FOR a 21-year-old, Annie Lawrinson’s passion for painting has taken a unique direction, focusing on portraits of seniors and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions.
Annie witnessed the effects of dementia first-hand when her dad, John, was diagnosed with the disease at age 50.
Annie, a graphic arts graduate, painted her dad’s portrait and was pleased with the way it brought out his character.
Ten years on with John in a nursing home, Annie has researched Alzheimer’s and dementia while committing portraits of seniors to canvas.
Along the way and continuing with painting – with support from mum, Julia – Annie was introduced to former senior cop and State MP Bob Kucera, 73, who had become a board member of Council of the Ageing.
“I thought Bob had a very interesting face with plenty of character and asked him if I could do his portrait,” she said.
“He agreed. I was happy with it and Bob was very pleased, so I gave the painting to him.”
Bob is now a supporter of Annie’s and helps spread the word of Annie’s focus and artistic link to seniors and the debilitating diseases.
Annie produces large portrait paintings of aged care residents for permanent acquisition, her website declares.
Annie consults with patients and their families about the subject to be painted, takes a series of reference photographs and synthesises them to create 55.88 cm x 76.20 cm (22” x 30”) colour acrylic portraits on cotton canvas.
Annie clearly has her heart in the work and fully knows the effects of the diseases on sufferers, families, friends and carers.
She undertakes the work after she has met the subjects and those close to them to get to know them a little and to be sure they are happy for the portraits to be done.
One of Annie’s earliest commissions was for an entire family portrait.
“A lot of challenges came up, but I was happy with the result,” said Annie who was paid $800 for the portrait. A single portrait costs $400.
Annie works from home but also does paintings in residential care settings and at social groups.
Annie attended the specialist art program at John Curtin College of the Arts and won the prize for Stage 1 Visual Arts. She completed a Certificate IV in Visual Arts at Central TAFE and took on studies for her Diploma in Visual Arts.
Her works have been exhibited in several group exhibitions in Perth and Fremantle including Body Right Exhibition, Beyond the Sketch and Hyperfest.
Her works in progress were shown in the video Before You Forget.
Annie also spoke at the Alzheimer’s Australia national conference in Melbourne.
But she’s happiest in front of her canvases.
“I usually paint in my lounge room. I like to have a break between portraits. Too much and it all goes blurry (in her mind),” says Annie who works at a city café serving coffee, chocolate and desserts and doing dishwashing – anything.
“Mum supports me from time to time and I pay her back after I get commissions for portraits,” she says Mum, a former official at Perth’s Parliament House (Usher of the Black Rod and Sergeant-at-Arms), is also an author and wrote the book Before You
Annie says she’s now building-up her speaking engagements and growing in confidence at one daunting aspect of her presentations – Q&A.
“I talk about my experience as a young carer for my father. There’s a lot of misunderstanding of the diseases”, she said.
Annie was 12 when her dad began displaying symptoms of his disease. He had been doing community work, helping to build a social co-operative in Fremantle and working as a traffic lollypop man.
In Annie’s talks and in dealing with families and sufferers, she offers valuable insights from witnessing the disease’s impact over 10 years.
Having moved out of home into a flat with a housemate, Annie’s portraiture passion is growing, where her work at the canvas is dutifully watched over by Hecta, her faithful Jack Russell terrier.