Sky Arts to convert Portrait Artist of the Year show into interactive paint-along

Paint brushes at the ready!


The Portrait Artist of the Year competition on Sky Arts will now become a free, weekly paint-along programme to entertain viewers during lockdown.


Viewers at home will be invited to paint the “celebrity sitters” who appear on the Sky TV Facebook page, posing live from their own houses.

Those painting at home will then be able to submit their final portraits via Instagram (@artistoftheyear) so that judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan can pick out their favourites.

Dancer and choreographer Akram Khan will be the first subject for amateur artists to paint, sitting still for four hours from 10am on Sunday 26th April.

Khan will be painted live by Christabel Blackburn – this year’s Portrait Artist of the Year winner – who will provide viewers with tips from her own home during the broadcast.

“I am so thrilled to be part of the Sky Arts ‘Portrait Artist’ event,” Khan said. “Even though the idea of sitting still for several hours haunts me, I do believe that we have arrived at an important threshold, a global one, where nature has brought us to our knees and has forced us to listen again, to reflect again, to be still again, to witness again to what is around us.”

Regular presenter Joan Bakewell will host the show and members of the public will be able to post questions on the Facebook page to receive advice.

Sky Arts has reportedly seen an increase of 55% in viewing since the lockdown measures were introduced.

“In recognition of the clear demand for culture at home, the channel will start to make a raft of Sky Arts content available to audiences to stream for free on the Sky TV YouTube channel from this Friday 24th April,” the channel announced.

The YouTube channel will also stream episodes of Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year, documentary series Treasures of the British Library and Mystery of the Lost Paintings as well as live concerts from Queen, The Bee Gees, Shania Twain and Take That.


The Portrait Arts of the Year paint-along will air at 10am on Sunday 26th April. If you’re looking for something to watch in the meantime, check out our TV Guide.