ARTIST David Darcy believes the "most important" legacy from his portrait of Daisy Tjuparntarri Ward may not be the Archibald Prize's People Choice award, but their friendship.
The self-taught Murrurundi artist was joined by Daisy at the Art Gallery of NSW on Wednesday, when his win was announced.
Daisy is a Warakurna elder and lives in Western Australia, where she is a cultural and community liaison officer for regional schools, a director on the NPY Women's Council, an advocate against domestic violence, a translator, an artist and a storyteller.
"This has brought us two together," Darcy said.
"I feel like I made a beautiful friend in Daisy and can't wait to spend more time with her.
"She's a beautiful human being and that's what shone through in the painting. I want to get to know her more.
"This work is so much about her. I could have painted someone else and I would not be here today."
Darcy - who was previously a photographer and author - had planned to paint someone else for the prize before Daisy visited his studio shop, Darcy and the Fox, looking for art supplies.
"When someone comes in - and having the history of doing portraits - and someone has something about them, as a good artist you want to bring that out and put it on canvas," he said.
"Photography has helped me so much. There's 20 years of understanding composition, lighting, tonal values and the way you capture something.
"But the most important thing in portraiture is getting to know your subject and having the subject trust you enough to open up and let you capture the moment."
Darcy said the pair became friends and travelled to see last year's finalists at Tamworth Regional Gallery.
"She turned to me and said 'You've got to paint me in the healing colours of women's business'."
Daisy covered her face and torso in red oxide, in place of red ochre, and painted her chest in a traditional design linked to women's songs.
Darcy devoted about 10 hours a day for seven weeks to the work.
He said he wanted to capture the "heart and soul" in her eyes, which reflect a blurred scene that can be interpreted either as children sitting at a desk or a woman sitting at the bedside of her sister, who has experienced domestic violence.
He said Daisy had an "incredible story" and he hoped the portrait would be a "platform to push her message".
Daisy said she was proud that "we, the people of the central deserts, are being recognised in this way".
Darcy was a finalist in last year's prize too.
He said winning the 2016 National Photographic Portrait Prize's People Choice award was the catalyst to start painting full-time.
He told a friend his next goal was to win an Archibald Prize.
EARLIER: HUNTER artist David Darcy's portrait of Warakurna elder Daisy Tjuparntarri Ward has been named winner of the Archibald Prize's People Choice Award.
Murrurundi resident Darcy said it was a "wonderful feeling" that people had connected with the work and taken the time to vote.
He worked as an author and photographer before taking up painting full-time two-and-a-half-years ago.
He met Mrs Ward after she travelled from her home in Western Australia to visit a friend and stopped in at his studio and shop, Darcy and the Fox, looking for art supplies.
"This work is so much about her," Darcy said.
"I could have painted someone else and would not be here today.
"When someone comes in - and having the history of doing portraits - and someone has something about them, as a good artist you want to bring that out and put it on canvas.
"She's a beautiful human being and that's what shone through in the painting."
Mrs Ward is a cultural and community liaison officer for regional schools, a director on the NPY Women's Council, an advocate against domestic violence, a qualified translator, an artist and storyteller.
While you're with us, did you know Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here.
IN THE NEWS TODAY:
- Barry Toohey writes: Irate Knights fans need to get a grip
- Civil and Administrative Tribunal bans Hunter psychiatrist Anthony Slowiaczek over affair with patient
- NSW government fast-tracks $589m Newcastle gas import terminal
- Child killed in McCaffrey Drive car crash at New Lambton Heights
- Lyall Dix issued construction and occupation certificates for the Landmark building in 2008
- Coles, Woolworths begin constructing supermarkets in Huntlee and Cameron Park