2024-Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year

2024-Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year

In June 2023 I was lucky enough to be invited to take part as a Wildcard contestant for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. I flew over to Stonehaven, a beautiful little seaside town 2 hours north of Edinburgh by train where we spent two days filming for the episodes which will air in early 2024.

When we arrived in Stonehaven there was a great buzz and everyone was hovering near the pods and the location of the wildcard contestants. The first day of filming was based in the little harbour with rustic little boats and delightful little houses in the bay. I met my good friend @lindaproudfootartist,  a fellow artist in Dun Laoghaire and watched her competition for much of the day. It was so exciting to watch the contestants in their pods working away and I found it difficult to choose a personal favourite. 

We had a near disaster though as the next day which was my filming day,  we had been instructed to be up at Donottar Castle quite early to meet the crew which was a few miles up a very steep hill outside the town. I was relying on the local taxi service to get me there on time so I booked the taxi for 7am and stood outside my hotel patiently waiting...and waiting...and waiting. It turns out everyone else had the same idea and there were probably about 5 taxis in the whole town.  I was left standing armed with easels and bags of painting equipment and frankly nearly in tears fearing that my much anticipated LAOTY experience was about to come crashing down. 

Lo and behold though, as if by some kind of miracle, a car screeched up in front of me rather like that scene from 'Back to the Future' and a wonderful man named Chris from Livingstone rolled down his window and asked me 'if knew where Donottar castle was!' He was also going to the film location and had gotten lost along the way (yay there is a God!). I could have hugged him and in fact I did later that day as he and his wife Christina drove at speed up very narrow country lanes, missing a few cows and ditches enroute to get us to our location on time.

We arrived at the designated field to meet the crew and get our canvas and papers stamped.After that shaky start,the pre filming nerves had dissipated and I felt at ease. 

We settled into the field overlooking the incredible fortress at Donottar and it was such a blue sky day I felt so lucky that the weather Gods had played ball and there was no need for the many contingency plans including umbrellas, raincoats and clear shower curtains I had managed to bring on my Ryanair suitcase to protect my easel if the heavens opened.

We had 4 hours to complete our painting and during this time the camera crews meandered about the crowd grabbing Vox Pops from a lot of the contestants. I was happy to have mine done early in the day so I could relax into the painting process.

I really enjoyed meeting the public who came out in great numbers to watch us paint. I am well used to plein air painting and being scrutinised over my shoulder. People are generally curious (and kind) about your paint process or colour palette and I spent a lot of the day chatting to strangers about how lucky we were to be overlooking such an enviable subject to paint. 

Finally after the 4 hour window we found out the winner of the Wildcard selection and it was exciting to watch the judges walking through the crowd to tap on a shoulder.


Even though it wasn't my shoulder they tapped, there was no disappointment as I was really happy with my productivity. I managed to complete three paintings within the time frame - two watercolours and one abstract acrylic. Here they are...

After that we were free to watch the last few minutes of the Pod Artists and I loved the anticipation of the Judges decision and final choice who happened to be an Irish-Canadian Artist. 


It was an amazing experience meeting all of the artists and especially the Judges Tai Shan Schierenburg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan. I also loved meeting Stephen Mangan who is a really funny and witty man and kept us all entertained during the day. 

LAOTY, Landscape Artist of the Year

It was definitely a trip to remember and I would invite anyone who is curious but slightly terrified to apply as it was such a brilliant experience I will never forget!




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