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Self Portrait 2021

Local artist on Sky Arts ‘Portrait of the Year’

Local professional artist, Thom Kofoed appeared recently on Sky Arts ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’. HOT’s Zelly Restorick celebrates seeing a local face on an international programme and asks Thom some questions about his experience.

How did you get to take part in the programme?

To apply for the show you have to submit a self portrait. I submitted a portrait called ‘I’ve never felt better’, which is black and white acrylic on brown parcel paper. (Portrait shown above.) For the past few years, I have painted a self portrait every January – this was the one from 2021.

Self Portrait 2022

How many people applied? How many people took part in each of the episodes?

They were over 4000 applicants and 72 artists were selected to participate in the show, 9 per episode.

Who were the judges and presenters?

One of my favourite artists, Tai Shan Schierenberg, curator, Kathleen Soriano and art historian, Kate Bryan. The presenters were Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan.

Lydia West and Thom’s portrait

Who did you paint?

I painted the actress Lydia West, who was recently seen in It’s a Sin (2021) and Years and Years (2019).

Was she a good model? Someone you liked?

She was a great model and I liked her straight away. Very warm and friendly. There’s so much going on during the filming and she sat perfectly still, which was hugely helpful. She’s incredibly beautiful though which I always find more challenging to paint, but she chose my painting to keep which blew my mind…and made me like her even more.

Photo of Thom outside the studios, standing with his portrait

What was it like to paint against the clock?

I had done a bunch of timed practices leading up to filming, so the time crunch wasn’t a surprise. I knew what I could get done and had goals to reach for certain times during the four hours. But I was under no illusion I would finish, so I focussed on creating something dynamic that took that into account. There’s so much stopping and starting during filming, you’re constantly interviewed by the hosts and judges, so that took you in and out of the flow a little bit, but I love attention so I leant into it.

Thom hearing that Lydia West had chosen his portrait to keep

What was it like behind the scenes?

It was honestly so interesting seeing how a show is put together. Parts are filmed out of sequence and there are so many people and moving parts making sure it all comes together. Everyone was SO NICE and friendly and accommodating and I immediately felt at ease. It was a 12 hour day which was exhausting but I loved every minute of it.

You said that you wanted everyone to fall in love with you — do you think you succeeded?

I was the sort of child at a birthday party who wanted to hang out in the kitchen with the mums, so all I wanted to do on the day is make the producers and presenters and everyone behind the scenes want to be my best friend. I guess you’d have to ask them if they did or not, but I got a few laughs and compliments and that’s enough to convince me.

Diana Ross

Any opportunities arisen since the programme?

Yeah, I had some really lovely feedback about my work and my Instagram got a little boost which is great for exposure. I’ve been working on a bunch of commissions from people who saw me on the show and have been managing to keep busy since it aired in November. And there are a few secret things in the works at the moment which are pretty exciting too.

Sarah Jessica Parker

How would you describe yourself as a professional artist? 

I’m predominately a portrait artist working across mediums (acrylic, oil and pencil) with an obsessive preoccupation with camp pop culture of yore (think Murder, She Wrote, Saved by the Bell, Broadway from the 1950s onwards) and my aim with the majority of my work is to celebrate the famous women that meant so much to me growing up.  I’m also an illustrator and designer and have worked behind the scenes with a bunch of organisations on their print and branding.

Barbra Streisand

Website: Thom Kofoed 

Instagram: Thom Kofoed

Facebook Page: Thom Kofoed Artist

Shop: Thom Kofoed Shop

One of Thom’s commissioned portraits

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Posted 13:31 Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 In: Arts News

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