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Vanessa Dell

People and Portrait Illustrator based in the UK

Vanessa Dell
Life and personality jump off the page or screen with one of Vanessa Dell’s portraits. Vivid colours, and an emphasis on the face and its features make her paintings seem more real than real, as they reflect the spirit of the subject as much as their unique look.

Based just south of London and with over two decades of illustration experience, she has always been fascinated by faces and has studied them since childhood. Then, her subjects were Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the Cat, but today her influences include Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer, Peter Blake, Sidney Nolan and Patrick Heron.

Music, dance and traditional crafts all interest Vanessa, as well as placid pursuits like walking her Irish Terrier, Twiggy, mindfulness sessions and spending time enjoying nature.


Vanessa received a first class honours degree in Graphic Design, specialising in Illustration, from Kingston University.


The main medium Vanessa uses is oils, with some coloured pencils added in. She loves the physical craft of painting and drawing, as well as the feel and smell of the materials used, the paper textures and the sheen of the paint. Photoshop comes in towards the end of the process, to compose the elements and to tidy up an image. She doesn’t follow the traditional rules when she draws or paints, and tends to work from the bottom up – in portraiture that means starting with the chin and mouth and moving on from there.


Composition is more important to Vanessa than perfection, and her style captures the life and personality of her subject with a human feel. It’s idiosyncratic, fresh, and sensitive, perhaps reflecting a little vulnerability and even awkwardness from time to time. That’s why people connect with her paintings more than they might with photographs.
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