Tapping into an inner strength

Tapping into an inner strength
Rhonda Dredge

Painting under pressure means there is little time for self-criticism or complications.

Lucy Feketer just wanted to fill in the entire canvas in two hours.

She had just won the women’s prize at the Victorian Artists’ Society.

It was now time to demonstrate her painting skills in a performance in front of an audience of fellow artists.

The chairs were all lined up and Lucy got to work on a portrait.

She chose a limited palette of vermilion, titanium white, ivory black and yellow ochre.

First, she covered the canvas with raw umber then rubbed back the light areas. Then she mixed up two values, one for shadow, the other for skin tone, and applied them.

The palette she was using was invented by Anders Zorn, a Swedish painter of the 19th century.

The result is a sombre piece of work that brings out the shadowy nature of existence, in stark contrast to her usual style.


“I usually do illustration and it shows,” Lucy said. She worked as a freelance Illustrator doing storyboards and concept illustrations for ad agencies. Later she illustrated a number of children’s books and undertook a variety of private commissions. 


She’s not an advocate of the psychological style of portrait painting that aims to being out personality factors. “For me it’s all about getting a likeness.” 

Her new no-nonsense approach to painting has made her think about her style. “I think I was double handling. I did lots of layers.”

A trick of the Zorn palette is that ivory black is cool rather than warm like mars black and can be used for mixing green.

The vermilion is also not quite as dominating as a cadmium red that is often selected.

In terms of genre, the work has more of a social realist feel than the paintings in women’s show at the VAS. 

Lucy isn’t sure what direction she will take for the next exhibition, Artist of the Year in November.

She’s been invited to submit and is excited about her prospects.

Perhaps she is tapping into an inner strength in her new work that she didn’t know she had.

Artist of the Year, Victorian Artists Society, November 11 to 28. •

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