Artist Michael Simms paints portrait of Westmead Hospital Neurosurgeon Dr Gemma Olsson

True Friends: Artist Michael Simms, and his sitter Dr Gemma Olsson.
True Friends: Artist Michael Simms, and his sitter Dr Gemma Olsson.

‘‘MY goal was to covey the gravity of what she does,” artist Michael Simms said.

Based in Surry Hills, Mr Simms has become the unofficial portrait artist at Westmead Hospital recently completing an oil-on-canvas image of neurosurgeon Dr Gemma Olsson.

Mr Simms and Dr Olsson met through mutual friends.

‘‘As I got to know her, I was… fascinated by her profession,’’ he said.

Mr Simms said he did not want to capture Dr Olsson in the workplace in a literal sense.

His use of interplay between warm and cool light in his painting was used to evoke the compassionate and clinical aspects of Dr Olsson’s job.

He said the emphasis on her facial expression was carefully considered to display empathy.

‘‘She sees people in such a vulnerable state and deals with them in such a personal way,’’ he said.

‘‘I wanted to re-create that.’’

Mr Simms has since been commissioned to create another portrait for a Westmead employee — this time a female obstetrician.

‘‘It’s fantastic to work with these doctors outside of their busy lives at the hospital,’’ he said.

Enjoying his contact with people who work in a totally different environment, he said he found their determination and career-focus awe-inspiring.

One inspiring aspect of the doctor’s lives was the quick decisions they have to make in life and death situations.

‘‘I have the luxury of taking my time,’’ he said.

‘‘People like Dr Olsson, they’re so young and I find it really admirable that they can make these important decisions and work in such a high stress environment.’’

Mr Simms usually paints portraits but sometimes will experiment with full body figures. He mostly uses oil paints on a polyester canvas.

‘‘I have a real interest in people — I believe faces convey a lot,’’ he said.

‘‘Polyester is good for painting, it’s very archival and doesn’t decay over the years.’’

Mr Simms work has also been exhibited at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the University of Technology, Sydney Gallery and the Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst.

He hopes to have more work exhibited in 2016

This story People person paints portrait first appeared on Parramatta Sun.


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