Artist sketches free portraits of loved ones lost to COVID to grieving families

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read
One of the sketches of a COVID victim by Calvin Taylor Lee. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
One of the sketches of a COVID victim by Calvin Taylor Lee. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)

These touching portraits of people lost to COVID have been sketched by an artist who is giving them away to grieving families.

Calvin Taylor Lee, 44, started his sketches three weeks ago, when a friend asked him if he could draw her grandmother, who had recently passed away from the disease.

He shared the sketch on his social media page – and since then, he has been inundated with thousands of requests, and has completed over 100 sketches of people who have died from COVID.

The A5 pencil sketches take Lee, from Scunthorpe, Lincoldnshire, about 20 minutes to complete.

Calvin Taylor Lee offers the sketches for free to families of COVID victims. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
Calvin Taylor Lee offers the sketches for free to families of COVID victims. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
Calvin Taylor Lee started his sketches three weeks ago, when a friend asked him if he could draw her grandmother, who had recently passed away from COVID. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
Calvin Taylor Lee started his sketches three weeks ago, when a friend asked him if he could draw her grandmother, who had recently passed away from COVID. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)

Among the 120 sketches he has completed so far is a young woman in her 30s who lost her battle with COVID, as well as ”hero" paramedic Tony Chadbourne, who died aged 46 in December, while working for East Midlands Ambulance Service.

Lee, who usually works as a wedding photographer, said: "It's an emotional thing, seeing people's reactions to my sketches.

Watch: UK COVID deaths surpass 100,000

"One local lady who asked me to draw her grandad, came to pick up the sketch and she just stood on my doorstep in tears when I showed her.”

Lee said there were families who had lost loved ones to COVID who “could not even see them at the end or say goodbye to them”.

Explaining his motives for the sketches, he added: ”These people, and their families, just get left in the darkness. It's tragic.

"This is my way of doing something special for them, and brightening up their families lives a little bit."

Lee is currently working at a rate of around five sketches per day, and has completed 120 so far.

The A5 pencil sketches take Cavin Taylor Lee around 20 minutes to complete. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
The A5 pencil sketches take Cavin Taylor Lee around 20 minutes to complete. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
Calvin Taylor Lee said there were families who had lost loved ones to COVID who 'could not even see them at the end or say goodbye to them'.(SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)
Calvin Taylor Lee said there were families who had lost loved ones to COVID who 'could not even see them at the end or say goodbye to them'. (SWNS/Calvin Taylor Lee)

But the artist and photographer has a backlog of around 6,000 email and message requests from people around the Lincolnshire and Humberside area, for sketches of their relatives.

He said: "Even if I have to take 50 years to get through them all, I will do that. It's about giving back to my community.

"I hope other artists will see this and be inspired to do the same for people in their area who have suffered loss due to COVID."

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown