March 3, 2024


Yo Quiero Techno

MAKING A MARK: Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year

9 min read
MAKING A MARK: Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year

You can see all the submissions – by the different artists – in this
promotional pic created by the marketing team.

There are 3 landscape formats, 3 portrait and one square in the above
pic – and I’m wondering what happened to the eighth.

  • 4 large paintings
  • 2 small / medium size paintings
  • 1 small painting.

Here’s the Judges reviewing the various submissions – on the wall at

The submission paintings which impressed me were those by
Anna Rotheisen (being
looked at above); Veronica Valeri and Tim Wait.

Themes & Learning Points

What a ridiculous idea! 

I must confess, this sort of “entertainment” approach to landscape
painting leaves me completely cold. 

they’re getting stale and want to up the anti? Honestly – for me – the challenge for the artists to produce a good landscape painting under pressure (ie time limit, on TV, en plein air) is drama enough. Wish they’d stop mucking about. (comment on Facebook)

Initially I found it very difficult to take this heat seriously and I very much felt for the
artists faced who’s been selected for this challenge.

While there are a few racehorse/racecourse paintings around, they’re
typically painted by fans of horses and/or racing. Hence
I regarded this heat as setting artists up to fail – especially
since they need to get dressed up too.

It also hardly makes it fair for all contestants across all heats!

Is this a landscape competition?

This is a SERIOUS question. 

All I’m seeing are massive complicated man-made CONSTRUCTIONS e.g. Blackpool pier last week and the Grandstand at Ascot this week. (I can also list from past series e.g. Eden Project, Oil Rigs, bridges everywhere – Forth Bridge, Tyne Bridge, etc and another favorite – large country mansions!). ALL of which are so untypical of the landscapes painted by good / excellent / great landscape painters. Where is the LAND?

landscape painting, the depiction of natural scenery in art.
Landscape paintings may capture mountains, valleys, bodies of
water, fields, forests, and coasts and may or may not include
man-made structures as well as people

Landscape painting | art – Encyclopedia Britannica

 e.g. I’d like to see much more locations which involve LAND
in all its different forms. 
I sometimes feel as if the Judges are people who’ve never ever put a
hiking boot on their feet in their lifetime!

Moreover, I’m very puzzled by the Commission Painting which appears to
be wholly about Marine Art
(a highly specialised sub-category of landscape painting) i.e. a painting to celebrate the Dutch Marine Painters the Van der Veldes for an exhibition at the Queens House in Greenwich – for
the Royal Museums Greenwich. (Note: The exhibition is due to open 2nd March 2023

Willem van de Velde the Elder was renowned for his highly accurate drawings of ships and
maritime life. He would even go to sea himself, paper in hand, to
capture naval battles as they were raging.

His son,
Willem van de Velde the Younger, was a celebrated painter. From calm
coastal scenes to fierce storms, his work captured the many moods of
the ocean

I’m at a complete loss to understand what connection Ascot Racecourse
has to do with marine painting – unless it’s moving 17th century
ships  with small people? I jest!

TIP: for people applying for next year

  • Given the programme makers love for complex buildings, it might be
    a good idea to spend some time studying architectural drawing and
    painting complex buildings and mastering perspective construction!

TIP: for the programme makers

If you can’t get enough good landscape painters for this
(as suggested by the extension of the deadline in recent years), might it be because you’re not providing enough good landscapes?
(as in LAND), 

Why not:

  • consider whether the locations and venues you’ve been choosing
    of late actively DETER prospective applicants
  • consider asking landscape artists to suggest locations for you. State the criteria you use to determine a good location (e.g. provides good but different subject matter scope for two
    heats; provides adequate flat land for pods and good access

Why perspective in landscapes is important

I’m not going to say any more other than read on to
see how many times I mention perspective below!

Painting Horses and Movement

A Perspective – Galloping past the pods….. 

“I’m intrigued by who will do horses – and who will ruin it by
adding horses” 
(one of the Judges

Take away the horses and what have you got left? A monolithic boring

which, I guarantee, nobody would have ever tried painting before (or wanted to?) –
without a lot more time! 

It was empty most of the morning and only started to fill up after

Horses are also not something people commonly draw and/or paint and
present a number of challenges.

  • the first challenge is the subject matter is going past very fast
    i.e. you do NOT have a static subject
  • Next you need to decide whether or not you can paint a horse i.e.
    will including a horse enhance or kill your painting
    (see comment from the Judges above!)
  • then there’s the question of how many to paint and how to group them
    – and what angle to paint them. 
  • Horses have perspective too! In groups, you need to remember
    they will be different sizes – which in turn depends on the distance
    between them. Close up, heads will seem larger than the rear end if
    coming towards you.

