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Early this year we were all shocked by the spreading pandemic. Many of us were put into some form of lockdown, which meant we were staying at home, not going out, not going to work, except for essentials like food and medicine. Everyone’s world turned upside down.

For many it was a complete change of routine. For me, not so much, as I am used to working from home. But my kids were home, my husband started working from home, and we made sure we did not go out, while actively following the increasingly upsetting news. I am sure you were in a similar situation. We felt a bit scared and powerless.

While we all tried to make the best of it a large group of people were actively fighthing the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, frontline workers. They put their own fears aside in order to help those who needed it the most. They no doubt put their own lives at risk at times. We owe them so much.

Fellow portrait painter Tom Croft felt the same. But he decided to do something. He put out a call on his Instagram account that he would paint a portrait for any frontline worker, for free. The first NHS key worker to contact him would get a free portrait.

Tom Croft is a fantastic portrait painter so nobody (except him) was surprised he soon had many requests. Many were not from NHS key workers but from their friends and loved-ones.

And many artists took up this brilliant idea and put out similar statements on their social media accounts. The idea went viral (excuse the pun) and hundreds of artists produced even more portraits for nurses, doctors, ambulance staff and so many more. The hashtag #portraitsforNHSheroes has nearly 14 thousand posts on Instagram alone.

The news media published various articles about the project, such as the BBC and the Evening Standard. On Tom Croft’s website you can find his story. Many of the paintings you can also find on this amazing Google Arts page. There was even a screen on Piccadilly Circus in London!

Artists from all over the world joined in. Professional artists like the ex president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Alastair Adams as well as amateur artists from all over the country.

I too joined in. I had no need to post my call on social media as Thomas Croft just had a frontline nurse contact him, looking for an artist. Kim and I connected via Whatsapp and the rest is history as they say.

We agreed she would take some photos for the occasion. She wanted a portrait of her and her fiancé (they had to cancel their wedding due to the pandemic, but now hope to get married in the spring of 2021) and their beloved dog. She is a super hardworking lady, who thoroughly deserves our thanks in these unprecedented times. 

The portrait came along well and when it was finished and dry I posted it to her. She was delighted with it. It’s the least I could do. 

I hope you are staying safe and well.

Kim and family, oil on linen on board, 30x25cm
Thousands of portraits were created by artists from all over the UK
NHS hero Kim with her portrait

About the author

Sophie is an artist, art historian, tutor, author and blogger. She writes on oil and pastel painting, art history and the life of an artist. She paints portraits and still life and specialises in painting drapery and lace.

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