Canvas opinion: thumb up for Goodes portrait

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Millions have marvelled at the artistry of Adam Goodes, the footballer. Fewer have viewed an artist's work portraying him.

That may change next Thursday when the finalists for this year's Archibald Prize portrait competition are announced.

Goodes said he'd had no preconceptions about how he wanted to be portrayed by Stewart, but was very happy with the product.

"I was interested to see how she perceived me because I was wearing my Swans gear and thought it could look like any other picture in a magazine," he said. "But I think she captured a very strong and proud image, proud of my heritage and proud to be in my Swans jumper and part of a premiership team."

Surprisingly, this was not a first for the four-time All Australian. He previously sat for three Archibald hopefuls – though none made the final cut – and fielded several other requests in recent months.

"Others asked if they could paint me for this year but I said 'Look, I've committed to Carol. I'm sorry, but she's got first rights,' " he said.

It took 18 months for Goodes and Stewart to come together. "Just before Christmas I said to him 'Adam, are we going to do this or not?' " Stewart said. "He said 'Oh, sorry Carol!' So we went to the Swans office and he gave us a good two hours. He did whatever I wanted, posed how we wanted. Then we looked at photos and sketches and decided which one to do."

The painting took Stewart about 100 hours but her research stretched back more than a year, including reading and watching scores of stories and interviews. She said it was important to "get the feel of the person you're painting".

Her research taught her Goodes had done a lot of work for the indigenous community, hence Stewart's decision on the title. "I think that's what he is," she said. "He's just a lovely person."

Stewart, who watched the 2012 grand final with her Hawthorn-supporting son-in-law, said the piece "was a breeze to paint because if you paint something you really like, everything comes together perfectly".

"It was just so lovely to be there with him," she said. "He couldn't do enough for us. He was a sweetheart."

Goodes loves Aboriginal art and said he'd gained an appreciation for portraiture since being involved in the Archibald. He said he had great admiration for the artists and respected the time and effort that went into their work.

Goodes will likely return to action this Saturday against Gold Coast Suns for the first time since being injured in the grand final. However, in the lead up to the Swans' premiership defence, he will enjoy a competition of a different kind. "If we get hung [shortlisted], I'd like to be there to support Carol," he said.

Finalists are announced next Thursday and the prizewinner is revealed on March 22.

Meanwhile, No.2 draft pick Jono O'Rourke will make his debut for the Greater Western Sydney Giants against Essendon at Manuka Oval in Canberra on Friday night.

Ruckman Dean Brogan will play his first match of the season, joining co-captain Phil Davis, Tom Scully, Setanta O'hAilpin and Curtly Hampton. Forward Jon Patton will miss the match due to a corked quad.

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