It's been about half a year now since the filming for landscape Artist of the Year wrapped up and as I didn't get round to doing separate blog posts on the finals and Venice, I decided now would be a good time to write an overview post about the general experience and how its been afterwards! (writing a blog post seemed like a good quarantine activity)
For the interview about the final and the commission specifically, you can read this Cass Art blog post where I discuss my approaches to drawing and what the experience was like.
The Finals at Battersea Power Station
Fortunately, London is close to home so it was an easy trip to get there so that was the first positive!
This was a slightly different sort of view to the other locations in the sense that it was set at night, which i thought would be quite fine as the night sky can fill space on a paper whilst also giving the picture some weight.
Inspiration for the piece was a mix of things but mainly it's an art deco building, so i wanted to reflect that in the actual style of the drawing so it has lots of distinct shapes and flat textures and has a somewhat poster like quality to it.
This is my favourite piece I did for the show and definitely one of my most ambitious pieces when it comes to composition, scale and detail. It's a classic and beautiful location, some people even find it could be a chocolate box type landscape, and I was initially worried about how I could shake it up and make the landscape more edgy. But upon a second thought back at home i realised, it's a ruin, it's already got so many cool characteristics with its many textures and crumbling but strong silhouette and just dripping with history at a glance, so then it just became a mission to capture it as i saw it.
Beneath my extreme excitement of winning and getting to go to Venice I did have concerns about what i heard was a beautifully COLOURFUL city with not much foliage and upon arriving it became a challenge of 'oh my goodness this place is stunning and completely unique and how do i do it justice' which i imagine is a common concern to artists. Fortunately as we had a whole week there and i was able to make a number of studies it gave me enough time to really think about the composition and i was constantly looking for a spot which i felt even in a small crop would be representative of Venice. The palazzo I ended up choosing to draw is situated on the grand canal, it was an art gallery had an exhibition titled 'venice design' on which i thought seemed rather appropriate. It had the Gothic arches that Ruskin loved, as well as intricate window grill on the ground floor (something that i loved), but the goal wasn't to show Palazzo Michiel as such, it was about highlighting all the distinct features which you could see through the entirety of Venice. So emphasis was placed on the layers of peeling plaster and exposed brick, the wooden posts emerging from the water, the strange sense of light, the many details which adorned the building face, how the water complimented the architecture but was also uncomfortably close.
So far I've just been talking about how I approached the different pieces of artwork but i think its good to talk about the actual experience of being filmed and working with the crew and all that sort of stuff.
Between the semi-final and final I was brought to Llanthony Priory and this was a totally different experience with the crew, before i had been so focused on the competition but this was a lovely chance to get to know the people who really pull this show together and you could chat and actually enjoy the conversation as you're not stressing out.
The finals were a different sort of feat due to the time of day, we actually finished up with the filming at about 3am and then all staggered back to the hotel (other than the amazing crew who still had to pack up, i don't know what time they went to bed...) But we were constantly supplied with hot drinks and there were heaters and blankets there if we wanted them. A bonus of drawing at night was by the time we were half way through was there weren't very many people arrived.
The trip to Venice was completely unforgettable, not just because the amazing scenery but also we (me and the amazing crew) were together from breakfast to dinner, we probably looked like a very random group of people but those differences is what made for the interesting conversations and it was never boring.
I will say though being filmed, with me as the only subject matter, in the middle of a very busy Venice, was a little bit embarrassing.
I cannot recommend enough having prints of your work ready and available as soon as you can and also post on social media right away with the right hashtags so that people can find you.
Clarendon Fineart- LAOTY exhibition
Everyone that got to the semi-finals were part of the exhibition in Mayfair and you can find links to all the different artist in this making a mark blog post
This exhibition is a definite benefit of the competition, the gallery framed all the work too!
It's undeniably been a pivotal moment for me, becoming an artist has actually become a viable life option now and I've since been selling prints and doing commissions and now i'm trying to work on some bigger pieces and keep active, I'm trying to make the most of the opportunity as it's such a rare and one-off thing.