Two Kāpiti artists have been selected as finalists in the prestigious Adam Portraiture Award, which attracted a record 373 entries this year.

Among the entries was Paraparaumu artist Andrew Moon, also known as Andrew Clark, chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The competition highlights the power of portraiture and celebrates New Zealanders and the portrait painters who represent them.

Having painted Kevin Short, the chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, a number of years ago after they worked together in the Airforce, Moon needed someone to paint for the competition and Sherryll, Kevin's wife, volunteered.

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"Sherryll had asked me to paint Kevin's portrait a few years ago and when I decided to enter the Adam Portraiture Award last year I needed to find someone to sit for me and Sherryll volunteered.

Grace by Andrew Moon.
Grace by Andrew Moon.

"It was really great to be selected as a finalist as it was one of the goals I'd set for myself as an artist.

"Throughout my painting journey so far I have painted portraits by commission, exhibited at the NZ Art Show and the Zimmerman Gallery among other endeavours."

Self-taught, Moon's portrayal of Sherryll Short in his work Grace, is in the style of 19th-century portrait artists he admires, such as Sargent.

"There are several references dotted around the painting — while the portrait is all about Sherryll, she is holding one of the buttons off her husband's air force jacket, which refers to the support she's always provided.

Amid numerous allusions to the portrait of Sherryll's husband is reflected behind her.

Moon works predominantly in oils, producing realist works.

Raumati artist Marcus Ebbett, a three-time entrant who was also a finalist in 2018, normally leans towards nautical themes which reflect his interest in sailing, diving and fishing.

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His portrait, however, is a reflection of how he enjoys working with a wide range of materials over an equally wide range of subject matter.

Painted in a time of self-reflection and in support of men's mental health, Ebbett sees exercise and keeping active as key to keeping great mental health.

"This year I decided to do a self-portrait reflecting on the last year for me and challenges I have overcome."

In his portrait, Ebbett features the use of more than one figure, depicting fractured states of time, movement and multiple emotions — the conscious and subconscious mind.

"I was excited and proud to find out I was a finalist, knowing how many talented artists enter each year and that my work has been chosen to be part of the awards is a huge achievement.

Painted mainly in oils, as well as acrylic and pencil it has a greyed colour pallet with hints of cool and warm tones.

It is a mix of abstract and photo realism using raw paint strokes, dripping and pencil.

The biennial award, which has a $20,000 cash prize, is sponsored by The Adam Foundation and presented by The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata.

The winner and runner-up will be announced on Wednesday with work showcased in the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington from Thursday, February 27-May 22.

After this the exhibition will be touring nationally.

Most artworks will be for sale while the New Zealand Portrait Gallery will acquire the winning work.