Malibu. And judging from the response at her art shows and her MySpace site, Olivia says, women are a big part of her fan base.
She can't remember a time when she did not draw women. Girlhood inspiration came from the Playboys her father, an aeronautical engineer, would leave around the house, and from her mother, whose larger-than-life personality, yen for fantasy and lack of inhibition included a fondness for trying to impersonate Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. Her mother also had a penchant for prancing through the house undressed if no visitors were around.
Olivia says the extroversion genes apparently bypassed her. One reason she paints fabulously sexy women is to vicariously inhabit their bodies and their attitudes. "I just never found my way to be that free. I can fantasize on paper about running around in a sheer outfit, which I can't do myself."
After being schooled by nuns in Elizabeth, N.J., Olivia landed in Manhattan in 1967 -- a waiflike beauty whose photo from the early 1970s reveals a dark-haired, platform-boot-wearing approximation of Stevie Nicks, pre-Stevie Nicks. She enrolled at the School of Visual Arts, figuring she'd become an illustrator for fashion magazines. Instead she delved into minimalism and produced textured, all-white canvases.
Along the way, Olivia says, she became "just really lost" in a whirl of alcohol, artistic aimlessness and abusive boyfriends.
Then, in a reversal she says still mystifies her, she took control and became her own woman. No more booze, no more bozos.