Kevin Connor and Jan Senbergs have known each other for many years. “He is a great Australian painter and a very nice person, a real friend,” says Connor. “I don’t do commissions. I need to feel I want to paint someone if I am to do their portrait and Jan is a man whom I like and whose work I have admired for a long time.”
Connor flew to Melbourne and Senbergs flew to Sydney several times for sittings as the portrait slowly developed from one gouache to another. “I could draw him in my sleep now,” says Connor, who traditionally does hundreds of drawings of his subjects. He had originally hoped to do an oil painting but was unable to get into his new studio in time so kept working with gouache “until I felt Jan was there”.
Born in Sydney in 1932, Kevin Connor has won many major awards including two Sulman Prizes (in 1991 and 1997) and the inaugural Dobell Prize for Drawing (in 1993). He has quite a history with the Archibald. He has been selected to exhibit in The Archibald Prize 24 times and won twice (in 1975 and 1977).