Lisa’s NHS Portraits: Professor Chris

Professor Chris: Lisa’s NHS Heroes

This week features the portrait of Chris Brightling, a Senior Investigator for the National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator and Clinical Professor in Respiratory Medicine at Leicester’s Hospitals.

His wife, Michelle, contacted Lisa Timmerman to paint one of the leading researchers in trials for COVID-19 treatments during the pandemic. This included not only in hospital, but the ongoing care and understanding how this disease impacts the health of people in the long term, after leaving hospital. Lisa expressed an admiration for Chris’s pioneering project:

“I loved the way he has his sleeves rolled up ready for business & I made the background white to stress his clinical role & to emphasise the #redforresearch where people can read more about it.”

Professor Chris: Work in Progress

The hashtag, ‘#redforresearch’, was a fundraising campaign by the St. George & Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF) in 2020. By incorporating the colour red into one’s wardrobe and donations, the proceeds would help support very crucial medical research.

This theme of red has been carried through Lisa’s art series of NHS Heroes. Although this portrait is more paired back in comparison, it carries a very strong message. Similar to this World War I recruitment poster, this portrait probes further research and involvement with this charitable cause. From both images, their confident body language and friendly smiles suggest a reliable and aspirational man. Both campaigns are persuasive through direct eye contact with the viewer, encouraging participation and unification in this effort.

Professor Chris: Posed with his Portrait

To paint someone’s portrait can often be an intimate experience, as one is studying another’s facial contours and details over an extended period of time. To meet the real face of your art subject and to see the similarities makes an extraordinary encounter:

“Having studied his face thoroughly some time ago it was bizarre to see someone whose face I knew so well but I’d never met before walking towards me! But It was so lovely to meet Chris & his wife Michelle, they’re chuffed to bits with the portrait which makes me really happy. Prof Chris has been working incredibly hard on the research which will benefit treatments of COVID-19.

Thank you to [artist] Tom Croft for the initiative and Michelle for making us aware of what a wonderful & essential job Chris & his team are doing.”

To view more of Lisa’s portraits of NHS Heroes and read their stories, visit her website.

Lisa’s NHS Portraits: Ruth Nurse

Ruth Nurse: Lisa’s NHS Heroes

Over a year has passed since Lisa Timmerman’s art series of NHS Heroes began.

When the COVID-19 pandemic led to the first national lockdown in March 2020, there was a large emphasis on thanking and supporting the NHS. Whilst risking infection, hospital staff were leading the fight against what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the “invisible enemy”. Masks and gloves, as well as other layers of protective clothing, were first worn by NHS staff before becoming the social norm that it still is today (pending post-lockdown). I imagine these images often lacked that human connection which is so vital in critical care, and the identities of those behind the vacant PPE lost.

The online campaign, #portraitsfornhsheroes, was a way for artists to truly express admiration. It was an initiative instigated by Oxford based portrait painter, Tom Croft, to connect artists and NHS workers through social media. Whether it was direct communication, or often through family and friends, it enabled artists to paint and gift portraits during this time. Not only was this movement a way to capture this strange and uncertain time, but also to learn more about the experiences of those behind the paintings.

Lisa has since painted twenty NHS portraits, which are currently exhibited at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Lisa’s NHS Heroes: Leicester Royal Infirmary Exhibition
Ruth Nurse (50 x 50cm)

Lisa’s first portrait, ‘Ruth Nurse’, was a day surgery nurse before she was required to work in intensive care during this pandemic. Her daughter reached out to Lisa via Twitter, so that the portrait would be a surprise gift.

The original photograph is clearly taken in the midst of the action, as seen by the frantic co-workers behind Ruth. This further emphasised by the diagonal brush strokes which appear to break through the background colour.

Ruth Nurse: Work in Progress

Typically, Lisa does use red as a ground colour for many of her paintings. However, in the context of an emergency room, this colour emphasises alertness to danger, with the yellow stripes appearing to caution the viewer. The rest of the colour palette appears muted in comparison, as the nurse is swaddled in monotonous protective clothing.

Due to the ballooned shape of Ruth’s body, we are drawn towards her defined hands and eyes. Only a small area of her face can be seen, which appears darkened by the fluorescent lighting reflecting onto the suit and visor worn. We can only imagine the amount of discomfort in her numerous layers and lenses from her glasses and hazmat suit.

With her identifiable features hidden within her uniform, she can only be truly identified by the small text written across her chest; Ruth’s name and occupation reveals her individuality, yet it is also comforting for her patients to know the person behind the vast amount of PPE worn.

