I am currently hooked on a show from the UK – Portrait Artist of the Year. Where I live, it’s shown on the Ovation TV channel, though the website says the program is available on demand. I’ve been catching it late, as in the shows I’m watching are from the 2014 round.


Based on the shows I’ve seen, the gist of the matter seems to be this: 12 artists – amateurs and professionals – are chosen per episode. (Each artist has applied to be on the show, but only the worthy are called.) On a given day/episode, the 12 chosen artists are placed before their sitters (who may be anyone from the UK, though usually someone with a modicum of renown) and given 4 hours to complete a portrait of the sitter. After their works are judged, that episode’s “winner” moves on to what I can only assume will be a final round to determine the season’s overall winner. That person will receive prize money and a commission that will place her or his work in a reputable gallery’s permanent collection. Having seen only a handful of episodes, I can tell you that it appears simply competing on the program makes one a winner. Past participants – who did not win the overall prize – have visited the set and spoken of being booked solid with commissions, based merely on Portrait Artist of the Year exposure.


As a painter, this show is mesmerizing to watch. Seeing these artists at work is beautiful. And nerve-wracking. 4 hours, people! I don’t know how they do it.


After digging around on the program’s website, it looks like this year’s show is about to switch gears a bit and become Landscape Artist of the Year. All I can say is I’m in! I really do love a good art show.


One last thing… There’s a fun little bit over at the website called “Create Your Selfie Portrait.” You add a photo of yourself, choose an artist filter and voila! Your face is turned into a digital version of a famous artist’s style. I chose Mary Cassatt:


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