“The idea is that when you stand back it comes together as an image; it’s not painted to look like a photograph or a replicated image.”
I stared and stared at the artwork, wondering why Graeme Heard named one of his portraits ‘Prince of Wales after Sir Joshua Reynolds’. I couldn’t see anything but smudges of colour, an abstract oil on marine ply.
How could this possibly be a portrait of HRH Prince Charles, regardless of whether he’s painted after Sir Joshua Reynolds? Prince Charles is a familiar face, (admittedly, I had to Google Sir Joshua Reynolds to find an image to reference), and still I couldn’t see anything resembling a person, let alone royalty.
Then, as if a veil was lifted, there it was. The portrait appeared like magic! There was audible excitement as I delved further into this extraordinary collection, discovering new details in each piece of art.
Geelong local Graeme Heard has always been an artist, but his creative path wasn’t as he first planned. After commencing a commercial art course at Gordon Technical School, he successfully applied to the Melbourne National Gallery Art School.
“I quite liked the fine art approach taught there but somehow it just didn’t bring me satisfaction. After some 13 months I was asked to leave. Although feeling a bit disappointed in myself I started my own business of garden renovation, construction and maintenance which I thoroughly enjoy. I continued oil painting as a hobby.”
“At around 27 years of age I began to find an approach to painting that excited my senses. While still loving the Australian landscape my subject became portraits with a mixture of realism, impressionism and expressionism. Oil on board and small scale in size became my style, a style I pursued until I was in my late fifties with an approach that was not commercial.”
Celebrity chef and cartoonist Peter Russell-Clark encouraged Graeme to gift the portrait of ‘Prince of Wales after Sir Joshua Reynolds’ to HRH Prince Charles himself.
“I was excited to receive a letter of thanks from HRH who commented ‘the painting is indeed quite unique and rather marvelous’.”
This inspired Graeme to paint and gift portraits to other royals, politicians and celebrities. The list includes Queen Elizabeth II, The Hon. Gough Whitlam, Peter Sculthorpe, and Cathy Freeman. (I had another ‘gasp’ moment when I saw the face in ‘Thorpedo – Ian Thorpe’!)
Graeme has recently launched his own website (www.graemeheard.com) showcasing and selling his artworks.
“This collection displays works painted over a period of thirty years. My desire is to sell as a complete collection and not as individual paintings.”
Take a look yourself – I can guarantee you’ll be willingly lost in the brush strokes for hours!
Story: Sarah Treacy. Photos: supplied. Prince of Wales after Sir Joshua Reynolds. Albert Einstein. Bob Hawke.