Mariella Frostrup and Rev Richard Coles host the semi-final, in which the artists are tasked with capturing the human body in movement.
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Welcome to the semifinal of The Big Painting Challenge,
the show that celebrates all those with a passion for painting.
We found ten enthusiastic amateur artists
to join our artistic Boot Camp.
Are you looking forward to being painted by this lot?
Very much, yes.
They've honed their skills...
OK, everyone, pick up your bamboo sticks.
..in a series of increasingly difficult artistic challenges.
Go and stand outside in the cold.
Along the way,
they've been supported and guided by their two mentors.
Pascal Anson, an artist,
designer and guest lecturer at the Royal College of Art.
Look at the feet. Pete, they're massive.
And Diana Ali, art educator, curator and artist.
As always, our artists need to impress the judges
to avoid being sent home.
portraits were the undoing of two artists
as the judges sent home Ruaridh and Angela.
But Suman won the public vote,
meaning she drew level with Jennifer,
both having been chosen twice.
With the final on the horizon,
the pressure is on for all the artists if they want to win
The Big Painting Challenge.
This week, we're at the prestigious Painters' Hall in London,
home to the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers
who have been, well,
painting and staining things since the 13th century.
-This is the semifinal.
I think it's probably going to be the hardest challenge so far,
and it may in fact be the hardest challenge of the whole competition.
The aim for me is to win, but it's completely out of my hands.
The other contestants are really good.
The competition is definitely hotting up.
I think everybody's a rival at this stage,
although they're all friends as well, so...
I think anybody could win it,
although you'd have to favour the girls at this point
cos they've won all the golden tickets so far.
I would love to win the public vote again, secretly.
I'm kind of getting used to, like, my name being called out.
It feels like a bit of a rivalry now between me and Suman cos we have
two each, but...
I want it.
As ever, the mentors will be on hand and they're feeling confident about
-The qualities that Suman and David both have
is good drawing, good observational skills.
They're meticulous and hard-working,
and that's really why they've got to this stage.
It's amazing to see how far they've come with only five weeks.
They've progressed massively.
They're taking it seriously now,
and I'm really proud and I'm really going
to push them to go far.
Congratulations on making it to the semifinal.
We have a really tough challenge for you today
because we're asking you to paint the body in motion.
There'll be two challenges, as always,
the first of which will be a solo dancer
performing a series of repeated movements very slowly.
You've only got a couple of hours before the judges come along,
so let's get moving.
Conveying a sense of movement on a flat surface
is extremely difficult,
but for centuries artists have been
trying to capture it on canvas.
Some of the best known works
are by artists from late 19th-century France,
They used a range of tricks including off-centre compositions,
and the effect of cropping figures at the edge of the
canvas to make the viewer believe
the action continues beyond the frame.
Be gestural, be fluid, don't work too close to the canvas.
Motion is always a challenge.
I know for a start I will find it difficult.
Both of you have to get really physical with this.
How am I going to do this?
This is really hard!
The artists are able to paint or draw the ballerina
in the medium of their choice.
And if this challenge seems daunting,
they can rest assured that this is merely the short warm up before the
main event tomorrow.
The challenge starts now.
-Yeah, good luck, everybody.
Looking forward to this?
How does she stand on her tippy toes?
The dancer will repeat her choreographed sequence
throughout the two-hour challenge,
taking short breaks in between.
I've never seen a ballerina this close.
I'm absolutely going to pieces here
cos I've got no idea what I'm doing.
Well, this is hard.
She's quite captivating. You kind of want to watch.
You don't really want to do anything else.
This week, both teams of artists will be working side-by-side,
so they'll be unable to ignore their rivals' progress.
Suman has chosen to work in her beloved charcoal,
but she's stumbled into difficulty.
I am failing here.
This paper is not what I'm used to,
so what I wanted to do is lay down the flat of charcoal
and then you can usually brush away but it's not brushing away!
So I'm trying to do the best I can to salvage it.
Diana's leading men are off to a slow start.
How are you finding it?
It looks like a bit of a fashion sketch.
It does a bit, yeah. A bit of an illustration.
Yeah, which is troubling me.
I think the actual...
pose is a little bit rigid and a bit straight.
So do some stuff around it to make it look like she's moving?
Yeah, that's a good idea.
I'm just about to get my pose,
and it's just about to come up now because she's repeating it,
and once she gets back to the original pose I'm looking for,
I'm going to try and keep adding more and more drawing.
Jimmy's shifted the weight of his figure
so it appears she's leaning forwards.
Avoiding vertical positions can help to create the illusion
of a dynamic moment in time.
I have to have dynamism
in the painting.
-You're spending too long
waiting for that position again.
-OK? And that's wasting time.
Really think about your marks. They're quite solid.
But the main thing is you have to get the proportions right
-because it's all out at the minute.
As always, the artists' paintings will be assessed
under the critical eye of our three judges.
Award-winning artist Lachlan Goudie.
In challenge one,
we're really looking for the artists to give a sense of proportion to
their drawings, to make it look as if the head, the arms, the legs,
they all belong to the same body.
World-renowned portrait painter Daphne Todd OBE.
The sense of movement, it must be paramount.
Obviously the painting is a flat, inert surface.
They're going to have to give the illusion of movement
on that flat surface.
And art historian and senior academic Dr David Dibosa.
Really observing the way that the body looks,
not the way they think it ought to look.
That's the only way they're going to make it convincing.
energetic marks over hard lines can help to suggest movement,
but this is easier said than done.
Jennifer currently has five paintings on the go.
Try and pick out the really successful bits in each one
which you can use,
or which one's showing its movement through space,
which one's showing a good posture.
Like, I like the head in this one.
-Cos it looks like it's looking up.
She's just looking a little bit chunky in some of them,
like that top one.
-But again, that's proportion that you can work on.
But that's her back, cos she was walking away.
Ah, see, I didn't realise that.
Yeah. She's walking away in that one.
-I can see it, I just need to make sure everyone else can see it.
I don't really draw precisely, as you know.
-As I know, yeah!
-As you know.
While the dancer takes a break, the artists had to draw her from memory.
I can't do anything whilst there's not a model there.
If I make one wrong move with a line, that means the proportions...
What I'm trying to do is get the ballerina moving from there
to across that way.
So we have, like, a multiple image?
-So that'll be...
-How she's moved through?
Yeah, exactly, yeah.
I'm having a bit of trouble with this middle one
cos I'm not sure what she would do to get from there to there.
Has this experience made you think,
"I'm never ever going to paint from life again?"
I tell you what the problem is,
I would love a muse,
but I'd feel it would be a bit disrespecting to my girlfriend
to paint a beautiful picture, you know what I mean?
I shall be painting bowls of fruit
for the rest of my life, then, won't I?
With David meticulously drawing in ink pen
and Suman working in charcoal,
it seems both of Pascal's artists
are reluctant to pick up a paintbrush.
-Are you using paint at all?
-No, I'm not using paint today.
I think I've had enough of paint.
So if there's a chance to not paint, I'm there.
It's looking good, but my worry here
is that it's going to be an illustration.
Don't be afraid of your response
as an artist to what's here,
and I think that's what's stopping you.
Because an illustration is kind of for other people, you know,
it's to show other people that you're very clever and you can draw,
and you're doing that.
But I want to see what your response is.
How can I help you stop worrying about...?
I'm just so used to doing stuff like this.
I want you to make some progress.
You want me to branch out a bit, yeah.
And I think this is very good. It's beautiful.
It's very accurate, and you're doing it very well,
but it's for someone else to look at,
and you've got to kind of, really,
not worry about anyone else.
And until you liberate yourself from all that,
we're not going to see it.
I'm so used to this sort of drawing.
I'm so used to discipline with it.
And I think one day I will find that.
I just don't know whether I'll find it in this challenge.
OK, everyone, we're halfway through.
-You've got one hour to go.
-Are you painting?
I don't know how to convey a sense of movement.
That's pure lush.
Despite the encouragement of his team-mate Jennifer,
Jimmy has cold feet about his painting.
I'm going to start again.
How are you doing?
-How are you?
Having finally selected which of her five paintings to concentrate on,
Jennifer is fearing the worst from the judges.
In a way, this is a perfect challenge for you -
you've got the movement, you've got the form.
In many ways, it's made for a sort of abstract approach, isn't it?
Or have you got the fear of Daphne?
I have the fear of Daphne.
I think sometimes when she's brutally honest,
it's very cutting, so it would be nice if she sort of liked my work
a little bit so that I'm not feeling the full wrath.
I do appreciate the honesty and I appreciate what she's saying
because, if anything, it's only made me a bit better.
Jimmy's decided to paint in watercolour,
but after starting again,
he's still struggling to get his proportions on point.
You're forgetting to look again.
Look at the waist compared to her thigh.
How would you describe her position?
There's an S shape there.
OK, remember we're looking at... Yes, right. See how fluid your...
And there's a lovely graceful movement there.
Right, right, you just did that, but you did it without looking,
you're just assuming again.
You've got to be really careful of that.
I'm finding it very hard.
Of course, I think everybody probably is.
Yes, but so much of it is about the looking.
Hello, David. How are we getting on today?
I don't know if I've captured a sense of movement
or if I'm just being a cheating...
A lot of movement in the background.
Yeah, well, that's the problem,
I'm not sure it conveys movement of the dancer.
Almost like an exploding ballerina because it picks up the tutu
and also the extension of her arms.
She seems to push out, and the painting's pushing out, too.
Well, that's kind of the idea, but I don't know that it works.
Are you feeling confident today?
I never feel confident, so, no.
Ten minutes, everybody.
You've got to put a very light wash because it does look incomplete.
Boom, here we go.
We're just all absolutely under the cosh.
OK, everyone, that's it.
The judges are on their way.
Lock them out, lock them out.
I know. That's cheating, though, I think.
Yours is moving, though, I think.
Yeah, yours is the most movement, I think, today, Jimmy.
That was probably the hardest thing I have ever tried to paint.
She looks as if she's about to throw a discus.
Discus. Well, it's still movement.
-I love yours.
-It's so delicate.
-Yours is lovely.
I'm ready to get shot down, though.
I'm sure they'll pick something.
Just like all my challenges!
Cut to the bone.
Daphne's work is on the walls.
That's what makes me nervous, I think, when it comes down to it.
Someone of that stature is looking at my work.
You can feel the impending doom kind of...
start to happen.
Judges David, Daphne and Lachlan
will now critique the artists' paintings.
And Pascal's group is the first to step into the spotlight.
Right, David, your radiating lines give a sense of,
"Ta-dah, I'm here!"
But the strange thing is that it's not creating any movement.
It's creating this effect of light pouring out,
but I don't see her ready to start twirling in front of me.
So, David, I find this figure convincing.
In the figure, the proportions were there. We asked you for proportion.
It's in proportion.
We asked you for movement.
I think the movement's there in a very delicate, quiet way.
If you just believed in that, or saw it for yourself,
you wouldn't have felt that you needed to add this radiance
to give it a sense of dynamism,
which has actually worked against you and it's made
the whole image much more static.
Right, Suman. It all seems very well observed.
It all seems relatively in proportion,
although this leg possibly might seem a little bit long.
You've given me so much detail in that head,
I'm zooming into this area.
It's become the focus of attention of the drawing for me.
The line sometimes is a bit too hard and heavy...
-..in certain areas, and that might be what's making it feel
a little more static than I think you could have done.
That was unexpected. I don't want to get too freaked out about it because
then I'll just fail.
I know that my work needs to be less detailed in parts, but, oh, my God,
what do I do with the paint?
You can control charcoal, but you can't control paint
the same way, I don't think.
Next up, it's Diana's artists.
Alan, I think your proportions are pretty good and I think you've got a
good sense of movement.
The sort of shorthand for forms moving in space is very little there
but your eye then fills in the gaps,
and I like the fact that you've got this progression.
I think it's a good device.
Alan, I think you've given yourself a little bit too much work to do in
terms of the central figure, which, of the three, really doesn't work.
I completely agree.
I really struggled with the central figure.
Hello, Jennifer. I'm not really getting much of a sense of movement.
It's quite static. There's lots of kind of scribbly movement, but the
figure's not moving. I just think that you're going to have to be very
careful that, when you think about movement, you don't think just about
moving the pencil around the page in a sort of excited way.
Now, the proportions.
I'm not convinced with them.
I can't tell where you are looking at that body.
I would have thought that you were
either looking down at the legs or...
You can't be looking at them all from the same angle.
In which case, you'd have been seeing this lower part
-I don't think this is one of your best.
I think I'll just stop there and hope for the second challenge.
Yeah, deep breaths.
I'm paddling upstream again.
Jimmy, right. Well, we've definitely got movement, but this is more of a
rumba than the kind of graceful ballet dancer we were observing.
I mean, was it Kim Kardashian that was in front of you?
Because, I mean, this is a curvaceous woman.
I mean, this lady is bosomy, bottomy, she's wearing high heels.
You've got a huge sense of movement of one sort or another,
but it certainly wasn't that girl.
This is the first watercolour that we've seen from anyone,
and I commend you for that.
Watercolour was perhaps suited to this, just doing a sketch,
a flurry of activity.
For that, you made the right choice, I think.
Kim Kardashian, who's that?
I've never heard of her.
Another day, another challenge.
Well, that first challenge could be described as a moving one.
The next one is definitely a testing one.
You've been painting one dancer making slow movements.
Next up, you're going to be painting a whole troupe dancing the classic
and beautiful sequence from Swan Lake.
The judges, of course, will be looking for proportion -
how things relate to one another.
They'll also want you to convey a sense of movement -
how you use your brushwork within the space available.
And, of course, composition -
where the figures are in relation to each other and the picture frame.
So, dance away, my pretties.
Before the groups get started,
our mentors share some tips which are helpful for anyone
wanting to paint moving subjects.
Pascal is taking his team outside
to have a go at painting the bustling streets.
This masterclass is about movement.
So we're not going to be painting the building.
We're going to be looking at people.
I want us to think about how figures move within a space.
David, you'll notice there are no pencils here.
-There's only paint and some brushes.
In order to depict movement,
it's crucial not to allow the lines you make to become heavy and
overworked. Instead, concentrate on using loose, fast marks.
So I want you to think about using the paint brush
just as a vertical line to suggest a human figure.
I want you to do 100 figures, so we've got to work really,
really quickly on this. So that's one.
There's somebody crossing the road, that's two.
Somebody here, three.
You don't know what this is going to end up like, and I really want you,
both of you, to trust the process of painting,
cos you don't trust that yet.
Pascal wants them to describe each passer-by with one line.
-That one went wrong.
-This one is great, OK?
-So, just a vertical line.
Try and see somebody in a very economic way.
They're still really worried about the conclusion,
so this is about trusting the process,
not knowing what the final outcome's going to be,
and they both really struggle with that because they like to be
in control of what they're doing.
How many are you up to?
You've been counting, well done. I knew I could rely on you to count.
How about you, Suman, how many?
I don't know. They're all becoming a blur, literally.
-I think that's part the idea, though.
-OK, time's up.
Stop, stop, stop. Very well done.
Really, really good. Come and have a look at them.
Think about how you can use this in the next challenge with a group of
-It's just a really good way of being more relaxed about
the marks that we're putting down.
Meanwhile, back inside Painters' Hall,
Diana has a suggestion for another way of applying paint fluidly.
What we're going to do now is you're going to play with paint using bits
of card, so un-traditional tools.
It's about movements in different directions to show the figures
moving through space. Come on, Alan.
Just moving your paint in a certain
direction can be enough to suggest movement.
I'm liking that I'm trying to figure out how to push the figure
to move a certain way.
But I want to try and find different ways of...
making different marks.
Even though doesn't look like anything half decent,
I think I'm learning through it, if you know what I mean.
If you stand back...
..that looks like it's moving fast.
-All right, then, so we've all got some sense of movement there.
With the masterclass over...
And the artists are treated to their very own ballet performance.
MUSIC PLAYS: Dance of the Swans by Tchaikovsky
The only problem is they'll then have the paint it.
We're now in the semifinal stage and the challenges are getting tough.
They're going to have to paint a group of people moving
around one another,
so they're going to have to show us not only that they can get the human
body in proportion, that they can give us a sense of movement,
but that also they can compose a series of figures to suggest a whole
narrative of dynamism across the page.
All of these things are going to be crucial in terms of
telling the viewer what's going on in this dance.
That was amazing!
The dancers swan off for a break,
but they'll return a number of times throughout the challenge.
That was intense!
It's totally amazing, but I'm bricking it a bit, to be honest.
I just want to do them justice.
There was one point I was just like, "Close your mouth, Jen,
-"just get that chin up."
-I think we were all like that.
How am I going to paint this?
Oh, yes, who could compete?
The elegance of a swan,
or is that a swine I was thinking?
So this is the last challenge of the semifinal,
so let's get started.
The artists now have five hours to complete the challenge.
First, they attempt to sketch the dancers from memory.
-How are you doing?
-I'm going to...
-Same as me?
-Yeah, same as everyone!
I tried to get the movement here,
and as soon as I got my pencil on the paper,
-it was there.
As soon as I got my pencil on the paper, it was here.
I'm going to have to use memory, which is difficult,
but I'll not be able to put in much accuracy but I'm going to keep them
slim and moving.
We're getting there with the plan.
Think about it like a problem.
I have to solve this problem of how to represent all this.
How do we get from A to B?
Art is hard. Things are very visually complicated.
You need to declutter all that, simplify it,
and think about how to solve the problem of these dancers,
and then your canvas.
Can you give me an example?
Sequence, so that's one.
So I could draw a sequence.
Two, I could do a time-lapse.
Sequence is extracting individual poses.
Time-lapse is representing all those parts together.
The artists are free to choose from a range of different canvases.
-We can do this.
-We can do this.
Swan Lake's all about a love story, isn't it?
It's that kind of...
I think it is, anyway, so I'm going to try and do two figures here.
When they're moving, you're kind of moving your eye with it to try and
catch up what they're doing and remember it all at the same time.
I don't, I really don't!
I've gone for one main figure in the foreground and I want her to look
like she's leaping off the page, going from left to right.
I need to do something with the figures in the background so they'll
probably work themselves out.
David has decided to paint a trio of swans and Pascal wants him to stick
his neck out and plunge straight in with paint.
What I really want you to do is paint like you're drawing.
David will not just apply paint to a canvas without all this preparatory
work of drawing and putting markers down.
He's very, very able, but he just won't do that basic step.
What is the thing about the marker pens?
I find it easier to manipulate the pen than I do...
What, to physically hold it?
-You have a block like that.
-And with marker pens, that block can't really change,
but with this, depending on the angle that you turn it,
the pressure of this will change,
cos it will fan out when you put more pressure on
and it will become like a block when you put less pressure on.
So this as a tool has more chance to make different marks.
All right, I'll have a go.
Hi, Jimmy. What's your plan?
She's going to be kneeling, looking at these two dancing.
Right, OK. I'm just worried that's going to look like it's been cut off
because you've ran out of space.
-What are you doing?
-Taking the one that's lucky.
Oh, what, like magazines in shops where you take one that's behind?
I'm going for a big canvas because this is the only chance
that I'm going to get to push out of my comfort zone.
One of the things I have to learn as an artist is how to be fluid...
..how to let things move and try not to control too much.
And I think that if I don't do this now, then when I going to do it?
Go down in style or go down in flames,
whichever way you want to go.
I think Suman is very good at working in a tight, controlled way,
but I think she realises that she needs to evolve as an artist
and work slightly differently.
Suman's not the only one winging it with her new style.
David is taking Pascal's advice on board
and going straight in with the paintbrush.
Alan's in a flap about the size of his dancers.
Oh, the two figures in the background are terrible.
All right, get rid of them.
Alan's really indecisive about his composition.
Could you have that figure in the foreground a little bit smaller
so they're actually tiptoeing on the edge of the canvas?
Do you think that would work?
He's chosen a medium-sized canvas, but the figures are really big.
It could be a bit more convincing.
It does look like you've just cut it off without giving a reason.
I'm going to rework the composition.
-I don't like it.
-OK, if you don't like it at this stage,
you're not going to be happy for the rest of the challenge.
Deep in thought?
Yeah. We're just sitting here, mulling over how to fix everything
-that I've done so far.
-What's gone wrong?
I'm trying to make it move too early on.
I think if I just got the basics right, but even at that,
because I want it moving,
it's kind of like I'm battling in my head at the minute how to not just
scrap it, and work with it.
How are you going to solve it? Is it about drawing, is it about colour,
is it about doing things in a new way?
I have no clue.
I feel like the last challenge knocked the wind out of my sails,
I don't know. It's maybe just too much.
You can do this. We all know you can do this.
Got to find that.
Jennifer and Alan aren't the only ones in a
spin over their compositions.
So I'm trying to just get the gesture of the drawing in.
The problem that I have at the moment is that
I've been thinking too much about this drawing here,
not paying attention to the size of this canvas,
and consequently this is too high,
the heads are going to get chopped off,
so I have to shift everything down now,
which means I have to get rid of everything I've done.
MUSIC PLAYS: Dance of the Swans by Tchaikovsky
But the show must go on, and the dancers flutter back to the stage.
I've decided to pick another canvas to be playing about with,
while this one's drying.
I'm going to maybe try and incorporate our exercise,
and do a bit of card work.
I'll work on these simultaneously and hopefully be able to produce
something that actually has the movement in it.
I'm trying to put myself in their shoes,
and think how difficult this task is.
It's not only movement,
because sometimes movement can be continuous,
but the movement here, they move, and then they leave,
and so we're kind of left with this empty space.
-Alan, I'm struggling.
I need someone to be painting.
I'm doing it from my imagination and nothing's happening.
I need a person.
Do you not find that every time you looked and did a drawing,
and then looked back up again, the drawing's gone?
Did you not find that when you looked at the figures, and drew,
and then looked a second time they were gone,
it was a different position, a different position?
How did you handle that?
Is it going to be red, the brown and the green?
Did I make it too dark?
Because your figures are small.
Just be careful it's not too dominating,
because the dancers will get lost in there.
I think start filling out the figures, not filling out as in fat,
please don't do that.
Pascal has suggested that David works on two canvasses
simultaneously to help him experiment
with the more fluid style.
Which is it going to be, the experimental one?
I don't know. I'm going to carry on with...
I haven't quite finished mapping out the red that I wanted to do,
and then I'll probably just carry on with this one and see where it goes.
Hopefully he's going to do one which is very experimental
and one which is safer.
I think it's kind of important for him to have that safety net.
You work on one for a little bit, then just swap over,
and that might be five minutes or it might be half an hour, but,
as a strategy, I think that's good. That's really, really good.
It sort of gives you the option of taking risks, without, you know,
throwing the baby out with the bath water.
It makes me...
..happy that I can experiment without it all going wrong.
I guess the problem is that I may not get as much done
as I would otherwise.
Suman is also getting to grips with a looser technique.
-I want to cry.
-No, it's lovely. No, you've got lovely sweeps.
-(I'm going to cry.)
-No, you're not going to cry.
You're not going to cry. That's lovely, that's perfect, look.
This is just so out of what I usually work like.
A bit of a meltdown.
-This is ambitious.
You've really gone for it.
-Ambitious is good. We like it.
-(No, it's not!)
It's not a dirty word, it's a good word.
I'm trying to have more fun with it.
At the moment, I'm still simmering from my...
-Little mini meltdown?
-What did you have a meltdown about?
For some reason, I just lost the train of thought
and a mark went wrong.
I lost it and then had to start again.
Are you interested in being a wilder, looser painter?
I'd like to be able to...
I'd still like to be accurate, but then be quite impressionistic.
I love Degas' work because of that.
It's a performance as well. I mean, you saw a performance.
You get a sense of performance on your canvas too.
It's not surprising Suman has found inspiration in the Impressionist
artist Edgar Degas' paintings of ballet dancers.
Degas dedicated decades of his life to capturing dancers in action.
Lachlan is at The Courtauld Gallery
to discover some of the tricks he used.
Edgar Degas was one of the leading figures in the French Impressionist
movement, and one of the guiding principles for those artists
was that a modern painting should really act like a snapshot
of contemporary life,
that it should authentically capture
the sense of spontaneity and movement in the real world.
"Two Dancers on a Stage"
is part of a legacy of the extraordinary work that
Degas produced, examining the behind-the-scenes world
of the ballet - the classes, the rehearsals,
the preparations for performances
that structured the daily lives of the dancers at the Paris Opera.
What you've got here is really a masterclass in movement performed by
Degas. The composition creates a sense of expectancy.
All that empty space makes us wonder what's about to happen,
who's about to move into that empty space.
And the two diagonal lines that are moving down
from the top right to the bottom left of the image
intensify this sense of direction,
like an arrow pointing across to the bottom left-hand corner.
His treatment of the figures is very feathery and light.
They look as if they are shimmering in the light of the stage,
and the fact that he's positioned these two figures
so that they overlap with one another
creates a nice relationship between the two.
You're expecting them perhaps to move around each other
in a swirl across the stage.
Figures that continue moving through space and time,
pirouetting on into eternity.
The artists are now midway through the challenge,
and have two and a half hours to complete their paintings.
We're halfway through. I've started,
so I'm going to have to continue along these lines.
Let's hope it works.
After her earlier struggle, Jennifer has found her feet.
So I think I might have found what I'm meant to be doing.
I've kind of taken a wee minute away, and now I'm back on it.
I just need to be working as fast as I can now.
But David is unsure which of his two canvasses to focus on,
the so-called experimental one or the so-called safe one.
At the moment, there isn't, you know,
a primary one and a secondary one. This was going to be secondary,
but I can see some aspects that I prefer over that one.
Which one's that one, David?
Is that the experimental one or the safe one?
Safe one, safe one.
Shall I swap over again, then?
Despite her earlier crisis in confidence,
Suman is coming on leaps and bounds.
I'm trying to make the marks really simple like we did in the
masterclass. I don't spend more than a couple of seconds on one figure,
then I move onto the next one.
On the other side of the dance floor,
Diana's artists are feeling less confident.
Alan has cold feet about the position of the dancer's leg.
I thought her leg was like that, it was cocked back a bit,
but she had the chap behind him...
..lifting it, and her head was facing the other way.
-What did you see?
You think absolutely straight?
-What, from there?
-For the nature of ballet dancers.
What shall I do with the background?
Be careful the red isn't too dominating.
I'm feeling pretty nervous, to be honest.
My biggest issue at the minute is this leg
which is sweeping right across.
Diana has said she's not happy.
She's never been wrong.
I just want to get it right.
While Alan fixes his airborne leg,
Diana is worried about Jimmy's dancers planted firmly on the floor.
It's interesting Jimmy's chosen three figures
with their feet touching on the floor. They're sat down,
so they're not in positions where they're moving.
I'll try and get some swirls.
I'll try and get all the movement coming from the joints,
all of the arms moving here from this way, that way.
Think about how small these mark-making...
will be with the paint, because she was vibrating because of tiredness,
but that's still movement.
So you can have very, very subtle marks, shaking.
-OK? I'm just worried, because this is the biggest figure,
it's dominating, she's sat down, she's not moving.
I'm worried it's going to be too static.
Jennifer has ditched her brushes and is using the technique Diana taught
This is something very new for me.
I think this is really pushing the boundaries
of what I can do and what I can achieve.
You've come a long way since the last time we talked.
Yeah, I think I was just able to stop looking at it for a wee while,
and... Cos you kind of get so absorbed in what you're doing,
you kind of forget how to see,
and it's really hard when you've got something
that's a moving target to look at.
With an hour to go, David is still working on both canvasses.
Once I get to a point where either I think it's going backwards,
or I can't see what to do next, then I'll return to that one.
It's just a safety net, in a way, of having two canvasses.
You have to make a decision at some point, don't you?
I do, yes.
Let's just not to look at other people's for a while!
Seeing you do that arm there, that's starting to work really well.
If you think about just glancing, it's only there for a second,
so I don't think it needs to be solid, because that,
just what you've done there, implies movement.
Think about, if an arm is moving round like that,
this distance the hand is travelling is more than the shoulder is
travelling. The shoulder's only travelling that far,
the hand is travelling that far, so to have more paintwork here,
and less as it goes here is exactly what would happen.
So just leave that alone,
it's working so well.
Jimmy's having problems with proportion again,
so I do need to get in there and work with him
to rectify those mistakes.
It looks a bit like a chicken drumstick. I'm sorry,
but it's a bit chunky again!
It goes down, and in, there's a calf muscle there.
Make it a wee bit slimmer, then?
The leg is disjointed from the body.
Also, on one of the figures, they've got three arms.
-It's a moving arm.
-Oh, it doesn't look moving,
it looks like she's got another one,
because it's not as faded as it could be.
-It's looking quite solid.
Get that sorted, and then get rid of one of the arms.
Oh, I'm worried about everything just about at the moment, yeah.
I'm going to have to try and get a bit more grace,
a bit more movement,
and try and get the proportions correct.
With time running out, David has to make a decision.
This is the first one I started. That's the second one.
I will be going with this original canvas almost certainly.
I don't know what the judges
are going to make of it, but I'm sort of happy.
Right, stop now. I feel you've done enough in this.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what the judges say,
cos I think it is your best piece yet.
Suman, how are you getting on?
-Are you done?
-I think I'm going to stop now.
-Oh, man, it's beautiful!
Do you like it?
You've got ten minutes left, Jimmy.
We could make the edges fuzzy.
I'd take advantage of the dancers now, especially with the skirt.
Do you think more movement lines on here?
Yeah, yeah, that's better.
Can you see that, Jimmy, with the leg?
I'm hoping I get away with it.
I am getting more movement from her than him.
I'm going to just put a bit of white in.
OK, that's it, brushes down, step away from the canvases.
Time is up, I'm afraid, for this challenge.
And everything you have done to get you into the final, you have done.
Are you happy with yours?
Hello, my friend.
It's like a map of thinking, I think.
Just started in one spot, didn't plan it at all.
You all right?
Why does this never get easier?
I genuinely feel like I'm gone.
I certainly do not want to go home.
I want to be here next week.
I want to be in the final.
It's as simple as that.
The artists can now retreat to the wings before coming back to the
spotlight to impress the judges.
But before the judges give us their thoughts,
we've invited a group of professional dancers
to choose their favourite painting.
I'm not too keen on the actual background of that.
-Cos this is quite soft in the front and they've got
these red panels just... I think it's quite distracting.
This lady stands out...
-Maybe in the wrong way.
-..but is very technically inaccurate.
The postures of the dancers aren't quite realistic.
Like, she's bending her toes rather than pointing them, so...
-Which... It ruins her line.
-Yeah, it looks wrong.
They kind of give us an idea of sensuality of the ballerinas.
I do like the colours as well.
It has warmth, I think, to the portrait.
Yes, that's very true.
There's lots of movement in this piece, I think,
lots of dynamics come cross.
I like the idea behind...
Yeah, it's the same couple and it's the progression.
And it looks a bit like the panic of a rehearsal.
It's definitely my favourite one.
There's something that gives you a different story.
You can be so many different things.
I don't know if I prefer this one compared to this one
because of being able to feel something from the painting.
Before the dancers leave,
they cast their vote for their favourite painting.
And the artist with the most votes
will be guaranteed a place in the final.
But before we find out who is safe, our art experts - Daphne,
David and Lachlan - will deliver their verdicts
on the finished paintings.
-That was straightforward, wasn't it?
A nervous silence descends on the room.
The artists are being judged on composition,
accurate proportions, and a sense of movement.
I think this was by far the very hardest challenge
that you've faced, and I can imagine you're all sitting there going,
"I'd just like to see you try,"
because it was enormously hard.
I mean, it was a test of your ability to freeze frame
what's happening in front of you and choose that moment
and then sustain that over several hours.
First up, Diana's artists.
Hello, Jennifer. The figure on the left-hand side is very successful.
What is successful in your image for me is actually the rather
sophisticated way that you have described this leg.
There is a vital impression of this leg moving away from us and spinning
behind the dancer.
The proportions are good. I think the sense of movement is good,
but it's the romance of the whole thing,
the way you've used the colours and you've used the composition
to suggest a story and our imaginations are set alight.
Yes! So did not expect that.
Daphne really liked it!
That's just made my day.
Alan, the image is being let down by a few important factors,
and the most striking of all is these curtains.
They're so heavy in contrast with the lightness of touch you've
demonstrated everywhere that there is this disjoin.
That leg's going forward and this leg's further back
and going that way.
It's completely disjointed.
Alan, I think this is a daring piece of work.
There are some problems with it, but I think it was a daring choice and
it gives us a strong sense of movement and action.
Absolutely worried about the final result.
I don't think I'll make it through.
Jimmy, I don't really think there's much movement in this painting.
They really look as though you've caught them
when they were resting or just holding a static pose.
It's not really a successful composition
with having just one side of the painting come on off the edge.
It looks as though it was a mistake.
The legs just don't look like they're the legs of that figure,
and once the eye starts to see those kinds of errors,
the whole of this side of the painting starts to weaken.
I love the spaghetti arm.
I mean, look at that, it's bendy and winding and it's very long and
stretched out. That is kind of hinting at a sense of movement,
but it's not really touching on accuracy at all.
This might be curtains, literally curtains, but we'll wait and see.
Next up, it's Pascal's artists.
Suman, I think you've risen to the challenge in this painting.
You've even used this device of having this figure repeated
which echoes that sense of movement and energy across the work.
your proportions are all wrong, aren't they?
I mean, we've got this tiny little dancer who looks
as if she's about to be rugby kicked
right out of the painting,
but this is an image that's got guts.
It's an image that's bold and brave
and is whirling and dancing with movement.
I had a long discussion with Pascal
and I can't thank him enough for how
he helped me look at this challenge.
David, this is a carefully considered work which gives you good
composition and the proportion's OK, but where it falls down is in the
sense of movement.
David, I think this is one of your most successful second...
..challenges. You've made use of the curtains in the background,
so you've got light and dark and light and dark,
and you've also used the tutus to make a horizontal.
So it's a very simple division of the surface,
which binds the whole composition together.
I love the lightness of touch.
