The Painting of an Archibald Entry
Sanchia Marshall

'Gentle' is her word for 2019, this amazing woman spreading the message of self love around Australia.

Her name is Kim Morrison and she is vivacious and contagious. She is a 5 times best-selling author, creative director and aromatherapy queen of Twenty8 and a multi-tasking mum and wife. Kim shares her essential tools for self-care, discipline, leadership and teamwork. In 1989 Kim set a world record as the youngest female to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours.

I attended her essential self-care weekend in November last year. As a Mum, homeschooling 3 kids in unison with building a career as an emerging artist the weekend sounded pretty awesome and it'd be my first time away on my own from my family since pre-kids, so 12 years. I'm in!

I must admit my social anxiety kicked in, the thought of a room full of women, who I don't know and not knowing what the exact plans for the weekend were, was a little scary. But that aside, if I've learnt anything by now it's not to let that fear stop you having fun. If I'd had any expectations from the weekend retreat, they were blown out of the water. Kim is amazing, one of the best public speakers I've heard, she had us all crying one minute and laughing the next.

Imagine being there in a room full of beautiful souls, sharing moments, stories and lives. I'm not sure if you ever switch off from being an artist, viewing the world as an artist, once you've learnt how, it's not something you can turn on or off, nor want to. The way the light dances across someone's face as a smile lights up their eyes, the cast of a shadow from their hair and yellow glow of reflected light across their cheek. It's magical to think "how would I capture that person, their essence"! like it's just imploring you to try. Maybe there is something that goes beyond a conscious choice when choosing your sitter for the Archibald. A subconscious compulsion that this is just something you know you must do....just because....without knowing the reason. That's how I felt when I realised what I was going to ask Kim.

I've felt this way a handful of times now, you know you are making a choice, it's something that is a little scary and you have no idea exactly how you are going to do it, but you know you can and will. Beyond the comfort zone, I like playing there, it's when you are challenged and stretch and grow beyond where you are. You know you are in for a journey with challenges and rewards beyond what you can imagine. 

So I asked this beautiful lady to sit for me for what would be my first official portrait painting. I wrote her a note as she had mentioned words were her love language, and her reaction when I gave her that note still blows me away. She was in tears and could not believe that I had chosen to ask her! This amazing incredible beautiful woman was so honoured and humbled that I had asked her. Wow....with her hug and yes I was going to enter the Archibald.

Even writing this I tear-up, you see this journey into portraiture has opened my eyes to a whole other world. I expected to enjoy it yes, but not love it, and I do. I have learnt that just as I paint and see the beauty in the person in front of me, I am reminded to offer the same grace to myself.

Kim and I arranged a sitting in the New Year and I headed to the Sunny coast to chat to, sketch and photograph her. Kim's first question was "why me?". I want the world to know about Kim and self love, if more women can feel the way I do from just hearing Kim speak or reading her book, lives will be changed for the better. She helps me see how I can be the best version of myself by being the beacon and guiding the way.

Coming away from that day and any time you spend with Kim, you feel like you have known her forever. She is a big warm hug with a cheeky grin and shining eyes, a big heart and an amazing message for the world, and let's face it she's hot too!

You know it's not all smooth sailing right, this is where the mental journey I was to go through headed south for a bit. It took me not days but weeks to even look at the photo's from our sitting. I know right.....why!?! In my mind I had put so much pressure on myself that I was paralysed with fear. I mean it's not just another painting right, it's a painting for the Archibald, its a big deal! The possibilities that lay within this one piece felt heavy, "I can't do this, who do I think I am" the full gamut of thoughts and emotions went through my mind during that time.

Follow your heart not your head Sanchia! Like the Little Golden Book bunny, I found my home many years ago, in my art, I just got lost for a little while. I don't recall exactly when I found my mojo again or how, but I did. It's usually found in an unlikely place like a random comment, thought, hug or painting but it came back and I looked at the photos from our day together. As I did...oh my! all the reasons and feelings why I originally chose to do this came back, the excitement rose as I browsed through each photo and that vibrant sometimes cheeky smile Kim has shone through. There it was, the photo that was her, Kim Morrison, the way I saw her.

And I began to paint, with her word 'gentle' in mind I knew I would paint her in watercolours because of their softness and flow. Gorgeous watercolour on French watercolour paper - since Paris is Kim's favourite place in the world. And my favourite quote never far from mind "Stay soft, it looks beautiful on you".

I was going to paint the largest watercolour I ever had, so I started small, ironing out the finer details in these practice pieces before going big. Three days of drawing and painting and she was there, smiling at me. Gosh I love that moment, when you stand back and look at the art work and call it done. There was a moment in painting that I realised the work had a very "Girl with the Pearl Earring" feel about it. Kim was wearing a pair of pearl and rose-gold tear drop shaped earrings which I captured in the work. I am yet to hear their story but look forward to as I think small details like these often add to the depth and beauty of a piece. I often capture little things like these in my paintings without fully knowing why until later.

My framer recognised Kim from the painting and shared how she and her sister-in-law had heard her speak years previously just at a time when they needed it most.

Framed and fabulous 'Kim Morrison' headed to Sydney via courier to the Art Gallery of NSW for judging along with 900 other artist entries from across Australia. Whilst I was excited with the possibility of being a finalist, once I loaded that artwork onto the truck I felt like I had already won! I had done it, something I didn't think I could!

It's opened up a door to a world of possibilities, a collection of incredible women ahead, women I want to know and learn from, many more portraits and I am buzzing to paint my next.

I cannot fully explain just yet what this journey has meant to me. The last year has seen a lot of growth in not only my art but in me personally. Writing this in fact has been a really beautiful way of reflecting on just how precious this achievement is. I can only say thank you to Kim for being her amazing self, it's an absolute privilege to know her and have had the honour of painting her. And thank you to you, for following my journey, for reading and being here. I hope you can take something for yourself from this also, to believe in you, to love you and to be your own version of amazing.