Monday, November 23, 2020

The Big Painting Challenge (series 1) revisited

The Big Painting Challenge - first broadcast on BBC1in 2015 - is being repeated on BBC2 every day this week at 3.15pm with the Final at 4.15pm on Friday.  

I reviewed every episode the first time it was broadcast and for those who'd like to revisit what I had to say these are the links to:

  • every episode on iPlayer
  • my blog posts - which include the exhibition they organised after the programme had been broadcast and the blog posts they wrote about the challenge.

The Episodes

Episode 1: Landscapes

Episode 1: Landscapes
(Guess what's the biggest castle the BBC could find?)

Interestingly the narrative for each episode has become more more expanded.  This is what they NOW have to say about Episode 1 and the Final (see below)
This series presented by Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon takes ten amateur artists to stunning locations across the country to battle it out in a tough series of painting and drawing challenges for the title of Britain's best amateur artist. 

The competition starts in Alnwick Castle in Northumberland - known to many as Hogwarts - where expert judges Lachlan Goudie and Daphne Todd OBE set their first challenge to see each artist's unique painting style for the first time. 

Eyebrows are raised as one artist starts by painting her whole canvas bright red whilst another paints what looks like a lion straddling a cannon. As paint is put to canvas Una and Richard learn what drives each artist's passion for painting - and what it would mean for them to win. 

The second challenge each week is a quick-draw challenge. In this episode the artists must sketch, at speed, a delphinium flower. Expert judge Lachlan Goudie shows us his tips on how to capture the beauty and complexity of a flower. 

Their final challenge is to paint the formidable castle from across the banks of the River Aln. Getting a sense of depth into their paintings proves more difficult than many think. While some thrive painting outdoors, others who've only ever painted in the comfort of their spare bedrooms have to adapt quickly to the challenges of the changing light. 

Una travels to the V&A museum in London to view one of the most famous landscapes - John Constable's The Hay Wain - and artist Fraser Scarfe tries to convince her that there's more to it than its chocolate-box reputation. 

Back in the castle, the judges take on the role of executioner as they have the difficult job of deciding which amateur artist won't see it through to the next week

Episode 2: Portraiture

Episode 3:  Still Life

Episode 4: Human Form and Movement

Episode 5: Cityscapes

Episode 6: Seascapes

The grand final sees presenters Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon travel to Devon's picturesque south coast as the final four amateur artists battle it out to be crowned the winner. With just three challenges left to impress the judges, Lachlan Goudie and Daphne Todd OBE, the amateur artists get to grips with their first challenge - capturing a sense of Britain's seafaring heritage at Dartmouth's Royal Naval College. With the prize in sight, one artist goes all out to impress the judges, risking everything. The finalists have already sketched the human body in motion - but never on this scale. For their last quick-draw challenge they assemble on the parade ground to capture at speed a whole platoon of naval cadets marching in formation as they perform a sword drill. Ahead of the final ever challenge, Una travels to the Kent coast to learn what attracted JMW Turner to the seaside town of Margate and led to a lifelong fascination with the sea, while in his last how-to guide Lachlan gives tips on how to capture constantly moving crowds of people. With everything resting on the last challenge, the stakes are high and the sense of excitement even higher as the finalists create one last painting - capturing the light and atmosphere of an idyllic but visually complex scene - Dartmouth harbour. At the end of a gruelling and emotional six weeks, Daphne and Lachlan decide who should take the title and announce their first Big Painting Challenge winner.

After the Filming

My final two posts related to what happened afterwards 

The Artists

The BBC has NOT remedied the fault with the original series i.e. that the artists got not recognition in the credits.

So here is who they all are.....
The 10 artists who participated in the The Big Painting Challenge were the "last painters standing" from the 6,000 who applied to be part of this televised art competition

These are the websites of the artists involved in the series. The first link is to their page on the Bigger Picture website and then their website and social media links after that.

I look at hundreds if thousands of artists website each year and found it very interesting to look at the artwork on their websites and Facebook Pages. I suggest you take a look.
Interestingly they've changed / refined sites and accumulated a few more links since 2015!!

8 of the 10 artists exhibiting - in April 2015
(Left to right) Paul Bell, Alison Stafford, Anthea Lay, Jan Szymczuk, Anne Blankson-Hemans,
Claire Parker, Heather Harding and Richard Salter

Bios below are based on their websites!

The women

  • Alison Stafford: website | Facebook Page | LinkedIN - studied Fashion and Textiles at Manchester and after obtaining a BA Hons in that field, pursued a career in Fashion design for the next 25 years. She loves to paint portraits of animals and people that capture a character. I am fascinated with the relationship between humans and their animals and am currently exploring this in a series of paintings. She specialises in equine and canine portraits and am an active member of the Association of Animal Artists, and the ​Society of Equestrian Artists. Her equestrian work can be found on
  • Anne Blankson-Hemans website | Facebook Page | | Instagramblog | twitter - Anne studied Fine Art at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana and came to live in the UK in 1984. She is a multi-award winning artist who has been exhibiting since 2007 and is a full member of the Society of Women Artists. She was also a finalist for the BBC Two programme #ShowMeTheMonet. More recently he painted Portraits of NHS Heroes. Reached a major birthday in September and has recently retired and moved to the Lake District to become a full time painter - with lots of plein air painting!
  • Amy GoldringWebsite | Facebook  | Blog - a contemporary painter currently based in Swansea. Studied for and achieved a BA Honours, Fine Art (1st class) in 2008. Her blog has some fascinating insights into art and autism which are well worth a read.
  • Anthea LayFacebook - a fan of plein air painting
  • Claire Parker: website | Facebook | Instagram | | Twitter | - a largely self-taught artist with a degree in Modern Languages from Cambridge and a Masters Degree in Art History. She works in Essex and London. She has been featured in several national art magazines, and has exhibited in Essex, London, and Cambridgeshire.
  • Heather Harding: website | Facebook | Twitter - a figurative artist living in East Sussex who loves to paint and takes commissions.
Taking part in BBC One's The Big Painting Challenge was a blast. A fabulous adventure which helped me gain more confidence in my painting and 9 new artist friends. It was the key that unlocked the door and gave me permission to go through. Heather Harding

The men

  • Jan Szymczuk: website | Facebook - born in Stannington, in Northumberland in 1958 of Polish Parents. Joined the Metropolitan Police in London, and after 30 years, ended his service at New Scotland Yard, and retired in 2009 as the senior Detective Police Artist. Currently an Ambassador for SAA Artists Acrylics and sponsored by the SAA (The society for all artists).
  • Melvyn Flint: website - a representational painter living and working in Kent. My work covers landscape, portrait, still life and animal subject matter.
  • Paul Bell: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter - a contemporay artist born in 1964 in Scotland. He is currently  living and working in Beaconsfield, England. His style seems to have changed quite dramatically since the programme.
  • Richard Salter: website | Twitter - studied Fine Art with Buckinghamshire University. Served 21 years in the British Army and was medically discharged in 2017 - having painted throughout his military career - and since.

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