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'Britain's top artists make big money. Their works can go for millions.'
6 million 5. 7 million. Thank you.
'So how do you get a slice of the action?
'Now's your chance to find out
'as we offered all-comers the opportunity to fight for a spot
'at the hottest exhibition in town.
-Please, open the door.
-Art really matters to me.
-It's something I want to do for the rest of my life.
'They could stand to make some serious cash.'
-Could you tell us what price you'd put on your piece?
I'd like £100,000 for it.
'But first they need the seal of approval from three of the art world's toughest critics.'
I think it looks like it's from the centrefold of a men's magazine.
My first impression when I saw the picture was actual disgust.
'Their hopes and dreams are in the hands of the hanging committee.'
I think you need to go back to the drawing board, literally.
'It's time to Show Me The Monet.'
Hello and welcome to the Royal College of Art in Central London
for this special Show Me The Monet exhibition.
This world-famous school
has launched the career of many British artists.
Over the past few months, creative folk ranging from working professionals to complete amateurs
have been vying for the chance to show their work here.
But to earn their place, they had to face our hanging committee.
'Our hanging judges are three ruthless and much-respected artist critics.
'They're searching for new work to exhibit at the Show Me The Monet exhibition.
'Only the very best will make the grade
'and get the chance to sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
'Hanging judge David Lee prides himself of cutting through the hype
'when it comes to modern art.'
I'm looking for originality, the ability to surprise us.
All good art is about surprise.
'Critic Charlotte Mullins has spent over 15 years writing about the modern art world.
'She knows what separates a genuine new talent from a passing fad.'
We're looking for technical ability.
Not perfectionism. It has to be appropriate to the subject.
'And Roy Bolton has worked for some of the world's most exclusive auction houses.
'He knows what gives an artist the edge.'
It has to jump out and grab me as a viewer.
If it says something directly to me and I feel involved, it's done its job.
'We've scoured the country in our hunt for the best artistic talent.
'Against the imposing backdrop of some of Britain's finest galleries,
'hopeful contenders came to present their work.
'They needed two yes votes to get through.
'And at stake was a chance to fulfil their dreams
'and the opportunity for many to make some serious cash from their work for the first time.
'But not all the judges agreed what makes good art.'
The pair of you.
'Student Alex Jones presented a quirky axe sculpture as his signature piece.'
I was interested in trying to create a relationship between
what the axe is and what it's used for.
'Alex wanted to see if he has what it takes.'
Alex, the axe is used to chop down a tree. Is that it?
'But one judge wasn't on board.'
This is an artistic interpretation of a current issue which, for me, is what art is all about.
'But Alex got through with a chance to sell for big money.'
I won't rabbit on about it, an absolute yes from me.
-Alex, it's a yes from me.
-It is coming to the exhibition.
-I'm very pleased to see it there. Well done.
'Teacher Daniel Collins also stepped into the firing line
'with a mysterious painting inspired by Asian carvings.'
A couple of people have asked me recently, "What does it mean?" I think the job of an artist
isn't always necessarily to know what it symbolises.
'David for one didn't know what to make of it.'
Nobody's mentioned the fact that she seems to have a pair of fruit bats dangling from her ears.
THEY LAUGH It's supposed to be about spirituality.
Frankly, it makes my spirit sink.
'There was only one judge who rated Daniel's work.'
I couldn't disagree with them more. I'm intrigued and I want to look at it
-and I would look at that again and again.
'28-year-old artist Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf was looking for feedback
'on her approach to portrait painting. She submitted a giant image of herself.'
I'm really interested in the way in which portraiture can turn a person into a sort of icon.
'The panel was quite impressed by her nod to fame.'
I can see you're playing with celebrity,
what it means to be a celebrity. There are elements of Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany's there.
'But it was Rebecca's style of painting that bowled them over.'
I love the way you've painted it so thinly and the canvas itself is unprepared and very thin.
You can see through it. I've never seen that before.
-No question, yes.
-It's a yes.
Three yeses. Well done.
'Rebecca has got a spot to sell her painting, and its price tag, £1,800.
'At London's Foundling Museum, I met one contender who used to be a teacher
'before bravely giving up her profession and a steady income to have a go at being an artist.
'Mary Rouncefield has had some success but her motivation for applying today
'was the chance to get seen at a big London gallery
'and to silence sceptics who thought she couldn't make a go of it.'
-How are you feeling? A little bit trembly there.
