A BOURNEMOUTH-born artist has been sitting in with some of the UK’s best-known broadcasters for her latest project.

Figurative artist Stella Tooth’s latest venture is to paint as many portraits as she can of household names from ITN, BBC and Sky News, with a view to an eventual exhibition.

ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham sat for Stella in her East Sheen home study, where she prepped for the Royal Wedding, and John Humphrys did the same in the Today studios.

Stella, who is now based in London and also owns a flat at Alum Chine with husband Nigel, said she was told that it was the first time an artist had portrayed a presenter live on air on Today.

She said: “This venture bridges my past and present careers. As a former journalist and broadcast news PR for 18 years, I looked after the public profile of presenters like ITV News’ Julie Etchingham – when she was at Sky News – and the BBC’s John Humphrys.

“Now I’m portraying them in this more personal way.

“Both Julie and John were very game. I had just half hour at the end of the Today programme to paint a study of a very energetic John in the darkness of a radio broadcasting studio, whereas I had the luxury of an hour with Julie, sitting for me as we caught up in a light-filled study.”

Julie added: “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.”

Stella pursued art as a hobby after her education at Oakmead School for Girls, Bournemouth and Poole College and the University of the South Bank, taking regular evening classes in life drawing and painting.

She took part-time classes while working at Sky before embarking on a full-time portraiture diploma and a post diploma.

Stella added: “I’m also in talks with BBC correspondents Kate Adie, Bridget Kendall and Allan Little, and Sky News’ political editor, Adam Boulton, about painting their portraits and am hoping that ITN’s Mark Austin might agree.”