The sitter this week was Jill Nalder, an actor in musical theatre. She has played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, been in Oliver and a show called Westenders, singing West End and Broadway Hits. She’s also an AIDS activist and inspired writer Russell T Davies to write the recent tv show ‘It’s a Sin’. Jill went to drama school in London in the 1980s and at first didn’t understand why her gay friends fell ill with a mystery illness and went home to die. Those who were too embarrassed to go home Jill nursed until they died. That mystery illness became known as HIV, developing into AIDS and terminal to all who had the virus.
Jill had rented a flat in London with friends and it became known as the Pink Palace as gay friends were welcomed there. She has dedicated her life to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and raising money for the Terence Higgins Trust and for charities around the world who help the millions of children who have been orphaned when their parents died from AIDS. No M&C members had heard of Jill before but we were all very moved to hear the life story of this amazing and remarkable woman.
Jill wore a very bright pink jumper and lipstick in memory of the Pink Palace, combining it with a crystal necklace that had belonged to her late mother. The lights in the background represent heavenly stars, in memory of all the friends she has lost over the years.
The artist was Greg Mason PAOTY semi finalist in 2017 and LAOTY finalist in 2018. He was at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at the same time that Jill was at drama school, so he could relate to all that Jill said. He was painting in Majorca, where he spends several months a year.
Greg got Jill to look in different directions so all of us drawing at home could quickly screenshot our favourite pose. Greg drew Jill on aluminium then underpainted her in acrylics during the session, planning on painting over the acrylics with oils in the next couple of days. His acrylic warm colours were Raw Sienna and a pink and the cool colours were a purple, grey and white. For the oil paints he was going to use Liquin, to help the paint flow.
It was another good session and very emotional at times as we found out about Jill.
Steve again created two portraits of Jill which is a great achievement in itself. The first portrait is in soft pastels, the second in oil pastels, both being on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. The pictures have very good skin tones and a knowledge of the bone structure of the face.
Juliet’s portrait of Jill is in pencil. The unusual angle of the head gives emphasis to Jill’s long, lustrous locks and well defined cheekbones, with the shadows on her face giving the portrait a 3D look.
Dot did a graphite drawing of Jill and then added the pink jumper in watercolour as it was such an important part of Jill’s story. Jill was reflective a lot of the time but Dot has caught her smiling, which she did when she remembered some of her special friends.
Tracy spent 45 minutes drawing Jill, her long, curly hair taking the most time. Another 45 minutes was spent painting Jill’s jumper in Winsor & Newton’s Opera Pink watercolour paint. On Hobbycraft 300gsm watercolour paper.
Cynthia used acrylics on an 8” x 10” canvas. The beautiful golden and purple colour from the lights in the background compliment Jill’s complexion and jumper perfectly.
Here are Greg’s portrait and the one that Jill chose as her favourite by a member of the public. Following those are the top three chosen by the judges, portraits by three young siblings and then portraits from the wall.