Bethany is my Lisa’s eleventh painting for the online campaign, #portraitsfornhsheroes.
She is a trainee nursing associate at St. James Hospital, Leeds on Ward J28, which is the elderly admissions. Though, during the pandemic, she treated COVID-19 patients on every shift.
Bethany wanted the portrait to give to her mother who was so emotional and worried about her working during the pandemic. She said:
“My dream was to become a nurse after we lost my brother, that’s why I would love this portrait for my mum, I’m an only child now.”
However, her mother’s concern was not unfounded. Bethany had flu symptoms in early March 2020 and was off work for a week. She had the antibody blood test later that year and it came back positive, confirming that Bethany had contracted COVID-19 during that time.
Once recovered and wanting to reassure her mother, Bethany was sending daily selfies from the ICU ward. With this portrait taken from one of these photographs, it serves as a reminder of both their strength to get through difficult times.
Painted with one arm seemingly extended, her facial expression is one typical of the modern phenomenon of a ‘selfie’; Angled upward, her eyes are wide and mouth pouted. However, her tousled hair and work clothing suggest a far from picturesque moment. Instead, by placing Bethany against a warm and tropical blue backdrop, Lisa commented:
“Bethany is coming into focus in my painting, her eyes are like deep pools of turquoise blue water with so much emotion for such a young age, she has seen so much and still manages to keep her selfie pout on.”
Lisa curates a fascinating colour palette for Bethany’s natural complexion, including cad red, alizarin, lemon, ultramarine, burnt umber, titanium white whilst using the turquoise foundation to darken in places. From a pale and filtered photo, Lisa wanted to animate Bethany for the recipient:
“I need to warm [Bethany’s] face up now so she’s not so pale and vulnerable, so her mother can hang this painting on her wall and know all is good”.
To view more of Lisa’s portraits of NHS Heroes and read their stories, visit her website.