St Albans IT consultant turned art student exhibited in national competition

Andrew Szczech

Andrew Szczech - Credit: Archant

A St Albans IT consultant turned art student has been chosen out of 4,000 competition entrants to be exhibited in London.

Andrew's portrait of his mother. Picture: Andrew Szczech

Andrew's portrait of his mother. Picture: Andrew Szczech - Credit: Archant

A portrait by Andrew Szczech, 54, will be displayed alongside 100 other artists in the National Open Art (NOA) competition at the Oxo Tower Wharf in London.

It is an copper-plate oil painting of his mother, Paule Szczech, 94, which took about an hour to create. She is a good model, he said, and Andrew often creates her portrait while she watches TV.

He said he is “over the moon” and “absolutely delighted”: “Some of my portraits take me ages but not this one.”

Before this year Andrew was an IT veteran of 30 years: “I have been working in IT for a number of years, I am 54 years old, and it’s amazing, it was the best decision I ever made - it was a risk but it was a calculated risk.

“It has been a background thing that I have done on and off throughout my whole life and I decided to give it a crack.”

Andrew decided now was a good time because his son has just left home to go to university.

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He added: “It was exciting to enter the competition because it is a very high standard and it has validated my work.”

Andrew, who has lived in St Albans for 20 years, is now a full time student of contemporary portraiture at The Art Academy London.

Teachers on the two year course include artists from Royal Society of Portrait Painters, winners of the BP Portrait Award and people exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

Andrew loves the challenge of capturing a person’s likeness without resorting to photo realism, and this recent achievement has boosted his confidence going forward into the art world.

This is not his first exhibition - Andrew’s work could be seen in 2012 at the annual Herts Open Studio programme, in 2005 at the Galerie Saint Roch in Céret, France, and in 2004 at the Mall Galleries in London.

The NOA was founded in 1996, is administered by the Chichester Art Trust (CAT), and is open to amateur and professional artists in the UK and Ireland. CAT is an arts charity which aim to provide equal opportunities and platforms to all artists in the UK and Ireland.

The exhibition runs from November 17 to 26.