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August 10, 2010

Toronto Art: Shaun Downey Finds Fame with 'Blue Coco'

Blue Coco. Shaun Downey

Carrying on with all things Toronto during my stay that is just about *sniff* up - an event that links my former home with my current one - I introduce you to Toronto artist Shaun Downey. The name may ring a bell, however, as may the painting above. Shaun's portrait Blue Coco was recently selected for exhibition in this year's Portrait Award competition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. Out of the 58 chosen from 2,177 entries, Shaun's work was singled out to be the 'face' of the gallery's advertising campaign, including a 9-metre-high banner at the museum's entrance on Trafalgar Square to mark the exhibition's opening in June.

It's an intriguing portrait worth a long stare or two, don't you think?

So who's 'Coco'? She's 20 year-old model Dearbhail Bracken-Roche who goes by the fashionable nickname when working. She sat for Shaun at age 17 when the friend of a friend introduced the two, and the rest is now blue-tinged history. Interestingly, she's now living and working in London and has found fame in the city, often being recognised in the street. I suppose that happens when your giant, unusually beautiful face is plastered over one of London's most famous and popular landmarks, as well as the tube stations. (How would you feel? Honoured and thrilled or completely freaked out?)


The artist and muse at the National Portrait Gallery in London. From Shaun's blog.  

As you may have guessed, Shaun prefers to paint portraits. The work featured on his site is exclusively portraiture dating back to 2004, and all of his subjects are women, though they are not always captured in the formal pose. There's a quiet calm about these pictures, as if the seemingly ordinary moment is being held not just within the frame but is occupying a pensive dimension in which we're being granted a peak. The background colours are soft yet often vibrant which make his work, in my mind, 'happy' pictures, something I'd like to look at everyday. His paintings are gorgeous.

Congratulations, Shaun!

The Doorway. Shaun Downey, 2007 


Green Mug. Shaun Downey, 2009


Holly in Yellow. Shaun Downey, 2009.


The Reception. Shaun Downey, 2005


The Old Apartment. Shaun Downey, 2006



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These are so beautiful - I love realistic paintings, ones that you can just dive right into.


Lovely blog!
I would like to invite you to mine - I think you will really like it :))
Also, the main reason for my invitation is that I want to invite you to join my Challenge - just click on the link at the very top of my left sidebar and see what it is - I hope you will find it exciting :)
In any case - I hope you enjoy my blog and of course feel free to follow me if you do! ;)

Much love,

Now, I know I am too shy to pose for a quick photo but, I am wondering if posing for a painted portrait might mysteriously slay those subtle nerves.


My goodness these are good! Great retro vibe and I can't believe the detail almost photolike

Incredible work and news about the National Portrait Gallery. Wowsers!

PS I was just in Toronto this weekend... had a blast.

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