Friday, June 21, 2019

Portrait Artist of the Year comes to Channel 4

For all those who missed it first time around....

Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 (Series 5) comes to Channel 4 tomorrow at 5pm

As a reminder here are all my blog posts about the series written after each episode. 
Each one contains
  • profiles of each artist
  • my observations about the episode and learning lessons for those wanting to have a go in future. For the most part observations are around themes within the series as a whole as opposed to specifically referencing any one sitter(s) in an Episode. 
  • comments on what the judges liked and did not like.
A number of participants have commented to me on how useful they have found my blog posts about the series. Watch the series, read my reviews and observations and make your own mind up!
Painting portraits under glass
The set-up in the glass atrium at the Wallace Collection in the very hot summer of 2018

Proper profiles for participating artists

YET AGAIN No name credits for the artistsBefore I start I just want to note AGAIN that the people at the core of each programme - the artists - who really make it happen do NOT have any name credit at the end of the programme. This is just plain WRONG. Everybody else is completely superfluous without the artists! Review: Episode 1 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019
I'm very pleased to say that - very probably as a result of my vociferous online campaign for programmes and television producers to identify their artists PROPERLY by name - the website for Portrait Artist of the Year now has profiles for each of of the artist - with

Portrait Artist of the Year 2019: Series 5 - The Episodes 

This series was filmed in the Spring/early summer of 2018 (remember how hot it was?) and was broadcast starting in January this year.

The location is the Restaurant space under the Glass Roof at the Wallace Collection (it closed while the series was filmed). Of course this means we have the equivalent of plein air portrait painting - with the light changing all the time and the area becoming so hot that it affected artists' painting materials, Which probably explains why in April this year we all went down to the Battersea Arts Centre for the filming of Series 6! No more problems with light or too much heat!

A view of the set in Episode 1 - to be broadcast on Saturday 22 June at 5pm

It was a big relief when we got to the Final and I could finally publish my photos taken at the Final which I watched at the National Portrait Gallery in June 2018!

  • the Episode Headings have the names of the sitters
  • READ my Reviews of each episode - but BEWARE obviously the links to the review means that you will find out the names of those shortlisted and the names of the winners - so decide for yourself whether you prefer to watch before or after you read the reviews. 
  • My reviews also include 
    • Observations about learning points
    • what the Judges liked and did not like about various portraits 

  • My blog posts are NOT short - probably best to get a nice hot drink and find a chair... ;)
  • Every post tells you who gets shortlisted and who wins the heat. However I'm not going to tell if you read my review in advance and then surprise your family with astute comments as you watch the programme..... ;) 
  • You MUST stop reading after Episode 8 if you want to be surprised by how people do in the Final and the Semi-Final - because I do name names!

I have to say I actually enjoyed watching episodes MORE the second time around when I knew who had won because I could look more carefully at what was going on - and saw and heard more as a result.

Your choice!
For those interested in participating, this is what the artists responded to - see my post about the Call for Entries - Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

1. Matthew Goode, Geraldine James and Andi Oliver

The lineup includes one of the semi-finalists - and another artist who will be back in 2020!

Review: Episode 1 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

PLEASE NOTE - as always:
  • a link to the artist's website is embedded in their name - just click the link to see the rest of their artwork (which is why I advise all artists appearing on such shows to make sure their websites have been updated and licked into shape as I will be looking for their websites!)
  • Links to their social media accounts are also provided where I can find them. Mainly because of them not getting proper credits in the programme!
Observations included
  • The importance of the self portrait
  • The margin of difference - including a CHECKLIST for deciding how you JUDGE who;'s doing better than the rest
  • Not so many tablets and smartphones
  • The Halfway Review

2. David Gandy, Anne Reid & Ashley Walters

The lineup for the results of the shortlisting

Review: Episode 2 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

This week's episode of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 sparked a bit of a controversy online - of which more anon. Suffice to say that yet again the judges' judgement has been called into question by the British viewing public! But I think I have an answer as to what happened.....

Themes included:
  • Unusual styles and media
  • Heads versus hands
  • Brutally accurate vs flattery
  • Problematic sitters
  • What happens when you have two similar portrait painters

3. Eddie Hall, Jodie Kidd & James Purefoy

Review: Episode 3 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

I'm guessing it was unclear to others as well as me who was going to win the Heat. Unlike previous episodes where the shortlist could more or less be identified by how much camera time each artist got, this time it seemed the cameraman and/or Editor got somewhat distracted.

