We challenged the The Big Painting Challenge hosts to draw each other – with mixed results

Are presenters Mariella Frostrup and Rev Richard Coles any good at art? We put them to the test…


Mariella Frostrup

Tell us about this sketch of Richard…


Well, I’m clearly not a great artist because I’m quite happy with it! I can’t draw to save my life – my 12-year-old daughter is doing an art scholarship at the moment, and I’m lucky she was around to show me some techniques. I traced his face from a photograph, then used a Sharpie to make it look cartoonish. 


How long did it take?

Not long at all… I’d love to have been able to do it in pencil and do all the shading. It’s a very basic bit of portraiture that probably won’t stand the test of time, but I think I’ve got his mouth right – and his colour!

Did you enjoy art at school?

I was terrible at everything except graphic design. I could do a mural – I offered to paint murals in both of my children’s bedrooms and was, unsurprisingly, turned down. Growing up, I probably thought I was worse than I was because my mum was a painter. Everything I did was in the shadow of her great ability.

So there’s an artistic streak that runs in the family?

Mum got a scholarship to Edinburgh College of Art when she was 16, but she was a product of her time – she married young, and her art took second place to having children and looking after my father. It seems now that there are so few famous female artists from the past, but I’m sure there would be at least as many as there are men, if they’d had the money and facilities – or had been allowed.

What kind of art do you like?

I love sculpture – Barbara Hepworth, Louise Bourgeois, Cornelia Parker. Some painters I love are Jenny Saville and Eileen Cooper – the figures she paints are exuberant, every time I look at them they make me laugh, they’re a little bit naughty, they have a twinkle in their eyes… They’re wonderful.

Do you spend much time in galleries?

One of my favourite personal therapies is to go and sit in the Rothko room at the Tate and just drift.

Any tips for artistic novices?


All of us should approach painting as fun, but something we can improve at!