Getting Amorelle Dempster to sit still is a difficult task.
She's always busy doing something - cooking in her cafe, helping at the Slow Food Earth Markets, volunteering with Slow Food Hunter Valley - and the international branch, and lobbying for various projects.
It took 23 artists, and being the subject of this year's Maitland Portrait Prize, to get her to pause for 2 to 3 hours on a stool in her cafe in a red dress, surrounded by fresh vegetables from local farms, looking this way and that way, and posing as directed.
Chosen for her role as a "driving force" with Slow Food and the earth markets, the artists unleashed their creativity in capturing her finer details.
Reminiscing having 46 eyes glued to her for such a long time, Ms Dempster laughed saying she had never been so intensely scrutinised.
But in all seriousness, the former Maitland Citizen of the Year felt humbled to be chosen and even unworthy of the opportunity.
"Previously they have done Milton Morris, Margaret Sivyer, Peter Blackmore, I don't really think I'm worthy of it because all of those people are pillars of our society," she said.
"It was daunting because I don't like being the centre of attention, I like my work to speak for me."
The artists are fluent in a range of mediums - from charcoal drawings to oil and pastel paints and even water colours.
Their creations will be unveiled at the Hunter Artisan Galley in East Maitland on July 23 and critiqued by well-known art judge Jo Chishome Ray. The winner will receive $2500 and the artist who painted Ms Dempster's favourite portrait will take home $1000. The Public Choice Artist will receive $500.
"The quality of the art and standard set by Maitland Region Society of Artists has become a feature in the Maitland calendar," society publicity officer Chris Lucas said.
"They would have done sketches and had the shading down from light to dark and that type of thing, most would have taken photos as well. They had a month after that day to work on it. It'll be something to see, lots of wonderful portraits have been done."
Ms Dempster and her family will have a sneak peek before the exhibition opens to the public. She said the experience proved the art scene in Maitland was thriving.
"Here are all of these people with such wonderful skills and they have converted me to a canvas. It will be interesting to see the different styles of the artists as well," she said.
"A lot of the artists I didn't know but you could see they have got this great creative energy flowing.
"This competition shows the vibrant arts community that we have here and its engagement with the community, which is nice."
The exhibition, which runs until August 1, is open to the public and voting for a favourite work to decide the Public Choice Artist is encouraged. Some voters will be rewarded for their efforts with a Bunnings gift voucher.
Entry to the exhibition is free. The portraits will be hung at East Maitland Library when the exhibition ends.
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