-A little bit.
-Have you always been a budding artist?
I was a maths teacher and I decided after a while
that I really wanted to do art, so I went back to university
and studied art and I graduated about 18 months ago,
-so now I'm trying to make a go of it.
-How's it going?
-Er, quite well.
I sometimes have done some supply teaching to earn some money,
so that is helpful.
-So your head is just about above water.
What did family and friends say when you said, "I'm going to give up maths teaching and be an artist"?
Erm, I think they were a bit concerned.
But they can see that I'm enjoying what I'm doing
and I keep saying the old cliche, you only live once.
-What would it mean if you could make it to this exhibition?
-It would be very encouraging, it'd be fantastic
because in a way, it would say, actually, you weren't mad to do this
and you are going in the right direction.
-What are you like with criticism?
-Well, I think I'm just going to have to take it on the chin.
-Thank you, Chris.
-Through those doors.
'So let's see if this aspiring artist can prove her doubters wrong.
'Her hopes of getting to the exhibition and making some much-needed spare cash
'are riding on this rather saucy screen print which, it turns out, has hidden messages.'
-Welcome to the hanging committee. Would you like to tell us about your picture?
It's a screen print and it's based on the Rorschach inkblot test,
which was given to psychiatric patients to try and work out what their problems were.
So if a man interpreted a lot of these inkblots as being sexy women,
he was seen as perhaps being
a likely predator or harasser of women and possibly dangerous.
So I decided to produce a sort of visual joke or a visual pun
whereby my inkblot actually does consist of sexy women.
Although, if you look at them, you can see their clothing
and their hair, which looks rather artificial,
but you can't actually see the woman. She is like the invisible woman.
So I'm commenting on sexual stereotypes
and the way women are seen in society, as well.
How much would you value this work at?
Probably around £200 or so.
-Do you mind if we have a closer look at the picture?
-Thank you, yes.
'So, this former maths teacher is making a clever comment on stereotyping.
'But as a new artist, Mary's not being greedy with her guide price.
'Will the judges think it's worthy of a select spot at the exhibition where their peers will see it?
'Their reputations ride on every piece they put through.
'So does Mary's work and its message make the grade?'
Mary, I think this is probably a very commercial image.
In a way, it's a sort of classic bachelor pad decoration on the wall.
But on a serious point, you mentioned the figures don't have faces
and that's a bit of a comment on women and how they're seen.
To my mind, that objectifies these women more.
-That they're purely bodies wearing boots which you'd find in only a few places.
-And Avengers costumes.
That's part of what I'm trying to say. That if you go to an extreme, this is what you get.
The woman herself is not important any more.
Mary says that she's commenting on sexual stereotypes
whilst actually perpetuating them.
'Has Mary's message backfired? And can she turn the judges around?'
It's a bad James Bond or Avengers poster or album.
-Mary, do comment.
-I think that's outrageous!
Yes, I can perhaps see that you might say a Bond woman might dress like that but...
-They did dress like that!
-I've certainly not seen that image anywhere else.
Well, we've had a very lively debate but Mary has stood up for herself.
'Are her dreams of showing and selling at the exhibition slipping away?'
It is a very slick image and I rather like the way you've drawn it.
When you get close up, you see it's quite interesting as a drawing,
-but I'm not getting the emotion you want to convey with it, I think.
-It's too rooted in a different time.
They probably had a T-shirt with this on in the 1960s.
-I'm 58, I'm not 12.
-I think they're being slightly blinkered.
It doesn't matter that the clothing references might be from the 60s, it's immaterial.
It's a very cool, funky image.
'Well, it seems one judge is a fan. But Mary needs two yes votes to warrant her career change.
'Plus, the money from a possible sale may mean one less shift as a supply teacher.
'Will she get through?'
Mary, I'm sorry, it's a no.
You won't be surprised to hear it's no from me, as well.
I'm sorry about that, Mary. I think it would've been a yes from me.
-But I'm sorry, it won't be going through to our exhibition at the Royal College of Art.
'It's a blow for Mary. For now, her bid to exhibit at the Royal College of Art and silence the doubters
'has been dashed, as she fails to turn her ladies into loot this time around.
'But her belief in her art and the path she's chosen is still very much intact.'
-What did you make of all that?
-They had very strong opinions.
This is your opportunity to bite back. David said it was a bad James Bond poster.
-It was a bit too commercial, it wasn't real art.
