Prize for portrait of the artist's girlfriend (at the sixth attempt)

After six years and six attempts at painting the same person, Craig Wylie scooped the National Portrait Gallery's £25,000 BP Portrait Award yesterday with an image of his girlfriend that even she is happy with.

Craig Wylie
Craig Wylie
The two metre-high painting, entitled "K", is Wylie's third attempt at the same portrait of Katie Raw. Some previous, unflattering, attempts had left her less than ecstatic.

Two years ago, he submitted an image of her for the same prize, to the chagrin of Ms Raw, an information officer at Tate Modern. "She felt I had not shown her best attributes," Wylie said.

Ms Raw was less diplomatic. "It was based on a photo taken when I had just come in from work. I was hungry and cold. It was incredibly stark," she said.

But while this year's winning entry exposes some of her blemishes, Ms Raw, 34, said it was an "honest" work. "I have felt quite exposed by his paintings, particularly this one, but I like it. It's not flattering, but he's captured something I don't often show. It's fantastic."

The latest portrait is based on a photograph taken in his studio in east London. Wylie, 35, aborted two previous attempts to paint her, the first of which he started in 2005.

"This third one is not flattering because I didn't want it to be about making a pretty picture. She looks much better in the flesh than I have painted her."

Wylie is now painting a seventh portrait of Ms Raw. "He's promised it's much more flattering with less wrinkles," she said.

Tuesday, December 2nd 2008
The Independent

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