My partner, Matt, now refers to me as The Tortoise. This is thanks to a write-up in Artists & Illustrators Magazine who say I am "one to watch" (I'm talking about the Big Painting Challenge here, obviously) and "only time will tell if this tortoise will win the race". Now, whenever I call him on the phone his opening line is "Is that The Tortoise?". He teases me a lot, but I don't mind.
I've spoken to family and friends who all say they're really proud of how I did in the first episode and I'm really glad. I was a bit worried that some of them would find it all a bit cringey, me being on tv in another bake-off style programme, but they don't. I've had so many positive comments and compliments about what I did, especially the painting of the bust.
Midweek I met with a new friend called Diarmuid, someone I met recently at a birthday party, who is a well respected painter with work in the NPG. I'm a bit in awe of him I think. Well, who wouldn't be in my position, the 'amateur painter' who at the end of the day would really like to be him! He got the programme time of the first episode wrong and ended up watching it on mute while he worked out at the gym. As he doesn't have catch up it will only ever be a silent episode. Still he also loved 'the bust' and was very encouraging. He's pointed me in the direction of a painter called Harold Gilman who was one of the Camden Town Group and used a lot of expressive colour in his paintings. I've goggled him and fallen in love with all his paintings. My eye has a tendency to heighten colour. When I study someone's skin tone I start to see all sorts of wonderful colours which affects what I put down on the canvas. Looking at Harold Gilmans paintings makes me feel at ease with my own use of colour.
So tonight! Episode 2!!! I'm nervous. I've no idea what to expect. I saw a preview of episode 1 at BAFTA in Piccadilly a few days before it aired, but I've not even seen a trailer of episode 2. I've no way of telling how my painting will come across. Editing can make such a difference - there's so much more that happened than will ever make it onto the screen. I'm sure when I watch it lots of memories will come flooding back. For now, what I remember most of all is the overwhelming tiredness. Insomnia had kicked in and I had barely managed 3 hours sleep. When I went to take on the first painting challenge I felt hideously nauseous and seriously considered not doing it. But I had come too far to give up that easily and I figured that if I could hold it together for long enough adrenalin would kick in..........and it did!