Sunday, December 08, 2019

Fujiko Rose won Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 in Final at Battersea Power Station

The Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 was broadcast last week - and tomorrow is the 'final' programme in this year's series. It's about the winner's journey to paint Venice for a £10,000 commission for the Royal Institute of British Architects.

the final six paintings of the competition

This is a commentary on the Final. 

After this there's one more post where I'll be trying to round up and summarise what we learned from the Heats, Semi-Final and Final this year.  (That's for those who are already contemplating entering for next year - see Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2020)

The Final is always something of a bit of an odd show since 5 other participants are missing and there is the need to recap the journey to the Final

This one had an extra participant since Kate's new Baby (Juno) also came along for the evening (although I'm sure she was sent home for sleep).

The Location

After the Landscape Artist of the Year first of an all woman final we had another first - painting at night!

They went for a night painting at Battersea Power Station - an architectural icon which is currently undergoing a major reconstruction.

It's very clear to me that all the Heats were leading up to the subject for the Final.
  • So many verticals and/or dominant structures
  • So much architecture. 
  • So little natural landscape!!!
Was it a good choice as the location (and time) for the Final? 
Emphatically NOT in my opinion - and you only have to look at the results to see why.

Battersea Power Station with cranes and the red warning lights looking like fairy lights!

To my way of thinking - once whoever decided on Battersea Power Station as the location, somebody else probably remembered that Whistler used to paint his Nocturnes around and about this area of the Thames (Whistler and the Nocturnes certainly got a mention on the programme).

Hence the idea of night time painting at Battersea Power Station and producing Nocturnes was born.

SOMEBODY forgot to think about the additional issues and pressure this might present for the finalists - or decided this was a good idea! "Somebody" was both ignorant and wrong in my opinion.

Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge 
by James Mcneill Whistler
By using the word 'nocturne' I wished to indicate an artistic interest alone, divesting the picture of any outside anecdotal interest which might have been otherwise attached to it. A nocturne is an arrangement of line, form and colour first - attributed to Whistler in Dorment and MacDonald, p.122
Note - Whistler didn't get this good the first time he tried a nocturne!

The artists all agreed the location and timing were a major challenge AND that there was a lot of detail!

A TV Journey

All good reality competitions on the television like a "Journey" so I thought I'd record what I'd noted - and what was reiterated by the Judges in the programmes.

The Heats

and then comprehensively won the Semi Final in the Cromarty Firth - in part (I maintain) because they worked out that the best format for a tall building is portrait!.  Each had either had really weird structures and/or dreadful weather and light to contend with - so limbering up really for the Final.

Guess which format they went with for Battersea Power Station!

The Final

I'm puzzled given that they knew the timing of the Final in advance that the finalists hadn't tried night painting. There again I seem to recall finalists get relatively notice of the final location - and I suspect, in this instance, very little notice of the timing.

It can be very tiresome when you experience night time painting for the first time because - from a purely practical perspective
  • the night time LIGHT does really weird things to night time COLOURS - which means a nocturnal painting can end up looking extremely odd in daylight
  • you get VERY tired if you haven't been planning sleep around painting into the night and/or you're not used to staying up really late - and being tired does not make for good painting
  • you very definitely need a strategy for painting at night - otherwise a painting can lose its way and look muddled.
Tai agreed it was really difficult to paint at night but can produce beautiful results in terms of the lighting.  Methinks there speaks a man who has seen the paintings and not tried the reality!

In this instance they were painting at night in bliding artificial light 
- which completely negates the whole point of night time painting!!!

On the night they painted, they were also 24 hours away from the full moon.......

I really don't think ANY of them acquitted themselves well in terms of painting the power station - within the context of what we know they can do. I think all of them also struggled with the time allowance and the timing - with various responses - in part because of their lack of experience in painting at night.

Which was a pity - and very much down to who decided night time painting was a good idea - and how much notice they got. 

