Ms Judy Naake

Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 Inches, 2006

“Judy was one of the most extraordinary sitters I’ve had. She has an incredible warmth, vivacity and joy for life which, for me, was vital to get across. I hope the impact of the portrait is a positive one.”

“Last year I was at a charity auction at Chequers for Breast Cancer Care and one of the lots was a portrait to be painted by Richard Stone. At the time, I’d just finished radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer - second time around - and I’d had my second breast removed. It was grade four cancer both times and there isn’t a grade five.

At first, I started bidding for the portrait to get the price up for the charity. But as the auction went on, I suddenly thought I’d quite like to win. It’s anybody’s guess how long I’ve got left - the cancer has reached my lymph nodes and, to be honest, it scares me. I thought the portrait would be something I could leave behind for my son - something he could remember me by.

I paid £18,000 for the painting, but it wasn’t until five months later that Richard and I both had gaps in our diaries for a sitting. He came to my house in London and we chatted about what I wanted. I was hoping something of my personality to be reflected in the painting - otherwise I might as well have a photo done - but I didn’t think I was the kind of subject Richard is used to painting. He’s fairly conventional and seems to think I’m a bit of a character, so I imagine it must have been quite a challenge for him to capture the fun side of me.

I had five hour-long sittings and it was a very relaxing experience. We chatted constantly and even though the portrait was finished, I didn’t get to see it straight away. Richard likes to live with them for a while in his studio and then make changes if necessary. He’s painted countless well-known people and, apparently, I’m currently hanging between Pavarotti and Demsond Tutu!

I didn’t feel nervous about the result because I trusted Richard implicitly, although it might have been a shock to see myself through his eyes. Still, it’s a comfort to know I’m leaving a part of me behind that will last long after I’m gone.”

Woman & Home. January 2007