Our guest for this creative podcast episode is realist artist Callum Stephen, who you may remember from the BBC Big Painting Challenge. Sandra takes the reins today as she interviews Callum while I’m off on holiday in France, which funnily enough is where Callum is now living.

Ep 13 Callum Stephen BBC Big Painting Challenge

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Starting to paint

Callum only started painting a couple of years ago. He has an absolutely fascinating story about how a book, a chance encounter and someone whispering in his ear while travelling in Australia kicked off his artistic passion.

Back home he started learning how to paint in oils with a cheap set of oil paints bought from a local shop. He chose oils as it was what the old masters had used to create highly realistic pieces that he admires.

Callum taught himself to paint by reading countless books to learn the old techniques. He also watched Youtube videos and now looks at contemporary realist artists on Instagram. From the behind the scenes pictures they post, he notices the types of materials and methods they use.

Artists Callum loves

A realist artist that Callum admires is Tjalf Sparnaay, a self-taught artist. He also likes the work of Bernardi and Spence

BBC Big Painting Challenge

You may have thought like we did, that Callum applied to be on the Big Painting Challenge, but in fact, they phoned him to ask him to audition. The only problem was, he thought it was his friends playing a joke and hung up on them. You’ll find out more in the podcast about how he did finally end up on the show and how he felt about painting in ways far outside his comfort zone. It’s something that Sandra herself knows only too well from her experience of art college.

Art college versus a mentor

Although Callum doesn’t like the ideas of going to Art School he would love a mentor that he could get tips from. He likes learning in his own time and own way, but sometimes wishes there was someone he could call on to learn techniques that he is not quite sure about.

Becoming a full-time artist

It’s Callum’s dream to eventually become a full-time realist artist. At the time the podcast was recorded Callum had full-time day job as a stonemason/bricklayer (although I saw on Social media he may have just given that up). You can tell his determination to learn his craft from the hours he was putting into it, getting up at 4 am to paint before work and painting into the night after work too.

Connect with Callum

You can find out more about Callum on Facebook and Instagram @callum_stephen_

PS. Sandra also talks about our latest creative challenges coming up for July

Find more info on all the July challenges here

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