Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2020

Tonight is the FINAL of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 

Which means it's time for the Call for Entries for Landscape Artist of the Year 2020!

Artists enter with a landscape artwork. Those selected to take part in the heats have four hours to paint a specific landscape within the UK.

Key features of the competition

For 2019, the winner of the competition will paint Venice for the bicentenary of John "the Stones of Venice" Ruskin
although hopefully they'll be on the ground not up in the air!
  • The winner is awarded
    • a £10,000 commission from a national organisation to paint a particular place. You should think of it more like a job with a reasonable fee of £10,000 than a straight prize per se. (There's an interesting tax conundrum relating to how your status affects whether or not prize money is tax-free - see Tax on art awards and prize money | Art Business Info. for Artists . However you can't be an amateur if you earn more than £1,000 from your art and any amateurs would have get a free gift of a self-assessment tax form to complete as well. I wonder if Sky Arts got any tax advice before they came up with the prize?)
The key issue is whether the prize is something that many artists try to earn. If it is a 'professional receipt' then it is taxable.
    • a £500 cash prize from Cass Arts for art materials
  • These are the Terms and Conditions of the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 competition. Be sure to read them thoroughly.
  • the programme will be televised in the Autumn of 2020.
  • The deadline for submission of your digital entry is 17th April 2020 - and entries are now being accepted online. 

Who can enter

Terms and conditions

Any artist - amateur or professional or hobbyist, who is aged 16+, enjoys good health and has been resident in the UK for at least a year (as at 16.10.19) - can enter the competition 

YOU can ONLY enter IF you:
  • are aged 16 or over as at 16th October 2019
  • are in good health
  • know of no reason which might prevent you from participating in the competition
  • hold a valid passport (worth checking if yours has run out!)
  • have been LEGALLY resident in the UK, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland for at least one year on 16th October 2019
  • can provide documentation to support all of the above (ie. birth certificate; passport, any relevant documentation relating to your immigration/residency status).
In addition, you MUST be available for filming between 3rd June 2020 and 15th July 2020.

If you are chosen as the Winner, you MUST also be available between the Final Date and 30th November 2020 to attend the Winner’s Prize Location and produce the Winner’s Prize Artwork on exact dates to be determined by the Producer. 

Any artist who is less than 18 years old MUST
  • provide written agreement from his or her parents (or legal guardian) to you entering the competition
  • written parental consent to you being filmed prior to filming.
  • be accompanied by a parent / legal guardian / a nominated adult at all filming.
Those excluded from the competition are
  • finalists or winners of ANY previous Artist of the Year competition run by Sky Arts - which means all previous wild card artists can apply again! (i.e. there is a bonus to being a semi-finalist who didn't make it to the Final!!)
  • those connected to those companies or people who commission, fund or deliver the programme (the conditions spells this out in a lot more detail)
  • an artist is selected to appear in Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 (i.e. which is filmed in 2020 - and you can only do one in any year.)
Artists with an affiliation with any of our partners (e.g. any of the judges / Sky / Cass / Storyvault ) that could be deemed a conflict of interest MAY not be eligible to take part.
  • NEW FOR 2020 I did wonder about affiliation with judges / partner issues when I saw Lisa Takahashi in one of the Heats for 2020 as Lisa is a copywriter as well as an artist - but then remembered that she's affiliated to Jacksons and writes their blog - rather than the Cass Arts blog - which now seems to have totally anonymous blog posts!?  I've also wondered about some of the "invites" to artists in the past where occasionally a judge has gone out of their way to favour an artist who didn't seem to merit the 'summary' judgment of their work. I could name names but I won't. I'm very glad to see this new ethical approach to the competition and hope it avoids any problems in the future or adverse comments from me! 
We’re very proud of the fact that as well as entertaining tv, the series have become reputable art competitions in their own right.
If an insufficient number of entries are received have satisfied the entry and judging criteria, then
  • the deadline might be extended (it has been in the past). 
  • I do know that sometimes artists are approached to enter - and it's often at this stage that the programme-makers start actively looking for possibles.

So you want to paint landscapes on television? 

My view is that the television producers aim to get a good mix and diversity of artists in terms of background, media used, ethnicity etc. If I'm right this makes the people painting more relatable to the viewing public.

I THINK (i.e. don't know) that they choose the 48 artists for the Heats on the basis of their art  alone. However I personally think that's a big mistake and they should at least look at their websites and social media sites - as I do. Their choices would be a lot more robust if they looked at their websites as well - some of the things the Judges sometimes say about a painting are self-evidently not true/representative of that artist's work on their website.  Plus it serves to validate whether the person painted the painting!

