In December 2016. a chance conversation between artist Andy ‘Dice’ Davies and art enthusiast Angela Parks resulted in the first Cheltenham Paint Festival taking place the following year.
Since then the festival has continued to grow in size and popularity, with artists from the UK and across the globe including legends such as DANK, My Dog Sighs and INKIE, flocking to the beautiful Regency town of Cheltenham, to show off their skills.
From 5th – 8th September 2019, over 130 artists created pieces across 25 locations, resulting in a stunning visual display for visitors to enjoy.
One of our very own artists, Paul Kneen, was lucky enough to participate this year. Here is his account of this wonderful experience…
My Cheltenham Paint Festival Experience…
Whilst doing the usual Facebook browsing, I started to spot beautiful images of works appearing around various parts of Cheltenham. On further investigation I found them to be part of a Paint Festival taking place and inquired to see how or if I could be involved in 2020.
To my surprise I was quickly informed that they had looked at my work and was accepted. In fact, they told me that if I was interested, I could actually paint this year! My instant reaction was panic as the festival began the following day and I could only get there on the Saturday.
After further thoughts and conversation, I decided to ask if I could make a start at home and then finish it off at the festival to which they replied ‘of course’.
A quick visit to Homebase resulted in 3 hardboard panels (together they measured 1.8m x 2.2m) now staring at me in my lounge and 2 days to put something on them before I headed off to Cheltenham.
I’ll be honest, during these 2 days there were many times I questioned why I had decided to put myself through this. Like many artists I know, the journey of a painting is like a roller-coaster ride. One moment you love what you’re doing and the next you’re throwing a paint brush at the work in sheer frustration (this actually happened).
And we’re off
Fast forward to 7am Saturday morning and I’m loading the car with something I’m fairly happy with… so far.
After a 2.5hr journey I arrive in Cheltenham. I begin to see yellow Council signs announcing the festival and my excitement levels begin to increase. I start to spot art works I’ve only seen on Facebook adorning walls and buildings. Nothing compares to seeing art face to face.
A quick call to organiser Andy and I’m off to North Space car park to set up and get panting. As I arrive, I spot someone I’ve admired and respected for many years working on a large red truck… artist My Dog Sighs. I park the car and head over to watch him in action. He immediately strikes up a conversation about spray paints, his work and the festival. I found this to be a common thread among all the artists… they were all so friendly and willing to take the time to have a chat.
Let the painting begin
I set up near by and began. Painting in front of people is something I’ve never experienced before. In the conversation with My Dog Sighs he mentioned how adrenaline kicks in and he’s right. For me, It was like a cocktail of excitement and fear… until a kind spectator announces ‘I love it’, or ‘that looks amazing’, then pride takes over and all of the worry and doubt fades away and reminds you why you’re there.
The feeling of having people you’ve never met ask if they can photograph you and your work is wonderful and I thank everyone who took the time to come and say hello. I met some amazing people and only wish I could have stayed longer, met more people and seen more art. The experience has given more confidence and I can’t wait for next years festival where I hope to do an even bigger piece.
Since returning from Cheltenham it’s been incredible to see pictures of my work on social media and even on Gloucestershire websites where they’ve highlighted some of the best work.
Huge thanks to Andy ‘Dice’ Davies for allowing me to be a part of this and roll on Cheltenham Paint Festival 2020!
If you’d like to find out more about the Cheltenham Paint Festival here’s some links to get you started…
Cheltenham Paint Festival website
Cheltenham Paint Festival Facebook page
SoGlos website featuring Paul’s work as one of the highlights