“Being scrutinised by an artist’s eye is a world away from sitting in front of a news camera – a far more personal and exposed experience – but the fact I know how gentle and endearing Stella is made it an altogether easier time than I’d imagined.” - Julie Etchingham on sitting for her portrait
I worked with Julie Etchingham when heading up publicity for Sky News, before retraining as a portrait artist.
She was a reporter through and through who always had a bag packed in case she was needed to present Sky News on location. I remember when she picked up that bag to join Jeremy Thompson anchoring Sky News from Phuket when the Asian Tsanami struck during the early hours of Boxing Day 2004. Day-by-day they stood for 12 hour shifts in front of a message board where people posted photos of lost loved ones, in the hope that they would be found. When her long presenting stint ended in the New Year, she returned home to the incongruity of a birthday party for her young son.
By the time I portrayed her in oils, Julie had left Sky News to replace Sir Trevor MacDonald at ITV News at 10. It was not possible to picture her in the ITV News studio so she suggested I gather the information I needed in her London home, where she prepped for the Royal Wedding in 2011 (William and Kate). The windows in the room looked out onto allotments where the passage of the seasons provided her with welcome relief from second by second decision making of the studio.
ITV News' Julie Etchingham sitting for a portrait in oils study by Stella Tooth.
During the photo session, she was anxious about the outcome of a job interview of a friend and I noticed that she only betrayed this tension in her hands. It reminded me of observing presenters for many years in the studio where they can hear everything going on in the gallery through their earpiece but, somehow, manage to tune it out, unless spoken to directly, remaining calm and collected on air. Quite some skill! I also wanted to foreground her wedding ring – as family is just as important to Julie as her career.
Julie Etchingham portrait in oils by Stella Tooth.
Julie Etchingham and her portrait in oils and artist Stella Tooth.