Self sketch leads to Portrait Artist of the Year appearance for graduate Michael

Date 11.02.2019

A University of Northampton graduate is set to star in the latest series of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year television show after one of his sketches caught the production team’s eye.

Michael Sheppard, who graduated from the Fine Art Painting and Drawing degree in 2017, secured a contestant spot on the hit show after submitting a self portrait, above and below, he completed while at university to producers.

Michael’s self portrait which led to him being shortlisted to appear on the Sky Arts show.

While Michael is remaining tight-lipped on how far into the new series he progresses, he’s delighted with the whole experience.

“Just to be on the show is great exposure for me and a brilliant networking opportunity,” he said. “The amount of artists, expert judges and those from the art world you encounter on the show is amazing, and I’m hoping the experience will help me to raise my profile and follow my dream to be a professional artist.”

Portrait Artist of the Year contestants are challenged to capture the likeness of a celebrity in just four hours, as they battle it out for a place in the final. Models confirmed for this series include actor Michael Goode, model Jodie Kidd, singer Tom Jones, Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson and League of Gentlemen co-creator, Mark Gatiss.

“The whole thing really took me out of my comfort zone, because it takes 12 hours or more to draw from a photograph but when I’m drawing from still life in four hours it gives me adrenaline to perform at my best,” said Michael.

Michael Sheppard

Michael, who goes under the name of MJ The Art Traveller, feels his time at the University of Northampton has stood him in good stead for the show.

“I left university a much better artist,” he said. “The course gave me confidence in my ability. I was taught all the different ways and styles of drawing. We had lots of life drawing classes, workshops and studio time with our tutors and I was surprised to see what I was capable of creating.

“I came away from university with much better skills and knowledge, and with an ability to communicate and be ambitious.”

The first episode of Portrait Artist of the Year airs at 8pm on Tuesday 12 February, on the Sky Arts channel.

You can follow MJ The Art Traveller on Instagram.