Thirty-six years ago at the Leicester College of Art & Design, one of Steve Mitchell's lecturers rescued a torn, discarded canvas from the pile of studio rubbish left at the end of term. It was the first version of Mitchell's Self Portrait, a hyper-realistic painted montage of objects and artistic images symbolising the student's artistic life and intent.
The painting was there because, after it had been completely ignored in an end of term Crit session, a disgruntled Mitchell had tossed it out and decided to quit art school, feeling his work wasn't good enough to continue. The lecturer's reaction to finding the canvas was one of shock ...the reason the work had been ignored was that staff thought Mitchell had pinned cut-out magazine images to his canvas; nobody had realised the work was an actual oil painting.
Persuaded to stay on and finish the work, Mitchell gained his degree and was immediately offered a job at the BBC by Brian Bishop, regarded as the finest scenic painter in the world at that time.
From there, a lengthy career in television and film saw Mitchell work on countless Hollywood and British blockbusters, mostly as a scenic painter, and mostly in inaccessible, improbable, locations around the globe or in studios such as Pinewood near London, where his canvas was a massive 150-metres wide and a cherry picker his normal means of reaching it.
Mitchell still works in film, although more often these days as a concept designer, while his work as a professional visual artist increasingly devours his time due to the ever-increasing interest in his conceptually complex and exquisitely executed cinematic paintings.