Tag Archives: Portraits



The Folly of Batmania (2016)ย  Oil on canvas,ย 760 x 560mm

A while back I heard the rumor that John Batman, famed “founder” of Melbourne, Australia, actually suffered from syphilis and had to wear a silver nose to cover his lack of a real one. Being from an age before photography, sadly any evidence of this was sorely lacking so I decided to see what it might have looked like for myself.

This painting, my first oil painting for many years, will be on display at the A1 Darebin Art Salon, on from August 27 – October 2, 2016 at Bundoora Homestead,ย  Cnr Snake Gully Drive and Prospect Hill Drive, Bundoora.

Jumping into The River with Bruce


A portrait of Bruce Springsteen that I recently completed in currently gracing the pages of Rolling Stone Australia (December 2015 edition). I was asked to imagine him circa the release of his album ‘The River’; and I was surprised to find that it was quite an evocative idea – I guess we all have images of musicians / popular culture icons embedded in our imaginations, even if we can’t call ourselves die hard fans. But of course my appreciation of Bruce has matured as I myself have, almost to the point that I can appreciate ‘Born in the USA’ as a cultural touchstone, even though it is an anthem that I wouldn’t nominate as a desert island disc.

Cameron, the art director, suggested a textural / painterly approach, so I painted directly onto ply with acrylic and added some line work in the shirt etc. after the piece was scanned. As mentioned, the idea and composition came quite easily – after all, you don’t mess with Bruce ๐Ÿ™‚

smokey vs. bruce
Smokey enjoys reading the reviews in Rolling Stone

Bowerbird – Portrait of Kate Durham


It’s Archibald portrait time of year again – and for many years I have wanted to do a portrait of Kate Durham – Melbourne artist, jewellery maker and ‘activist’ of sorts. When I started out on my own “artistic journey” many years ago, Kate was one of the few Melbourne based female artists who, along with Mirka Mora, seemed larger than life / exotic to me. Over the years I’ve been in peripheral contact with her, and it has been interesting to see how she has been developing both in her artistic work and her interest in politics and helping refugees at this dark time in Australia’s history. Her work is eclectic, her jewellery gathers up objects which to me look like they have washed up on the bank of a river in Mesopotamia, so it made sense to me to depict her as a kind of human Bowerbird, on the surface collecting objects for display whilst drawing upon a rich range of history and tragedy beneath.

Look at those Big Eyes!


It was a bit strange to walk into the local newsagent this morning to see a pile of papers with my illustration splashed across the cover! I would love to thank Lindy Percival at the Age / Fairfax for trying something a bit different in conjunction with the Australian release of Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’. In keeping with the ‘Keane theme’, it also has been the first time in a long time that I have used no Photoshop for a published artwork… and I also got a bit of editorial coverage as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Can’t wait to see the film…

Tim Burton Big Eyes cover for Saturday Age Spectrum



My portrait of Anna Walker – “Basement Bird” has happily made it into the semi finals of the Moran Portrait Prize, so it is currently in transit back up to Sydney town ๐Ÿ™‚ Out of a field of 216 chosen as semi-finalists, only 30 get through to the Grand Finale – so we’ll have to wait and see what happens … some great entries, you can take a tour of all 216 entries here: http://www.moranprizes.com.au/competition/2013-doug-moran-national-portrait-prize/semi-finalists

Portrait of Anna Walker – Archibald Prize 2013

Basement Bird - portrait of Anna Walker

After taking a break from entering last year, I’ve created a painting for this year’s Archibald Prize – A portrait of Illustrator / Author Anna Walker. Happily we’ve known each other for years, so I was very happy when she agreed to sit for me. I’ve had this image floating around in my head for over a year now, so it was good to actually have the chance to realise it. And it got me into a bit of costume design / creation as well – I made the lush ‘Red Riding Hood’ cape and managed to persuade poor Anna to wear it one sweltering day last December. After sketching and gathering reference. I got started on the actual painting in January and put the final coat of varnish on the first day of March.The actual size is about 2 metres x 1.1 metres, so again it was great to give myself the opportunity to work so large, though I did wonder half way through if I would actually get to finish it in time.
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