A MELTHAM-born artist has brushed up to become one of sport’s finest portrait painters.
And Darren Baker’s latest work – of cricket legend Sir Peter May – will take pride of place hanging in the historic Long Room at Lord’s cricket ground.
The former Honley High School pupil is also rolling up his sleeves to start work on two more portraits – painting Footballer of the Year Robin Van Persie and Young Footballer of the Year Kyle Walker.
The new father was commissioned for the Peter May portrait by the England cricket legend’s close family after they spotted his work in a charity auction.
Darren, 36, who now lives in the Cotswolds with wife Abigail and five-month-old daughter Lily, said: “There was a portrait of the late cricket captain in the Long Room, but his family weren’t happy with it.
“Apparently they liked my work and so they commissioned me.
“There were gasps of delight at the unveiling which was good and I have since had a lovely letter from his wife Lady May and daughter Tessa.”
Darren based his portrait of the cricket ace – who died in 1994 – on a photograph he was given.
He added: “It was quite a difficult one to do because it was a large picture, so there was a lack of colour and detail.
“Not having met him too also made it difficult.
“It is nice to know it is going to hang in the Long Room.”
Darren has a number of prestigious commissions to his name including being chosen to paint the Queen and, more recently, he has been lined-up to paint 300 Paralympians for the London 2012 event.
The Professional Footballers’ Association have once again commissioned him to create portraits of their players of the year – Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie and Tottenham Hotspur defender Kyle Walker.
Darren added: “I do this every year and it is so nice to meet different players that have excelled.
“I will probably do their portraits from photos too, because they are so busy with the season.
“I have certainly got my work cut out this year with my portrait work – and all the nappies – but it’s all good.”