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Canberra Today 2°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Busy painters put the finishing touches to portraits

Julie Ballis with her portraits of Kristy McBain. Photo: Helen Musa

WITH entries to the $75,000 Darling Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery now closed and the $100,000 Archibald Prize closing in March, it’s the time of the year when Canberra-region artists are very busy.

Veteran Queanbeyan portraitist, Julie Ballis, was found at her studio on the weekend putting the finishing touches to her Archibald entry, a portrait of Federal Member for Eden-Monaro and former Mayor of the Bega Shire Council, Kristy McBain.

Ballis has painted her against an impressionistic background hinting  the Bega region bushfires, an event, in the artist’s view, that had bought out McBain’s kindness and practicality.

After two sittings, one in McBain’s Queanbeyan office and another at the studio, Ballis had first done a small oil version and then, in August, she began painting the larger portrait, which will be her entry.

She found McBain an easy subject to warm to, but had spent a lot of time working on the texture of the facial skin, she said.

During a phone conversation earlier in the week, I discovered that Bungendore artist Kerry McInnis, after entering one work in the Darling Portrait Prize, was now working on a different view of the same subject, the Gulgong-based ceramic artist Chester Nealie, which she plans to enter into the Archibald.

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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