I definitely have a good excuse for being so late with posting on my blog. The final episode of The Big Painting Challenge finished and just 2 weeks later we opened the doors to our first group exhibition of our own work. I was a major player in putting together this exhibition, so my time has been totally eaten up with organising the venue, the sponsor, artists, marketing, advertising, a band; all the things you can think of that go into putting together a large show. My promise (mainly to myself of course) that I would keep up the blog on a weekly, if not daily (ha!) basis, fell totally by the wayside.
So here we are, just over 3 weeks after the last post. Oops! Time for a bit of a catch up, starting with the very last episode of The Big Painting Challenge, when Paul (very deservedly) was crowned the winner and handed his trophy.
I have to say I think this episode was one of the best of the entire programme. I found it very compelling and although I knew where they had gone and what the challenges had been, I had no idea what work they had created, so it was as much a surprise for me to see it all on the screen as everyone else.
Let's start with the Naval College. Can I just say how much I would have hated having to do that challenge. I'm so glad it wasn't me there. I thought it was a very masculine choice of subject and I'm really curious as to why it was chosen as a subject matter. But, there you go. It was. If I had been there, the things I would have homed in on would have been the mess kit, the dorm and the old sofa. Nothing else. I can see in my minds eye a row of neatly place kits on or next to that tatty old sofa, or perhaps the mess kit lined up along the bunks or something similar. Or perhaps a background of flags with the scruffy sofa in the middle. The juxtaposition of supreme neatness with abject scruffiness would have been the thing that inspired me.
I had heard from the others that Paul had done well throughout all the challenges, so I was really excited to see how he tackled it. I have to say I really loved his painting. This was obviously a subject matter that he found really appealing and I loved the fact that he used himself as a model to be photographed in different positions, so that he could add figures to his painting. I know that Daphne said the figure on the top bunk didn't quite work, but, you know, when you consider the idea was constructed in a very short space of time and executed in just 3 hours, I thought the end result was really amazing. I loved the idea, the colours, the light reflected on the floor. It was a good painting to look at as well as well executed.
Richard's painting - well he told me that he didn't really like being in the naval college. It reminded him of being a cadet and he didn't feel good being back in that kind of environment. Knowing this, I expected his painting to not turn out well, but I have to say I really really liked it. I loved the view of the dorm through the eyes of a cadet on his bunk, with his feet in the painting. It totally puts the viewer of the painting in the cadets shoes. I thought it was an interesting concept and although some may feel the addition of a photo made it a bit sentimental, it told a story and Richard likes to tell a story. It got a big thumbs up from me.
Amy's painting I thought was very much in her style and it was a shame she didn't quite get the time to tweak it as she would have wanted. I like the rows of irons and can totally understand why she homed in on that. I was sad to see her getting upset when she thought it wasn't going well and I think that was tiredness kicking in. There had only been a few days rest between that and the previous set of challenges for episode 5 and that's not enough time to properly recharge your batteries.
The person I totally felt for though was Claire. Watching her sitting on the floor, going through squares of colour in order to make an abstract composition was a bit painful. I could see she hated the subject and I thought it was very bold of her to decide to step away from figurative painting and make an abstract image. It was totally against what the judges would have wanted, but I think at the time she was too tired to think clearly about that, otherwise she might have attempted something else. But, I also think it was a brilliant idea and I loved it. She did her own thing and responded in her own way and was true to herself.
Bravo Claire! I loved your Regrectangle as she now calls it.
Quick draw round - what can I say. A marching platoon of cadets! Not something I would have relished. Claire came totally unstuck - again I think that was tiredness. She'd had enough. Paul aced it really compared to the others. I don't know why this was chosen as a good subject matter. It would be a killer for most people I think.
The last round - Dartmouth harbour. I loved it. I thought they all did well. For me, Amy's boats bobbing on the water was one of her best paintings in the whole series. It was colourful and lively and energetic. I loved Claire's painting and was glad she had decided to take her time and work in her own way, rather than rushing and trying to please the judges. Even though it ended up only half finished, it had masses of charm and sensitivity already. Richard's had his personality stamped all over it, that slightly surreal atmosphere that all his paintings have. I loved the fact that he changed the way the coastline physically looked in order to make it what he wanted! Typical Richard, making what he sees into what he wants. Paul's - well it was just beautiful, wasn't it? Thick impasto creamy paint. Wonderful colours. A gorgeous painterly painting that summed up the subject matter beautifully.
The bit you see at the end, where all 6 of us who had been previously eliminated turn up to surprise the finalists, was totally genuine. We had all journeyed up in secret at the request of the BBC and been staying in a hotel together far away from the others in Paignton so we wouldn't get spotted. On the day of the final judging and announcement of the winner, we had been sneaked into the Naval college and kept in a separate wing out of the way. We had practiced our 'marching out as a surprise' a couple of times into the empty room while the finalist were being kept in elsewhere, presumably being told that the judging hadn't ended yet. We were supposed to walk in, surprise the others and wait neatly in a line. No breaking ranks and hugging or anything. Of course, that's not at all what happened because as soon as Claire saw me walking in at the head of the line she ran over and gave me a big hug and the other followed suit! The smiles and emotion you see are all completely real. It was lovely to be back in our group again.
Congratulations to Paul who deserved to win that trophy. He worked hard for it and deserved every inch of it.
Congratulations to us all for being selected from 6,500 people to make it onto the show. The 10 people considered to be the best of all. Commiserations to Melvyn for being the person who was eliminated first. That's a tough thing to be. Congratulations to us all for getting through any of those challenges! It wasn't an easy thing to do. But.......it was a fantastic experience and one I personally will never regret or forget. I met 9 fantastic artists who have become my friends. They really are brilliant people and I love them to bits (and they are all extremely good painters).
Our first group show, The Bigger Picture, was the real end product of being on The Big Painting Challenge. Our chance to show the world what we really do, what our passions are, what our painting styles are like when we're let loose on canvas or paper without any restrictions or judging. Just being us.