Kylie Johnson entered portrait of aunt into Archibald

Camden Haven artist Kylie Johnson’s passion is portraits so she jumped at the opportunity to paint her aunt for the Archibald. 

“I’ve always loved doing faces,” she said. 

“I think you can get a lot of expression from people’s faces.” 

The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics.

Kylie’s subject Isobel Pratt was a ballet dancer and she became a renowned teacher. 

“She was quite high up in the Royal Academy of Dance and she used to examine the teachers,” Kylie said. 

Isobel was 102-years-old when Kylie painted her but she passed away before the work was complete. 

Kylie said if you know the person you are painting you can often put more feeling into the work. 

Isobel’s family saw the finished work and Kylie said they loved it. 

Kylie said Isobel had a ‘really wicked sense of humour’ and she could be a little mischievous. 

“Comments I have got from people include ‘I know that look’ or ‘that’s definitely her’,” she said. 

Kylie said she found it challenging to capture Isobel’s hair as there wasn’t a lot of it.

Due to the strong lighting which was coming into the room through a window it was also difficult to capture some of her facial features as the sunlight made her hair blend into her face. 

Kylie describes herself as a perfectionist.

“I’ll spend quite a lot of time on something to the point where it just drives me nuts,” she said. 

“Then I’ll know just to back off and leave it.” 

Kylie said there’s a saying that if a person starts to look for something else to do then that’s the time to stop.

“Otherwise you’ll overwork things,” she said. 


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