Live Painting : Archibald Preview

It’s certainly a daunting experience; sitting on a stage in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, ‘live painting’ at anArchibald preview event.

Three hours to paint a portrait, in front of a gallery full of people. I did have a bit of time to prepare in the weeks leading up, and I thought I’d share a little about my process with you.

The lovely Jules atThe Drawing Armand I decided that Sia would make the perfect subject – a bold, creative Australian woman, with fairly distinct and recognisable features.

Unlike working on a portrait for the actual Archibald Prize, I didn’t have the chance to sketch and paint the ‘sitter’ from real life (that would pretty awesome though). So, I trawledGoogle images and collected a series of references of the artist.

Initial Sketch in Watercolour

I started with a small watercolour sketch. Looking at Sia’s features and considering the expression for the work.

Initial Sketch for Composition and Colour

I also worked on quick tiny sketches to pull my ideas together for the overall composition and colour palette.

All Set Up at the Archibald Preview

When it came to the evening, I set up my easel, ‘canvas’ (stretched Arches watercolour paper) and materials, on the stage reserved for me. In the middle of the gallery. Eeek!

Live Painting at the Archibald Preview

Live Painting: Archibald Preview Event

I worked predominantly in watercolour, carefully thinking out my layers and timing; alternating between wet on wet and wet on dry; allowing for drying. I finished with a few small details in Conte, white pencil, and Copic Markers.

The Finished Work! Live Painting : Archibald Preview

And this is what I ended up with!

There is something thrilling about the experience of live painting. Particularly when surrounded by the remarkable work of the Archibald finalists.

Hopefully next year I’ll feel brave enough to enter the prize for the first time.

Who should I paint?


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