About me

I’m a portrait artist in Norwich, Norfolk, producing portraits of children, adults, animals and houses. My work arose from a natural artistic ability and a love of faces, both human and furry! I love to translate characteristic features, delicate skin tones or a smile that lights up the eyes into a treasured work of art, and it’s always an honour when a client chooses me to portray their loved one.

My work takes me regularly around the UK, and I also visit clients worldwide if required.


I offer three different mediums. each with its own special, beautiful qualities.  The end results are very different, so I’m always happy to help you choose between them if needed.

Conté pencil portraits have a soft monochrome range which is very appealing. Working on a warm taupe pastel paper I use black, sepia, sanguine and white to create areas of shadow and highlight to contour the face. As a medium for portraits, it’s been popular since its invention in the late C18th.

Watercolour can be very delicate or highly pigmented – two properties that juxtapose beautifully in a sensitive, balanced portrait. Watercolour’s luminosity brings out the translucent light in a person’s skin and eyes, the sheen and depth of colour in their hair. Using fine brushes, I like to paint individual hairs in eyelashes and eyebrows to give a fuller dimension to the portrait.

Oil paint is rich and buttery, mixing wonderfully on the palette. It layers easily on the canvas and achieves subtle variations of colour with a characteristic lustre. It’s often a good choice for adult portraits as the traditional feel of paint on canvas and the overall denser texture has a definite gravitas.


I work from photographs and/or sittings. For small children and animals, photographs are easiest, whereas with any oil portrait a combination of the two can work well. You’re welcome to book me for a relaxed photo session at your home, using natural light, or to email me some that you love. If you’d prefer to take your own, I can send simple tips that will help secure the perfect photograph for me to work from.

The client and I then choose the best image for the portrait. A relaxed, warm, open expression generally works best as it connects so well with the viewer, but at the same time I like to let everyone be themselves. I can advise on clothing choice, composition and anything else needed.

Finally, due to my commission waitlist, completion times vary. But once started, a conté drawing will take a few days, whereas a large oil of a family can take several months. However, if you suddenly realise you need a special gift at fairly short notice, it’s always worth checking as I can sometimes help with this. I will always try to fit in with your schedule if I can.

Charlotte Ashenden

To commission a portrait or discuss your ideas