4 hours of painting in the middle of the countryside with a TV crew looking over my shoulder. What a day!
5th April 2016
In Spring I received a call informing me that I had been selected as an artist to appear on the Sky Arts TV "Landscape Artist Of The Year 2016".
I was really excited to be selected, but then it suddenly dawned on me that I would have to create a painting in a few short hours, rather than a several months with my layering process. I then had the realisation that I also use digital projectors as an aid to help create my paintings, so I was concerned my technique would not translate to ‘en plain air’ painting. At this point I called the Sky Arts team up and made the suggestion that I bring along my projector and set up a modern day camera obscurer in a tent. I even explained that a similar technique had been used for hundreds of years and it is widely suggested that the great 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer made use of the as an aid for painting too. But they were not convinced, and said no. Personally I thought it would have made great TV seeing a man hiding in a tent painting.
13th June 2016
I drove down from London the day before filming as it was a 6am start at Scotney Castle. The sun was shining and the light danced through the trees which lined the Kent countryside. It was so magical it literally brought tears to my eyes. I’d really wished I had been sharing this moment with someone special. I had booked to stay in a lovely B&B just a few minutes from the castle. When I arrived I quickly unpacked, had a quick chat with the owners about art and the local area, and then headed to a local pub to grab some dinner before settling down for an early night. Well early for me…I think it was 1am when I finally fell asleep.
14th June 2016
The weather app on my phone had predicted rain and thunderstorms on the day of filming, but when I woke up it was a lovely clear morning and it stayed like that pretty much all day.
When I arrived I was miked up and shown my way down to where I would be painting with the other selected artists. I nearly had a run in with Frank Skinner at this point as I was standing on a pathway waiting to be told where to go next by the crew, and then suddenly his motorised golf buggy came flying towards me. I glanced the vehicle with a quick frown, and Frank jumped out and joked “I thought you were going to smack someone then. It’s a bit early for a fight…”.
After the breakfast briefing we were led back down to the painting pods, and then filming started of everyone setting up their equipment. This was my first taste of having to repeat my actions for the film crew. Usually I am on the other side of the camera and it wouldn’t bother me. But I think I emptied my bag 3 times so they could get the shot they wanted, and I just kept thinking this is going to slow me down and time is limited enough to paint.
READY, STEADY, PAINT!
I had a plan of action for the day; breaking my day down into two halves. First the textures and washes in the morning and then allow them to dry over lunch. Then the details of the building in the afternoon, and then finally pull it all together in a flurry at the end. The day went something like that, but was super intense and super stressful without a moment to breathe. I’ve never felt so rushed in all my life. At one point I wanted to smash the painting up and run away.
The day was a learning experience and probably not something I would do again because of the time factor. But I enjoyed the experience as a whole and it was fun being in front of the camera.
Sky Landscape Artist Of The Year 2016
Scotney Castle in Kent
My 'pod' was the first one on the left
Spray painting some of the layers
Dabbing on some paint through my stencil
Explaining my work to Frank Skinner
Sharing a joke with Jane Bakewell
Happy to be shortlisted