In May this year I applied for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year, an annual competition open to professional and amateur artists in the UK. A friend suggested I go in for it, a few days before the submission deadline. Very shortly after I recieved a phone call, and, thinking initially this would be an interview, was told there and then that I was a chosen contestant for heat 6 in Inverary, Scotland. My Manhattan submission piece (found on my City Scenes, City Steeets page) was loved by the judges and helped secure a place on the show.
Here I am in the pod on the day!
I thought carefully about my submission painting, which is a good example of my fascination with colour play in low level light conditions (as well as the architecture!). My selection to paint Inverary Castle seemed great, I love buildings so that didn’t pose a problem. However our pod proximity to the building was very, very near – the castle almost dominating my field of vision. I had an annoying tree in the way (which I edited out) and a very large expanse of green (including the stone of the castle, not very evident on internet photos). It was interesting to see Tai Shan Schierenberg and Stephen Mangan discussing the ‘obvious’ castle ahead of us, and to see whether artists would interpret the scene differently. Well for me the castle was fabulous and I wanted to embrace it all (I knew I had enough paint!!) – grey tupperware skies aren’t very exciting but again I’ve painted that many times before (cold dark grey November skies can be tricky however, but that’s another story….).
My studio, my submission piece and I.
If you are thinking of applying to the show then why not! It’s free to enter and if you get selected you get great exposure, opportunity and sales. If your location is nearby then I strongly suggest that you visit prior to the actual heat, it could help loads. Be prepared for interruption and also the regular ‘tap, tap’ sound of the time-lapse camera behind you (you’ll get used to it). I must confess after four hours of painting non stop I was feeling knackered but the experience overall was great. I feel that friendship was made with the other very talented artists, and I am in contact with most from our heat. The production team really know what they’re doing, and the breakfast buns were superb.
Who knows, I might enter again..
One final note for men with hairy chests, the microphone won’t stick there.
Below – the heat painting, with accompanying bin store on the hill.
A view from Midtown looking south. The painting is coming along as expected and now I’m going to focus on ‘toning down’ the lights a little, adding subtleties to their ‘glow’ which will give the picture more interest. The Empire State Building, seen here in mid ground will also be merged in tone to the background, to soften it’s appearance. I love the shape of the ‘BoAT’ (Bank of America Tower) and find it remenicent of Renzo Piano’s Shard tower on London’s South Bank.
A view of the wonderful Central Park, the essential green lungs of Manhattan island. The stark contrast of rambling green horizontals and pale, graceful verticals is hypnotic and spectacular. My last visit here was alas not particularly green (it was January) and criminally short (passing on my way to the Guggenhiem Museum). Honestly! I mean, just ‘passing’?? This is truly one of the loveliest parts of the city…. next time i’ll know better to spend a little longer here!!
This painting is the first of a pair commissioned recently for clients who had met and lived for a few years in the city. This view includes the lovely Bryant Park in the foreground, hemmed in by a cluster of dramatic verticals. The large open expanse of Central Park can be seen in the distance, top right. Further away is the George Washington Bridge illuminated by the setting sun. The tall, irregular yet graceful tower in the foreground is home to the Bank of America and is commonly known as ‘The Boat’. As with a growing number of businesses in the city, this building boasts beehives which in turn may be contributing to a rise in unwelcome swarms (although I’d love to give the honey a taste!)
Now complete, a view of the big apple from the east, near the United Nations headquarters. I am fascinated by the ‘turning’ times of dusk and dawn as this creates an unusual cocktail of colours created by weak sunlight. Skyscrapers are very good subjects for cast shadows, and, needless to say, perspective. Although I have included pretty much all the buildings seen from this viewpoint I have used a degree of artistic licence as to their relative heights. This helps to create a more pleasing composition. Additionally I have provided a familiar celestial object, which although is known as a symbol of night has in this case provided an alternative ‘rise’.
One of my latest completed paintings, a view looking northward past the Chrysler building to Queens and the East River. This is relatively large in size from what I usually do, at nearly a metre square. This is essential to evoke the sheer mass of NYC, its various forms, shadows and colours.
Foxy! Here is a close up of one of my latest paintings. I have focused on a section which has involved my rather worn brushes. Here we see a mixture of thickly applied paint and more ‘pushed’ or ‘dragged’ areas which is possible with short yet firm bristles. This creates a degree of variety which enlivens the whole painting, creating a sense of vitality and freshness.
Here’s a rather scruffy line up! These may look worn, or indeed downright unworkable brushes. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact I relish their mature state as it can give me the desired brushwork that a crispy new one would not (I particularly like the fourth one from the left for tighter detailing!) They are all, apart from the second in on the right, flat head shape when new. Alas there will be a moment when they will be truly useless, but until then I’ll squeeze every last drop of life out of them! In my next post I’ll show some details of my paintings to explain further…