‘This is my interpretation, my feeling about Jean Appleton,’ says Elisabeth Cummings of her portrait of the 80-year-old artist.
Jean Appleton is a well-known painter who has been exhibiting for many years. For the last 15 to 20 years she has almost exclusively painted still lifes. It is these paintings that have influenced this portrait. According to Cummings, Appleton often paints the table in her sitting room and these paintings are always full of ‘wonderful, rich colours and beautiful flowers from her garden’. Cummings has a great admiration for the figurative style of her subject’s paintings: ‘They are calm and filled with glowing light’.
When painting this portrait, Cummings was concerned only with the space and the colour of the room; she had no interest in painting the garden beyond the window. ‘This room is very much Jean, her presence is everywhere,’ she says. This explains why Cummings has placed her sitter almost in the background of the painting and placed a table and space in the foreground.
Cummings studied at Sydney’s National Art School from 1953 to 1957 then at the School of Vision in Salzburg in 1961. She was awarded the Portia Geach Portrait Prize in 1972. This is the first time she has entered the Archibald Prize.