THE ISOLATION of the coronavirus pandemic has been immortalised in a heartwrenching painting captured by a local artist.
Murrurundi artist David Darcy went to visit his elderly friend and good mate Charlotte Drake-Brookman at her front gate throughout the early lockdown, and sensed a sadness in her soul.
"I could tell she was feeling isolated and a bit sad about the whole thing and she's a social butterfly, and COVID clipped her wings," Mr Darcy told the Leader.
"I'd go over and see her and make sure she was doing okay and a couple of times over the fence I got some sadness."
Mr Darcy has been working with 87-year-old Charlotte for the past few years, and has said she was one of the first locals in Murrurundi to invite him over for a beer when he first moved to town.
The artist has painted the woman, who is an artist herself, before, for the Archibald Prize in 2018.
"I hear a lot of people who think a portrait sums a person up, but there is so much depth to people and the rollercoaster of life and all sorts of moods and that's really what I felt during that lockdown," he said.
"The first [portrait of Charlotte] was very strong and defiant and this one has a sense of sadness."
Mr Darcy spent about eight weeks working on the striking new portrait, tucked away in his Murrurundi studio last winter.
It has now won him the People's Choice Award at the Muswellbrook Art Prize, to add to his growing collection of prestigious titles.
"It is an absolute honour to get the People's Choice Award - I think that makes it six or seven in a row now - it's really lovely to know your work is connecting with the audience," he said.
"I'm always trying to pick amazing characters and that's what always comes through."
Mr Darcy said COVID clearly posed great challenges, but for him personally, time spent free of "distractions" was not wasted.
"A lot of artists love a bit of solitude and we had a lot of time to ourselves; the gallery closed for several months and I had time to focus on my work," he said.
"I was very productive during last year, I'm always busy but I felt very productive, it was a bit like 'What else is there to do?'," he said.
And, the artist has plenty of future plans in store as well, including more work with Charlotte herself.
"We actually just did a photoshoot recently and neither of us could stop laughing," he said.
"I think Charlotte loves a bit of the limelight so she always appreciates the work and she is so great to work with."
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