Portrait of Cathie Curran






The portrait came about through an accident. Cathie had seen the portrait I painted of my wife Jane as ‘ A long distance runner’ in the Ghosts of the Academy exhibition at the Redfern Gallery 1973.


Cathie asked if I would paint a portrait of her daughter Connie. I was not confident about such a project so I tried to say no by saying that I would rather paint a portrait of her. Cathie liked the idea, which surprised me. I was hoisted on my own petard.


In the event I thought that the difficulty would be in making the portrait a painting that might be interesting as a work even if you did not know the subject. I made studies from measurements I made of the structure Cathie’s face which I wanted to form the basis of the composition.  The idea being that every aspect of the painting would be a portrait.


I have always found ‘Whistler’s Mother’ amusing as a painting and as a title so I used this work as the basis for my own. The carpet on which Cathie is sitting is a design based on the proportion of her face. The blackboard on the wall has a drawing based on the most perfect of the organisations that I found from my measurements. The drawing is only barely visible in this reproduction.




The original measurement drawing and some of the works that I made from it that I gave to Cathie to complete the work.


                                                                                                                                                               [ click on images to enlarge ]