HEROIC key workers in the Wee County are receiving free tribute portraits from a gifted Clacks artist during the coronavirus lockdown.

In an art project seeking to highlight their contributions, Karen Strang has been asking people to nominate heroes to be put on canvas.

She has already painted portraits of several key workers from the area since starting last week.

The idea came as Karen got involved with the Portraits for NHS Heroes project, started by artist Tom Croft.

It is an opportunity to give something back, but also to exercise her creative muscles.

After putting a call out nationally, Karen started receiving requests within minutes.

However, she soon had a desire to take the project local to make sure Wee County key workers – not just from the NHS – are included and represented.

One of the local key workers immortalised on canvas is nurse Gillian Louise Ballantyne.

Her colleague Tracy told Karen: "From child nurse to super nurse Gillian Louise Ballantyne has been the back bone to many over her diligent years to the NHS.

"Clackmannan Community Healthcare Centre Ward One was blessed to have such a lovely spirit shining for years."

Another portrait depicts Billie from Tillicoultry, a young student and part-time care worker who is also a boxer. Due to Covid-19 she is working overtime to support the effort.

Karen said: "Whilst I do the portraits I'm mindful of the stories, so, hopefully, that comes through a wee bit in the work as well.

"For example, with Billie being a boxer I saw the picture of her boxing away – I thought she's got this determined look in her eyes, like she is fighting this [pandemic]."

While Karen usually works from life, she has to rely on the pictures sent to her at this time, but it is not a straight-up copy job.

She said: "The more I know about the person the easier the portrait is to do.

"You put yourself in a zone where you are subconsciously doing things that you know somewhere in your head about this person."

The outbreak and subsequent lockdown has had a massive impact on the creative industries.

And while Karen is delighted to have found a project that has her in front of the easel again, she explained the focus is on highlighting the contributions of those who have given so much in recent months.

The original works will eventually be sent to the key workers and Karen is also thinking about exhibiting them in Alloa once the lockdown is eased to highlight their contributions to the fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, people can find the Karen Strang Artist page on Facebook to follow the project, here the local painter is also sharing her portraits of NHS heroes from other parts of the country.