The hunt for the 2014 Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year begins next month as Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell return to present the competition in which the country’s most promising portrait artists paint famous faces against the clock.
“From the first daubs of paint on a blank canvas to the looks of amazement on the famous sitters’ faces when the images are revealed for the first time, Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year invites viewers on an incredible journey. It’s back for another year and once again bursting with jaw-dropping talent and creativity.”-Philip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts
Seventy-two artists, chosen from 1,600 applicants who submitted their self-portraits, will compete for the chance to win a £10,000 commission to paint actor Alan Cumming for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. During six heats, they’ll get just four nail-biting hours to paint celebrity sitters before their masterpieces fall under the scrutiny of the show’s three judges: portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg, independent curator and art historian Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan, head of Contemporary at the Fine Art Society.
“It’s exhilarating to see so much great stuff happening in one room. I love seeing these guys with paint on their fingers and on their clothes and with their tubes and brushes lined up. You can smell the art and it’s great being in the midst of it.” – Frank Skinner
The winners of each of the heats, held in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Cardiff, will meet at the semi-final at the Royal Academy, where a double portrait challenge will determine
which three finalists will paint actor Sir Ian McKellen in the grand final held at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
In the first episode the competition starts in London with Joan and Frank welcoming 12 eager artists to the Wallace Collection. Under the watchful eye of the judges, they get four hours to paint football legend Sol Campbell, Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams and broadcaster John Humphrys for a spot in the semi-final.
“I have always loved art and I like being around artists. They are such interesting people and they are so focused. Seeing people concentrate is one of the most rewarding things. It’s lovely watching people work, especially when you do not have to work very hard yourself.” – Joan Bakewell