The one bonus was that they didn't get to the stage where they could overwork it!

I think they should have sent Tai out as a guinea pig to paint the power station at night under blinding artificial light to see whether he thought it was a good idea! I doubt he'd have done well either!

Discussing what they'd found most difficult during the time for painting
"standing up" says Sue!

The Commissions

The commissions were three very different landscapes and each presented a very special and unique challenge.

The bonus was that there was no time pressure on them to produce within a time limit. Just a deadline!  They had two weeks to complete the commission.

Given their locations all their visits would have presumed that they collected information on the site and then returned to their studios to work out how to create an artwork.

All images below are from Wikimedia Commons.

Fujiko Rose - Llanthony Priory - a partly ruined Augustinian priory at the foot of Black Mountains in the secluded Vale of Ewyas
The ruins have attracted artists over the years, including Joseph Mallord William Turner who painted them from the opposite hillside.
Llanthony Priory

Patsy Moore - Skellig Michael , an island west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland which has the remains of a Gaelic monastery, founded between the 6th and 8th centuries

The monastery complex at Skellig Michael

Sue England - The Falkirk Wheel - the world's first and only rotating boat lift - connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal

Falkirk Wheel

In effect, given the outcomes from the Final Location paintings - this Final was decided on the basis of the Commission Paintings.

In effect, it's a bit like the importance of the SUBMISSION artwork - when put next to the Heat Painting, it's much easier to see who the winner is.

Bottom line - what we have is a competition where a lot of what was decided in term of who won heats and the Final was decided on the basis of paintings done in the studio - and not on location.

Which is interesting - and provides a lot of scope for further pondering!

The Assessment

What was very interesting is that - as has happened before - any initial decisions by individual Judges as to who they thought should win were "blown out of the water" by the commissioned paintings.

You don't even need to have watched the programme to work it out - if you look at the images below.
"This just changes everything" Kate Bryan

The Commissions and the Heat Paintings
(left to right Fujiko Rose, Paty Moore and Sue England)

Fujiko Rose

Fujiko has no experience of drawing at night - but had less to be concerned about as she was not working in colour.

Summary of Fujiko Rose - a professional artist and wallpaper designer - by Judges:

  • monochrome use of Indian ink on paper (no colour) - plus use of masking fluid 
  • timeless quality
  • great strength in composition - often very beautiful
  • great ability to edit view and crop
  • can break down a structure in terms of verticals and horizontals and curves
  • combines structure of buildings with images of nature
She is very good at editing her view and combining strength and delicacy.  She is also very efficient in the use of her time and looks relaxed despite protesting she's very nervous!

Fujiko did not find that the subject matter appealed to her - and she was concerned that her picture looked a bit flat. She wanted to give it "seasoning" but was aiming for it to be at least presentable.

Commission and final painting by Fujiko Rose

Kathleen wanted to find by the end that she was looking at more than a very good illustration.

Patsy Moore

Like Fujiko, Patsy was very clearly NOT enamoured with the subject, which is always sad as you know right from the 'get go' that this would have an impact on how she painted in the Final - and this proved to be the case.

Summary of Patsy Moore - a professional artist and art tutor - by Judges:

  • very traditional painter 
  • a great colourist - combines warm and cool tones
  • typically uses pink grounds for her paintings in oil.
  • able to provide a lot of detail - who has a smart shorthand for suggesting detail
  • verges on the romantic
It doesn't help that the intense light also reflected off all the wet oil paint during filming and photography..

Commission and Final painting Patsy Moore

Patsy commented that she thought would struggle with the time given the subject, so determined to make decisions quite quickly and get on with it. She started with a dark diesel blue background - and seemed to have colour coordinated her clothing and apron with her painting! She continued to get compliments for identifying colours

She observes very carefully and recognised that the towers go close together as they go - and backwards - from her perspective!  I think she got the height and width wrong.

Using white pastel on a dark blue underpainting worked extremely well from the perspective of allowing her to see her underdrawing.

However as she said - and I agree - "It doesn't look like a Patsy painting at all"

I felt with her commission painting she ducked more round topped buildings and went for a view of steep steps - but then didn't seem to graduate the risers into the distance.
Were we expecting watercolour? Kate Bryan

Sue England 

Commission and Final painting by Sue England

Summary of Sue England - a retired graphic designer and amateur artist and the overall wildcard winner - by Judges
  • distinct style whose wildcard painting "jumped out"
  • essentially a colourist
  • paints in a very fluid brushy way
  • 'mucky painter' in terms of using her hands
  • Kathleen ane Kate liked her composition
  • Tai liked the organic feel associated with her slabby paintwork
The Judges felt her commission looked a bit Barbara Hepworthish and of English futurism.

I think whatever she felt about the building, Sue's experience as a graphic designer told her to get on and do! She went straight in with paint on canvas and was going for the monumental feel of the building rather than absolute accuracy.  She astutely commented that the towers seemed to look a bit like Chinese lanterns.

She could see all the tones in the picture in front of her - but realized afterwards she had got her proportions wrong and that it was a bit messy.  However she was sensible and sat back and looked rather than trying to do major corrections

Tai felt it was a well constructed painting and emanated energy. All three liked it.

I have a feeling she might have won if it had been down to the painting on the night only.

and the winner is.....

....determined by the commissions!

Time to announce the winner
Fujiko Rose won Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - and the £10,000 commission to produce an artwork of Venice.

Her commission was absolutely outstanding and streets ahead of every other artwork at the final and was the artwork that changed everything.

Llanthony Priory by Fujiko Rose

Fujiko said that she aspired to let people step inside the picture.

Words used about her commission by the Judges included

  • outstanding and amazing Kate 
  • phenomenal piece of work Tai 
  • the movement in it is incredible because there is nothing in the middle Kathleen
  • both paintings side by side make sense of her work as a whole Kathleen

Line up of the five paintings by Fujiko Rose

The lineup of her work at the end spoke for itself.
We're really delighted with our winner. Fujiko makes complete sense as an artist. She captures light so beautifully. She knows what she's doing.  Kate Bryan
She's mashing up printmaking techniques with ink drawing and doing it in really interesting ways Kathleen Soriano
It's new basically What's she's doing is new is doing.....I think her and Venice are going to get on like a house on fire Tai van Schierenberg
Fujiko Rose after the result

I think she's an amazing winner and the exhibition is going to be great. Her Venice artwork looks as if it is going to be huge. I can't wait to see it tomorrow!

The Exhibition

Make a note of the location and date of the exhibition when you can get to see the artwork up close!

Finalists from this series will be exhibiting
Register your interest to attend the exhibition at (020 7499 0947)

Oh what a night! Fabulous to be in the FINALS of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019. Huge congratulations to this year’s worthy winner @fujikorose! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ what a commission piece you produced! Painting such an overwhelming subject all night was amazing. How tired were we three girls at the end? ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด but it was so worth it !!! Well done to @28sueengla0547 too. My thanks to the judges: #taishanschierenberg, #kathleensoriano, #katebryan, the wonderful presenters: Dame Joan Bakewell and #stephenmangan for all thei support and fun, and to all the #storyvaultfilms production team - you are all stars!! ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿคฉ #laoty #skyarts #skyartslandscapeartistoftheyear #behindthescenes #cassart #nightpainting #londonlife #batterseapowerstation #finals #art #painting #artist #landscape #oilpainting #watercolours #marineart #prints #happypatsy
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More about Landscape Artist of the Year 

on MAM and by participants

2019: SERIES 5



2018: SERIES 4

PLUS Sky Arts Landscape Artist - Winning Heat 4 | Greg Mason

Previous Years
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 - call for entries (February 2017)
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2016 - Heat Winners & Finalists(December
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2015 - Call for entries (February 2015)