A WHITE van man who was made redundant four months ago is now on the road to delivering a masterpiece after winning an apprenticeship with one of the North’s leading artists.
Kevin Day has painted from his childhood days but it was merely a hobby for him, as he worked delivering washing machines, and later flowers.
But after being made redundant this year, the 34-year-old started taking his painting more seriously and began selling landscapes of the Lake District and Tyne bridges.
And last night his career change was complete after he beat hundreds of other hopefuls to become the apprentice of Newcastle artist Alexander Millar, himself a former window cleaner, best known for his Gadgie paintings depicting the people of Tyneside.
A contest was held at the Biscuit Factory gallery in Sandyford last month where, in the spirit of Sir Alan Sugar’s television show, the artists had to put their work in front of a panel of experts, including Alexander.
Kevin’s picture of a woman on board a train carriage reached the shortlist of entrants, and this week he was delighted to receive a phone call from his mentor-to-be announcing “You’re hired”.
Kevin, of Derwent View, Burnopfield, County Durham, yesterday told how he would not have entered the contest without pressure from nurse wife Niki, 32.
After a frustrating trawl across the North trying to get his work in galleries, Kevin will now be exhibited in 200 galleries across the UK and beyond.
His apprenticeship with Alexander is also aimed at producing a print of his work for sale by Washington Green art publishers, whose Glynn Washington was among the panel of judges last month.
Kevin, originally from South Shields, said: “I was a delivery driver this time last year. It’s a bit of a contrast.
“I’ve been painting from a very young age and the last few years I’ve started getting back into it. About six months ago, I was made redundant and decided I might as well give it a shot.
“My wife pushed me to do this because I don’t usually do competitions. I was never expecting to win. It’s a funny business to be in and you get so many knock-backs. I think you just have to stick to it. You get sick of going round places and getting told to come back next month. They might take a bit more notice of me now.”
Kevin and Alexander are due to work together at the Biscuit Factory, where Alexander is based, to produce a body of work for the publishers.
Last night Alexander said: “In the commercial art scene, you have to produce work that’s going to appeal, not just to one person but to 500, to justify the print run. Washington Green are the biggest fine art producers in the UK and they want something that’s going to have that appeal and I think Kevin’s work has got that.
“I think with Kevin we’ve got a star in the making. I’m looking forward to working with him and helping him along. I think at the end we’re going to have something that’s really exciting.”