Sky Portrait Artist of the Year: Young Bonnybridge graduate is first Scot to take title

A graduate from Bonnybridge has been crowned Sky Portrait Artist of the Year – the first Scottish artist and the youngest person to take the title.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 7:54 am

Calum Stevenson, 23, beat off competition from 72 other artists and more than 3000 applicants to win the prestigious Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year television show when the final aired last night (Wednesday).

The episode was followed by a one hour winner’s programme, which shows Calum meeting and painting Violinist Nicola Benedetti for an exclusive portrait which will now hang in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh

The show, which was first aired in 2013, sees judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan travel across Europe in search of the brightest new star of the art world.

Portrait Artist of the Year - Winner Calum Stevenson unveiling their portrait of Nicola Benedetti. Pic: Peter Devlin

Describing his experience on the show, Calum, a graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Glasgow School of Art, said: “Participating in Portrait Artist of the Year was a massive challenge and privilege for me.

"I initially dreaded the thought of painting on camera, but that was soothed once I had a paintbrush in my hand.

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"From a young age, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's collection inspired me to pursue the arts; it is an honour to now have one of my paintings hang on its walls.”

Calum Stevenson has been named Sky's Portrait Artist of the Year. Picture: Michael Gillen

Calum is a figurative painter who, in order to apply to be on the show, began focusing on portraiture. His work is regularly exhibited with Heinzel Gallery in Aberdeen, who appear in the winner’s episode

During the show he painted actor Kelly Macdonald, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and comedian Barry Humphries.

Former Bonnybridge Primary and Denny High pupil Calum, who applied for Portrait Artist of the Year after spotting an advert in a Glasgow store, is hoping to now build on his TV success after being encouraged by a former teacher.

Bonnybridge artist Calum Stevenson made it through to the Portait Artist of the Year semi-final after painting actress Kelly Macdonald. Contributed.

He said: “I was always quite good at art but I wouldn’t say it was something I knew I wanted to do until I was in my final year at Denny High. One of my teachers, Mrs Felton, was quite instrumental in pushing me on.

“I applied for the show just before Covid and things were delayed. I went down with the mindset of enjoying a one-off experience.Calum, who was previously awarded the Sandra McNeilance Prize for Drawing and Painting at the 2019 DJCAD Degree Show, now has ambitions of holding a solo exhibition next year to showcase new artwork, which he has described as "more ambitious" than what he has done previously.

He said: "I took a small break after filming the show but I have been back in the studio for a while now building a new body of work.

"The new paintings are a little more ambitious than the kind of thing people have seen me do on the show in four hours. I aim to continue the momentum by having my first solo show early next year, but I have still to confirm any dates or venues for such an event."

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