Seeing his work on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery was quite the achievement for Denis O'Connor.
But for his wife, Rhonda, the experience was even more profound. As the subject of her husband's drawing, she watched the other gallery-goers peruse the work before the recognition dawned: They were speaking to the face on the wall.
It made for very interesting exchanges, particularly with the more notable attendees.
"A lot of politicians and ministers came to the opening," said Dr O'Connor, recalling the first night of the inaugural Darling Portrait Prize exhibition in late March.
"John Howard [former prime minister] was there and he was looking at it, and then my wife went over to introduce herself. It was sort of a strange moment.
"She found it very interesting watching people realise it was her."
As part of the Darling Prize, Dr O'Connor joined up to 40 finalists in Canberra, each with their chance at $75,000.
The top prize was won by Anthea da Silva, for her portrait of dancer Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM.
"It was a soft portrait of the retired dance, a very delicate work that suited the delicacy of the dancer," said Dr O'Connor.
"It celebrated her life. I thought it was very worthy of the prize, but you could have flipped a coin for 10 of them to win."
Even though in its first year, the Darling Prize attracted artists from all over the country, filling the gallery space with an array of subjects and styles.
"There was quite a variety, many were highly realistic oil paintings that look almost like photographs," Dr O'Connor said.
"In that sense, mine was a little different, a bit more veiled."
But even though he did not expect to come away the winner, Dr O'Connor was still pleased to see his portrait be given a prime position in the exhibition.
"When I saw the portrait on the wall, it was great," said Dr O'Connor.
"You always hope it gets a good position, and it did. It looked very good."