The artists came up with some good – and less good – solutions:

  • Yien painted a group of horses in the far distance so it
    was mostly heads, jockeys and legs and little need to consider
    perspective – so long as the size matched the part of the
  • A number included just one horse. I guess on the principle of
    showing willing.
  • At least one chopped off the head as the horse exited at the side
    of the painting – to show speed 
  • at least one had the horse running the wrong way!
  • Some were accused by a judge of painting “conventional horses“!!!
    Sometimes you just have to laugh out loud!

TIP: What to do when you need to include something which won’t
stand still

The answer is obvious. 

  • Get your phone out and hope you’ve got broadband! 
  • Then start googling images of similar / identical objects. 
  • That way you can study what they look like and how they move
    before making an attempt to paint your version
In this instance,
I’d have been googling
Degas racehorses at this point – to mug up on what they look like.

Painting lots and lots of very small people

The interesting thing is that very many people who paint plein air
never ever paint people!  
You’d be surprised how many landscapes have never ever seen people
based on lots of landscape paintings!

In this instance they were going to be challenged by the fact that as
the Grandstand filled up there would be lots of very small people
right in front of the artists. They couldn’t be ignored – unless you
decided to paint the view as presented in the morning – with no people
and no horses!

TIP: Painting people in landscapes

  • Learn about staffage e.g. 
  • People also have perspective in landscapes. Getting sizes
    right is the key to making their presence persuasive
  • Understand that unless isolated within the landscape,
    you rarely see people as individuals. 
  • Typically
    in crowded situations, you see big amorphous shapes rather than
    heads on bodies.
    What is required is the isolation of just enough that is more
    accurate to suggest the same behind.
  • Control over tonal values is also critical for suggesting
    depth in crowds.

Planning a big picture – and delivering within time allowed

How on earth can you make a plan for how you want your painting to
progress, when you start in the morning with a huge construction –
but no people and no horses – and you’ve no idea when they might
arrive or how long you have to paint them!

I thought the subject matter was particularly difficult for the artists
– if not downright unfair – given it was only half there in the morning
and they had very little idea of how to scale for either the horses
or the people. A watercolourist would have been completely “dumped on” –
and it was interesting to note that there were no watercolourists or
printmakers in the pod. So maybe the programme makers had considered

TIP: Basic skills help make the best of things

Sometimes you simply just have to make the best of what you’ve got in
front of you. It’s easier if you’ve got the basic skills which
mean you can e.g. 

  • sight size, 
  • understand how perspective works and shortcuts for how to draw it
  • identify zones within the landscape – foreground, middle ground,
  • identify and mark out “vertical (or horizontal) measuring sticks”
    within your painting zones to provide scale for other objects to be
    included later

However the best advice might be to
work out how best to crop what’s in front of you to make it more

In the last episode that’s exactly what Suzon Lagarde did – while the
heat winner excluded almost all the structure.

This week the winner close cropped the grandstand to provide a clear
sense of zones and depth – and was then able to create a sense of
place and atmosphere

Decision Time

Wildcard Winner

The Wildcard winner was
Kathy Evershed
from St. Albans who taught herself to pain in her twenties before going
on to make a full-time career as an artist.

She produced an excellent painting with great control over colour and
tone and clear zones and depth and lots of interest. I loved her gazebos
and people sat eating next to their cars – with the grandstand in the

Kathy Evershed talking to Kate Bryan after being told she’d won

Shortlisted Artists

I have to say upfront, I think it highly likely we might have had a
different set of shortlisted artists if it had been a different

The shortlisted artists were:

  • Anna Rotheisen
  • Yian Chen
  • Susanna Macinnes
The Shortlisted Artists
left tio right Anna Rotheisen, Yian
Chen and Susanna Macinnes
Anna Rotheisen: Submission and Heat Painting

Judges considered that her handling of light, tone and colour in her submission was very good and they could see how she was trying to do the same thing in her heat painting.

The horse exiting the canvas (the wrong way) gives a sense of speed. 

Plus she’s very good at structures and perspective.

Yian Chen: Anna Rotheisen: Submission and Heat Painting

I’m not a fan of his submission – although I realise others will think differently.

I thought he was rather cunning with his painting of the grandstand and the course with a group of horses galloping – in the distance. But there was a large expanse of grass doing not much.

Or as one of the judges said “it’s all about the space – the openness” which echoed his submission.

Susanna Macinnes: Anna Rotheisen: Submission and Heat Painting

Two smallish squarish paintings – both demonstrating skill in capturing light and painted with a very skilled and “glorious use of colour”. In both paintings she provides a journey through the painting from the foreground to the distance. 

“she’s soooo good at capturing light”

Heat Winner

The winner was Susanna Macinnes.
Below you can see her with her
submission painting.

As somebody commented somewhere on social media, once you know an artist
has been on the show before – and they’ve been selected for the pods
again, they stand a very good chance of being shortlisted – and maybe
winning the heat.

Tai said about her “Her brilliance lies in within her editing of big scenes into something very small – into the compressing” and yet she retains a huge amount of information about the scene within the painting

Susanna Macinnes with her submission
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