I'm delighted to have been awarded The William Lock Portrait Prize at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2021.

I'm just going to say a brief word on the portrait that has won the prize...

It's a self-portrait. Self-portraits are always fascinating territory for me, because I think in omitting so many of the influences that typically make up a portrait - the other people, the conversations you have with them, their faces, their ideas, mixed with your ideas lifted onto the canvas - instead of that, you have yourself. You're on your own, you are the sitter and painter. It's a very introspective and sort of circular atmosphere that comes through, and it's quite different for me.

Personally, I always feel that the atmosphere of self-portraits is sort of a spookier, more introspective thing. And I certainly felt that with this one, the largest one I've done. Technically, that was at times complicated. I painted it on the wall, and I have south light here, so it was actually a question of seizing one's moment because south light is a great deal more variable than north. I grabbed my moments over about a three week period. The posing was a bit difficult, trying to concentrate on the painting, but also managing to fall into the right pose. However I hugely enjoyed it. It is always fascinating, as always a voyage, a bit of a different journey. 

I can't believe that the painting has received recognition, let alone in such company, so I'm absolutely over the moon. Thank you very much.

- Frances Bell RP