Painting the Nation

The search for Ireland’s best amateur painter is back on RTÉ One for a second season, with host Pauline McLynn and judges Una Sealy and Gabhann Dunne putting seven new artists to the test.

Painting the Nation is a painting competition to uncover and showcase the best amateur painting talent in the country. Over the next five weeks, inspired by the works of great Irish artists including Mary Swanzy and Jack B Yeats, the series follows the septet of painters travelling around Ireland, finding inspiration at some of the country’s most beautiful and iconic locations.

Pauline McLynn, whose CV includes a BA in History of Art alongside her many TV and theatre roles, is there every step of the way to shepherd the artists through the highs and lows as they compete.

In episode one, Pauline meets the artists, hailing from Dublin to Galway, Cork to Clare. These construction workers, baristas, full-time mums, computer programmers, community development workers, and teachers from across Ireland all share a dream of painting for a living. Over the series, they take on painting and drawing challenges, with one artist leaving the competition each week. The winner’s painting is acquired by the Office of Public Works for the state art collection.

Painting against the clock, the painters will showcase their talents in the hope of impressing the judges, professional artists Una Sealy and Gabhann Dunne, who push the painters to their creative limits with challenges that include still-life, landscape and portrait. The final Exhibition Challenge each week is the true test of the artists’ skill and technique and determines who leaves and who stays in the competition.

This time out, Exhibition Challenge subjects range from the rich foliage of the National Botanic Gardens, the unique coastline of North Clare to capturing the movement and energy of boxing, a portrait of a very recognisable face, and the historic Birr Castle.

Not only must our painters impress the judges to win a coveted place in the final – but they must also impress the people of the places they visit. Weekly, the final paintings are exhibited to locals who are invited to give their views on the art, but ultimately the judges decide which painter will be named the Painter of the Week, and who will make it to the next stage.

The series culminates with a final Exhibition Challenge set at Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre. Which painting of this medieval castle will be judged good enough to take a place in the OPW’s collection and go on display in Dublin Castle?

‘Painting the Nation’ RTÉ One 1 x 60′, 4 x 30′ (two series)