From this portrait, we can see the true diligence of ‘Ruth Nurse’ and her ability to work under these hazardous conditions. To quote Lisa, “Words are not enough for these wonderful people”.

To view more of Lisa’s portraits of NHS Heroes and read their stories, visit her website.

When Spring Calls

New Beautiful Day (61 x 61cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

White roses are traditionally associated with new beginnings, as white as a bridal gown. They may not be as loud as their coloured counterparts, but their understated beauty flaunts in their layered tones of white, playing with light and shadow.

On the first day of Spring, there is no overcast to be seen, but rather an empty sky and a scorching sun. The artist sees this from her studio and, after a long winter, is eager to capture the changing seasons. As if stealing a palette from the sky, her background is sapphire. In her ever-flourishing garden, the muted white roses provide that dramatic contrast that the artist desperately seeks. With a bed of sun-lounging roses below, only the fighting few climb upwards, their tightly closed buds unravelling, their faces exposed. She uses a thin brush to trace their intricate stems, before sculpting her white paint into oval shapes on the canvas.

When the seasons change once more, and we return to shorter days and colder nights, these white roses are a gesture of remembrance. A farewell to summer, but a promise to return, their purity expresses a quiet optimism for the future. This painting says, ‘I’m thinking of you’.

**Article continued on Page Two**

Up The Garden Path

Up The Garden Path (30x40cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

There is nothing quite like the sheer panic of forgetting someone’s birthday, more specifically a birthday card, to truly mark the occasion.

Luckily, an artist works well under stress. As someone so often used to the pressures of meeting deadlines for clients, she quickly make haste; She grabs her art supplies and throw them down onto her work surface with an anticipatory thud.

This is no regular client, and there has been no debrief in this instance. But with her husband as the recipient, she knows him well enough to paint something of his taste.

Using a piece of paper, easily folded into a card, the artist begins to plot her canvas just in time for this important day. In her mind, she fondly envisions the summer garden.

The buzzing bees and singing birds are an orchestra in this quiet corner of the countryside. The wild flowers grow with such a vigour, they often overstep into the pathway. This is the pathway which the artist’s husband will walk after the working day. Crunching gravel underfoot, the bright bulbs are thrust forward by the wind and kiss his feet. The artist imagines his pace quicken upon his excitement of seeing balloons, or a colourful banner in the archway perhaps; His mind is animated with what surprises may be awaiting behind the front door of their home.

The artist plays out this warm and happy scene inside her head as she paints. Almost as if the mental image has been scanned onto the paper, it is complete. The artist reviews the finished birthday card, with the long, overreaching stems of the flowers and the path seemingly built around them. With dots of sapphire and rouge to imitate their swaying, she leaves the darkened doorway, as the beautiful, ambiguous end of one’s journey up the garden path.

**Article continues on Page Two**

Reminiscing in the Warm Fields of Autumn

Warm Fields (63 x 63cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

My boots crunch on the autumn leaves as my light-footed companion rushes forward eagerly, his lead pulling me in tow.

As we reach the top of the hill, he pulls me toward the creaky gate. Our decision is finalised as the gate swings abruptly shut behind us, with a loud clang.
We are now down on the tow path which follows the canals as eagerly as he does; With his tail in the air and his nose on the ground, he traces my route ahead.

As we walk, the sun comes out from hiding behind the cloud-covered sky. With one hand gripping the dog lead, I extend my other hand in front of me, the daylight bouncing off my painted talons.

It is all so familiar as I stop briefly during our walk, out of habit, and begin to reminisce.

We are at the place where, in the spring, I had admired the resting swans.

During the summer, they would sit on the bank and I would eagerly throw food offerings in their direction. Both fearsome and beautiful, the swans glided across the water, their long, snow-white necks snapping into the water hungrily. The surrounding trees now appeared to make space for the absent swans, arching outward, with their near-empty branches eclipsing the water.

I look behind the trees to see the wind sweeping up their fiercely orange leaves in the field beyond, further saturated by the low Autumn sun.

Blown forward, as I am now, into Autumn, I imagine the field that was once lime green with its new Spring growth.

I pull up my collar and forge ahead, focusing on the crunch of the leaves and their golden hues.

The abundance of summer, in all its forms, will return again.

**Article continued on page 2**

The Great Advantages of Painting Later in Life

I knew I was a painter for many years before I started producing paintings at the age of forty-eight. Before that, I read all I could about painting & established a social media presence in preparation for what I knew was coming.

