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Praise from Disney artist for bricklayer Callum

 
Created on 02/12/2016 @ 17:07
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A 22-year-old Llanidloes bricklayer and self-taught artist who has been acclaimed by a top US Disney painter and congratulated on his work by bosses at confectionary giant Nestle, is finding the arts world has its own walls to conquer when it comes to celebrating his work.

Callum Stephen read books and watched YouTube to learn to paint his acclaimed surrealism works in just 17 months.

Inspired by US-based Grammy Award-winning and official Disney fine artist Jim Warren, Callum had one of his own Disney paintings on a door shared on Warren’s Facebook page to tens of thousands of followers.

Paintings Milky Bar and Skittles packets earned him praise from bosses at Nestle who could not believe his paintings were not photographs - sending him a box of full of chocolates in response after the company’s directors saw his work.

But when it comes to entering arts awards and competitions to gain recognition of his work, Callum is finding a lack of art qualifications has barred him from entering his works.

“I didn’t really enjoy art in school. It wasn’t until I went travelling at 19 in Australia and I saw a man painting and making good money that I thought ‘I’m going to try that’,” said Callum.

“I read a lot of books and watched YouTube and developed my skills.” That was nearly 18 months ago and today his work on Disney characters and surrealism images are shared on social media not only by friends and family, but by artists such as Warren and others.

“I wanted something I could do to relax after building and I just got into it. Jim Warren was an inspiration and I sent him a photo of my painting on a door which he shared on Facebook, praising it. I had a lot of friend requests after that.”

Callum wakes up most days at 4am to work on his paintings at home where he lives with his parents who have converted part of the house into a studio.

But despite the praise and accolades he’s received so far early in his artistic career, he has attempted to enter some of his work into national competitions only to be told he cannot as he doesn’t have an arts qualification.

“I’d like to be able to enter the paintings into national and other competitions. But when I’ve enquired or tried to enter I’ve been asked what qualifications I have and then they say I cannot enter because I don’t have any - I’m self-taught,” he said.

In fact Warren says Callum should not worry about the “art authorities.” “Fifty years ago I began my career as an artist simply by the inspiration I received from artists of the time such as Dali, Warhol, Norman Rockwell, and many others. That inspiration, along with my dedication to make an impact in this world as an artist, was much more important to me than any training or art credentials by the ‘art authorities’,” he said.

“I was kicked out of art class in high school for not following instructions and choosing to do my own thing instead. I never went to school to study art, rather art became to me what I myself perceived art to be. And that is what I encourage for any aspiring artists. I am honored to be an inspiration to artists such as Callum, who with dedication alone can go as far as they choose to go.”

Callum has been offered a place as an artist in residence at the well-known Chateu Orquevaux in the Champagne region of France early next year which he has accepted.

“I’m hoping I can make it my career. I’m enjoying it and I want to break into other areas such as photorealism art. I work long hours with the bricklaying and get up at 4am each morning to paint as well as when I get home after work. But I love it and cannot imagine doing anything else,” said Callum.

Photo: Callum Stephen  ©OwainBetts


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