In June I received a letter inviting me, one again, to be involved in the Spring Exhibition at the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts and create a live portrait of a distinguished sitter (Sandy Verschoor). The demonstration are run bi-annually prize by the RSASA in their Gallery in the city of Adelaide.
This year, on Tuesday the 1st August, I went to the Gallery in Adelaide and prepared to meet Sandy Verschoor, Deputy Mayor of Adelaide City. Sandy is an incredibly kind and genuine person. She sat with myself and three other artists for 3 hours, whilst we sketched, painted and hurried away making the basis of a portrait that would be exhibited in the spring exhibition.
During the demonstration I proceeded to sketch Sandy using a range of Prismacolour pencils I had brought with me. Over the past few months I have been working in oil on wood; and already had a significant idea of what I wanted to do with the portrait. At home I had a large piece of wood that I intended to transfer my sketch to and work in oils later.
In the meantime I made the most of the time with Sandy and created the best portrait I could, ensuring I took into account her movements, the way the light hit her face and examine each of her individual traits in the break.
Although Sandy dressed herself professionally in black and white, throughout the day I realised that she had quite a fun personality. She often smiled and joked with myself and the other artists and took her time in the intervals to examine the works and compliment or critique the pieces. She was incredibly patient throughout the demonstration and whilst I was there I did take some photos. From these images and the original sketch I began to re-draw and resize the original sketch I completed to suit the board.
For the background I wanted to incorporate some bright colour expressing Sandy's personality.
The rich turquoise blue was and obvious choice for me once I had been working with the artwork for a while. The blue complimented Sandy's wonderful silver hair, and her complexion. I also associated the blue with calmness and genuine nature. I believed that the fluidity of the blue resembled the feeling that Sandy had when she came into a room. Her personality commands attention yet leaves you feeling comfortable and I wanted this to come through in the artwork. I overlaid the blue with copper line-work. The lines represented Sandy's busy life, and the collection of knowledge she has resourced throughout her diverse career in the arts.
The finished artwork was submitted for hanging at the RSASA gallery in late August. From this, the sitters would be invited back into the gallery to view each of the completed artworks. Once they had seen all the works, they have the opportunity to choose a work to take home.
I was incredibly lucky, amongst many other talented artists to have my work selected by Sandy (and her brains-trust!)
See the selection video click HERE
Abbey is a practicing Visual Artist and high school teacher.