Vanessa was approached by Art Director Martin Colyer to paint eleven portraits for the first publication of the new UK monthly magazine. The Critic covers politics, opinion, society, reportage, law, art, books, music, screen, theatre and gossip and offers 'ideas for open-minded readers'. Packed with editorials from the painted contributors; David Starkey, Hannah Betts, Helen Pluckrose, Jonathan Meades, Nick Cohen, Joshua Rozenberg, Anne McElvoy, Michael Prodger, Norman Lebrecht, Tim Congdon and Lisa Hilton, Vanessa was supplied with photographic reference and worked to producing one or sometimes two portraits per day to meet the deadline. The Art Director said of the commission:
When you’re in the middle of a magazine launch you need everyone to be on board, which is easy for the team actually putting it together, but harder for any freelance contributors drawn into the project. Vanessa had an extremely short time to turn around detailed portraits of our contributors when we didn’t even have a final list of who they’d be - writers were added and subtracted as our nascent magazine took shape. Even though we’d not worked together before I was never in doubt of her ability to deliver to a tough deadline - her communication was always calm, considered and realistic. Vanessa can not only paint extremely good likenesses but has the extra talent of capturing a look in the eyes that renders the portraits compelling. It was a great experience collaborating with Vanessa, and I’m hoping that a future project will give us a chance to work together again.