Observations included:
  • A lot of art school degrees
  • Speed of painting
  • Talking about art
  • The video perspective
  • Overwhelmingly Pink

4. Anna Chancellor, Stephen Graham & Beverley Knight

announcing the shortlist

Review: Episode 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Episode 4 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 seemed different and I'm not quite sure why.
  • the Judges picked their shortlist in record time
  • the Twittersphere did not go into meltdown.
  • Instead we had lots of tweets commenting that even the Judges can get it right some of the time!
Observations covered:
  • Getting the Likeness
  • Seduce the Judges with unusual media and technique
  • Experience will out

5. Georgina Campbell, Mark Gatiss & Tanni Grey-Thompson

Review: Episode 5 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

I had no quibbles with the shortlist produced by Episode 5 of Portrait Artist of the Year.

Eyes right - your fate is about to be revealed!
Observations covered
  • The self-portrait
  • How to get started? (What sort of approach to take?)
  • How to spend the final hour?
  • Why don't artists tell sitters what's in the picture?

6. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Adrian Lester & Nitin Sawhney

Review: Episode 6 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Episode 6 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 was one of those where it was clear who definitely needed to be in the shortlist - but then there were a fair few also rans.

Count the cameras covering every facial twitch!
Observations covered:
  • Getting likeness by half way
  • Avoiding over-working paintings
  • To clothe or not to clothe
  • The benefits of the big brush
  • Splitting the Judges

7. Angela Griffin, Gina McKee & Jamael Westman

Review: Episode 7 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Discussions and observations focused around:
  • The better the sitter the better the portrait
  • How rude to paint from technology!
  • Size of the Painting
  • Size - and proportion - of the Head on the Canvas
  • Good paintings vs good likenesses
  • The challenge of skin tones
  • What should I do/practice/get in advance?
Waiting for the announcement

8. Jodie Comer, Daniel Lismore & Nick Moran

Review: Episode 8 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

The one where the producers of Portrait Artist of the Year didn't realise that when they asked Jodie Comer to sit for Episode 8 that they would have an actress who has been nominated for very many global awards in the period between sitting and broadcasting.

Just goes to show how important portraits are for recording moments in time....

Jodie Comer sits for Portrait Artist of the Year 2019
Observations included:
  • How to maintain your focus under pressure
  • How to find your way to a likeness
  • How to avoid over painting it
One of the common tactics is to tighten a painting up as you get towards the end and then leave the detail to the end. That assumes that you have judged correctly just how much time you need for detail. Those who are less experienced try to put in all the detail - and of course always fail. Others are more selective and only tackle some of the detail, knowing that the eye can fill in the rest. This is an approach which works only if your draughtsmanship and construction of the underpainting and tonal values and choice of colours has worked well in terms of developing the structure and overall shapes of the head.
It's not detail which creates a likeness, it's fundamentals.

Semi-Finals: Courtney Pine

Held at at the Hackney Round Chapel in Clapton - with no audience.  This is the episode which is the biggest challenge for the artist because it's eight people in a semi-circle all trying to paint the same person - and they're at a considerable distance

This is also the episode in this series where the artists spent the morning twiddling their thumbs and staring at their paints while they waited for the sitter to turn up. Then worked straight through - for 4 hours - from (I think) 2.30pm. Which accounts for why one artist looks like he might be struggling....

Review: Semi-Final of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Getting started - and why people take photos
- with one artist moving into to take a photo
because located on the extreme left several feet away he actually can't see Courtney's face at all!
  • What the Judges were looking for
  • What the Judges liked and disliked
  • and what I liked and was disappointed by

Final - Laura Linney

Before the start of the Final - isn't it empty?
Spoiler Alert!!!
One of the themes within the programme concerned the stress and nervous energy associated with a Final. The suggestion from the Judges was that the artists live off their nerves and that this is a good thing. From the comments of the artists, they recognised that nerves were natural in the context of the Final but that they'd prefer if they felt a bit more relaxed.
The reality of the Final and what it's like for contestants painting with cameras

TADA!!!  Duncan Shoosmith is Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

The Winner's Story: Winner's Film Tom Jones

I didn't write a review of this but it's definitely worth watching. See if you can count how many studies Duncan did!

Learning Points re the 2018 Competition

Below are my PREVIOUS blog posts about the 2018 competition and my reviews of the heats, semi-finals and final - in which I comment on specific aspects for aspiring future contestants!

How to bingewatch all the past series

If you don't want to wait until series come to Channel 4 or want to bingewatch ALL the past series of Portrait Artist of the Year (5 seasons and 40 episodes) this is How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky!


P.S. Thanks to Linda Woolston and Haidee-Jo Summers for both giving me a tip-off about this. We just need them to snap up BP Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 now.... ;)

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