Barely a day after I had posted my last blog and something exciting happens. I’m watching the 6 o’clock news and there is a feature about an artist called Tom Croft. He is offering to paint a portrait for free for any NHS worker. What a splendid idea, I wish to join the ‘effort’ and contact him by email. But 24 hours later the whole scheme has grown so fast that hundreds of NHS workers have contacted him and following his Instagram video I post my own flyer. Not being particularly social media savvy it takes me several days to get it right but as soon as I do I am matched within seconds with the lovely, Kimberley who is a radiographer from Stafford. Good, I finally feel I can do something positive in the midst of all this horror.
Kimberley and I exchange messages and she sends me some pictures. We debate whether she would like to be portrayed in full PPE (personal protective equipment). She says “no.” Simple, and I’m glad with her decision as I like to be different. Looking on #portraitsfornhsheroes so many pictures show key workers heavily disguised in goggles and masks. But Sally (mark II) is still not finished and as she is also a key worker for the NHS. I find myself working on two paintings at once. Kimberley is straightforward – just a head and shoulders shot, looking almost straight to camera. Head square on and for the first time since I recommenced painting two years ago teeth are present. Sally’s portrait is more detailed, no teeth but hands and her beloved dog, Flo. The scale is also smaller as there is more to fit in.
In fact the only complicated thing about Kimberley’s portrait is the dress she is wearing. I send her the half finished portrait and she says that we can leave her dress plain black. Phew that saves me probably another week of painting. I frequently check the #portraitsfornhsheroes and some artists are on their fifth portrait.