These portraits, many of them self-portraits, were created during the pandemic. Many artists during this time resorted to video conferences such as ZOOM to continue to paint live. Some were initiated and prompted on social media such as #portraitsforusheroes and by other artists such as Tom Croft with hopefully the end result in the works having an exhibition.
Artists have worked in isolation for centuries so the lockdown did not affect the their time creating but it did affect what they worked on and how to approach their subjects with many reverting to social media to finds ways to connect.
For Labor Day 2020, we are acknowledging the work of artists who bring to light the faces of the pandemic. Some of these portraits are obviously about the pandemic while others have an underlying current which seeps of covid 19 induced inspiration. Most artists have the tenacity to accomplish bringing across emotional connections with their work. I tried to post as many as I found on Instagram and also posted a call for them to be submitted. The quantity and quality of the work I feel coincide here. Check out each one and see how many of these narratives you connect with.
I painted this in the first weeks of the shutdown and outbreak in New York this spring. It was scary here. Seriously, not a good time. There was a fair amount of paranoia around that’s hard to shake. When do you stop washing off all your groceries when you come home? How long will it be before the mail can be opened straight out of the mailbox? I do not know. Maybe never. But this is what my safe space looked like and of course it included therapy cat.
— Rose Freymuth Frazier
This is the free portrait I painted in May for the #portraitsforusheroes campaign. Lisa is an ER nurse in Fort Worth, Texas. At the time I painted this, the daily cases were averaging around 1,000 in her state. Today, after a peak in July, they are still adding 4,000 daily.
Back then, the experts were projecting 80,000 to 120,000 deaths in the US. We are nearing 180,000 today and the number continues to grow unchecked.
The health care workers are still out there, working harder than ever in this pandemic. I salute their courage and commitment. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
— Stephen Mangum
Our view of the world is now rectangular, defined by the opening of our windows. Whether real or digital, they have never been more important; our portal for life that we left and that we hope to find again soon.
— Silvia Brum
Mine is one of 9 stories illustrated and told from the artist’s perspective on the impact of 100000 recorded deaths in our nation. The inspiring article, created by Suzette Moyer will be in the Washington Post this weekend and in print next week. My illustration showed a daydreaming Zoe at our window.
— Tonya Engel
A recent watercolor portrait of my best friend @clairewilhite who has bravely been working hard in Indianapolis. I’m very proud of her! She began her journey into healthcare shortly before Covid began, and she stuck with it and went to work every day, even when it was incredibly scary and uncertain.
— Rachel Linnemeier
James Needham posted this message on his Instagram at the start of the pandemic’s lockdown. He then proceeded to paint over 50 portraits.
Portrait of Saba, Iran by James Needham
“Coronavirus has killed thousands of Iranians, now it is Nowrouz, our new year celebration. We’re celebrating this in our homes or maybe not, we’re feeling too bad to celebrate at all.”
For many people isolation has been difficult, for me it’s not the first time I have had to deal with the stress of solitary isolation and the mental strain it can have. Some years ago I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, part of that treatment meant being locked away in a sterilised isolation room for many months with near zero contact with people, including my friends and family, this was to prevent me from catching any infections — which could prove deadly.
— Simon Hennessey
My portrait of my wife Kate with a little help from the kids. She is true NHS hero treating patients suffering the worst of Covid19.
— Andrew Hunt
Working on this painting saved my sanity. It is also a statement of my reliability on my faith for my skills and creativity.
— Doug Webb
I think life during this time is taking its toll, and the traces are showing on me. Self-Portrait; Aug 2020
— Steven DaLuz
I did a whole series of interviews and portraits of people in quarantine who volunteered for it from videoconference. I told their stories each day of my quarantine, with sitters whom in general I had never met before, and from all over the world.
— Michele Del Campo
The emotion of this time needed to be supported by the tone and process- hence dark and rough. But not completely without light. It’s freeing to tell your story your own way without needing to please anyone else.
— Ellen Starr Lyon
I have been making photographic weavings since the beginning of Covid. I did one a day for 100 days highlighting heroes and events that happened.
— Taiji Terasaki
This was created as an initial response to the pandemic, but I always kind of knew it would more of a response to 2020 as a whole.
— Carlos Gallostra
Latest painting “The Skeptic” 18x36 Acrylic in Canvas. My commentary on those who won’t admit what’s going on, until it hits their house. This is serious folks. We all need to treat this as if our loved ones were at stake.
— Christina Ramos
This was my first real pandemic portrait hopefully conveying the strangeness of the time. — Megan Read
I created this painting during the quarantine of summer 2020. I just felt like I needed it and maybe I’m not the only one. When I paint water it gives me a charge to my inner battery and I hope when people see water in my paintings it gives them the same feeling.
— Marianna Foster
— Tereza Barnard