AN artistic pensioner who gained national acclaim for his reworking of an Italian masterpiece is now fronting a major arts festival.

Kenny Small, from Rushyford, was nicknamed Kenni-letto after he painted his own version of Canaletto’s The Bucintoro Returning to the Molo three years ago.

And now the 84-year-old is helping to promote the BBC’s Get Creative Festival, a celebration of the best of British culture and have-a-go activity.

A video of Mr Small talking about his painting has already received more than 300,000 hits on the BBC Arts Facebook page.

The Northern Echo first interviewed Mr Small in 2015 shortly after he had completed the 7ft by 5ft painting using alkyd paint. He was inspired to tackle the scene after viewing the original 18th Century masterpiece in The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.

Since then the retired tool maker has been interviewed on BBC One’s The One Show and has continued to paint large and small paintings, developing his landscape and portrait skills.

His most recent painting is of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“I’m so happy to be promoting the Get Creative Festival,” he said.

“You are never too old to try something new. When you retire you have so much time on your hands and in my view you need to be doing something to take your mind off things and on to something else. It doesn’t matter what it is. I have lots of hobbies. I love painting so it’s obvious that was what I was going to do.”

Speaking about the reaction to his painting, he added: “I cannot believe it. It’s wonderful. To be on television with my picture and to have it unveiled in front of all of those celebrities was very exciting. It is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

Canaletto’s work was painted between 1730 and 1739 and depicts the Bucintoro, the state barge, returning from the Sposalizio del Mare ceremony to the quayside in front of the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Mr Small, who has never had a formal art lesson, set his painting at the start of the ceremony and tried to evoke a sense of excitement among the figures within. He named his work Debut of the Bucintoro. The Get Creative Festival runs from March 17 to 25 and encourages people to try something new and creative. Free workshops are taking place across the country.