Thursday, February 22, 2024

Review: Semi Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024

This is a review of the Semi Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 which took place at the historic shipbuilding village and maritime museum of Buckler's Hard in Hampshire.

Judging the seven paintings produced in the LAOTY semifinals

Below you can read about:
  • The Artists - but also see yesterday's post The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024
  • The Wildcard Winner
  • The Location and Weather 
  • Themes, Learning Points and Tips
  • Decision Time: The Finalists
  • My take on the Semi Final Paintings - covering them in order of the Heats

The Artists

The Semi Finalists - after they had finished

The Artists were:
  • all the Heat Winners - We already know who all the artists are - and I did a recap of them yesterday in my post The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 - so no section devoted to artists in this post!
  • plus the chosen wildcard from the Wildcard Winners in each heat.  The Wildcard Winner who got a place in a pod and who was selected from the six Heat Wildcard was Rebecca Patterson from Aberdeen.
Rebecca Patterson with her Heat 1 painting of a nocturnal Dunnottar Castle

Rebecca Patterson took part in who took part in Heat 1 at Dunnottar Castle. She is a professional artist and a creative practitioner. She graduated from Gray’s School of Art in 2009 with a BA(Hons) in Painting and again in 2010 with a Master of Fine Art. She works with Grampian Hospitals Art Trust on their Art Room projects and the charity Life With Art which hosts creative workshops with vulnerable groups in Aberdeen.

During the course of the day, Rebecca drew her very own following as those watching were very interested in her very different techniques for creating art.

The very interested spectators around Rebecca's pod
- as the time came to remove the cling film!

The Hordes

The LAOTY Pods at the top of the
maritime heritage village at Buckler's Hard in Hampshire
plus just some of the visitors who stopped to watch

LOTS of people came to watch the semi-finals.  Rather too many to make it conducive to good artwork in my opinion. 

It was difficult to tell whether these were normal visitors who stopped to watch a bit or people who had specifically come to watch. I decided those with collapsible chairs were probably part of the latter group! However inspection of "bucklers hard" on Instagram suggests virtually all were there to get seen on the television...... i.e. very few mentions on social media. I think many of those who sat on the grass in front of the artists maybe thought they were going to get memorialised in a painting as well as getting their "face on the telly".

There's a point at which onlookers get in the way of artists performing well.

I think those who produce this programme might do well to consider long and hard whether and when they announce the locations at which they are filming. However, I'm sure they've already learned some lessons from this experience.

PS If you get selected as a pod artist this year, ask them what they are doing about keeping audience numbers to more sensible levels.

Location & Weather

The location was unusual. Buckler's Hard is a historic shipbuilding village and a Maritime Museum on the west bank of the Bealieu River in Hampshire.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Semi-Finalists in Landscape Artist of the Year 2024

You, like me, have probably already forgotten the names and backgrounds of the artists who are going to be in the semi-final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 on Sky Arts.

Here's a round-up and refresher for all those who will be watching TONIGHT at 8pm.

For me, the critical question is WHO is going to make a serious pitch for the final and then the commission in this semifinal round. Read on to find out WHY....

ALL the artists are painters - except for Kristina who is really a printmaker.

At the end I discuss the reasons behind who I predict will be in the Final and where you can discuss my choice!

Heat 1: Kristina Chen

Kristina Chen
(Instagram) is a Canadian printmaker who has studied in London. Her submission was a large monochrome work on very thin Japanese paper. Very little presence online when I looked for her after the first heat. However, I looked again and have now found her website which I couldn't find at the time of the first heat. She describes herself as 
a London based artist working between printmaking, photography and public installation.
It's also very clear from her 'about' page that she is very used to doing commissions for prestigious clients and public art installations. Nothing that vaguely resembles painting though...

