We can't wait for Sky Portrait Artist of the Year to return to our screens in October. It's the most relaxing TV show ever known to man (it's official) and we're looking forward to two months of glorious time lapse portraiture and creativity. Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 will climax with a show-stopping paint-off between the final three artists who made it to the final, with one talented artist winning the £10,000 prize and the opportunity to paint a portrait of national treasure Sir Lenny Henry.

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Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year season 9 will hit our screens in October 2022 and it's the comfort Winter TV viewing we all need in our lives. Episode 1 will air here in the UK on 5 October 2022 and we love our weekly dose of watching the skilled amateur artists at work.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of gouache, oil painting, etching, sketching, as we recap the weekly highlights from series 9, when a collection of the UK and Ireland's artists have battled it out in the gentlest way possible to win the crown of Portrait Artist of the Year.

This really is a show like no other in that the portraits the artists are all beautiful works in their own right. If watching brushes on canvas doesn’t soothe your soul, nothing will. From the time lapse shots of the portraits coming to life, to the leisurely stroll around each artist as their portrait forms before your eyes, Portrait Artist of the Year is our ultimate Autumn-Winter comfort viewing.

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As the brush strokes and pencil marks come together each week, we'll see the artists' portraits develop layer upon layer of depth throughout the hour's television. You’ll find yourself fighting the urge to run off and sign up instantly for your local college painting course.

This year's competition has been be better than ever and thanks to the pandemic more and more of us across the UK are discovering our love of painting and drawing. If you're looking for more painting and drawing content, we've got guides to watercolour painting for beginners and pencil drawing for beginners to help you get started.

For more creative TV content head to our best craft TV shows, Sky Landscape Artist of the Year or Grayson Perry's Art Club articles.

To celebrate the show's return, we've answered all your burning questions right here.

Images © Sky UK Limited

Portrait Artist of the Year
Photography by Matt Frost © Sky UK Ltd.

When is Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year on TV?

Portrait Artist of the year returned to Sky Arts on Wednesday nights from Wednesday 5th October 2022 at 8pm.

It is available to watch on Sky Arts and the streaming service NOW. You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147.

Where can I watch Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year?

You can catch up on the past eight seasons of the show over on Sky Arts. The show was originally Artist of the Year and has branched out with a spin-off series called Landscape Artist of the Year.

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year is shown on Sky TV on channel Sky Arts, Freeview channel 11. This channel was previously known as Artsworld and Sky Arts 1. You can also watch Portrait Artist of the Year on the streaming platform NOW.

Where is Sky Portrait Artist of the Year filmed?

The show is filmed at Battersea Arts Centre, and each series the finals are filmed at the National Portrait Gallery.

National Portrait Gallery

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year Christmas special 2022

Six celebrities will take on the challenge of capturing three sitters with help from three mystery guests! The sitters for the Christmas special have been revealed: Slade's Noddy Holder, interior designer Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and singer Mica Paris.

As usual, the celebrities will be judged by award-winning artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan. We can't wait for this special festive treat!

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022: Welcome to series 9

Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell are back in their quest to find Britain and Ireland's best portrait artists. They're joined by returning judges: artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan.

The show covers lots of different techniques, mediums and subjects every week, with each contestant taking a different approach to the challenges.

It never fails to fascinate me how one subject (or celebrity sitter in this case) can be interpreted in so many different ways, yet this series of Portrait Artist of Year doesn’t disappoint as our brilliant artists once again produce some incredible portraits. I’m just glad I’m not one of the judges!
Joan Bakewell

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 includes several rounds of painting competitions, where artists are challenged to paint portraits of famous sitters. The artists are given four hours to create a portrait that captures the essence of their celebrity subject. Each week one winning artist (chosen by the judges) will go through the semi finals, in a bid to get through to the final, which will be filmed at the National Portrait Gallery.

This year, the artists are competing for the prize of a £10,000 commission to paint the well-known actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry. Their work will then be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

Having the opportunity to watch such skilled artists at work as they paint our wonderful (and incredibly patient!) celebrity sitters is always a pleasure and this series is no different... we’ve got such a fantastic mix of familiar faces all taking the hot seat in front of the easel, with each resulting portrait so varied and unique. Viewers are in for a treat!
Stephen Mangan

Meet The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 contestants and sitters

Caution: this section includes spoilers

A mixture of the UK's top amateur and professional painters have been chosen, and we'll meet a fresh batch of new faces each week. With a mega prize and one well worth competing for, we're already blown away by the talent, skill and flair that the contestants in the first few weeks have shown on screen. Those self portraits! The skill and detail and flair for colour and composition!

