Entering this prize was a huge step of faith for me. The ‘Black Swan’ is Western Australia’s biggest portrait prize, promoting and celebrating Australia’s most talented artists…a league I feel very far from …at the moment…watch this space! None the less, I have given it my best shot at being involved. The odds are not so good, only 40 or so finalists will be chosen out of …HUNDREDS of entries.
I’ve done my best and I’m happy with the result….it was a challenge.
A big challenge.
I have never painted a grown up before…and here I found myself painting not only a grown up… but a man…with stubble!
Emmanuel Mollois, french chef extraordinaire, aka ‘Choux Cafe’, ‘Poh’s Kitchen’ and now the ‘Le Bistro des Artistes’ in Subiaco. I was thrilled when Emmanuel, who I have met at several parties through mutual French friends and from regularly enjoying coffee and his mouth-watering french pastries at Choux Cafe, agreed to have his portrait painted…by me…relatively unknown, emerging… (perpetually emerging!)… artist.
So after a zillion text’s with his gorgeous wife, Gordana, I finally decided to paint Emmanuel in his casual clothes, not his chef whites. I wanted to portray him as ‘More than a Chef’…as a Dad, a husband, a businessman. I wanted to have Emmanuel’s signature red rimmed glasses and red shop front in the painting and as it turned out, the navy polo shirt, grey shorts and cap Emmanuel wore were perfect to give the painting a simple colour scheme…black, navy, grey, white and of course…that wonderful ‘Choux’ red.
So here we are a few months later, the portrait finished, entered into the award and …Emmanuel has changed his glasses frame to white and opened his new restaurant ‘Le Bistro des Artistes’. How quickly things change and how wonderful that I captured Emmanuel in such a relaxed pose in the window of ‘Choux Cafe’, the business he spent many, many years building up to the icon that it has become.
Emmanuel has worked hard to achieve the success he is now enjoying…I am grateful that he took the chance on me to paint a half way decent portrait to hang on his wall. (Thank you Emmanuel and Gordana.) I hope that I can eventually achieve the same level of success in the art world as he has in the culinary field.
So anyway…it will be a few more weeks before the finalists are chosen. I would be gob smacked…completely knocked off my feet to be chosen…I am not holding out very high hopes of this happening; my style is a little too mainstream in comparison to last years finalists, but that’s OK. I’m new to this game…I’ve entered the ‘Black Swan Portrait Prize’ as part of an intensive learning curve…another rung up the long, long ladder of achievement that is the art world. Archibald Prize…here I come….not yet…but sometime!
Perth friends…do yourself a huge favour…go and have a meal at ‘Le Bistro des Artistes’. It’s open from breakfast til late. Emmanuel has teemed up with Alain Fabregues (Loose Box fame) to create an eatery that celebrates humble, home style French food and of course, those amazing pastry and sweet creations that Emmanuel has earned his reputation with. 424 Hay Street, Subiaco, opposite Howard’s Storage World. It’s got ‘Artist’ in its name…its gotta be good!
Wish me luck everyone…fingers, toes and paint brushes crossed.