The Art Life's Sharne Wolff recently posed six and a half questions to Abbey McCulloch about being a finalist in the 2016 Portia Geach prize, and what it's like to paint portraits.  

Sharne Wolff: You’ve been an Archibald finalist twice and your portrait of curator and arts writer Alison Kubler Two 2016, is now showing in the Portia Geach Memorial Award. Tell us a bit about the process of making portraits.

Abbey McCulloch: Actually three times in the Archie but hey, who’s counting? They’ve all been great experiences getting to meet the subjects – even the ones that didn’t make the cut – so in some ways the motivation to have a specific encounter is behind my wanting produce a portrait at all. I think my idea of a person shapes the portrait, and playing around with that preconception is far more interesting to me than simply re-creating someone on canvas. I keep the sitting brief as there is usually something that happens in those initial moments of meeting someone that sticks with you and I don’t like to lose that feeling. There is this immediate wrestle with the person you expected in your mind and I like to play around with that. I also hope to capture some of the nerves as they’re there somewhere too – for both of us.

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