Quick Q&A with Alison Stafford

The Big Painting Challenge has taken the art world by storm… But the real intrigue of the programme for us are the contestants… what do they love, what do they hate, what makes them tick… and of course, who is the meanest of all the judges!

Meet SAA member and Big Painting Challenge contestant, Alison Stafford as she reveals a little more from herself in this quick fire Q&A… and explains what it was really like being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne…


What first inspired you to get into painting?

I had a few recreational lessons in Acrylics after work once a week. I remember sitting at work on a Monday, watching the clock ticking till it was Wednesday and time to get to my next lesson! It was only a matter of time before I handed in my notice at work and went full time!


What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?

Probably ‘The Hunt’. It’s a large piece – 70x50 and I had wanted to paint it for 2 years before I finally got stuck in. The drag hunt passes my house a few times a year and on this particular day it was drizzling and everything was shrouded in a light mist. The scene is of the ‘whipper in’ and hounds approaching through a wood. It’s in acrylics and took me about a week to complete (on and off). It hangs in my hall way and is a real talking point for visitors!


Have you had any artistic disasters?

I have had plenty of artistic disasters! Most of them were on the show! But the beauty of paint (acrylic and oil) is that if it goes wrong you can just go over it and start again! When you are under a time constraint that isn’t an option, and every painting for me is a journey – I travel through unchartered territory for 90% of every painting I do – that’s what gives me the buzz! Without that it would become too predictable and boring!


What is it like being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne - what did you learn most from their weekly feedback?

Being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne was total torture! (you feel very exposed and vulnerable as an artist and they didn’t pull any punches!) BUT it was a complete privilege to have them offer positive critique much of which I have taken away from the experience. It has made me question everything that I do and also how I do it. I am much more expressive with my mark making and am not afraid to go back and rectify a mistake – even if it means painting over a whole area of a painting until it’s right.


Which artist(s) has inspired you the most?

Jonathon Yeo is a great inspiration in my portrait work. Freda Khalo was the first artist to really excite me with her use of bright, almost flat colour and graphic style of painting.


What is your favourite thing to paint or draw?

People and animals


Quick questions...

Landscape or portraiture? Portraiture.

Acrylic or watercolour for painting? Acrylic.

Pencil or ink for sketching? Pencil.

Still life or life drawing? Life drawing.

Lachlan or Daphne? Lachlan.

If 'The Big Painting Challenge' has inspired you, then why not join us at one of our various SAA road show locations and learn to paint in just 45 minutes!

This year we will be taking a road trip to various locations throughout the UK to inspire and encourage people to have a go.  So if you think 'I can't paint'...you can, you just probably haven't been given the right tuition. For more information click here.