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Roseanna Chetwood


Behind the Scenes at Portrait Artist of the YEar

Such a thrill that the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year has welcomed back an audience to watch the filming of the show. This year's filming took place at the Battersea Art Centre. It's such a fantastic day out in London, and guess what? It's absolutely free! Just hop on over to their website, join their mailing list, and voila. You'll receive an invitation (usually around April-May) with the details to book your time slot.

Let's talk about the celebrity sitters for the episode: the amazing Sue Barker, the green-thumb gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh, and the one and only Philippa Perry, who happens to be Grayson Perry's talented wife. But no Patrick Stewart… much to my Mum’s disappointment.

Here is a little sneak preview of the day. The artists are tasked with painting a celebrity sitter in four hours. They are split up, three artists to each celebrity. There is an AM and PM slot to join as an audience. This year we joined the PM slot which meant we got to see the paintings being completed by the contestants in the final two hours of their allocated time. The atmosphere is energetic with a camera crew whizzing around capturing every moment of the artists in action. You've got to admire the artists, working under such intense pressure and with constant distractions around them. Many of them resort to popping in their earphones and snapping photos of the sitters before they go off for breaks to ease the tension and keep their focus intact. And let me tell you, the final artworks were simply stunning! It's mind-blowing what they managed to create in just four hours in that high stress environment.

An artist painting Alan Titchmarsh produced a very technically skilled piece. It very much captured him on canvas. The only ciritisim you might give is that it was a safer impressionist style, very popular but less uniqiue.

One of my personal favourites was a portrait of Philippa Perry. The artist took a bold approach, starting with a vibrant yellow base colour. It was a refreshing and modern interpretation of the sitter, but unfortunately, nerves seemed to get the best of him towards the end. With each stroke, he took more and more time, and as a result the final piece felt a tad unfinished. I totally get it, though. It's easy to get distracted by people watching you while you're painting, especially when you have fifty pairs staring at every mark you make on the canvas.

I highly recommend it as an event to pop in the calendar for those who love the world of art. If there are any arty events you know of that are worth a visit, please do let me know in the comments below. Sometimes the best way to find out about local events and days out is word of mouth, so let's share our experiences!


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