In 2016 I made my TV debut on Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the year
After all the preparation, I was finally in Kent and ready for the 2016 Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. The day began early as we arrived at Scotney Castle by 7am on a grey and drizzly morning. We were prepared for a cold soggy day. A production assistant met us and took us down the hill to the pods to see where we’d be painting. I was relieved to find architecture dominated a rather dull view. After racing back uphill, we grabbed some breakfast while being briefed.
Fitting the microphone was next - and that stayed on ALL day
I quickly found the “off” switch so I could enjoy some privacy for bathroom breaks. We were chaperoned everywhere which I initially thought weird but soon realised it was a way to find us quickly and avoid production delays.
Walking past the paintings… this was 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. 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 disappeared and I concentrated on the task in hand.
All I could do was crack on and tune out the distracting cameras and general production hustle and bustle.
The hardest parts were the interruptions…
The highlight? Talking to Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell.
The judges were lovely, although it felt more intimidating when they spoke with you.
There were breaks for taking photos, checking lighting, moving camera or asking 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 just get stuck in.
There were many visitors. Most seemed willing just to watch whilst discussing what I was doing. Others commented very loudly – even about whether they like it, or how well they thought I was doing. Sometimes I felt I could turn around and say “You know I can hear you, right?”
This visitor was unexpected. I wonder what it thought of the paint?
My technique usually takes days and so I knew the 4 hour limit was a challenge. I later heard that the judges were worried that I wouldn’t finish and there were a score of relieved comments when I finally started 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
I was pleased with the end result but felt it needed more work. I didn remove the remaining masking when I was back in my studio.
There would have been more bricks and lily pads, defined grasses and exciting tonal variations in addition to some wet on dry painting…
Heigh ho! At least it looks finished. With hindsight I’d probably have used binoculars and focused on more detail. Drying time was a major issue and I possibly 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