I thought about it, between a full time occupation of transporting & nurturing our three sons, spread over twenty years. My husband was completely immersed in building his own business. He left at 7am & returned at 7pm in time to say “goodnight” to them when they were young, and cook for us as they became older.

Once I started painting, the great advantage was that I knew myself & had a lot of pent up energy!

I enjoyed the process of it, & what it did for my state of mind, so much that I really wasn’t preoccupied with what other people wanted me to paint. I haven’t stopped painting since.

The Hen House (30x40cm)

From my wealth of work & life experience stored up (with feelings of anger, sadness and joy), I knew what I liked & disliked, following my own mind’s natural revelations. I created my own world where I was truly happy, & no one could touch me. I found that I could paint such joy from experiencing such sadness.

I also resolved the anxiety surrounding mortality within myself; My paintings will far outlive me &, having suffered the life changing experience of friends’ deaths, this was really important for me. When I paint, this is one of my main motivations.

Petals & Shadows (61 x 100cm)

I picked up from where I left off working in the fashion industry (‘pre-computers’), but having children had changed my view of the world; I felt protective, & the fashion industry seemed immoral to me now. I originally went into this vocation because my Dad was a knitwear man, before I knew myself better. But I’m glad I did it, because my experience all feeds in to my paintings now.

I tried out other people’s painting styles, experimented & evolved my own thoughts through failings until I found a unique artistic style that I wanted in my own house. I had looked for similar paintings & I couldn’t find them elsewhere.

My friends & family were, & still are, so supportive. They were also, frankly, surprised that there was more to me than they thought, which came out in my paintings. I’m really gobby when drunk but learnt from an early age, growing up as a little girl in the Sixties & Seventies, to keep my thoughts to myself. I am fairly quiet as an adult, as a listener, a reader, an observer. I tend to see the best in people, until crossed.

Whispering Shadows

Painting has helped me release & reveal myself, connect with kindness & like minded people, divert thoughts & anxieties of external beauty to channel internal beauty.

I will paint until I die. It is is an ageless occupation which makes sense of my entire life. The ground colour flickering throughout my paintings is my life weaving itself in, to make a whole of something that is fractured & sensitive.

Sophie Waiting

Times are hard for artists & galleries- what’s the answer?

LT.Apple Blossom.Print_2I am tempted, in this blog, to tell you about Dr. Chris Barlow- the brains behind Parallax Art Fair but being a positive, optimistic person I will give him the benefit of the doubt, as I’m sure he is an honorable person. I will come back to him, as I’m sure he will come back to me …..later!!

For now I will ponder my week and share some experience.

An interesting ‘critique’ at my local art group from an experienced London-gallery- represented artist, who informed us that London galleries in general are not doing well and in her opinion are going bust ‘left, right and centre’. Times are hard for artists and galleries- what is the answer?

Obviously Sotherby’s and Christies continue, without pausing for breath, selling ‘art’ as a commodity and a great investment.

But what about the rest of us who don’t have the Saatchi or Gagosian seal of approval and would just like to continue doing what we love?

Well, art fairs are great fun and can put you in front of a receptive audience if you choose the right one. If you can share the cost and make a few sales – ideally without using the organizers credit card machine, which immediately makes you vulnerable to the whims of business men, then all good. Of course not many people go shopping at those places without a credit card so my advise is, read the organizer’s small print, ask questions about VAT and make sure the customer gives you a copy of the credit card receipt before you hand over your work.

My sales, one year into becoming a professional artist, still come mainly from friends and friends of friends. The people that know my story and relate to it. When I say friends, these are not just people in my vicinity, although they have been great, these are friends I’ve made online, built relationships with through Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, my blog & my website ( www.lisatimmerman.com )

In one way it’s ideal for an artist as it fill a gap in an essentially solitary existence. In another way, I have to be disciplined with it, as painting has to be the main focus and I’m easily distracted! It’s a wonderful would of ‘ You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, a million evolutions away from ‘The Apprentice’ style of business and ‘Thatchers Britain’, the one I grew up in. And one where, as an artist, you have total control. It works.

It takes time to build up relationships online but is rewarding on so many levels. I have genuine warmth and affection for these people around the world, who I may never actually meet but who’s encouragement brings a smile to my face on a regular basis- thank you so much!

I’ve posted the painting I took along to the artist’s critique at my local art group. The London-gallery-represented artist doing the critique took the ‘critic’ a little too seriously and slated most of the work put in front of her. Fortunately, my painting was towards the end when she was running out of time and she simply said she liked it. She did add though that I could have come up with a more interesting title! She’s right- but ‘Apple Blossom’ says and infers it all for me. Suggestions for another title would be most welcome!