PAOTW – Sunday 13th December 2020

The sitter this week was Dannii Minogue, Australian singer, songwriter, actress, tv personality and fashion designer. Dannii was at her home in Melbourne, sitting from 9pm to 1am Australian Eastern Standard Time, to fit in with the session from 10am to 2pm UK time. Instead of sitting in front of a window with daylight, Dannii had a studio light on her for 4 hours, thus meaning the light was constant and not moving or making shadows.
The M&C artists who painted Dannii did not know much about her, apart from knowing she is Kylie Minogue’s sister, so it was interesting hearing about her life. She originally came to the UK at the age of 19 for 3 weeks and finally went back to Australia 22 years later, where she now lives with her 10 year old son.

Dannii is 49 and has very smooth, unblemished skin and was made up beautifully. Some artists painting along at home around the world said they suffered from what the judge, Tai Shan, calls ‘the curse of the beautiful woman’. When a woman has such unlined skin it is hard to make her look her age or else the painting looks like some one else. Many artists said their paintings of Dannii looked like her sister Kyle, Kate Winslet, Emily Blunt or Gillian Anderson.

The artist this week was Phoebe Hicks (now Cripps) who was a PAOTY semi-finalist in 2017. Phoebe often paints portraits in oils but decided to use charcoal on 600gsm Sennelier card, as none of the other artists had used this medium in previous weeks. The charcoal she used are called Nitram charcoal sticks or batons, in several dark black shades. The sticks can be sharpened on sandpaper to give more detail, but Phoebe finishes the finest details with a black charcoal pencil and the lightest highlights in a chalk pencil. Phoebe draws the head shape first then starts adding details to give the face a shape. She doesn’t blend the charcoal into the paper with her fingers or a paper blending stump, but blends the different shades together with a totally dry hog hair brush to give a soft skin tone.

Dot drew Danni from the live session, using graphite pencils of various strengths on cartridge paper. The face came quickly and then she spent time on Dannii’s hair and the background in just over an hour. Dot enjoyed the session because both Dannii and Phoebe were friendly and were interested in each other’s lives. A great end to the series.

Cynthia chose a different pose and managed to get a screenshot of Dannii looking thoughtful. She used the same 4 acrylic colours of white, yellow, red and blue on an 8” x 10” canvas, taking about 5 hours over 2 days. The first photo is after the first afternoon’s session. Cynthia really hopes that PAOTW comes back on sometime, as it has been so popular and watched globally.

Steve again did two portraits, a remarkable feat each week as just one takes a while to do. The first is in coloured pencils on Bockingford watercolour paper. Steve decided to join Phoebe and use charcoal, so the second portrait of Dannii is in charcoal on Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper.

Tracy enjoyed the session with all the friendly chat and painted Dannii in watercolours, taking about 2 hours in total. Dannii was sitting in front of a plain, dark blue or black curtain so there’s no fancy background this week. However, she painted behind Dannii in pure Indigo watercolour paint, fading it outwards, so that Dannii is framed.

Here is Phoebe’s finished charcoal portrait of Dannii. Posted on its own so you can see the beautiful skin tones that have been achieved by the dry blending with a hog hair brush and the details of Dannii’s eyes that make them look real. On an Instagram video Dannii was very emotional when she saw the finish portrait and is in immense awe of Phoebe’s talent.

Here is Dannii’s very favourite painting (apologies for the automated subtitles on the screenshot) and the judges top three portraits. There are no portraits by the youngsters or a wall of portraits from the general public, as there has been no programme a week after the session. Please note the last photo from the Facebook page of ‘Artist of the Year’ which says to keep an eye on the page for any news of future portrait programmes…hurrah!

2 thoughts on “PAOTW – Sunday 13th December 2020

    • I’ve never seen skin so beautifully rendered in charcoal! Phoebe’s style and use of a dry hog hair brush work brilliantly.

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