A painful event led to my first attempt at a human portrait – Christmas Day 2013, my eardrum burst. It hurt. A lot. I was quite poorly and deaf for several weeks which knocked the wind out of my sails at a time when I had big plans to ‘get painting’.

A Facebook group set a challenge to paint a self-portrait (which at any other time I would have happily passed up on that challenge) However, feeling so rough and unable to paint what I wanted to, I decided I’d take the challenge and paint myself ‘feeling rough’. The resulting painting was chosen in the top 10 of over 70 entries… the rest followed from there.

I still find portraits a challenge and I prefer painting my birds, but it was a lesson in ‘never say never’!


My ‘painful’ self-portrait, the beginning of my adventure into portraiture.

My self-portrait was selected in the top 10 of over 70 entries…I moved forward to the ‘final’ round where I was tasked to draw Jenny Agutter.

Jenny Agutter

My next challenge after my self-portrait was to paint a portrait of Jenny Agutter from a photo supplied by the group. This was my attempt…again I tried to keep it simple but pushed myself by using 2 complimentary colours (purple and yellow) plus black and white.

Portrait of Jenny Agutter, painted for a Facebook group (United By Art) Challenge.


My wonderful husband loved my painting of Jenny so much, he asked me to paint a portrait of him…this time I chose Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue plus black and white.


My next portrait challenge came when I was asked to paint our brother-in-law, Stu for his 50th birthday. I used the same colours as I used for Nic’s portrait.

Portrait of Stu, painted for his 50th Birthday by Mandi Baykaa-Murray.


My next portrait was an easy choice – my daughter, Xixi. This time I wanted more drama and colour in the background so in addition to my usual combination of blue and brown, I used viridian green.


I went to watch my brother racing his motorbike. At one point during the day, in a break between races, I noticed the light hitting the side of his face… camera in hand, I took the shot! Here’s the resulting painting. I used Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue plus black and white.


As much as I love painting birds and animals, I now have to admit to really enjoying people! I never thought I’d hear myself saying that!! 

This portrait is of my friend, Vic Bearcroft. Over the past couple of years, I have attended several of his workshops which has improved my artwork no end. Vic’s art is inspiring, and he is a great teacher – his advice and moral support have been invaluable to me. This painting was made as a token of my gratitude, partly for allowing me to paint him and mostly for answering all my questions!  

Vic Bearcroft by Mandi Baykaa-Murray. Acrylic, 12″ x 15″

“I’m always a little nervous on the occasion that someone asks if they can paint my portrait, as I’m not particularly photogenic, especially at the end of a day outside sketching big cats at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation. But my friend Mandi Baykaa-Murray was very persistent, and, armed with a few dodgy photos went ahead and painted this.

I think she did a great job in capturing my personality as well as the likeness (and scruffy hair – which has since been cut!), so I’m happy to share the result here.  Thanks Mandi!”  Vic Bearcroft


Pirate Si

My latest portraits are both of my old school friend, Simon. (See my blog post for the story behind these https://mandibaykaa-murray.co.uk//blog/)

Once again, I have used a very limited palette, but it is working very well for me and I am really enjoying this combination. The ‘Happy Pirate’ was my last painting of 2014, capturing Simon’s adventurous spirit. 

Happy Pirate, Acrylic, 15″ x 11″


‘Contemplating Grumpiness’ was my first portrait of 2015 and captures another side of Simon. 

Contemplating Grumpiness, Acrylic, 16″ x 14″