$180,000 Moran National Portrait Prize semifinalists includes several Newcastle artists

An impressive array of Newcastle-connected artists have been named semifinalists for the 2019 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

Among the 139 semifinalists is James Drinkwater, Newcastle's most prominent rising star in the artworld. His portrait is of rock star Phil Jamieson (Phil Jamieson, I'll Meet You Off Broadway).

Other local semifinalists include Paul Maher, with his first-ever portrait subject, his daughter Laura, and long-time local art teacher John Morris, also with a portrait of his own daughter, Rose.

Murrurundi-based David Darcy, recent winner of the People's Choice in the Archibald Prize, is also a semifinalist.

On top of his form: Newcastle artist James Drinkwater. Picture: Simone De Peak

On top of his form: Newcastle artist James Drinkwater. Picture: Simone De Peak

Sally Bourke, Doug Heslop, Melisah May and David Kurzydlo complete the Newcastle semifinalists' contingent.

The 30 Moran finalists will be announced on October 16 and the winner, who receives $150,000, revealed on October 30.

Esteemed Newcastle artist Nigel Milsom, a winner of the Moran National Portrait Prize, is one of the three judges.

The other judges are Kelly Gellatly, director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Kelly Gellatly, and Peter Moran, managing director of the Moran Health Care Group. Peter's parents Greta and Doug Moran established the Moran Arts Foundation in 1988.

"If portraiture is one of the means used to communicate our individuality, connection to each other, and the world around us, look no further than the 2019 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize semi-finalists," Milsom said.

"The variety and scope of the selected portraits are vast, yet they all seem to share a commonality, that is, the painter and subject have united to share in the 'magic' of creativity."

Leading Australian artists such as Anthony Lister, George Gittoes, Dagmar Cyrulla, James Powditch, Nicholas Harding, Peter Smeeth, Matilda Michell and Lewis Miller are also semi-finalists, alongside previous winners Lynn Savery, David Fairbairn, Michael Zavros, Vincent Fantauzzo and Peter Wegner.

The Moran Arts Foundation invites entries of original works from Australian artists, capturing Australians from all walks of life, whether a public figure or someone from their own circle of experience. Works must be painted at least partly from life with the sitter known to the artist and aware of the artist's intention to enter the Prize.