Care home caterer dubbed the 'Pendine Picasso' after crafting stunning portrait of his late granddad

Jack Turner has hopes of becoming a professional illustrator Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

A care home catering assistant has been dubbed a budding Picasso after creating an "amazing" pastel portrait of his late grandfather, who was one of the home's much-loved residents.

After realising his grandfather's health was beginning to deteriorate, 24-year-old Jack Skinner created the portrait to give to his grandmother as a lasting memory.

Jack's captivating artworks have touched the hearts of residents and staff alike at Pendine Park's Hillbury Care Home in Wrexham, who say they are blown away by his artistic talent.

His skill was unknown to co-workers until Jack set to work on the portrait of his beloved grandfather, Frank Thomas, who died aged 78 - three days before Christmas on December 22.

Jack's portrait of his late grandfather has led to him being dubbed the "Pendine Picasso".

Jack holding his portrait of his late grandfather Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

He said: "I realised he may not have long left with us and I wanted to do a portrait of him for my grandmother so she would always have it near her."

The resulting pastel likeness of her husband now occupies pride of place on the wall in the home of Jack's grandmother, Anne Thomas, of Wrexham.

After years of service in the Army, Frank worked at JCB and Firestone factories in Wrexham before retirement. In later life he was diagnosed with dementia.

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton said the home now has a set of coasters with Jack's portrait of Frank on one side and on the other side there is a photograph of Frank in his younger years.

She said: "When you look at the photo of Frank as a young man it is just amazing. Jack is the spitting image of him. They are like peas in a pod."

Jack's grandfather Frank pictured in his younger days Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

Cindy was so impressed with Jack's art that she asked him if he could draw an image of an adored family pet which had recently passed away.

The gentle border collie called Meg belonged to Cindy's brother, Simon Harden.

She said: "We all loved Meg, she was a beautiful dog, part of the family.

"Simon had her for 12 years and sorely misses her. I thought if Jack could do a drawing of her it would be a beautiful way for Simon to treasure her memory.

"I emailed Jack a favourite photograph of Meg to work from. I knew he was a good artist but I never imagined how fantastic the resulting artwork would be.

Jack was asked to create a portrait of the care home manager's beloved family dog who had passed away Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

"Jack has absolutely captured Meg's character and facial expression. It's brilliant. It brought tears to our eyes."

When he was asked to create the picture of Meg, it was the first time Jack had been asked to paint a dog. Being a family pet that had died, Jack said he felt an added level of responsibility to do it justice.

He said: "It was quite a challenge and I wanted to get it right, to do Meg justice.

"It evoked mixed feelings for me really. I relished the new challenge but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and wasn't happy with some of my early drawings.

"I particularly wanted to get the affection in her eyes right. Then the more I focused it sort of came together. I was so relieved that Simon and the family are pleased with the result and it's satisfying to have the study of Meg in my portfolio."

It took Jack about eight hours each to complete the portraits of his grandfather and of Meg. But some works take longer, and stretch over several days, depending on which medium he is using.

Over the years he has worked with a large range from pens and pastels to acrylics, mixed media and digital media. 

Jack's portfolio is wide and varied Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

Jack grew up in Bangor-on-Dee and said he has always loved art. He is the first in his family to study it seriously although he said his mum, Debra, had shown a slight interest in the past.

He said: "I think I might have inherited some of my creativity from her."

After attending The Maelor School, Penley, Wrexham, he went on to the University of West England at Bristol where he graduated in illustration.

He returned home to Wrexham after university and was grateful to be recruited as a catering assistant at Hillbury.

He said: "I feel quite at home here, especially because it was where grandad was living. It's nice to be around people who knew and loved him.

"I enjoy the work and it is only five minutes away from my flat in Wrexham. It's great to have a steady job while I am finding my feet and considering future options in the world of art."

His future career dream is to become a professional illustrator.

He said: "I'd love to one day be based in a city entrenched in art like Edinburgh or Liverpool, and to illustrate books, posters or maybe retail products.

"It would be great to have one of my designs on a best-selling product."

Jack's portrait of his late grandfather Credit: Ceidiog Hughes

When not working at the care home Jack said he keeps himself busy by extending his art portfolio in the hope of producing enough works to eventually exhibit.

His more unusual works include a skateboard handprinted with a pop art style design. He has also produced dancing figures and abstract interpretations, some of which are created in a mix of so many different media that he cannot remember how they started.

"I just love experimentation when it comes to art," he explained.

"I like to try different subjects and varied techniques. It is a constant learning curve for me."

Last autumn he joined in the annual Inktober challenge on Instagram, in which people are encouraged to improve their inking skills and develop positive drawing habits by creating a different image on each day of the month.

He completed the challenge on a spiral bound sketch book with a new image on each page.

He said: "It was a book of tan coloured paper and so each drawing had an autumnal coloured background which seemed to work well.

"It inspired me to develop the idea further and so when I did grandad's portrait I did it on paper of the same tan colour, which I think has given the portrait extra depth."

Jack has set up a virtual exhibition where images of many of his artworks are posted for public viewing and including a link for people to buy copies of his art or to inquire about commissions.