Winner of the bluethumb Art Prize People’s Choice Award

With the exhibition packed away and the giant check handed over, all that’s left to do before we wrap up the inaugural bluethumb Art Prize exhibition is to announce the highly contested People’s Choice Award winner. 

Make no mistake – we don’t go throwing terms like that around lightly. At the end of opening night entry forms came back with votes and scribbles aplenty. Even though this made them a little hard to read at times, it was fantastic to see everyone’s genuine interest and investment in the exhibition (that’s why people were entering, right? Not just to go in the draw for the case of wine?).

So, without further ado, the winner of the People’s Choice Award is… Sam Michelle, for her oil painting Swimming Happy!

01-17+Bluethumb+ExhibitionSam Michelle with her People’s Choice Award winning piece, Swimming Happy 

Sam committed herself to practicing art full-time three years ago, after leaving her finance job of 13 years. “I am a big believer in ‘the best things happen outside your comfort zone’, so I am so happy I left a safe paying job as now I get to paint every day and have never been happier.”

She seeks her inspiration from far and wide, and especially looks to the home; “I love seeing what colour palettes interior designers are using. I am hugely inspired by ceramists and have started a lovely collection from Australian artists I love, and at home I am also lucky to have a beautiful garden with all my favourite flowers that I can draw inspiration from.” 

main_poppies-sam-michelle-bluethumb-artPoppies – inspired by Sam’s flowers at home

As far as the inspiration for her winning entry goes, “the female form has always been a constant in my portfolio and I am still passionately painting it now. I draw inspiration from my girlfriends, my bather series was painted from photos I took of a girlfriend and the swimmer series was painted from a swimming session with some friends.”

So why did Sam decide to enter the bluethumb Art Prize? “I liked that there was quite a number of judges and the way the judging was going to be done. It was also crazy easy to enter through my bluethumb account. With some prizes and exhibitions you need to pay to enter to just be ‘considered’ so I felt like this was a slightly more ‘artist friendly’ prize and meant that everyone could enter and everyone would be considered.”

main_black-deeper-sam-michelle-bluethumb-artSam’s latest installation in her swimmer series, Black Deeper

For Sam, the simplicity of the prize was a nice surprise, but getting to the final stage of exhibition was a real thrill. Entering art prizes on a regular basis, “there are many many [knock back] emails… to be shortlisted was such a great buzz!”

The buzz continued on opening night. “I was really proud at the exhibition opening night seeing my work hanging with all the other exceptional paintings and I felt really happy to be part of it all. It was all just so much fun!”

As for other artists, the exhibition also offered the unusual chance to make contact with peers and admirers. “After days of studio solitude, it was so nice being able to meet some of the bluethumb team, artists and art lovers. I have gained a bunch of new favourites, views and followers on my bluethumb account and have had some enquiries which is so great.”

Applying an appraising eye before deciding who to vote for

Sam would like to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for her painting. “Entering and being a finalist in the bluethumb prize was the most fun and I would love to be a part of it again in 2018. I have two new prizes I want to enter this month so my fingers are crossed for some more success!” Sam’s success already looks set to continue, with her People’s Choice painting selling last week on bluethumb, but we’ve got our fingers crossed for her too! 

New bluethumb Award at Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition