After two excellent portrait demonstrations at my art club in Salford, I was interested to see how these compared with the work on the Sky 'Portrait Artist of the Year' TV programme.
The two well known local artists, Anthony Ogden and Mark Demsteader, produced their work in just over an hour. We have several demonstrations a year at the club and it always amazes me how many talented artists there are. Although working in completely different styles, the two artists, produced high quality work in a relatively short time. You can see the quality of these from the pictures below.
I have painted portraits in the past and realize the problems getting a likeness can bring. On one occasion, I painted a portrait of a colleague at work, which she was really pleased with and asked me to paint her husband. I arrived to do the study and he was sat relaxed in a chair, with his hair falling onto his face . I thought what an excellent pose.
Unfortunately, she made him go and change into his best suit and comb his hair. He then sat in a less comfortable pose. When she viewed the finished work she thought his cheeks were too narrow. She wanted them the way they were before he lost his back teeth! I then had to change the painting slightly and she was pleased with the final results.
Having watched the TV programme every year, I often wonder why artists apply. Is it for recognition and a chance to show their ability, possibly to increase sales or get commissions.
The main thing I notice is that some of the submissions, although excellent, have taken up to a hundred hours to paint. Unless they have practiced a lot at completing work within the four hour time limit this should put them at a disadvantage. Also because of the time limit many of the contestants change their style. It seems odd that they are chosen for a piece of work and then complete a painting in a completely different style.
It's always interesting to see the range of styles chosen for each heat. These often range from traditional to unusual work. Although often superb, traditionally trained portrait painters often don't win the heat.
At the end it is interesting to try and choose the three finalists each week. Sometimes one artist's work isn't successful, but this can happen to anyone. I am reasonably good at picking the finalists and sometimes even the winner of the heat.
I loved the work of a previous winner Christian Hook and enjoyed the follow up programmes that they did of him. It will be interesting to see the rest of the episodes and see if I can choose a winner again.
Below are the winners of the first three heats. It's interesting to compare their styles and working methods. Also interesting is the number of times a photograph on a tablet is used to help capture the image.
Hetty Lawlor winner of Heat One
She is 18 years old and isstudying for her leaving certificate
I use Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils and Liquitex Heavy body Acrylic paint
Leanne Mullene, winner of Heat Two
Her model was Daphne Selfe
Drawing is the core of her work either in 2D or 3D and she likes to paint the way she models clay.
Bríd Higgins Ni Chinnéide, winner of Heat Three
She usually sketches out the outline of the form in raw umber. It’s a fast-drying pigment with a warm tone that doesn’t contaminate the other colours too heavily. After that she usually blocks in the most obvious mid-tones and then adds dark accents and highlights. She tries to work across the canvas from the beginning, adding details and refining the form at the end. She works solely from life, when there is a model, so she is always looking back and forth at the sitter whilst painting