This oil on canvas portrait of sailor and author Kay Cottee by Pamela Thalben-Ball created in 1993 measures 1.3 metres high by 1.4 metres wide. Its frame has an inner border of pale gold fabric surrounded by pale gold-painted wood in curved steps.

In the centre of the painting Kay stands on a yacht out at sea. The image is cropped close to focus on Kay, with only a section of a sail cloth, the sky and sea above and behind her, and the yacht’s wooden cabin entry behind her legs.

The open ocean fills the background with a distant horizon line where the deeper blue ocean meets the paler blue sky. Dry painterly brush marks fill the sky with wispy lines of white clouds. Lighter tones of blue capped in white depict waves breaking in the water giving a sense of motion and energy to the seascape.

Kay stands in a relaxed pose against the entry to the yacht’s cabin, facing towards us. The main sail cloth is raised and shown behind her, cropped by the edge of the painting. Many lengths of taut rope are attached from the yacht up to the main sail in vertical lines with other lengths of rope coiled-up ready for use around her. The yacht is white with wooden accents and has small panels with buttons on the side facing us.

She faces directly ahead with her head tilted slightly to the left. Her short curly hair is a deep russet red with golden highlights. Her curly fringe is blown around by the wind. The rest of her hair has been pulled back behind her ears. Her oval-shaped face is in shadow with the harsh bright sun shining down from behind her right shoulder. Her skin is a warm pale bronze with brush marks depicting pink and pale yellow highlights. She has strong dark eyebrows and deeply hooded brown eyes. Her cheeks are sun-kissed, her nose is straight and her full lips are in a relaxed open smile.

Kay’s arms are held out away from her body with her hands resting against either side of the entry to the cabin for balance. She wears an oversized cream cotton shirt, the hem gathered and tied off in a knot hanging against her left hip. The sleeves are loose, three-quarter length, revealing deeply tanned arms and a black watch on her left wrist. She wears fitted light blue trousers echoing the blues of the sea and sky in the background. The portrait ends just above her knees and the artist’s signature is painted in the bottom right corner.

Audio description written by Alana Sivell and read by Carolyn Eccles