Having seen her past achievements, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if she's in the Final - because I don't believe that the Judges never ever look at their CVs and websites!
However, her Instagram account is now private! Which seems odd for an artist who is trying to raise their profile via the media

Submission and Heat Painting by Kristina Chen

What I said

Kristina Chen rescued an impossible situation and benefited from the fact that both Kathleen and Tai liked the strange quality of her artwork. They do love seeing artwork they've not seen before!

I thought Kristina's submission was very impressive - and I identified her at the beginning, when we only had the submissions to go on, as being one of the shortlisted artists.

I also think it is infinitely superior to her heat artwork. However I have sympathy for the fact that what she had planned to do in the heat i.e. printmaking turned out to be impossible given the location. She was working on very light paper and it became obvious to her that working into the initial drawing / print using other media was the only way she could finish.

She captured the huge clefts in the cliff on which the castle sat and got a very real sense of the massive nature of the cliffs and the relatively small size of the castle. Plus she got the weather in the latter part of the day.

She wasn't my favourite, although I loved her submission. I said....

I'm not disappointed however I think her submission probably got her through. It will be really interesting to see:
  • whether she works out how to do printmaking outside
  • what she produces in the semi-finals
REFERENCE: Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) 

Heat 2: Wesley Smith

I didn't like Wesley's heat painting, however I loved his submission

Wesley Smith (Instagram) is a chef and a painter based in Brighton’s North Laines where he paints landscapes and still lives. He spent 10 years living abroad in Taiwan and his paintings are influenced by Asia. His Instagram account is definitely worth a review - I'm more impressed by the paintings on there which demonstrates very clearly that he can paint a range of landscapes.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Review: Episode 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) - Hever Castle

 ...and so we come to the last heat of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024. 

....and it's another big building. Although this time it's rather older than the ones in last week's heat - plus it comes with two moats - an outer one and an inner one!!

Episode 6: Hever Castle

This is my review of the sixth episode of the 9th series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.  As regular readers will know by now, it considers:
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • judges decision-making
  • who was shortlisted and who won.

Location and Weather

The Heat took place at Hever Castle in Kent - which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (1501-1536)  who was the second wife of King Henry VIII and a Queen from 1533 to 1536. You can see the outer and inner moat in the pic below. Plus the topiary lawn which is a feature of the approach to the Castle.

On the day of the heat, the weather was fine - sunny with some cloud cover. So none of the artists in this heat had to compete with any of the challenges that participating artists in other heats have encountered this year.

Hever Castle, topiary and inner and outer moats

Very sensibly, they located the pods at some distance from the castle which made the latter small and opened up the need to create an artwork which included part of the estate and garden.

If you want to "play at being a pod artist" and try and paint the scene, you need to go to the green area (top left in the above image) over the bridge and between the outer moat and the cafe - with the view over the top of the topiary.  This is near to where you enter the Castle Grounds from the car park (speaks this past visitor!)

Cafe in the background and Outer Moat on the right

The artists' view from the Pods
of (foreground) the lily covered moat
(Middle ground) the topiary
(background) Hever Castle - on the right

The perspective from the pods provided three clear zones:
  • (foreground) the lily covered moat
  • (Middle ground) the topiary
  • (background) Hever Castle - on the right
Lots of green vegetation and lots of stone. The colour of the main features of course varied during the day depending on whether it was in in the sun or covered by the cloud which featured - on a variable basis - on the day and hence the object was in the shade.

TIP  Decide of the pattern of sun and shade before you begin to paint. 
  • Consider the pattern of darks and lights before you start
  • Take photos when you start and fix on a the parameters of your design. (what's in and what's out)
  • Delay fixing on how sun and/or shadow are going to cover your subject matter by making a decision only after you have drawn in
  • work out how the darks and lights will change as the sun moves during the day
  • make a record sketch of what the tonal shapes are (darks, lights and inbetween tones)
  • don't forget to include and record the shadows of objects in your design
see also my blog post Plein air art - 10 tips for working with sunshine and shade (3rd June 2009)

Looks to me as if the Wildcard artists were a little way further round from the pod artists - in amongst the trees with a side-on view of the Castle - with a choice of being under the shade of the big trees or being out in the sunshine!

