When Phil Hodges started painting Sir Winston Churchill, he never imagined that the portrait could one day hang on the walls of 10 Downing Street.
But now his work has captured the interest of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who received the painting as a gift.
Phil, from Westbury Park, has yet to find out if he will adorn any of the corridors of power, alongside other images of key figures.
But the 75-year-old said: It’s totally unexpected and very nice to know Boris loves him.
He and the current number 10 holder share an admiration for the wartime prime minister. And that’s how painting was born.
I’ve wanted to paint it for a while, Phil added. I looked at old photos from the 1940s and also looked at Darkest Hour which was awesome.
I got it, as they say in the company. I have Churchills’ features and his frown. I don’t think I could ever duplicate what I did in this painting.
The black and white acrylic portrait is a striking image, based on Churchills’ days as head of the country during World War II.
Phil said: He was great at painting because he had some distinctive features. I also have great admiration for him as a person. He saved the nation at a very difficult time.
The retired engineer, who was previously sales manager for mechanical engineering firm EH Hassell, started painting about seven years ago.
I am an emerging artist, in my childhood, he says. I painted a lot of military stuff, including scenes and characters from the Napoleonic countryside and the Crimean War.
I also sold commissions, such as paintings of dogs or grandchildren.
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But with Churchill, the subject just clicked.
He added: After I finished it my wife Jeanette said Boris would love him because he is also a Churchill fan.
Jeanette sent a photo of the portrait to Newcastle MP Aaron Bell who brought her to the attention of Downing Street.
Next thing I know, I got an email from number 10 saying they were very happy to get it, Phil recalls.
Soon the actual painting was also on its way to London, framed and wrapped.
The proud artist has now received a letter signed by the Prime Minister himself.
Mr Johnson wrote: Thank you very much for sending me your painting of Sir Winston Churchill which you created for me.
It is a magnificent work of art that bears a great resemblance to Sir Winston, and I feel incredibly proud to accept your kind gift.
Jeanette was also impressed with the response.
The 78-year-old said: We don’t know where it’s going to go and if they’re going to hang it up. But Philip would like him to go to the room where they take a foreign dignitary, or where the cabinet meets.
Boris was interviewed in different plays in issue 10. We wondered if it would ever come out on TV in the background.
Phil is already preparing his next piece of art, another portrait of Churchill that he thinks the Queen would like to see. I’ll have to send him a photo.
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