Farningham woman to take part in Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year with Stephen Mangan   

By Will Payne  Published: 06:00, 25 November 2020

 A Kent artist will compete in Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year.

Deborah Pearse, from Farningham, will go up against nine others as she attempts to paint one of three celebrity models in a four-hour window.

Deborah, who has painted since she was a child, has also ventured into the world of acting and performing arts throughout her career.

She said: “I was always drawing and painting as a kid, and considered ‘good’ at art, so it was assumed I’d be an artist – not that anyone told me what it entailed.

“Although I was a shy kid, I also discovered a love of performing and how I could transform myself through characters and impersonations and enjoyed the camaraderie of working collaboratively.

“So, I’ve always had the pull of both creative pursuits which means I’ve alternated between the two over the years and not done as well at either if I’d stuck to one, even though I’ve had some successes in both.

“Some of my artwork was selected for the Mercury Music Prize CD cover, which was exhibited in Cork Street, other works were shown atthe British Council in Milan.”

Earlier this year, Deborah sent in a self-portrait to the show’s organisers in the hope of being selected for the competition, which was filmed over the summer.

After hearing she had been chosen to take part, Deborah spent a month painting a portrait every day within four hours.

She added: “It was really exciting and I was so surprised to be asked to participate in the show.

“I had assumed I hadn’t got selected having sent my self-portrait in earlier in the year. Apparently though I was on their short list and due to issues around Covid, I was next in line.

“I got myself very organized, and prepared with all my materials and I worked out roughly where I should be with my portrait after each hour.

“You arrive early to the theatre where the whole team were helpful and friendly. They had thoroughly worked out safety procedures due to the pandemic and we were well looked after.

“The judges are also friendly and interested in how the artists approach their work.

“I got interviewed by Stephen Mangan in the last hour and, as they take a back history of you prior to the show, they knew I was also an actress and have worked as a tutor and therapist. He asked me about this and made me chuckle – however that last hour was also very nerve wracking as I didn’t achieve as much or as well as I’d hoped.”


Deborah ventured into the world of abstract art, before recently re-honing her skills as a portrait artist.

Picture of : Deborah Pearse with Painting:  Swimmer I

Deborah ventured into the world of abstract art recently, before re-honing her skills as a portrait artist.

“It has brought families together.”

 Deborah believes the arts have played a crucial role throughout the coronavirus pandemic, by giving people a creative outlet while being stuck indoors.

She added: “It has helped so many people rediscover ways of expressing themselves and find outlets that may otherwise have been subsumed by normal everyday activities.

“It has brought families together in shared activities and helped connect people within new group events, thereby helping their mental health and wellbeing. Whatever way someone chooses to express, it offers benefits both individually and collectively.”

She now hopes to grow a larger following on social media to help promote her work while launching a podcast to bring people together from all walks of life to discuss art and creativity.

You can watch the show on Sky channel 122, Freeview 11, Freesat 147 and Virgin Media 123.