Floella Benjamin, a favourite presenter on Playschool and Play Away, classic TV programmes in the 1970s and 80s was the sitter for this session. She is now known as Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham and is a member of the House of Lords where she advocates for children’s rights. Humpty Dumpty from Playschool made an appearance with Floella, and he was as chubby and colourful as he used to be :o) Floella is an amazing 71 years old, which is incredible as her skin is flawless and barely lined. She has the broadest smile and beautiful teeth, so most of the public painting her did do her teeth, even though it was a big challenge. Floella puts her hair up every day and usually wears bow and clips, but today she wore a little tiara as she does like to dress smartly.
Dame Joan Bakewell, a presenter on PAOTW, is officially called Baroness Bakewell of Stockport and also sits in the House of Lords, so she and Floella had a discussion about their speeches and what it is like being members there, but coming from very ordinary working class backgrounds.
The artist today was Fatima Pantoja, a LAOTY competitor in 2017 and a PAOTY semi finalist in 2019. Fatima was going to use oils or acrylics but decided to use pastels instead as that’s what she was known for in the programmes. She worked on cartridge paper over 200gsm and used soft pastels by Unison in a broad range of colours. Fatima says that she likes Unison round pastels, but any soft pastel that costs over £2 each will be good quality. Buy a set with a basic range of colours then expand colour by colour individually. Any colours or mixing she wasn’t pleased with she rubbed away with a chamois leather not an eraser. Fatima used fixative throughout the session when she’d finished different layers as this allowed her to work over the top of previous layers.
It was another excellent session between the artist and sitter and listening to their conversation makes the hours fly past.
Steve used acrylic on hardboard and has got Floella’s caramel skin colour just perfect. He has caught the liveliness in her eyes as she is about to speak again.
Cynthia say she doesn’t usually do teeth but thought she’d have a go as Floella smiled all the time. This portrait in the 4 colours she’s been using took a little longer than previous weeks, taking 3 sessions spread over 3 days, with little touches until she was happy. Such a lively portrait and excellent likeness with the skin colour and huge smile.
Juliet used pencils for her portrait, giving darker emphasis to Floella’s eyes, making them the main focus of the picture.
Dot took one hour each for her two portraits of Floella. One is pencil and one watercolour. Isn’t it interesting to see the likenesses and differences that you notice by using 2 different media?
Tracy took about 2.5 hours for her watercolour portrait. The background behind Floella was material in a blue and white tie dye effect. Tracy used blue and white too but changed the background to swirls, representing the 2 rose bushes that Floella said she planted in her garden when her son and daughter were little. Tracy liked painting the turquoise glittery jumper and is happy with Floella’s collar bones, but is not so happy with her face.
Here is Fatmia’s finished pastel portrait of Floella, followed by the portrait Floella herself chose as her favourite, the top three chosen by the judges, the youngsters’ portraits and some from the wall.