Motorsport artist Andrew Kitson on how his hobby led to him painting for Lewis Hamilton
- Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Kitson
A motorsport artist has told how he glanced at a 17-year-old Lewis Hamilton and knew he was going to be a huge sports star.
Since then, he has painted several paintings for the Formula One driver who has come to be known as one of the greatest drivers in the sport's history.
But artist Andrew Kitson, 58, from Mulbarton, near Norwich, also has a long list of other F1 champions in his clients list.
It all began when Mr Kitson was a young boy helping his father, who was an amateur race mechanic, polishing cars, sticking on the numbers and working the stopwatches from the pits at racetracks.
'I always drew racing cars in my school books and in art lessons,' Mr Kitson said. 'I often got in trouble for it rather than concentrating on the lessons.'
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In 1977, Mr Kitson trained to become a technical illustrator and mastered the art of painting.
Throughout the 1980s, Mr Kitson worked as an illustrator in the car industry but still painted for people he had met while working for a racing team.
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But his first big breakthrough came when, in 1990, he approached former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for access to the F1 pits and paddocks to network with potentially bigger clients.
'He gave me the pass so I can approach drivers and their teams,' Mr Kitson said. 'He loved what I was doing, he was very humble and very kind to me.'
And so his hobby grew into a job.
Mr Kitson has painted for big motorsports names like Damon Hill, Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Jackie Stewart as well as for car company Honda.
In 2002, he saw Lewis Hamilton, who was only 17, in Snetterton at a Formula Renault race.
Mr Kitson said: 'I had read in the press that McLaren-Mercedes were backing his career, so I just approached him with my portfolio.
'I did my first of six paintings for Lewis in 2005 when he was in F3, then one each year as he moved up. The last I did for him was when he won his first title for Mercedes in 2014.'
Mr Kitson also paints a variety of other subjects at his Attleborough studio, from landscapes to aircraft and, more recently, the album cover for the band Cats in Space.
'I am very fortunate to do something that was a hobby, I am really proud of some of the people I have painted for,' he added.