-Do you want to respond right now?
-Nothing is new.
Just because here's an old fuddy-duddy that had his heyday in the 60s...
I hope he's listening. You're an old fuddy-duddy.
I think it's not right to say that you can't reference
previous styles in art,
because all artists do it.
-All I can say is commiserations.
-And I loved the way you fought your corner there.
-I really did.
-As we all say, you're only just starting.
-Thank you very much. It was lovely to meet you.
'Still to come on today's show,
'a mountain scene splits the judges.'
You don't get the blow off of the snow in the sky, you don't get that sense of the mountain...
Oh, wow, yeah.
David, you have absolutely no poetry in your body whatsoever.
'And one artist sticks up for his dark art.'
If it doesn't contain all the features or all the elements of a traditional portrait,
-is it any less of a portrait?
-No, not at all.
We'll be catching up with all those who made the grade and won a place here at the exhibition.
They could meet a VIP and even make a sale.
For all those artists here tonight, it's been a gruelling journey.
'We asked all-comers to send us their works of art
-'and the very best entries were sent to the hanging committees.'
'The judges have had to assess art of all shapes and sizes,
'including sculptures, pictures, paintings and photos.'
'Next, we're off to Glasgow to an inspiring venue called A House For An Art Lover.
'It was here that I met a mountaineer based in the remote Scottish highlands
'who's desperate to break into the lucrative London art scene.
'But will his nerves get the better of him?'
Jamie, nice to meet you. Welcome to the hanging committee. You look nervous.
-I am very nervous, yeah.
-Why is that?
-It's difficult speaking in front of people.
-Do not worry about it. It's a lot of fun. Where do you come from?
-All the way from near Fort William,
-a village called Corpach.
-Oh, beautiful part of the world.
-You don't sound very Scottish.
-How long have you lived there?
-About ten years.
-Before that, I grew up in Lincolnshire.
-So flat as a pancake.
-Are you a trained artist?
-I'm self-taught as a painter.
What would be your ambitions in the art world?
Er, I would like to make a good living from my art
and have successful exhibitions of my paintings.
-So if you could get through to the exhibition we're having in London, it'd make a big difference.
Away you go, your destiny's through those doors.
'Today's a one-off chance for Jamie to impress three art critics
'you don't normally meet in a remote highland village.
'This self-taught artist is hoping his hyper-real image of a mountain scene will make the grade.
'But going in front of the panel is a daunting prospect
'for someone who's outside the loop of the art world and who's never been to art school.'
-Welcome to the hanging committee.
-Would you like to tell us about your work?
Yes, I will indeed. This is my painting of a mountain in Scotland called Stob Ban in Glen Nevis.
As with all my paintings, this is an amalgamation of many trips out
to the same mountain over many years.
Jamie's obviously really nervous and it's obvious why.
So much is riding on the judges' decision today.
That way, I can include all the magic and adventure that I've had
over those years and to try and create the most striking painting.
Would you like to tell us a value for this work?
I valued it at £2,000.
-OK. How did you get to that figure? Have you sold others?
-I have sold others, yeah.
-Do you mind if we have a closer look?
-Absolutely, go ahead.
It seems extraordinary for a man that's climbed so many mountains in Scotland, risked his life,
he finds this a daunting task.
'But the chance for a major breakthrough and a spot to sell for some big money
'is possibly in reach, unless Jamie's nerves blow his chances.'
Jamie, we're just going to ask some questions now
about your incredible painting. Charlotte.
Yeah, hi, Jamie.
Well, it's quite hard from here to imagine it is a painting. It looks like a photograph.
But getting close up, it's actually quite freely painted.
I'm curious to know where you learnt to paint like this.
I'm self-taught and it's just the style that has evolved naturally.
Really? You didn't go to art school?
No, I didn't. I studied vehicle design at university, which is a bit odd.
But the mountains have played a big part in the style that I paint in.
It's a very good example of how a painting close to can be freely painted
-and when you step back from it, just coheres completely as almost a photographic image.
'The judges are amazed that Jamie's a self-taught artist.
'But what about the subject matter?'
My only concern with an image like this
is that it's a very touristic kind of image.
For me, it's important to have the sublime, that sense of awe from nature.
I could imagine cloud writing in that blue sky.
"Scotland - where mountains look like photographs" or something like that.
It looks as though there's some travel agent slogan missing from it.
Are you not swept up in the whole romanticism of a very spectacular Scottish mountain?
If there's any tiny criticism here, which I think is what David is saying, is that it's too perfect.
-If it were a Victorian cottage it would be chocolate-boxy.
I think that's probably the only criticism I can find, but it's so small.
'So is the painting a piece of fine art or just a picture postcard?
'Could this mountaineer have misjudged what the panel's looking for?
'The judges need to assess the work's artistic qualities on very strict criteria.'
This style of painting isn't very fashionable at the moment
in terms of it being so detailed and so crisp
and seemingly so perfect. But I don't really care.
I think the originality in this is that you are a climber and you climb and you climb
and I get your love of climbing from this.
Technically, obviously you're very gifted
-and emotionally, I do get that sense of the sublime, the awe of nature. Well done.
I don't know what response to have to this. Emotional involvement, absolutely none from me.
I can see what you're trying to do, but it's an awe-inspiring picture of a mountain
and I've seen lots of those before.
Jamie, for me, as an image, it's not something I'm naturally drawn to.
The skill in bucketloads and the fact that you're self-taught is incredible.
Immaterial for our judging criteria, but incredible nonetheless.
All that bring us to voting about whether we think this picture should come to the Royal College of Art.
It's very difficult to guess which way the judges are going with this
but there's one thing for sure - this is a really important decision
for Jamie's confidence and his future in art.
-it's a sublime yes from me.
Too much of a travel image for me. No.
'The verdict could still go either way. It all now rests on Roy.
'Will he save or quash Jamie's dreams of getting to an important London gallery
'to sell for thousands of pounds?'
Jamie, for me...
..I think it ticks every box for our criteria, so it must go through.
-You will be coming to the Royal College of Art with us. Congratulations.
'He's done it! It's a fantastic finish after such a faltering start.
'But that's just the first hurdle. Can Jamie now make a sale at the London exhibition
'and will his nerves hold out?'
You don't get the blow off of the snow in the sky?
-You don't get that sense of the mountain being...
-Oh, wow, yeah.
David, you have absolutely no poetry in your body whatsoever.
'To exhibit in the bright lights of London is an exciting chance for mountain-lover Jamie
'to meet some serious movers and shakers in the art world.'
Jamie, you've climbed this mountain. Do you feel you're climbing the London art market mountain now?
Absolutely, yeah! What an event!
-Great to be here.
-Yeah, actually, very positive.
'Jamie's incredible style of painting is certainly making an impression.'
You think it's a photograph from a distance
until you get up close to it and then you see all the detail.
'While the painting's generated a lot of interest, Jamie's not made a sale this time.
'But this highland artist has made a splash at an event
'where his name was on everyone's lips.'
-Was it all worth it?
-Wonderful night. Great to meet lots of people. Lots of positive comments, which was good.
I've got lots of paintings on the go, got an exhibition in October. Lots to do.
-Well, I wish you the very best of luck in the future.
'Jamie's debut at a prestigious London art event has been a huge success
'and given his confidence a boost.'
A place at this exhibition doesn't come easy.
The hanging judges can't afford to let through any art
that isn't worthy of consideration by some of these art A-listers.
So let's remind ourselves exactly what it takes to get a yes.
'First and foremost, it's got to be original.
'The judges will spot a rip-off or a replica a mile off.
'Secondly, technique is a must. The artists must be highly skilled in what they do.
'And finally, does the piece give you goose bumps?
'It's got to connect on an emotional level.
'Next under the spotlight is a brave young hopeful,
'first-year art student Sophie New.
'Sophie's never exhibited before or sold to buyers she doesn't know
'so today's bid of glory by this young artist is a real leap into the unknown.
'She's also taking a gamble presenting an experimental painting she did when she was just 18.'
-Welcome to the hanging committee.
Tell us about your work of art.
I've always been interested in figure painting but with this, I wanted to push the boundaries
and try something new, cos I was always painting people as they looked.
So I painted the figures as I usually would
but then I kept going, putting washes into it, trying new techniques,
new colours, erasing bits, taking bits out, so it became something completely different.
What do you think the value of your work would be?
This is one thing I do not know cos I've never done anything like this before.
I've never put my work out there to be valued. I don't know.
-That's all very good. Do you mind if we take a closer look?
'Sophie hasn't put a value on her painting
'but if she gets the price tag right, she might make some spare cash to help fund her studies.'
The judges are having a really close look now. Poor Sophie can't even bear to watch them.
