STORIES behind the faces of Wee County key workers are set to come to life in a book documenting more than 50 painted portraits.

Clackmannanshire artist Karen Strang, who previously featured in the Advertiser as she embarked on a project to paint free portraits of the county's frontline heroes, is to release the book this month.

Karen, who has a studio in Alloa's Marcelle House, originally started the project as a way of giving thanks – from her and on behalf of the wider community who nominated people.

The works by the gifted Clacks artist previously went on display at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and some could also be seen at Optimise Wellness Centre's café in Alva.

Karen said: "What drove me was the inspirational courage of the subjects and a need as an artist to bear witness to these unprecedented times.

"I was challenged to work from indirect means – very different from my normal practice of working from life.

"The results question what it is to be human, to see the world in human terms despite restrictions of digital interfaces and technology, alongside the problems of social interaction that a pandemic creates."

Profits from the sales of the books will go to charities which serve Clackmannanshire.

They include Home-Start, Ochils Mountain Rescue Team and Strathcarron Hospice.

The book was made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters.

In particular, the artist highlighted Beatsons Building Supplies who footed the bill for printing costs as well as professionals in the media industry and charity sector who offered their work for free.

Foreword for the book is provided by the Earl of Mar while there is also an introduction by Artlink Central, who organised the exhibition at the hospital during the summer.

Silvia Sinibaldi, visual arts curator for NHS Forth Valley at Artlink Central who oversaw the exhibition, said: "I loved that the portraits were viscerally real, representing both encouraging and smiling faces and extremely tired and worried eyes.

"This has been one of the aspects that has been particularly appreciated by staff and visitors I had a chance to chat to while installing, the fact that the reality of Covid-19 was fully represented and not minimised.

"The power of art is its ability to transform even pain and struggle into something beautiful, I believe Karen's work does that in a wonderful way.

"It has been an exciting and meaningful project to be a part of and I hope it keeps getting the recognition it deserves."

The book will be available around mid-October through as many outlets in the area as restrictions allow.