DROITWICH-based artist Robert Neil has had a portrait selected for the highly competitive BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The competition dealt with more than 2,300 entries from 71 countries, with only 55 paintings being accepted for the exhibition.

Mr Neil, who works in the construction industry in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, is president of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) and he originally submitted the portrait for one of its exhibitions.

He said: “I did submit a piece last year and got rejected. It’s a bit of a lottery. You can’t get away from the fact that there are thousands of entries and its very very difficult.

“I didn’t specifically do this piece for entry, I did it for an exhibition at the RBSA but felt that when I got second prize in that, it could do more. The BP Prize is one of the few competitions where it doesn’t matter if the work has already been shown, they don’t stipulate.”

Mr Neil who was brought up in Kidderminster is a self-taught artist, and chose Birmingham jeweller Philip Blakeman, who works nearby as the subject for this particular portrait.

He added: “I met Phil through mutual friends at a party, where we got talking about our shared interest in art. He has a very distinctive style and manner and I immediately thought he would make a great subject for a portrait. I asked him if he would sit for me at his studio and happily he agreed.

“Working from life means that you get to know the person over time rather than having a snapshot of a moment in time. There are positives and negatives. You always get a more rounded view of the person you’re painting, but a photograph doesn’t move around.”

The BP Portrait Award 2014 will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday, June 26 to September 21 2014. The exhibition will then go on tour, to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from October 4 to November 16, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from November 27 to April 12, 2015.