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Winter by James Randall


James Randall

About the artwork and sitter

Gerry is a retired Brisbane local who enjoys walks in the parks, exhibitions and performances. He finds nothing more comforting than a ‘winter sleep-in’ in his home in New Farm.

‘A chance to dream through a cold night beneath a cloudy moon-lit sky. Dreams of green gardens and books and breakfasts and i-pads and cuddling up.’

When he isn’t strolling along New Farm park, you’ll find Gerry cooking, working on handy-man projects or reading a whole mystery series.

About the artist

James Randall is a Brisbane artist and member of the Royal Queensland Art Society.

He has a Bachelor in Visual Communication from Sydney Institute of Technology. After a successful corporate design career, he began focusing on art in 2020. 

James has been short-listed in the Kilgour Prize 2021 and the Brisbane Portrait Prize 2021, and was awarded RQAS Fellows Recognition Award for his 2023 submission.

"I like to refine my compositions electronically to eliminate as many potential issues as possible"

Behind the scenes

At the start of Covid I was loving the fresh early mornings and looking up at the skies, starry or bulging with clouds – it made me feel part of something bigger than Covid. I took some sky photos and did a quick self-portrait looking up into the infinite. Then when I took Gerry his breakfast one morning and saw him looking like a big pupating caterpillar all rolled up in his doona I recognised its potential as the basis for a painting – a lone individual rolled up safe under lots of pattern against a cloudy sky. I did a couple of quick life drawings to remind me of the concept then later found the opportunity to take a few photos in situ. I like to refine my compositions electronically to eliminate as many potential issues as possible before drawing up and painting the final image. I also work to grids and added the moon in a prominent position to represent the light at the end of the tunnel. It was apparent that I needed something to ground him and that’s why I added the twining plant. Gerry was attempting to grow beans at the time. No beans emerged but the lance shaped bright green leaves were beautiful, so I used them to push him up and out of the image and to add a splash of additional colour. I had just finished a previous Brisbane Portrait Prize which was short listed but fell short for me with too many muddy colours. So, one of my objectives with this painting was to use intense colour. The rest was just a matter of drafting up as cleanly and clearly as possible then painting. I liked that, to me, it is not only a portrait of a real character (with a lot of character) but also of our times.