MAX Mansbridge-West almost gave up his dream of becoming an artist.

Now the former Padgate High School student has had his work featured at the prestigious Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London for the second year in a row.

The Fearnhead portrait and landscape artist’s painting of his cat was handpicked from a record number of more than 1,800 entries to appear alongside entries from some of Britain’s leading artists.

Max, 26, said: “It’s unusual to have your work featured two years in a row so it is quite an achievement. I was very pleased with that. It feels reassuring that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan last year.

“Painting can be quite solitary so get it feels really nice to get that feedback and for your work to be appreciated.”

If Max’s work gets featured at the exhibition for a third year, he can apply for a membership with the Royal Society of British Artists.

He added: “You can get more involved with the exhibitions so it does open more doors.”

The selection panel praised the energetic brushstrokes in Max’s painting of his family pet – simply named Cat – who died in 2014.

Winsford Guardian:

Max, of Cinnamon Lane, said: “It was just spur of the moment. I was just going through old photos and this one of my cat stood out. It brought back memories and it was such a strange pose that I wanted to capture it. It was quite fun trying to interpret the gesture and the little touches like her one fang. She lost the other one when she ran into a step.”

Max now works full time as an artist and he took a break from his commissioned work for the exhibition piece. It was seen by thousands of people earlier this month.

He added: “It does feel surreal that people have been admiring my painting of a family pet but not as strange as last year when I entered a self portrait so there was a picture of me hanging on the gallery’s walls.”

Max has loved art since he was a child when he used to draw three-head monsters. But he could not see a future in it until his mum handed him a leaflet about the Northern Realist school.

He said: “She gave it to me and I did a bit of research and realised there was a school that taught you how to draw and paint. I had given up on it before then as colleges and universities don’t really teach you how to draw and paint. It doesn’t really lead anywhere when you’re just working on concepts.

“I gave it a go and I was stood next to one of the more experienced students and the work he was doing in just a few days was mind-blowing.

“It was a bit of a risk but it’s really worked out for me.”