'She's one of our youngest competitors
'and as three heavyweights in the art world get ready to question her, it's clear she's terrified.'
-You're a student, are you?
First year. Just started.
How often during the day do you spend drawing?
Erm, probably on a normal day about four or five hours.
Erm, I can sense the energy that you've put into it
and you're trying to convey that sense of drunken abandon, you've got girls dancing in their pants
having a wild time cos they've been having a few drinks.
I can see that in the paint but I'm not somehow getting that connection.
'Has Sophie's decision to bring her boldest, most experimental piece to date been a step too far?'
The bikini bottoms on the figure on the left don't actually fit that figure.
You know, I think if you're going to play fast and loose, you've got to have some basic there,
some foundation of good drawing
in order to build on it and then play with it.
I think if you're just throwing paint about, I'm not sure that's good enough.
'David's got misgivings. Is Sophie running before she can walk?
'Could this explosion of colour still take Sophie through to the exhibition
'and give her the chance to make a sale?'
I think it's incredible you did this while doing A-levels.
You have some way to go in developing your own style but you're having a go, being exuberant,
you've still got a couple more years left at college to really work out what your style is.
David, what are your thoughts?
Looks like something from the 1960s to me.
Technique - you need to sharpen that drawing significantly.
Do I have an emotional response to it?
Actually, I feel a bit sleazy looking at it.
'David may feel uncomfortable, but what do the others think?'
You seem to be a strong individual as an artist
and I think it's very important that you stay that way.
Talking about pricing, you said you weren't sure.
I would go to local bars, restaurants, clubs,
-put those tentacles out and just get things hanging.
-I've sold things to friends.
So it comes to voting and whether we think this would work well in our exhibition in London.
'Sophie's never sold commercially or exhibited in a major gallery.
'She needs two yes votes to make this dream come true.'
You never know the final vote. You just never know.
I want everyone to remember that you're on your first year of university doing a fine art course.
I think you're very brave. I am going to say no.
-I just think you need to develop a little more.
-You're not ready, Sophie.
That's it. That's two of three. But I do agree. I think you're not quite ready yet
but I think your voice is individual and that's a very important thing, so keep at it.
-All right, then. Thank you.
'It's a disappointment for student Sophie as she misses out on her first real chance
'to turn her art into cash. It's not her time yet, but she might have the makings of great things.'
Sophie, Sophie. Come over here.
-Are you all right?
-Oh, I don't know.
Yeah, I am, cos they said sort of positive things with negative things.
She said keep going. It was a good experience. I'm glad I came.
I'm definitely not going to give up because it's their opinion at the end of the day
-and they're just three people.
-Go out there, keep experimenting.
-I'm really sorry but thanks for coming in.
-It's all right.
See you soon. Good luck with everything.
'Back in Glasgow, I couldn't resist having a look around the so-called House For An Art Lover.
'It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.'
His work is so distinctive.
You'll probably notice these flowers and pots designs, they're everywhere in this house.
He also designed his own furniture.
'Take a look at these stunning chairs.
'They are iconic Mackintosh design.
'But elegant seats didn't make the judging any more comfortable for our next contender.
'Alan Reed is a long-established professional artist
'who's been painting for over 25 years.
'He's exhibited all over Britain and sold for thousands of pounds.
'But one thing he's never managed to do is exhibit at the Royal College of Art.'
-You've been a very successful artist for quite some time now.
-Yeah, I haven't had a proper job.
Nor have I, really, so don't worry.
When did you know you might have something?
I started doing some paintings when I was at college and the staff started buying them.
-At that point, I thought, "I must have something decent to work with."
-It's a good clue!
Any professional artist is used to criticism
-but not necessarily people telling them to their face.
-I'm my worst critic.
-If I didn't feel the painting looked very good, it would never go in a frame.
-Very best of luck.
'Alan's chosen to put forward a painting of his native Newcastle
'as his dream ticket to the exhibition. Will the judges be able to tell Alan's no amateur
'but already a popular selling artist?'
-Welcome to the hanging committee.
Would you kindly introduce your work for us?
Right, this is an original watercolour painting of my hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The painting started all as a watercolour demonstration in a bookshop in Newcastle one Saturday.
So this was literally the view out of the window that I was doing for the people watching the demonstration.
At least two thirds of the painting was painted on the spot, looking out the window.
And the final third, which was some of the figures and the buildings on the left, was painted in the studio.
-What price do you put on this?
-That would be £2,500.
-Do you mind if we have a closer look?
'Alan regularly commands four-figure sums for his landscapes.
'But will the judges think he deserves the exhibition spot he so desperately wants?'
-I wanted to know how long it had taken you, all told, to finish this work.
It started off at about nine, ten o'clock in the morning at this particular demonstration
and I worked through till about four o'clock. And at that point,
I'd done all the base washes, virtually all that building there
and some of the base washes around here.
So the last day or so was spent doing the detailed areas round here and the figures.
-So that's two days' work.
-About two days, yeah.
-Alan, to me,
the figures seem slightly enlarged for the landscape.
And they have the feel of a 1950s architectural drawing. They're very stylish
but they're incidental, dropped in to make the thing look a bit more pleasant.
-You said that you added them later.
-Yes, I did.
I did a sketch on location a few days beforehand where I painted figures as they were moving around
so the figures should convey a certain degree of movement as they're moving through the scene.
'Roy's comment on his figures is unexpected criticism for Alan,
'who gives demonstrations on how to do watercolour. How will the other judges rate the piece?'
I like your comment, Roy, about looking like an architectural drawing.
-It does look very static.
-This was my point about asking how long it took to do because the light...
Watercolour, for me, is about capturing the transience of light, and this done over two days
just feels like it's slightly laboured in that way.
It has that static quality.
For me, watercolour shouldn't be static. It's all about life. It's got to have some soul in it.
'It's clear this professional artist is putting his neck on the line
'in trying to achieve his goal to both show and sell at the Royal College.
'The judges have reservations and they need to assess his work on all the criteria.'
Alan, I think technically it's one of the best watercolours I've seen this year.
I bet people in Newcastle love your work because this will evoke that street. But does it go beyond that?
Originality and emotional impact leave me slightly below the mark.
Alan, it's elegant, it's light, it's airy,
it does a lot of things it should do.
For me, the figures really let it down.
They bring me into a 1950s mock-up of what an idealised location should look like. That's a personal point.
For me, Alan, I can't see that this is any different, in a way,
to the kind of competent watercolours one sees in framers' windows up and down the country.
-Should we go to a final verdict?
-'There's not doubt that Alan's painting is technically excellent.
'But to be good enough, the judges must find originality and emotional content in this work.'
Alan, I'm afraid it's no from me.
Alan, you're a highly-skilled draughtsman
but due to our criteria, I must say no.
And it's no from me, I'm afraid. Thank you very much for showing it to us and goodbye.
'So Alan's dream of exhibiting at the Royal College
'where he could've sold this piece for a four-figure sum is over.
'But has he taken the judges' criticism on board?'
I just have to go on from there and just continue working and painting and selling my paintings.
What will you take away from today's experience?
What they said was very true. People who like Newcastle will like that painting
and that painting will sell for £2,500 at some point in the near future.
-Commiserations. Not this time. Bad luck, sir.
-All the best.
So far, we've seen four brave souls go face-to-face with the hanging committee
and we've got time for one more hopeful to chance their arm.
'The last contender on today's show is computer animator Stuart Howitt.
'He dreams of being a full-time artist
'and is hoping entry to our exhibition will set him on the road to earning a decent living.'
-How are you?
-Very well, thank you.
-Not too nervous?
I had to do a speech last year to 100 people I didn't know, so this is a walk in the park.
A walk in... Did you hear that, judges? A walk in the park.
That's very brave talking. Do you paint full-time or have you got a job?
No, I've got a full-time job, well, a kind of part-time job and I do my painting, as well.
How much do you think this today, if you get to our prestigious grand exhibition, could change your life?
I think, in the sheer scope of getting your work seen and maybe your name out there,
I think it's an absolutely huge thing.
-Good luck and away you go.
-Thank you very much.
'Stuart is really keen to prove himself as an artist
'and today could be his big break.
'It's all riding on an oil painting called Head Study.
'Will Stuart's bold style of portraiture turn the judges' heads
'and stand a chance of earning him some confidence-boosting cash?'
-Welcome to the hanging committee, Stuart.
-Would you introduce your work?
Yeah, this is a painting of my husband James.
I wanted to kind of experiment with light a little bit
and therefore leave a lot of his features in shadow.
I think generally when we look at people, we tend to concentrate around the eyes and the mouth
and, overall, I think that's quiet a small portion of the face and the head.
