Originally inspired by the 1890 Heidelberg School 9 by 5 Impressionism Exhibition for which works were painted on cigar box lids, the Illustrators Australia 9 x 5 Exhibition has become an annual tradition in its own right. Once a year, Illustrators Australia members receive a piece of 9 x 5 inch plywood in the mail, accompanied by the challenge of a one word theme. (Last year's example here.) Please don't tell anyone that my own tradition of cutting the wood into novelty shapes has primarily developed in order to distract attention from any shortcomings I had as an illustrator. This year, for the first time, I made the nervous decision to leave the wood as it is. I happen to be at the tail end of painting A LOT of portraits for The Design Files Open House (first example here). I am quite sure that their traditional format inspired the work you see above. So, for what it's worth, thanks Lucy F for inadvertently giving me the artistic confidence to leave the 9 x 5 plywood as it is.
By the way, this year's theme is FLOURISH. I immediately thought of flowers, and almost as immediately decided against going with something that seemed so obvious. So I looked the word up in the dictionary and decided to include as many definitions for it as possible. Decorative flourishes and curling vines are accompanied by the less usual definitions of a type of song played by a brass instrument and a kind of wave. He looks more like he is saluting though as I can't draw hands. Illustrative shortcomings revealed.
If you are in Melbourne, come and have a look at all of the entries, and make a bid on the ones you like! I have copied this from the Illustrators Australia site: