In 2016 I made my TV debut on Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the year.
Filming it was a surreal experience, so I thought I’d share what happened. After all the preparation was done and I was finally in Kent.
The day began early. We had to be at Scotney castle by 7am. It was grey and drizzly, we were all prepared for a cold soggy day. I was met by a production assistant and we were taken down down the hill to the pods so we could see where we’d be painting.I was relieved to find architecture dominated but the view was dull.
After racing back uphill, we were then told to grab some breakfast while we were being briefed.
Miking up was next, and that stayed on ALL day.
I quickly found the “off” switch so I could have some privacy for bathroom breaks. We were chaperoned everywhere. I initially thought it weird but quickly realised it was so they could find us quickly to avoid production delays.
Filming then began.
Walking past the paintings, Here’s my submission piece and features in the first part.
Then more filming: – Walking to the pods with our equipment, Setting up, looking at our views “thoughtfully”
Lots of filming and repeating what we’d done, over and over. So many cameras and an equal number of static shots.
Painting began 3 hours later.
This is what I had to work with. Not enough architecture for my liking plus very twee and green, as Richard Knight, one of the other contestants, was keen to point out.
Once I started the nerves seemed to disappear and I was able to concentrate on the task in hand.
All I could do was crack on and not be distracted by all the cameras and general hustle and bustle of production.
The hardest part was the interruptions…
Talking to Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell was the highlight.
The judges were also lovely, although it felt more intimidating when they spoke with you. There were also breaks to take a photos, check lighting, move a camera or ask me to do something again – not possible with watercolour which they quickly realised. You’re constantly aware of the time and that you can’t carry on and you just want to get stuck in.
There were lots of visitors. Most seemed willing just to watch whilst discussing what I was doing. Some commented very loudly, even about whether they like it, or how well they thought I was doing. Sometimes I felt like turning around and saying “You know I can hear you, right?”
This visitor was unexpected. I wonder what it thought of the paint?
My technique usually takes days so I knew the 4 hour limit was going to be a challenge. I had the judges worried that I wouldn’t finish. there were lots of relieved comments when I was finally able to start painting.There’s a lovely bit of time lapse of the painting when I finally got started. I really wanted to do much more but I had to stop before I was done.
Here’s the finished painting.
And I did it in the time!
I was pleased with it but felt it needed more work. There would have been more bricks and lily pads.. plus defined grasses and increase tonal variations, as well as some wet on dry painting… Heigh ho! It looks finished at least.
With hindsight I’d probably have used binoculars and focused on a detail more. Drying time was a major issue. Maybe I should have just used the masking fluid and ditched the drawing? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
How did I get on in the judging? Find out in Part 2