I have always loved the Sky Arts Artist series – both portrait Artist of the Year and Landscape Artist of the Year. And, in recent years, I have been able to cheer along to the tv as invariably there is a portrait artist I know in person from The Art Academy popping up in most Portrait episodes.
The premise is simple: 3 celebrity sitters in the chair, 9 short-listed artists at their easels and a big reveal at the end of 4-hours that invariably elicits the word ‘wow’ from the sitter. The sitter gets to take home their favourite portrait, three artists are shortlisted by the judges, one of whom goes through to the next stage of the competition.
If I am honest, there are some god-awful art programmes on tv but the Sky Arts series isn’t among them – it rises above on all fronts and even offers a super-decent prize – a portrait commission of a top celeb for a national institution.
During lockdown the Sky Arts team hopped on to facebook, creating weekly sessions on a Sunday morning that have brought that 4-hour experience to a far wider audience and it has been a blast even though I only managed 2 sessions out of the 9.
I was super excited to paint Dame Mary Beard on the final week – what a wonderfully wise sitter she turned out to be even though I did feel a tad disrespectful as I continually cajoled her with a ‘c’mon, love,’ while trying to capture her marvellous energy – yes, I always talk to my paintings. But I’m happy with the outcome.
There were some 20,000 portraits created over the series – hop on to Instagram to see a great selection using the hashtag #mypaotw.
And check out the main series on NOWtv. Who knew watching paint dry could be so much fun.