The wildcard artists beyond the Outer Moat at Hever Castle

Artists' Profiles

I've now decided that the cameras which record the artists work MUST have stopped working - because the listing of the artists has not been updated past Heat 4. So we have lost:
  • the correct spelling of every artist's name
  • links to their social media sites
  • a video of how they created their landscape artwork
Below I provide links to their websites (if they have one) embedded in their names and a link to their Instagram account if they have one.

The POD Artists of Heat 6, LAOTY 2024 in the garden at Hever Castle

The artists in Heat 6 at Hever Castle are:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A short break (except for LAOTY)

I'm currently feeling absolutely inundated with a very long "to do" list of tasks which have been on the back burner for far too long

So, consequently, I'm taking a short break from "Making A Mark" - EXCEPT for my weekly reviews of Landscape Artist of the Year which will still appear each week.

You never know by the time I come back I may have sorted out the email subscription issue!

Friday, February 09, 2024

Review: Episode 5 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) - Liverpool Three Graces

This is my penultimate Heat Review of Series 9 of Landscape Artist of the Year . One more to go and then it will be the semi-finals! This week's fifth heat came from Pier Head in Liverpool.

  • On one side of the Pods were the Three Graces - very large and historic buildings associated with Liverpool's past. 
  • On the other side was the River Mersey and the Mersey Ferries Terminal - which attracted a lot of the wildcard artists.

Heat Paintings lined up
in front of the former offices of the Port of Liverpool Building

Episode 5: Liverpool - The Three Graces

This is my review of the fifth episode of the 9th series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.  As regular readers will know by now, it considers:
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • judges decision-making
  • who was shortlisted and who won.

Location and Weather

Subject Matter: Three large buildings for the pod artists
(note the pods on extreme right of Pier Head)
wildcards could choose the buildings
OR turn towards the Mersey Ferries Terminal, the River Mersey and the Ferries

This week's heat was on the Liverpool Waterfront at Pier Head - adjacent to:
  • The Three Graces at Pier Head (from left to right)
    • the Royal Liver Building (1908-11) - one of the first buildings in the world to be built using reinforced concrete. It's a landmark building in Liverpool and is famed for the two Liver Birds which standing on top of the two cupola watching over land and sea
    • the Cunard Building (1914-16) - this is a mix of Italian Renaissance and Greek Revival styles. It used to be home home to Cunard's passenger facilities for trans-Atlantic journeys departing from Liverpool. 
    • the Port of Liverpool Building (1904-1907) - formerly the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Offices, more commonly known as the Dock Office is a Grade II* listed building. It was the first big building on Pier Head and was constructed with a reinforced concrete frame clad in Portland Stone
  • The statue of the Beatles on Pier Head
  • The Gerry Marsden Terminal at Pier Head of the Mersey Ferries which was renamed in 2022 in honour of Gerry Marsden who made "Ferry across the Mersey" famous.
The Three Graces are part of what is Liverpool's FORMER UNESCO designated World Heritage site, the Maritime Mercantile City.  

Unfortunately, back in 2021, the status was removed after rather too many buildings of little architectural merit and no connection to the port were also built along the waterfront (see extreme right of the above image - which were part of the last heat). (see Unesco strips Liverpool of its world heritage status and World Heritage Committee deletes Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City from UNESCO’s World Heritage List)


It was a very hot day - and yet again the pods are out in the sunshine. The artists get the benefit of fans but there is absolutely no shade. 
  • I'm not quite sure how the legal requirements for taking care of the health and wellbeing of the participants allows for no shade at all on a very hot and sunny day. 
  • Or maybe there is shade and I can't see it? I know the top of the pod is opaque. It would be nice to know it contains a strong UV filter. Thing is when I look at the programme all I can see is artists in pods in full sun (i.e. there are shadows from items on the floor of the pod) who are complaining about how hot it is. I know they put fans in the pods - but the problem with fans is they don't stop heatstroke or UV.
If I was in a pod with no shade on a hot day I'd walk out - or insist they sorted out some shade for me.

Pods on pier head on a very hot day with no shade.

The other problem with painting in bright sunlight is you cannot see colour properly. If you're also looking at white buildings, it becomes a bit like snow blindness.

What they need is a venetian blind system which the artist can control to cover the pod if required. Alternatively the equivalent of an upright sunshade within the pod - big enough for artist and painting.

So far as the wildcards are concerned, it's entirely up to them how they position themselves and whether they bring any shade with them. I'm thinking those tents fulfil lots of purposes from keeping you dry to providing shade....  See the winner of the wildcards to see how she handled it (below)

Artists' Profiles

I'm beginning to think that the cameras which record the artists work must have stopped working - because we have LOST the official listing (which is a great pity) of:
  • the correct spelling of every artist's name
  • links to their social media sites
  • a video of how they created their landscape artwork
It stops after Heat 3.

These are the artists who painted Pier Head in Episode 5

Below links to the artist's website is embedded in their name - if they have one.
  • Ruqayya Aftab  - a fine art student from Birmingham. No social media so far as I can see. Her submission was of a woodcut of a market in Pakistan.
  • Penny Bearman (Instagram) - from Deal in Kent. She considers herself to be an impressionist and likes to produce atmospheric landscapes and dramatic cloudscapes. 
  • Mark Bonnello  (Instagram) - an HGV driver living in County Antrim. He's a self taught painter who works mostly in oils. He has been taking his painting seriously since 2018 and has exhibited at the RUA, the RSMA and the ROI and lists his smaller works on his website.
  • Chris Dorning (Instagram) - a mixed media artist from Cumbria. He is a professional mural artist and likes painting on a bright red ground.
  • Kerry Doyland (Instagram) - from Essex. She qualified as an architectural designer in the 1980’s and started her own design company. She was awarded British Designer of the Year and Freedom of the City of London for her work in this field. She now paints in acrylics. Her submission painting was both beautiful and sad - of a terrace at a hotel in Venice which she visited after she lost her husband to Covid.
Below Kerry is seen with a camera hanging over her shoulder - should anybody be under any illusion as to what it's actually like for the artists in the pods!

  • Quentin Martin (Instagram) - a British architectural designer, artist and art tutor who enjoys painting. Working mostly in oils, his subjects mainly include landscapes. Produced en plein air, the work is as much about the journey, in search of the subject, as it is the subject itself. He has exhibited widely including many open exhibitions.
  • Ciaran Meister (Instagram) - a multidisciplinary artist, musician and filmmaker living and working in Wicklow, Ireland. He paints rural scenes with broad flat vertical strokes. His practice is concerned with mark-making and explorations of time and memory.
Liverpudlians are sound. Stopping and saying nice things about my painting in the best accent was a highlight.

If you’re thinking of entering @artistoftheyear definitely do. It’s a cool experience and impressive to see how such a big production comes together on the day.
  • Monica Popham (Instagram) - a digital media manager and landscape artist and illustrator from Gibraltar. Currently based in Guildford. The main body of her work focuses on the tangible quality of sunlight, and how it interacts with the architecture in Gibraltar and other Mediterranean towns. 
There were several weeks between the call and my heat, so I set out to practice as much as possible. There were lots of emails and calls during this time with an extensive artist questionnaire all about my background, painting technique and personality.
We were told our location was along the Liverpool waterfront so after looking on google maps, I assumed it was going to be either the Albert Docks, The Liver Building or the Liverpool Museum. After studying the blogs of previous episodes on Making a Mark (which I suggest any artist who is going on the programme to do), I practiced painting in the 4 hour window.
As always I'm hugely appreciative of those who give my blog and reviews a mention! 


The problems of painting on a hot day

Here's some of the things that happen to artists / painters on a hot day.