About the artwork
As a classical realist painter, working from life is an essential part of Sally Ryan’s practice and lockdown earlier this year made this almost impossible to do, so she decided to grab a mirror and paint herself. It is a simple composition, Ryan at home with her pochade, paints and brushes, making the most of being in isolation. Ryan says, “Painting oneself from life is more difficult than painting a model” and her serious expression reflects the level of concentration required to achieve a likeness which is always an important goal in her portraiture.
About the sitter
This piece is a self portrait.
About the artist
Sally Ryan is a contemporary realist painter and portrait artist. Her style of painting requires regular practice at painting from life and this is how she is best able to express her ideas and feelings. She says of this practice: “to me reality is truth and truth is beauty”. Her artwork has been recognised in numerous competitions both nationally and internationally, including the Archibald, Doug Moran and Portia Geach. In 2014 her artwork won the Kennedy Prize and in 2019 she was awarded Signature Status with the Portrait Society of America for continuous excellence in portraiture. She also teaches portraiture in Sydney, and run workshops in Brisbane and regional NSW.
“My focus, as a contemporary realist artist, is to represent the beauty of the everyday and to do so, whenever possible, by working from life.”
Behind the scenes
My focus, as a contemporary realist artist, is to represent the beauty of the everyday and to do so, whenever possible, by working from life.
During lockdown earlier this year, I decided to work with the only person willing and available – myself. I simply placed a mirror near a window so I could work with natural light and, working directly onto the board, painted the scene and myself within it.
The pandemic has been an anxious time so perhaps it is not surprising that my expression is serious but, of course, I am also concentrating hard. This little self-portrait is one of several I painted during this time and will always remain a memory, for me, of the experience of Covid 19, 2020.