Could you give us a value for this work?
I valued it at around £1,000.
Have you sold much work before?
Yeah, I've sold a few pieces.
-Do you think we could have a closer look at it?
-Yeah, sure, please do.
'The portrait of Stuart's husband is clearly an intensely personal study.
'Will the judges think it's worthy of an exhibition spot
'where it could be sold for a great deal of cash?'
The one question I really have is, you've used a lot of light and dark.
This is a portrait of your husband, so you see all the beauty and everything else in him.
I'm lacking that because he's so dark.
Did you find that a problem?
-Did you... I assume it's not an oversight.
-No, I really...
I think with this portrait, I kind of wanted to omit all the detail
so the viewer isn't seduced by the features
and therefore it presents something else to the viewer.
I was a bit troubled because once I noticed that
he might be wearing sunglasses, I couldn't work out whether he was or not.
-He isn't, is he?
-No, he isn't, but he looks a little bit like the Terminator, doesn't he?
-No, that's just the shadow from his brow.
You're playing with tones in light and dark.
Dark shirt, dark background, it's a very contemporary setting
and I do like that little patch of flesh on his chest.
-It brings interest to it.
-It needs that in order to work.
But I think you may have lost it slightly in the shadows.
I don't find the shadows quite clear enough.
'Stuart's painting technique might prove a stumbling block.
'Have his feelings for the subject got in the way.'
I find these days that portraits are so lacking in ambition. All we've got there is a head.
If you go in the National Gallery, they're figures standing in complicated backgrounds
-and they're full-length. I find it slightly meagre.
-I don't find it meagre at all.
I don't think it lacks ambition.
I think it's quite forceful and that's a difficult thing to capture.
Also what I wanted to see was, if it doesn't contain all the features
-or all the elements of a tradition portrait, is it any less of a portrait?
-Not at all.
'Well done, Stuart. He's fighting back.
'But it's now crunch time. Stuart's about to find out if his dream to get to his first major exhibition
'and sell for a large sum of money will get the go-ahead.'
I think the chink of flesh you see down here makes it original as a composition
and I can see what you're trying to do. I do have an issue with the eyes.
-On balance, I'm going to say yes.
Erm, Stuart, I think it's almost too ambitious
with the incredible use of light and dark.
-For me, it's just a no.
-OK, thank you.
'The decision and Stuart's chances of getting through now hang in the balance.
'Could David, who's been critical, vote it through?'
I find it subtly enough painted in the head.
In originality? No, no portrait's original these days.
In technique, it's so-so.
In emotional involvement, erm, fairly superficial.
-'Is it all over for Stuart?'
-It has failings.
-But yes, I'll vote for that.
-Thank you very much.
-We'll see you there.
-Thanks for all your comments. Very helpful.
'What a turn up for the books! Stuart's through!
'This computer animator's got the break he wanted to try and advance his art career.
'This glitzy setting in the Royal College of Art is Stuart's chance to shine.'
I think Stuart has really made a good effort.
I love to see the way he's used highlights and left the eyes out.
An artist who can just knock them right back
to make you think about what that person's feeling
really interests me.
'It's also a golden opportunity to pitch to dealers, collectors and the general public,
'who might snap up Stuart's portrait for a sizeable fee.
'Stuart's gone for a guide price of £1,000 for his Head Study.'
Have you got your fingers crossed for selling it or do you want to keep it?
-Well, I'd like to sell it but my husband really love it.
-He'll have to buy it.
'The guests can make offers on any piece that takes their fancy.
'But Stuart won't be negotiating directly with potential buyers.
'Anyone who wants to place a bid can make a sealed offer to the independent agent
'who'll take a commission of ten percent.'
'For Stuart, the exhibition is a critical test.
'If he's sold, it's a sign that he really has what it takes to be a professional.
'Now it's the moment of truth.'
£1,000 is what you were asking for.
-Do you think you got it?
-Hm, possibly not.
-That's not a confident start! Possibly not.
-OK. Well, we did have an offer.
The offer was for £1,100.
-Congratulations, sir. You have made a sale.
-Well done. How does that make you feel?
It's the beginning of new things. It's going to start something big, I think.
-Brilliant. Thank you very much.
'£1,100 is the most Stuart's ever sold for.
'It's a clear sign that art is something he can now do full-time.'
That's it from us today, but join us next time on Show Me The Monet
when those judges will be meeting more budding artists. But for now, bye-bye.
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