In 2007, Archibald prize finalist, Jonathan Dalton, decided to let go of the photography business he had built up in his homeland of Ireland and started teaching himself to paint. Just two years later he won two of the country’s major art prizes.

It was clear he had taken the right path. With the prize money he and his wife spent time travelling and lived in Spain for a few years before arriving in Australia. In the last few years he has exhibited in five solo shows in Ireland, Spain, China and Australia.

His success continues here with his selection as a finalist in the 2017 Archibald prize with a magnificent work titled ‘Lottie and James’ – a portrait of artists Lottie Consalvo and James Drinkwater. It was the first time he had entered the prize.

Dalton’s aim is to take the viewer beyond photorealism to what he calls ‘theatrical realism’. He imbues his works with a sense of drama, causing the viewer to wonder what’s going on beyond the picture plane.  His exhibition with Nanda Hobbs Contemporary earlier this year was a perfect example of this theatricality where he turned the traditional still life on its head.

In this episode we talk about how he got started, the Archibald experience and the benefits and limits of photography when using photographs as a reference in painting. He also gives great insights into his painting techniques as well as revealing a lot about his process. He also tells of how online poker helped him in the early days of taking up painting!

See a short video of Dalton in his studio on the Talking with Painters YouTube here.

Current and Upcoming events

Links to things and people we talk about on the show

‘Lottie and James’, 2017, oil on linen, 154 x 167cm

‘Big Bowl’, 2017, oil on canvas 182 x 213cm

‘Beauty Imperfect 5’ 2017, oil on board, 55 x 60cm

Portrait of Esther (we talk about this painting at 25:15)

Work in progress –  (we talk about this painting at about 26m)

‘Awaiting Judgment’, oil on linen, 76 x 101cm

‘A lady without name and her daughter’, 2016, oil on board, 91 x 120cm

‘An end of innocence’, 2016, oil on board, 55 x 60cm