Eden resident Joseph O'Gara has been selected as a finalist for the Shirley Hannan National Portraiture Award for the second time.
The $50K biennial non-acquisitive award had over 250 entries this year of which 38 selected works will be hung at Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) in July.
Mr O'Gara was one of three Bega Valley artists to be selected for inclusion in the prestigious award and the subject of his portrait titled "The Academic," is Mike Sheppard, former teacher and deputy principal at Eden Marine High School and staunch community member.
Mr Sheppard said he was flattered to be asked to sit for the painting.
"I was a school teacher for more than 40 years, so I'm used to being in the eyes of people all the time," he said.
"It was the first time I have been painted though and it was another learning experience for me, made me realise there's a bit more to it!" Mr Sheppard said.
Mr Sheppard sat for the artist on three occasions before the coronavirus lockdown and Mr O'Gara then worked on the piece for about eight weeks, using photographs as reference.
"The subject themselves becomes a reference from sitting to sitting, with slightly different lighting and postures.
"There are three stages of development as an artist: firstly you paint what you see, then you learn about anatomy and light, finally seeing and painting what you know," Mr O'Gara explained.
Art wasn't a part of the curriculum when Mr O'Gara attended a boy's high school and it wasn't until his early 40's he decided to develop his skills and studied as a mature age student at Julian Ashton Arts School in Sydney.
Whilst working on this portrait, he became more interested in flesh tones and was trying to increase the range of colours he used to depict his subject as realistically as possible.
He experimented and created the desired skin tones using a bright palette of colours: viridian, cadmium orange and dioxazine violet.
Bega Valley Regional Gallery director Iain Dawson said it was, "great to see Mike included, he has been instrumental in setting up the Mary McKillop Museum in Eden and is very community minded."
The other finalists for the Shirley Hannan Award from the Bega Valley are Bethany Thurtell of Bermagui and Jane Aliendi of Bega.
All 38 finalist portraits can be viewed on the BVRG website.
The winner of the 2020 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award will be announced at a streamed launch event on July 24 and the exhibition will run from July 27 to September 11 at Bega Valley Regional Gallery.