Student and teacher are both celebrating today, with Illawarra artists Paul Ryan and Anh Do selected as finalists in the Archibald Prize.
Thirroul-based Ryan previously gave lessons to Do, one of Australia's best-known comedians, and the pair still maintain a mentor-mentee relationship.
Do was named a finalist in the Archibald, Australia's most famous portrait prize, for his oil work of his father, Tam, alongside Ryan's depiction of actor Richard Roxburgh.
"Every year, I'm looking for interesting people to paint and Richard was on my radar for a while," Ryan said, saying Roxburgh's acclaimed portrayal of lawyer Cleaver Greene in ABC TV program Rake inspired him to paint the actor.
The portrait, titled Rox, is Ryan's 15th Archibald entry and the 11th time he has been named a finalist. Ryan's work is in his celebrated iconic style, thick layers of oil paint smeared across the canvas creating a surreal, almost blurry effect. He said the portrait took just two days to complete.
"I sketched a rough drawing and started painting. It was getting there but I wasn't happy, so I got my big knife out and moved the paint around quickly," Ryan said. "It just took a day and a few minutes. That's often the way my work goes, most of the time is in organising and meeting someone."
As for going up against protege Anh Do, Ryan was thrilled to see his former student named among Australia's art elite.
"About 18 months ago, we did some intensive lessons. He would come in and spend a day with me. He's the fastest learner I've ever seen, he just has this incredible self-belief," Ryan said.
"Now he has his own studio at home, we keep in touch and I'll pop into the studio to see what he's working on."
The Archibald winner is announced on Friday.