This time last year artist Paul Bell was preparing to showcase his work at the Bucks Open Studios - now he's readying himself for this weekend's Beaconsfield Art Fair with victory in a major BBC show under his belt.

Earlier this year the Beaconsfield-based artist was judged the winner of The Big Painting Challenge, a six week series of drawing and painting challenges to test the skills of ten artists from around the country.

A snap decision to enter the competition last year paid off, as the 51-year-old Glaswegian submitted the work he had just been exhibiting at the 2014 Bucks Open Studios.

Mr Bell said: "It was on a whim - do I do it or do I delete it? I had some work that I’d just scanned in, so I filled in the form and sent it in. It could have been completely different.

"I really enjoyed the experience. We went to some great places and had some really good times.

"Because of the nature of the programme I had to keep quiet. There were only two or three people that I told - even my kids had no idea how far I’d progressed."

Reflecting on his time on The Big Painting Challenge - which he won after more than 6,000 people submitted entries - Mr Bell said: "The biggest things for all of us was getting used to having the cameras around us, and having to paint to time. There were serious restraints. We were always under pressure to complete the painting - there was no leeway on the timetable.

"If it went wrong you’re thinking, ‘there’s no going back’. You can’t take one piece out [of your portfolio] and put another one in its place, this is it. You were constantly putting yourself under pressure.

"There was a big void afterwards between filming last summer and the show being on TV. It just came to an end."

He added however: "You’re thinking, ‘I want to improve, I want to up the ante’. The quality of the work has to improve. You want to put together a body of work quickly."

Mr Bell's background is in interior design, having worked on a number of big projects for firms of architects, but he packed it in 18 months ago to become a full-time artist.

His first major exhibition post Big Painting Challenge was in Highgate last month, when he and his fellow finalists displayed their work.

Mr Bell had 18 pieces of art put on show, all of which had been framed for him by the Winchmore Hill-based Bespoke Framing company.

He said: "We displayed some of our BBC work but we were also allowed to showcase our own work. We had huge footfall of people who were fans of the show. We had a ‘meet the artists’ day, which went really well."

His latest work will be on display at the Beaconsfield Art Fair, which kicks off at the Beaconsfield School in Wattleton Road on Friday evening.

The show runs from 7-9.30pm on Friday and from 10am-4pm on Saturday 16.

Go to for more details on Mr Bell's work.