Spotlight On… Jackie Garner

“Spotlight On… Jackie Garner” was definitely one of the more exhilarating – and scary – times of my life. Judging from the comments from other artists, I can now officially describe myself as “brave”!

If you aren’t familar with “Spotlight On…”, it’s a popular event at BirdFair. Each year an artist is asked to demonstrate a painting from start to finish, in one hour, in front of an audience. Sounds simple? It is – except even small paintings don’t actually take an hour: much, much longer in my case. Add to that the running commentary while you’re painting – oh and make that informative whilst being entertaining too, of course. But no, that’s not enough pressure – let’s film it too!

So now you see why the most frequent opinion I heard from the other artists beforehand was “You must be mad; I wouldn’t do that”. Well that made me feel better then!

Actually, I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I’d thought it would go wrong, but even so I was feeling nervous before I went on stage. I’d decided to paint a pair of rockhoppers and the practice run had gone well, but that didn’t stop me feeling the pressure. Simon King was on before me so the Events marquee was packed, and though he was overrunning I was probably the only person there willing him to get off the stage.

Soon I was setting up on a stage that rivalled a sauna for humidity. We arranged the microphone and camera angles and then I was ready to go.

Digital Spring were beaming the live footage on to a huge screen at the front of the stage and on to screens halfway down the marquee. It was a really strange experience to see a giant version of me in front of me while I was working!  

Overall I was really pleased with the way it went, though it wasn’t without difficulties. The humidity made the paint behave differently to usual, and I had to be careful not to step off the stage when I stood back to view the work as it progressed. I kept trying to remember to turn towards the microphone so my voice would be consistent for the audience.  

Spotlight painting

So here’s the resulting painting after one hour. At the end of my allotted time I offered to auction the finished painting for the BirdFair cause: BirdLife International. The silent auction ran until Sunday afternoon and raised almost £500. Wonderful!

After Spotlight we filmed a brief interview for BirdFair TV, with me feeling very relieved it was over. The Spotlight film will be on their website soon, but this has given you an insight in to Spotlight from my perspective. Check out

About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
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