I THINK (i.e. don't know) the Producers choose who goes in which Heat so there is a good mix and they don't make the mistake of putting all the good ones in one heat and the weaker ones in another heat. Plus they mix it up on gender and ethnicity and what they do etc.
We do not cast for characters – instead, our expert judges select participants based purely on the quality of their submission artwork. The success of the show depends on the standard of the art produced, so from the outset the programme is a genuine celebration of good art and an intelligent, fascinating examination of the artistic process. Sky website
What I'd really like to see is the competition being restricted to artists who have already painted plein air. I cannot tell you the times I've been disappointed by paintings in the heats where the artist was evidently out of their depth given that they had 
  • never painted outside before - and are unused to the changing weather and light and have no strategies for how to cope with this
  • never ever painted to a time limit (as plein air artists do all the time - because of the changing light, weather etc!!)
It is so annoying when you see people in the wildcards who are obviously used to painting plein air who are painting better than those in the pods - and I am never ever surprised that this happens given the existing terms of entry. 

Do we really need to embarass people every year because they don't realise what they're letting themselves in for?

The only people I have ever seen who cope reasonably well are those who are extremely experienced artists who paint on a very regular basis and hence they know all the basics and are only having to work out how to paint to time outside!

You may be out of pocket 

Bottom line that means you have to be able to get
  • your entry artwork
  • plus all painting gear
  • plus overnight 'stuff'
  • to a Heat which might be located anywhere in the country.
  • which probably means driving for most people!
If you are chosen as a Shortlisted Artist, or a Reserved Shortlisted Artist, the Producer will make an ex gratia payment of £50 (fifty pounds) towards your travel/hotel and subsistence costs incurred in attending the Heats. This will be payable in cash on the day of the heat which you are attending. For the avoidance of doubt, You will be responsible for transportation of Your Landscape Entry and Additional Works of Art to and from the Heats, other than in exceptional circumstances to be agreed at the sole discretion of the Producer.
Bearing in mind the distance some people have had to travel to get from home to the heat location I'd say you need to be VERY KEEN to be able to paint in a pod to enter this competition as £50 goes nowhere if you have to travel any distance and hence stay overnight.

The Wildcard Entry - so you still want to paint on television? (part 2)

....and you know how to paint in the wind and the rain?

Wildcard artists arriving at Herstmonceux Castle in 2019 - in the rain

The terms and conditions make it clear to me
  • they are under no obligation to run the wildcard entry
  • the only way to be certain of getting selected to be in a heat - maybe in a pod or maybe as a wildcard - is to apply in the normal way.
I have a feeling they've sussed that some people want to either
  • try out the competition to see how it works
  • and/or want to say they've been on the programme - but are scared stiff of being in a pod, hence won't apply for the latter.
Hence the phrasing of condition 9. But that's a guess on my part (but it makes complete sense to me!)
For the avoidance of doubt, the Producer is under no obligation to run the Wild Card Competition at all, and if run, in the foregoing or in any other forms. The only guarantee that You have of having your artworks seen by the Judges of the Competition is to enter the Competition and being selected as a Shortlisted Artist (as defined below).

How to enter

due to the encouraging and uplifting tone of the series, artists who participate report that their experience was not only positive for their career in terms of the exposure, but also thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly useful for their artistic evolution. Sky Arts website 


Let's start with the end of the beginning!

Entries close at 12pm midday on Friday 17th April 2020.

However the deadline/closing date may be extended by the Producer - so do not despair if you think you've left it too late.

Shortlisted artists will be notified on or around successful and non-successful entrants (“Shortlisted Artists”) on or shortly following 15th May 2020 

Eligible Landscape paintings - for submission

Artists are selected to attend the heats based on the artwork submitted as part of the entry.
The Landscape Entry submitted must be a painting of a landscape vista, and can be produced in any material excluding photography, video, sculpture and all forms of digital media. Collage and mixed media works are all allowed. The work may be abstract or expressive as long as it is recognisably a representation of a landscape that has been produced within the last five years. It should be a maximum of 1220 x 914 mm (48” x 36”).
Sky Arts has some advice about how to photograph your art

Images of landscape paintings that are eligible for submission are defined as follows:
  • MUST be a painting of a landscape vista
  • MAY be may be abstract or expressive
  • MUST be recognisable as a representation of a landscape
  • MAY be produced in any media - including collage and mixed media works - except those not allowed
  • MUST NOT include photography, video, sculpture and all forms of digital media.
  • MUST be produced in the last five years.
  • MUST be no bigger than 1220 x 914 mm (48” x 36”) unframed
  • MUST each have a file size of at least 800 KB and ideally no more than 1.5MB.
  • Additional Work(s) of Art submitted can be any size, and can also be in any material other than photography, video, sculpture or any form of digital media.
Note also that You MUST bring your original landscape entry and any additional works of art (submitted as part of your entry) to (and potentially from) the Heat IF you are
  • shortlisted
  • (or added to a List of Reserve Shortlisted Artists),
  • Paintings must be unframed, and substitutes cannot be accepted.

I want to emphasise how important the submission painting is. 

Time and again this year (read my blog posts), it's been very clear that the submission painting has been influential (sometimes very influential) in terms of
  • who gets selected for the heat shortlist and
  • who wins the heat.
Most of all, judges seem to be looking for some sort of consistency between the two paintings i.e. can this artist keep on producing consistently good work.

Personally I think it very likely the entries are sifted before the Judges proper sit down to review what is left.
A panel of Judges will review the Landscape Entry(s) and the Additional Works of Art from all the valid Competition entries and select the artists who will be invited to attend one of the Heats.

Your entry

This is NOT a competition where your partner, your best mate or Mum can enter you without you knowing! People can help you with the entry process but it must be YOUR ENTRY.

How to enter

The emphasis on YOU means that only YOU can enter unless you are under 18 in which case your parents need to complete and submit the entry. (You can help them!)

You've only got one chance with your entry to this competition. This is what you need to do:
  • Read the terms and conditions (LOTS of detailed small print). Then read them again. Then read them again before you upload your entry. I cannot emphasise too much how very easy it is to miss or misunderstand an important point - and you'll be kicking yourself if you do! It's one of the reasons I do this type of post!
  • YOU MUST complete/submit the online application form
  • YOU MUST upload digital images (low-resolution JPEGS 1.5MB max. file size) of:
    • a landscape painting created by you NOT including any frame. See further notes on what the landscape should and should not be
    • One passport-style photograph of yourself. (max size 500KB)
    • Note you should NOT manipulate your images (using Photoshop or other digital image software) so they look better than they are.
How to Photograph Art: Note all entered artworks are viewed on a screen so the competition has provided some guidance on how to ensure your photo does your painting justice.
The images of the Landscape Entry and the Additional Works of Art must not be manipulated in any way and must be of the work of art submitted for consideration.
You will also be asked to
  • describe yourself as an artist and your background,
  • detail whether you have entered or won any other art competitions - and how far you got.
  • state details of any television programme you've been on before
  • explain why you painted your landscape and how you painted it
Who knows how much difference the text makes. Treat it as if it matters a lot and you can't go far wrong. But be yourself but don't boast and don't undersell yourself,


You will be disqualified if
  • Your entry is incomplete; 
  • You do not meet the entry criteria; 
  • You are not eligible to enter the Competition; 
  • You cannot be contacted; 
  • You do not respond within 48 hours of being contacted by the production company in relation to your competition entry; 
  • You are not reasonably available to participate in the Series in accordance with the production requirements of the Series

Where and when will the Heats take place?

We only know the answer to one of those - they will be filmed in June 2020 as indicated below
The Landscape competition heats will be filmed at various locations around the UK in June 2020. 
Heats will take place "at locations to be decided" on the following dates (although these may change)

  • Heats One and Two: Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th June 2020. 
  • Heats Three and Four: Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th June 2020. 
  • Heats Five and Six: Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th June 2020.

It's not yet known where the Heats will take place - except they will be somewhere in the UK and Ireland.  They have been all over the place in the past. It's a pretty safe bet that

  • you will have to travel and 
  • you may need to get up at some unearthly hour to get there on time and assemble for the 6am call. 
  • they will be somewhere where they can get two programmes out of one general location (eg Herstmonceux, Plymouth, and Gateshead in 2019) plus there are local amenities (saves bussing in a "facilities" trailer!). This is because they'd rather move those pods a short distance than load them back on the van and take them somewhere completely different.
  • the views will include something pretty challenging. 
They've gone totally overboard on buildings in 2019 - it would be really nice to see them getting back to "proper landscape" in 2020. We do have rather a lot of it. I also keep wondering when Wales is going to get a look in......

Finally, we absolutely know for certain that they need enough flat land that can accommodate at least six pods for the artists!

Semi Final 2019: Pods next to the coastline of the Cromarty Firth in Scotland