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Tom Carment Roger McDonald at work

Image courtesy the artist

A couple of years ago Roger MacDonald said to Tom Carment, ‘If you like my next book Rough wallaby, you can paint my portrait.’ Carment did like the book but it wasn’t until later that he took the author up on his offer.

Carment and MacDonald have been friends for about 15 years: ‘I didn’t paint Roger because he’s famous but because he is a friend’. The painting is part of a series that Carment is doing of his friends and family.

MacDonald is a novelist, poet and non-fiction writer. His works include the bestselling novel 1915 and Shearer’s motel, which won the 1985 Banjo Patterson Award. He was working on a new novel and wouldn’t even stop to sit for Carment’s portrait. ‘Roger said he wouldn’t sit for me, he would keep working as I painted’ so the painting was done in the subject’s flat as he was reading and checking proofs.

Carment tries to convey a sense of immediacy in his paintings. He sits right in front of the subject, holding the canvas board in one hand and paints. Once the sitter has gone, ‘that’s it, it either works or it doesn’t’ and the portrait is either kept or painted over.

Born in 1954, Tom Carment studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney.