Press release

Portrait Artist of the Year accolade for graduate

Published on 16 December 2021

A University of Dundee graduate has been crowned Portrait Artist of the Year after winning the popular television series of the same name.

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A University of Dundee graduate has been crowned Portrait Artist of the Year after winning the popular television series of the same name.

The Sky Arts show challenges artists from across the UK to paint celebrity sitters in order to win a place in the final. Calum Stevenson (23), from Bonnybridge, had wowed judges and TV audiences alike with his stunning portraits of actress Kelly Macdonald and musician Nick Mason as he passed through the show’s rounds.

Last night’s double bill saw Calum hold off stiff competition to take the title after his painting of entertainer Barry Humphries was judged to be the best portrait produced by the finalists. For his prize, Calum received a £10,000 commission to paint violinist Nicola Benedetti. The second instalment showed him meeting Nicola before producing the painting, which will now go on exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Calum studied at the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and graduated with a Fine Art degree in 2019. He says that taking part in the show was a nerve-wracking experience but one that has given him the best possible start to his career as an artist.

“There was a point in the first episode where they zoomed in on my hand and it was visibly shaking, which obviously isn’t great when you’re trying to paint, but I just had to get on with it and I like to think I was a lot more composed by the end of the series,” 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.”

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

“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,” continued Calum “I would like to do more TV stuff as well, I will see what comes my way as I am open to anything.”


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768