Series winner

Scottish artist kickstarts career with TV prize

Calum Stevenson and Nicola Benedetti
Calum Stevenson and Nicola Benedetti with the painting

Young Scottish artist Calum Stevenson said his career in the art world has been given the best possible start after he was crowned Portrait Artist of the Year in the television series of the same name.

The 23-year-old from Bonnybridge, wowed judges and TV audiences alike with his portraits of actress Kelly Macdonald and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

His depiction of comedian Barry Humphries in the final of the Sky Arts show won him a £10,000 prize and an opportunity to paint the Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti.

His finished work, showing Ms Benedetti performing in Westminster Abbey, will go on exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. 

Calum studied Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and graduated with a Fine Art degree in 2019.

He undertook a Masters degree at Glasgow School of Art, although Covid-19 meant he was forced to move back home for the duration of that course. He is now looking to the future, preparing for a solo exhibition and other developments that are in the pipeline.

Speaking about his time on the Sky Arts show, he said: “I had never been on TV before so seeing myself on screen was a strange thing to get used to but the whole experience was brilliant and the publicity alone has opened up so many opportunities for me. 

“Our tutors at DJCAD had drilled into us that we should apply for every opportunity that arises, so when I saw the Portrait Artist of the Year show advertised I thought I would go for it.

“I had originally been scheduled to take part last year, but that got cancelled due to the pandemic, so to get a boost like this after waiting so long is massive for me.

“I never made a conscious decision to specialise in portraiture and would describe myself as a figurative painter. I’ve always been drawn to the figure, and there is something about it that I find really interesting but I’m not putting any limits on how my work develops.

“I am creating a new body of work which hopefully will lead to a solo show at some point in 2022, I’m not sure where that will be at the moment but I’m busy preparing for it. I would like to do more TV stuff as well, I will see what comes my way as I am open to anything.”

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