MARIJANA van Zanten is a people person.
The North Albury-based artist does a huge variety of work but she has a penchant for portraits.
Having painted hundreds of them, she said she never overly researched her subjects, preferring to let their personality come out in the creative process.
"Everybody has a story," she said.
"Some people may appear to not have much of a story but all you have to do is ask the right questions.
"I get inspired in life when I see people who are authentically living their lives."
Van Zanten has just finished a portrait of Australian film director James Ricketson; it's her entry in this year's Archibald Prize.
He was meant to have a sitting last year but the coronavirus pandemic delayed those plans.
"James is a very dynamic, intensely interesting character both in his authenticity and his simplicity," van Zanten said.
"He's known for spending time in a Cambodian jail (he was arrested while flying a drone at a Cambodia National Rescue Party rally in Phnom Penh) but there is so much more to him; he supports four Cambodian families even today."
Titled James at Home, the 122 centimetres by 154 centimetres oil painting took van Zanten 90 hours to paint at her home studio during the past month.
She worked on it from 8pm until 3am with only Spotify and her poodle Ludo's snoring for background noise.
"I'd paint until 3.30, then have a quick shower, then go outside and watch the meteor showers," she said.
"That clears my head."
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Born-and-bred in the western Riverina town of Balranald, van Zanten said her school principal, Bill Gregory, nurtured her love of painting.
"He was the most influential person in my life," van Zanten said.
"Everyone was into footy and basketball but I was a painter; I've painted since I was in kindergarten."
As an art teacher and practitioner in her North Albury studio for 11 years, van Zanten spent 25 years in the Upper Murray before that, driving hundreds of kilometres a day to clients at her Shiatsu massage clinics at Corryong, Tallangatta, Albury and Walwa.
"Two years ago in June I had major ankle surgery and had to learn to walk again over seven months," she said.
Having painted Cathy McGowan's portrait for the Archibald Prize in 2014, van Zanten said she had entered the prestigious portraiture prize many times.
Her entry in this year's 100th Archibald Prize was collected at 4pm on Tuesday.
The Archibald Prize winner will be announced on June 4.
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