The Big Painting Challenge: An Exclusive Interview with Anne Blankson-Hemans

The Big Painting Challenge: An Exclusive Interview with Anne Blankson-Hemans

We caught up with Anne to find out more about her background in art and how she has found the experience of appearing on the show.

Hi Anne, can you tell us what or who first inspired your interest in art?

I remember from an early age seeing a drawing in my big brother’s art book and wanting to copy it. The colours were bright and attractive. My parents (both doctors) were also very supportive of my chosen career which was a bit unusual growing up in post colonial Ghana.

What motivated you to apply for the show?

I am passionate about art and anything to do with art and felt it was something I could do reasonably easily. I also loved the idea of traveling to different parts of the UK, an opportunity I don’t get very often.

What’s the most interesting advice or skill that you’ve learnt on the TV series so far?

This is quite an interesting question considering I entered the competition with the sole intention of winning it. By the end of the first episode I realised how rusty my drawing/sketching skills were. Right now I do not leave home without my sketch bag and take every opportunity to draw. I think I have discovered more about myself than I realised.

How have you found painting with a time limit?

Quite difficult… the last time I did anything like that was when I did my ‘A’ levels. In art it is important to take your time and study your painting. It’s amazing how your work improves just by doing this. I actually hang my paintings (work in progress) on a hook in my bedroom so it’s the last thing I see when I go to bed and the first thing I see when I wake up.

You seem to have a really distinct style of painting with lots of vibrant colour – what influenced your personal style and what do you think it represents about you?

Yes I do and I think it comes from my African background where colours are bright and energetic. I think it also reflects my bright and energetic personality and no matter how difficult things are for me I can turn my mood around just by going into the studio.

Who is your favourite artist and why?

I love Gustav Klimt, I like his use of colour and geometric forms. My art tutor Ato Delaquis is my biggest inspiration for subject matter and composition and Norman Rockwell because he adds so much humour to his paintings.

If you could paint any person, who would it be?

Nelson Mandela if he were alive or Fiona Bruce. I would like to have another go at Pam St Clement because I feel I have learned a lot since I painted her.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why? Do you have any tips for working with it?

I am a great fan of oil paint. I feel I have spent years mastering my palette and know how to mix colours exactly how I want them. Even though acrylic is meant to be similar in output it isn’t the same and I haven’t or don’t think I will ever master it quite the same way as I have oil paint. The only tip I have perhaps is to limit your palette to a few favourites.

Do you prefer painting animals, people or places?

I prefer to paint people and places. Urban landscapes that involve people doing things.

Which painting do you consider to be your masterpiece and why?

I like all my paintings to varying degrees tho the painting I did of my garden pond is one I cherish. I painted it at a difficult time in my life and sold it a year or so later. I love the peaceful blues and greens and the reflections in the water. It’s not a vibrant painting but it brought me inner peace.

What advice would you give to someone considering taking up art?

I say go for it. There is no right or wrong way just an expression of one’s inner thoughts and feelings manifested outwardly through some two or three dimensional media.


Don’t forget to take a look at the official Big Painting Challenge book for a guide to painting and drawing. We have all the art supplies you’ll need on our website to help you get started.