I think that's a big jump for you, and a fruitful one.
I think it's a very successful painting.
If they want a reflection of accurate poising,
I think I might be in with a chance.
Somebody's got to knock the girls off the top spot, haven't they?
But I think it's a tough call.
Well, that's what the judges think,
but of course the public have been in too,
and they've picked their favourite,
and whoever painted that has booked themselves a place in the final.
It was neck and neck, yet again,
but in the end they did go for one particular artist.
-Thank you. So much.
Suman, you've got your place in the final.
-How does that feel?
You took some real risks with this picture.
It must feel like those risks have been rewarded.
It was a huge step, yeah.
Really, really glad that I took the chance.
Well, we know that Suman is going through to the final.
Who will be joining her?
It's time for you judges to go and judge
and return with a verdict. SHE IMITATES DRUM ROLL
Oh, you scared the living daylights out of me!
So, this has been an incredibly difficult challenge
for them, hasn't it?
The movement question, I think, has been such a thing
that they've struggled with.
I think having several figures at the same time,
that's really something that threw them.
I did think that Suman's stood out
in terms of someone who's really found her voice.
She took the risk and it has that joie de vivre in the entire thing.
I thought that there were at least three of them
that could have got the public vote. David, for example.
What impressed me about his painting was that he took on a big scale,
he had these three dominant figures.
-And there was a great deal of luminosity in the paint.
What frustrated me was I didn't feel he'd really moved on a huge amount
from the first challenge.
But he hadn't got those strong,
hard shadows that were ruining the first challenge.
He got rid of the special effects, that's right.
Jennifer - there was a painting that confused me also.
It's always the question about Jennifer's approach -
is she creating something that's inspired
or is she getting away with murder?
She does get away with murder,
but she works to her strengths and whatever her drawbacks are,
she has her own style. That's quite important.
Sometimes when I look at Jimmy's images,
I'm not sure to what extent he's really conscious
of what he's trying to do.
In that composition, there were many accidents.
-For my money, he's the one really struggling.
I didn't think what he represented was what he actually saw.
No, no, no, that's absolutely...
He was just inventing something, he could have invented that anywhere.
Well, for me, although I think Alan's got a lot of potential,
I do think his was the worst painting
because it looked so awkward.
There were so many schoolboy mistakes.
The large figure was really, to my mind, unbelievable,
and to offset the figures against those very strong stripes
in the background,
again, another killer.
I would have probably hung Jimmy's
painting on my wall in preference to Alan's.
So, are we agreed that it's going to
be between Jimmy and Alan as to who we
have to let go on this occasion?
-I think so, absolutely.
The judges have decided who next week's finalists will be.
So, Lachlan, will you reveal
which of our artists is going home this week?
Well, I'm afraid it's always awful to have to lose artists
at this stage of the competition.
Nobody wants to leave with the final in sight,
but I'm afraid the name of the person who we're losing is...
Had to happen sometime, didn't it?
-Oh, dear. Who's going to make us laugh now?
Oh, you'll laugh, don't you worry. What a mentor, what a mentor.
-Thank you. Well done.
-It's been great fun. Thank you, everybody.
We've enjoyed looking at your paintings so much and, honestly,
from a painter to a painter,
I sense your enjoyment, your enthusiasm, your zest.
It's not easy moving colour around the way you do and
communicating your pleasure to the viewer,
so stick at it and I look forward to seeing what you produce next.
Thank you. It's been a wonderful experience for me to get this far.
I never dreamt for a minute that I would even qualify as one of
the ten artists, and to reach the stage of getting to the semifinal,
it's been a thrill of my life and I'll never, ever forget any of you.
Presenters, you're stars of the telly
and you'll be stars in my heart forever.
Aw! That was beautiful.
-You're a wee darling.
Well, I'm dumped, I'm out.
You do understand, of course, that I've got to go back to Glasgow
and face the music from all these real artists that I know.
They'll be giving me pelters
for daring to come onto a show like this.
But I'll be able to say to them,
"I was on the show and you weren't."
O-M-G, absolutely cannot believe that I'm in the final.
Yes, it's great. I don't know how to approach it yet.
I don't know what I'll be doing next week.
Watercolour on roller-skates?
Next week on The Big Painting Challenge,
it's the grand final.
You find the exact thing that I hate painting.
I hate it already.
I think this is a crowning achievement.
Mariella Frostrup and Rev Richard Coles host the semi-final of the amateur painting competition, and the five remaining artists are facing their toughest challenge yet - capturing the human body in movement.
For two hours, a solo dancer spins, plies and pivots in front of the artists. Mentors Diana Ali and Pascal Anson are on hand to help, but all of the painters are pushed out of their comfort zone.
For the second challenge, a troupe of ballerinas appear and perform selected extracts from Swan Lake. Even the judges admit that this is a challenge they wouldn't want to have to tackle. All five amateur artists step up to the plate and give it their best shot, with some stunning results at the end. But only four of them can make it through to the final. Who will the public viewing panel choose to go straight through, and who will the judges send home?