Tom Carment has painted James Scanlon regularly over the years. ‘He’s a bit of a character in bohemia,’ says Carment. ‘He’s played in a lot of Sydney bands, he writes, he’s acted in a Barry Humphries film and he’s brought out various satiric newspapers and magazines. He’s got a good sense of humour, a lugubrious face that I enjoy painting, and he entertains me. This portrait was painted at his girlfriend’s flat whilst listening to strange compilation tapes of country music.’
Carment doesn’t paint a ‘big masterpiece’ specifically for the Archibalds. Instead he paints a lot of portraits and then submits one or two that he likes best.
All his portraits are painted from life. ‘I like to keep them fresh,’ he says. ‘I don’t draw, I just sit two or three feet in front of them and paint. Usually they are done in one sitting. This one was painted in three hours. I don’t touch them afterwards – it’s the hit or miss approach!’
Born in 1954, Carment studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney. He won the Mosman Art Prize for Drawing in 1988 and the Waverley Woollahra Art Prize on three occasions – for drawing in 1997, for watercolour in 1992 and the open section in 1989.