Art has been a precious therapy for many during lockdown, but on Saturday eight budding artists got the opportunity to take part in a community art masterclass and paint someone special to them with Gloucestershire artist, Russell Haines. The eight lucky winners of the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust Community Art Competition had each been chosen from their entries which showed ‘The Spirit of Community’ that came from life under lockdown in 2020.
Artist Russell is well known for his incredible portraits which have been exhibited in Gloucester Cathedral and the Tower of London, so the winners were invited to bring a picture of someone that was important to them and given the opportunity to hone their portrait skills. Sisters Darcie (4) and Bella (6) from White City, Gloucester, chose to paint their cousin Joe who was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in 2018. Joe's story has previously featured on BBC Points West. Darcie said: “I liked using all the different colours!” and Bella said: “my favourite part was learning to paint Joe Joe.”
Aniche (10) from Matson, who usually likes to sketch superheroes, painted his baby sister and did an incredible job as Russell told the group “babies and children are the hardest to paint!”.
The art competition was run in aid of the Feed Gloucester appeal backed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and a wide range of partners to get food to those in need during lockdown and across the summer holidays. Lily (7) who was also chosen as a winner had previously raised over £200 for the cause by running online quizzes for family and friends back in May. Lily painted a portrait of her little brother at the masterclass.
Russell said: “It was fantastic seeing the kids produce such great work and they were really keen to learn. They are much less easily embarrassed than we are as adults and were happy to paint a face green or red! The adults also relaxed by the end of their session and started to enjoy the freedom of painting without worrying what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and just painting what they feel.”
The adult winners – Helen, Jackie, Amanda and Maryam - took part in a separate outdoor socially distanced masterclass and also painted people close to them, including family members or someone who had inspired them.
Helen, who took part in the adults masterclass, painted her husband and said: “Russell gave us some great tips on how to capture a likeness, which I've never managed to do before. I went home inspired to try and do some more portraits."
Gloucestershire Gateway Trust hope to exhibit photos of the original competition entries as well as the masterclass works at their Community Art Gallery at Gloucester Services on the M5. The gallery has previously shown work by the Gloucestershire Print Network.
Mark Gale, CEO of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said: “We’re really grateful to Russell for judging the competition and running the masterclasses and so impressed with the art that was created. I hope it has inspired new generations of artists from our communities, of all ages, and I can’t wait to see the photos on display at Gloucester Services.”