This series will feature celebrity sitters from the worlds of stage, screen, sport, literature, and politics including Lulu, Big Zuu, Nick Grimshaw, Bruno Tonioli and many more.

The artists will battle it out to impress expert judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan in seven heats. Each heat winner will go on to paint acclaimed singer, Rebecca Ferguson in the semi-final and the three finalists will battle it out to take home the title, painting public health expert and former Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, best known for leading the UK's response to the Covid pandemic.

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 sitters

Here is the full list of famous faces who will be sitting for the artists this series:

  • Lulu (singer)
  • Big Zuu (television personality)
  • Bruno Tonioli (TV personality/choreographer)
  • Nick Grimshaw (broadcaster)
  • Miquita Oliver (presenter)
  • Dame Stella Rimington (former Director General of MI5)
  • Suggs (singer)
  • Elizabeth Day (author)
  • Jim Carter (actor)
  • Alex Brooker (journalist/TV presenter)
  • Eve Muirhead (Winter Olympian)
  • Phil Manzanera (musician)
  • Khadija Mellah (jockey)
  • YolanDa Brown (saxophonist)
  • Helen Sharman (first British woman in space)
  • Alexis French (musician)
  • Henning Wehn (comedian)
  • Lemar (singer/songwriter)
  • Candice Carty-Williams (writer)
  • Benjamin Zephaniah (writer/poet)
  • Ellie Simmonds (Paralympian)
  • Rebecca Ferguson (singer)
  • Sir Jonathan Van-Tam (former Deputy Chief Medical Officer)

The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 Episode Recaps

This article includes a weekly update on each episode, which we will review as they air. We'll share our favourite piece of artwork, favourite lines from the episodes and add a short summary so you can recap the show's best bits this year.

Episode one

We're off! A new batch of contestants arrived to take part in the first heat of our favourite art show. As usual, the artists came from a range of backgrounds and each brought their own unique style to their work.

This week, the artists were asked to to create portraits of podcaster and author Elizabeth Day, broadcaster Nick Grimshaw and jockey Khadija Mellah.

Highlights: Nick Grimshaw wanted his portrait to include his beloved dog called Stinky Blob. The adorable Stinky didn't have the patience to sit still for four hours and ended up roaming around the room!

There was also an appearance from a familiar face: Morag Caister who made it to the semi-finals in 2020.

Lowlights: Steve Bennett decided to create his portrait of Elizabeth Day using a drypoint etching printing technique. Unfortunately, his nerves got the better of him and he ended up drawing his portrait the wrong way round for the printing process! Luckily there was plenty of time to fix his mistake.

Episode two

This week there were three charismatic stars for the artists to depict: the legendary singer Lulu, TV presenter and comedian Alex Brooker and musician and record producer Phil Manzanera. Lulu was so excited to be on the show that she said she'd hardly slept the night before.

The second group of artists include an architect, an art student and a retired teacher. The youngest was 19-year-old Noah Rush, who said he had practised for the show by coercing his parents to sit for him for four hours!

One of the things we love about this show is the opportunity to learn from the contestants. For example, Olivia Ballantyne revealed that she always starts painting her portraits in dull colours so that she gets the outline right first. A very handy tip for any aspiring portrait artist!

If you want to remove the odd double chin – it's fine with me, it doesn't have to be fully accurate
Alex Brooker

Highlights: One of the celebrity sitters became very emotional when they chose their favourite portrait. You'll have to watch to find out which one…

Lowlights: It was very stressful watching Tommy Golunski leaving the face of his sitter to the end of the process. He still hadn't painted the face by the third hour of the competition.

Episode three

This week's batch of portrait artists includes art teachers, a professor and a social media influencer with over two million followers! All of them brought something special to the competition and tackled their portraits with enthusiasm.

There were some nerves though: Bryan Hogan from Dublin said he could do with a pint to settle his nerves! It's not surprising that the contestants feel under pressure, with just four hours to complete their masterpieces.

This week's sitters included the musician Suggs, presenter Miquita Oliver and Olympic curler Eve Muirhead.

Highlights: Suggs brought in a portrait of his own: a quirky painting of his late cat Spiderweed!

We also loved watching art professor Tim Tozer's approach to his portrait of Suggs. He began by painting his canvas neon pink, because it "creates problems that he has to solve". The pink was gradually covered up as the contest progressed. Tim also described his painting as a battlefield!

Olivia Pang chose to use Chinese ink painting to capture Sugg's character and the finished painting was breathtaking.

Lowlights: Halfway through the competition, the judges were worried that Anna's painting had become too sludgy, so she had her work cut out!

Episode four

Can you believe that there are just four places left in the semi-final? The weeks are just flying by! This week's contestants include a watersport instructor, a fine art student and a local council service manager, as well as a handful of professional artists. In this episode, we also met the oldest contestant in taking part in the current series: 83-year-old Stephen Grey from Lincolnshire.

This week's sitters are dancer and choreographer Bruno Tonioli (from Strictly Come Dancing!), award-winning saxophonist YolanDa Brown and Britain's first ever astronaut Helen Sharman.

Highlights: It was amazing to learn that Bruno is an artist himself: when he was younger, he used to sell paintings of roses to pay for singing lessons. We were also intrigued by Elizabeth Griffith's embroidered picture of Bruno and her finished portrait was truly original.

Lowlights: When Bruno saw Elizabeth's portrait, he says it looked like it was giving him the evil eye! As usual, it's intriguing to see how the artists approach the four-hour challenge. Stephen, for example, chose to paint directly onto a white canvas without a base coat of colour, while Anastasia described her process as "chaos that will turn into order".

This week's scariest painting? Neil Hamilton's chilling self-portrait entry was inspired by a night terror!

Episode five

This week's contestants were invited to capture a captivating trio of sitters: TV presenter and musician Big Zuu, former MI5 director general Stella Rimington and composer, producer and presenter Alexis Ffrench. As usual, the artists needed to capture the character of their sitter and the contestants painting Big Zuu struck gold – his larger-than-life personality shone through in all three paintings.

Our week five artists included two contestants who used to work in very different fields: Rosie Phillips gave up her job as a barista to become a full-time artist, while Samantha Messias used to work in retail before the Pandemic.

It's definitely me! I'm buff from all angles!
Big Zuu

Highlights: Samantha is used to having a lot of time to produce her hyper-realistic pencil portraits and she revealed that she has an unusual approach: she always starts drawing in the bottom-left corner works up. "A lot of people have called me the human printer," she said.

Fawzi also revealed an impressive level of commitment to the competition. He practised painting at speed before the show and put a lot of thought into where he positioned his paints and brushes!

Lowlights: Harriet produced a fascinating collage self-portrait as her entry submission to appear on the show, but struggled to compose her portrait of Alexis under pressure. Judge Tai-Shan Schierenberg was concerned about her lack of progress and urged her to start sticking down the face as time ticked away.

Episode six

This week's artists had the opportunity to paint a charismatic trio of sitters: award-winning actor Jim Carter (you might know him as Carson from Downton Abbey!), poet and activist Benjamin Zephaniah and Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds. Each brought their own unique character to the competition and the contestants couldn't wait to capture their likenesses.

Some of the contestants had a novel approach to the challenge: Russian-born artist Anastasia Russo decided to incorporate a praying mantis into her portrait of Benjamin Zephaniah because he told her he was inspired by insects.

Meanwhile retired art teacher Owen decided to play it safe. He said: "It's pointless trying something new in this environment because you can fall flat on your face… and I don't want to be doing that!" Owen's cautious approach paid off and he earned a place in the semi-finals.

A painting is never finished – it's only abandoned
Owen Lennox

Highlights: We always learn something from each episode of Portrait Artist of the Year and this week was no exception. Lanceford Brown created a frame with criss-crossing threads to create a grid, which he used to keep his portrait in proportion. Keep an eye out for it when you're watching the episode!

Lowlights: Patrick Morales-Lee sent our stress levels rocketing when he started brushing charcoal over his portrait of Ellie Simmonds. He admitted that his approach was high risk, but wanted to create shadows on Ellie's face. The finished result was very intriguing.

Episode seven

This week's artists were in with the chance of winning a final spot in the semi-finals and we couldn't wait to find out who was going to make it through.

The fresh batch of contestants were treated to three engaging sitters: soul and R'n'B singer Lemar, best-selling author Candice Carty-Williams and self-proclaimed German ambassador of comedy Henning Wehn.

The sitters this week took their duties very seriously, with Henning Wehn deserving a special mention for trying to stay absolutely motionless for his artists. He refused to even look around when presenter Stephen Mangan came over to talk to him!

We're always intrigued by the variety of approaches taken by the artists. Some follow rigid methods, while others prefer to go with the flow on the day. Jude Wainwright followed her instincts while painting Henning Wehn. "I don't have a method. It's just keep adding shapes and something good should come out."

Her instincts paid off! Her portrait was Henning's favourite and earned her a place in the semi-finals.

I feel like everyone has a secret and I'm just not in on it
Lemar, who couldn't wait to see his finished portraits

Highlights: The week seven artists all seemed to make a deep connection with their subjects, but one sitter fascinated both the judges and the contestants: Lemar. Tai-Shan Schierenberg said: "Lemar's a beautiful man and that's often a problem. Our artists are dealing with his beauty quite well."

Did the artists do him justice? You'll have to watch to find out!

Lowlights: Tai-Shan was in a particularly critical mood this week and at the halfway point he described Simon Turvey's portrait of Henning as "cadaverous". Luckily, Simon managed to bring Henning back to life in the final two hours.

Episode eight – the semi-final

It's finally the semi-final! Over 60 artists took part in the earlier rounds and it was time for the winners of each heat to do battle for a place in the final. In a surprise twist, the judges decided to put an extra contestant through to the semi-finals: Nina Raminska.

The judges said that because the standard this year was so high, they felt that Nina deserved a chance to compete in the semi-finals. Tai-Shan waxed lyrical about Nina's beautiful use of colour. He said: "She does something that no one else does and that's why she's here."

Nina was joined in the semi-final by Owen Lennox, a retired secondary school art teacher from Essex; Keren Golea, a fine art student from Oxford; Morag Caister, a professional artist who splits her time between the UK and Albania; Tim Tozer, an art professor at a university in Wisconsin; Binny Mathews, a professional artist from Dorset; Noah Rush, a 19-year-old art student from South London and Jude Wainwright, who works in brand marketing in Manchester.

The artists were asked to paint the award-winning singer Rebecca Ferguson, who didn't make it easy for them by turning up in a stunning green sequinned dress! As usual, the judges were looking for an impressive portrait of the celebrity guest. Kate Bryan said that the artists must give "a real authentic sense of the character that's sitting in front of them". She added: "They have to show that they are commissionable for one of our national institutions." No pressure, then!

Morag Caister, Binny Mathews and Nina Raminska all wowed the judges and earned their places in the final.

Art is showing off for introverts!
Owen Lennox

Highlights: This year's youngest semi-finalist, Noah, admitted that he hasn't really been taught how to paint and is just winging it! We were blown away by his natural talent and wouldn't be surprised to see him again in a future series.

Nina decided to go rogue by adding gold paint to her portrait in the final stages and admitted that she'd never used it before. It was a gamble that ultimately paid off and helped her gain her spot in the finals.

Rebecca Ferguson revealed that she collects 17th and 18th Century portraits, so she's a true art lover!

Lowlights: Jude admitted that she'd lost her confidence after going for a walk and looking at all the other portraits – a rookie mistake! Luckily she managed to regain her composure and produce a gorgeous portrait of Rebecca.

Episode nine – the final

Morag Caister, Binny Mathews and Nina Raminska made it through to the final to compete for this year's coveted prize – a £10,000 commission to paint Sir Lenny Henry for the National Portrait Gallery.

This week's sitter was someone who appeared regularly on our screens at the height of the pandemic in 2020: former Deputy Chief Medical Office Sir Jonathan Van Tam. Sir Jonathan was a very engaged sitter and expressed his admiration for the skills of the artists. He even said that he would trade in all of his achievements if it meant that he could be as talented as them!

All of the artists worked predominantly from life in the final, taking a few photos to refer to as they painted. Other than that, their approaches were all very different. Binny's portrait of Sir Jonathan had a directness about it, as she was painting him face-on and the judges were concerned that her approach might be too conventional.

Meanwhile, Nina brought a dream-like feel to her portrait, incorporating glass containers to reflect Sir Jonathan's scientific background. The judges loved her style, but weren't sure if she'd captured the likeness. Morag took an interesting approach, using careful brushstrokes to capture the look of JVT's grey pinstripe suit.

In addition to creating a portrait of Sir Jonathan, the artists were asked to submit a painting of someone they know well, so the judges could see what they could create when allowed more time. Binny chose to paint her two artist sons, Morag painted her fiancé Genti and Nina chose to paint her sculptor friend Alan Clarke.

Sir Jonathan was blown away by the finished paintings and chose Binny's painting to take home, but ultimately it was Morag Caister who was named Portrait Artist of the Year! We can't wait to see her finished commission of Sir Lenny Henry!

Highlights: The standard of this year's competition has been amazing and it was a joy to watch the finalists at work.

Lowlights: The tension in the room was clear and the artists felt unsettled by how quiet the crowd was, even though their loved ones were present in the audience!

Episode ten – the commission

This year's winner Morag Caister now has to tackle her biggest challenge yet: painting a portrait of Sir Lenny to hang in the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection. No pressure!

Sir Lenny Henry is a national treasure with an impressive career. he started out as a comedian, but has since found success as an author, actor and documentary maker. He's also the co-founder of Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, which has raised millions for charity.

Morag first met Sir Lenny Henry in Penzance, Cornwall after he invited her to Newlyn Art Gallery to see an exhibition curated by Black Voices Cornwall. In this first meeting, she had a chance to get to know Sir Lenny and begin some initial studies of his form in a relaxed setting. Sir Lenny was equally keen to get to know Morag and to be a good sitter for her.

Sir Lenny shared his love of art and that he was looking for a portrait that reflects who he is as a person now, in contrast to the crazy pictures that were taken of him when he was a young comedian.

He said: "The reason I like Morag's art is because it's crisp and clear and there's a really strong use of light and colour in that. And I think she understands that stuff about what light does to a black person's skin, so I kind of like that too."

Before the second sitting, Morag caught up with an old friend – 2020 Portrait Artist of the Year winner Curtis Holder. Curtis was able to talk to Morag about how to tackle the painting, which helped to settle her nerves!

The second sitting gave her the chance to meet Sir Lenny in a new setting – Hay Literary Festival in Wales. She was able to observe him on stage, speaking about his work in an animated way, but chose a more peaceful setting to paint him. This time, she opted for a quiet spot in a field nearby. They chatted about Sir Lenny's education as Morag captured his likeness with a brush or traced an outline with her painted fingertip.

Past finalists have chosen to create a study for their commission, but Morag chose a different approach. She decided she was going to use the final sitting to start work on the real painting. Morag joined Sir Lenny at a hotel near his home in Berkshire and got to work. She admitted that she was feeling nervous now it was time to commit to working on the commission, but Sir Lenny helped her to feel at ease. "It's good to be nervous," he told her. Morag then had three weeks to complete the painting before it was unveiled at the National Theatre.

Lenny seemed very moved by the final painting. He said: "It feels as though it's an adult summation of who I am – and I'm really chuffed."

Perhaps the highest praise came from Sir Lenny's sister, who said that it didn't show Lenny, but Len – the real person behind the public image.

The National Portrait Gallery is currently undergoing restoration, but you'll be able to view Morag's portrait there when it reopens in 2023.

Morag Caister and Sir Lenny Henry
© Sky UK Limited/Tim Anderson

Who won Portrait Artist of the Year in 2022?

This year's winner was London-based Morag Caister, who won the opportunity to paint a portrait of Sir Lenny Henry. Her finished commission will hang in the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection.

Who won Sky Portrait Artist of the Year in 2021?

23-year-old Calum Stevenson scooped this year's prize with his beautiful portrait of Barry Humphries in the final. In earlier rounds he wowed the judges with his realistic portraits of Kelly Macdonald and Pink Floyd's Nick Mason. His painting of Nicola Benedetti will be displayed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

Portrait Artist Of The Year
2021 winner Calum Stevenson's beautiful style of painting portraits has been mesmerising to watch, as he creates his portraits from the eyes outward, building realistic and intimate detail through his paintwork, alongside striking compositions.

Get ready for Portrait Artist of the Year 2022

We're looking forward to seeing the work created by the contestants on this year's show – and who will win the coveted title of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year. Each week the contestants will push their artistic skills to the limit and produce a stunning likeness of a celebrity.

The artists will compete in seven heats with the winner of each heat getting the opportunity to create a portrait of the singer Rebecca Ferguson in the semi-final. The three finalists will get the chance to produce a portrait of former Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, who appeared regularly on our screens throughout the pandemic.

The ultimate winner of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year will earn a £10,000 commission to make a portrait of Sir Lenny Henry for the National Portrait Gallery.

For more updates about the latest series, head to the show's official website: www.skyartsartistoftheyear.tv/portrait or search on social for the hashtags #portraitartistoftheyear and #PAOTY

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How to become an incredible portrait artist

If you're feeling inspired by the latest series of Portrait Artist of the Year, painting a watercolour portrait can be a good place to begin. It'll help you to get to grips with the basic skills that you'll need to create your own stunning portraits. You'll also develop your watercolour painting skills with the expert guidance of artist and illustrator Rhiannon Bull. Learn how to paint a watercolor portrait.

Authors

Sarah OrmeDigital Editor, Gathered

Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints

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