WALES' most promising artist for 2004 has been found in Wrexham.
Carl Wynne has been named the Contemporary Art Society of Wales' Studentship Award winner.
Each year one second year art student in the Principality is selected to receive the award, which includes a £500 grant and an appearance in a national exhibition.
Carl entered the art world late in life through Yale and NEWI after working for most of his life in a factory.
'I left school at 16 with no qualifications,' said the 35-year-old, who now lives in Chester.
'When I eventually found work, it was as a skilled machinist in a factory. I did that for 11 years but felt I could be doing more. There was no prospect of improvement or promotion so I decided to leave.'
Carl originally wanted to learn more about the human condition so tried access courses in psychology and sociology at Yale College.
'I enjoyed them but also got frustrated and left them because I had trouble with the written side of the courses,' he said.
'I had been out of education for so long it was very difficult for me to get back into the learning curve.
'I had also always struggled with more academic subjects. So I left Yale for a break.'
After a year out he decided to give it another go when he thought about his love of art.
'In school I always liked art so I thought I would try that,' he said.
'I did another access course at Yale and passed it. I went on to a full-time art course and once I passed that I decided to do a degree at NEWI.
'There is still written work but they are able to help me with it so I can produce my art.'
Carl is taking a degree in fine art at NEWI.
The access course at Yale was designed to help get students into NEWI to do degrees after they had spent a great deal of time out of education.
'I find it easier to express myself with paint than with words.
'The skills came to me easily but my lack of confidence in my own ability generated frustration and led to me trying to walk out on the course twice.
'But the tutors have had faith in me and have persuaded me to come back - I am glad they did.'
And his hard work has certainly paid off. His award means he will be the only non-professional artist exhibited at the Contemporary Art Society of Wales' show at the Machynlleth Gallery of Modern Art.
Every other piece in the exhibition has been bought by the society's nominated purchaser Iwan Bala. This year Iwan has been selected to travel around Wales spending the society's money on Welsh modern art.
'I can't believe my work is going into an exhibition like this,' said Carl.
'This is my first exhibition and it is one which will be visited by many art critics and artists. It is truly amazing.'
However, the award isn't the end of the story, as the £500 he has won must be spent on his art.
He can use it to work in an expensive medium he has not yet tried, to buy high quality equipment or to visit a top exhibition abroad for inspiration.
The Contemporary Art Society of Wales exhibition opens on Saturday, July 31.