MAKING A MARK: Portrait Artist of the Year

MAKING A MARK: Portrait Artist of the Year

 Do you think you know who is going to win Portrait Artist of the Year this year? Can you work out – in advance of the Semi-Final on Wednesday 23rd November – who will make the Final?

Why not have a go after reviewing this year’s semi finalists – SEE BELOW – for Portrait Artist of the Year?

Don’t forget the challenge for the eventual winner – who has to paint a £10,000 commissioned portrait of Sir Lenny Henry for the National Portrait Gallery. 

  • He’s a big man and a big personality 
  • So, in my book, that means the artist has got to be somebody who has demonstrated at some stage the capability of “going big”.

BELOW are listed 

  • all the Heat Winners alongside their self-portrait and heat painting. Links to websites are embedded in their names and other social media sites are listed if identified.
  • PLUS MY REVIEW of what I think – including who I think will make the Final.

Episode 1 – Morag Caister

Morag Caister – (Facebook | Instagram) BA. Painting, University of Brighton (2019). Brighton Metropolitan College, Foundation, Art & Design (2014). Heat winner and PAOTY semi-finalist in 2020. Has exhibited her art internationally. Has her work in Brighton Beach House, Soho House, 2022 (i.e. known to Kate Bryan)

Morag Caister: Self Portrait and Heat Painting

Morag Caister with her heat painting

My view: She’s always been a very strong contender for me and I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t make the Final

  • I was pretty confident she was going to win the heat 
  • she’s been selected again after participating in a previous PAOTY in 2020 – and making it to the semi-final in 2020. 
  • She paints big (most of the person on large canvases); has got a strong consistent contemporary style and doesn’t faff around with backgrounds – which saves a lot of time. 
  • Her Instagram also demonstrates that she has previously painted people of colour.

Episode 2 – Noah Rush

Noah Rush (Instagram) is the youngest participant aged 19. He’s an art student at Goldsmith’s College in London. (his self portrait)

My view: I was somewhat surprised he was chosen as the winner in the heat and I’d be even more surprised if he makes it to the semi-finals.

While not doubting his potential career as an artist, I’m not sure he’s demonstrated enough so far to persuade me he’ll progress beyond the semi-finals e.g. so far he’s not gone beyond head and head and shoulders. I’m not seeing much on his Instagram which suggests he can go beyond this.

Episode 3 – Tim Tozer

Tim Tozer (Instagram) – an art professor at a University in Wisconsin (how is he eligible given he lives in USA?) Studied at Winchester School of Art and University of Ulster. Moved to USA in 1994 on an Andy Warhol Scholarship at the New York Academy of Art where he gained an MFA in painting. His self portrait had a very mid western filmic feel.

My View – I’m still unclear as to his permanent residence as all competing artists need to be resident in the UK for the last year – and he moved to live and work in the USA in 1994. It just leaves a big question mark for me as to his eligibility. I’m not saying he isn’t just can’t really see how he is.

I think there’s a chance he may make the final – HOWEVER I note most of his paintings of people are ones where the ‘visage’ is less than clear. I also don’t actually see him as a portrait painter at all – he’s much more a figurative painter of fairly anonymous people.

Episode 4 – Keren Golea

Keren Golea (Facebook | Instagram) – a fine art student studying at Oxford Brookes university. She’s originally from the Philippines. She won the Glyndebourne Tour Art Competition for 2021, She produced a very large photorealistic self portrait.

My view: I think she’s capable of being a fine painter (from photographs) – and certainly her heat painting of Helen Sharman is much more impressive than is illustrated by the photograph taken of her portraits for the programme.

However her website indicates she’s not yet gone much beyond “head and shoulders” – and I don’t think a head and shoulders is enough for Sir Lenny.

She’s likely to demonstrate a good effort – but I think will probably not quite make it on the day. It all depends on how much she goes for it in terms of size and scope of the portrait in the semi finals.

Episode 5 – Binny Mathews

Binny Mathews (Instagram) – a professional artist who trained at Bournemouth College of Art and at Farnham School of Art (1978-80) and is currently based in Chelsea Studios, London. She’s an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Her work has been exhibited in exhibitions at various prominent art galleries including the Summer Exhibition at the The Royal Academy of Arts. She is qualified to teach and provided one on one tuition.

Her works are to be found in the collection of the American Embassy (London), The National Trust, HRH The Prince of Wales, British Gas, Carpenters Hall, Seagram and others in the UK, Europe, China and the USA.

Binny Mathews with her heat portrait of Dame Stella Rimington

My view: Clearly the best painter in her heat and, for me, the most likely person to go through to the final. 

  • I’d be VERY surprised if she does not make it to the Final. Very occasionally in the past the Judges have opted for giving a young person a chance – but for the National Portrait Gallery, if I was a Judge I think i’d want to be very sure the commission was in a safe pair of hands!
  • She had no trouble going big in terms of canvas in her Heat and also painted most of the torso – including hands – of Dame Stella Rimington. 
  • She paints fast – which is also always helpful when going big to impress the Judges and delivering a finished portrait in four hours!
  • She also struck me as least likely to become flustered.
  • Plus her track record in terms of clients speaks for itself.

Episode 6 – Owen Lennox

Owen Lennox (Facebook) – born in Sunderland in 1950. He is a retired art teacher who taught art for over 30 years. He lives in Braintree, Essex and still teaches art to local groups. He graduated from Sheffield in 1978 in Fine Art and History of Art before training as an art teacher. After being head of art in several London schools, he established himself as a painter specialising in portraits in oils.

My view: Interesting portraits – but we’ve not seen any hands yet – or a capacity to go big. He’s good at capturing a likeness – but I’m less convinced there’s a strong set of design and composition skills back up his talents for painting.

I’d be very surprised if Owen went through to the Final

Episode 7 – Jude Wainwright

Jude Wainwright – a fine art graduate who works in creative branding and lives and works in Manchester. Her self portrait was very small.

Jude Wainwright: self portrait and heat painting 

My view: Jude has a very strong style – but her website indicates she tends to paint small. I don’t see her going much bigger than she did for the heat and, as with Owen, we have yet to see any hands.

She doesn’t routinely paint portraits – as opposed to self-portraits. Her commissions are all animal art.

I’m not expecting Jude to make it through to the Final. I don’t she’s expecting too either given her surprise at being selected the Heat Winner.

Who will make the Final of Portrait Artist of the Year 2022?

I’d be very surprised not see Morag and Binnie in the Final. However, I’m not sure who the third person will be.


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Sky Arts Artist of the Year – REFERENCE

If you want to look back at reviews of previous series you can find links to them in
This year’s heats are: