Xeni Kusumitra, adrift, oil on linen, 35.5 x 28 cm. 2021

5 June – 26 Sept 2021

‘My subject, Michael Dagostino, is the director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, where I have attended the Little Orange studio weekly since 2018,’ says Xeni Kusumitra. ‘This portrait was a commissioned piece. Michael reminded me of noblemen I have seen in portraits by old master painters. I thought his hair was interesting. I wanted this portrait to portray his character as well as his likeness. I did several sketches before I chose the pose. I relied on observation and memory more than I did on photos, then I corrected and completed the portrait from life.

‘The good thing is I could see Michael walking around the Arts Centre. I watched him long enough to record his movement and posture in my mind. No matter what, you will never get someone’s natural pose unless you really watch them moving around, working, interacting with people and their environment.

‘I think in pictures. I memorise details, and I mix the colours in my head before I try mixing them on the palette. It was a challenge to paint such a small work as a few wrong strokes could have destroyed the likeness.’