After much fan fair about there being gender parity when it comes to artists chosen to hang in this year’s Archibald Prize, I was stoked that female artists were finally equally represented. This has been a long time coming.

However, when I visited the exhibition I noticed that most of the sitters were still men. It seems that most artists prefer to paint men. This got me thinking… I want to paint women who inspire me, women who challenge the limitations placed on women in our society and women who are strong enough to forge ahead despite the many obstacles in their way.

I had painted Van Badham (feminist Columnist for the Guardian Australia & campaign strategist) for The Archibald Prize and my entry was not chosen. I had no expectation of being chosen but I still enter these competitions with a healthy dose of ‘just-in-case’. After visiting (and loving) the exhibition I decided to only paint women for at least 12 months… hatching my plan to do a series of paintings called ‘Women of Substance’.

Van was very gracious and gave me a chunk of her time, she was generous and just as articulate and intelligent as I imagined she would be. She was a really lovely and dynamic woman and I hope I’ve captured the essence of her character in this portrait.

I have approached other ‘Women of Substance’ to see if they will sit for me and have had various responses ranging from no response at all, a resounding no and a couple of ’sure why not?’ replies. I will continue to hunt down and paint the women I admire and amass a collection of paintings that shows the diverse range of women who have and are still guiding us.

If you know a ‘Woman of Substance’ who should be painted, please get in touch.

Thank you Van Badham for being my first sitter in this project… I appreciate your kindness and your bravery.

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