MAKING A MARK: Review: Episode 5 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023

MAKING A MARK: Review: Episode 5 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023

Some of the locations in this series now appear to be actively
deterring people from applying to be pod artists or wildcards for the
filming this summer.

It ought to be doing quite the reverse!

The main problem for me is with where the pods were sited (in both episodes) in terms of what they did to try and resolve the “how to be at one location and have two totally different
views” conundrum
(it’s what happens in ever series – and they mostly pull it off
reasonably successfully)


I am still completely bemused about what connection Ascot Racecourse has with the commission relating to the Van de Velde brother painters or the Netherlands. 

It strikes me some of the planning for each series is done the wrong way

is pulled partly from the programme but also
from their websites.

This is the best shot we got of all the submission artworks

– which initially I thought (like in other weeks) might be
because they couldn’t get a better one.

Absolutely no shot of ALL the submissions together

I was wrong. They just hadn’t pulled back far enough and actually TRIED
to get a shot of all the submissions together. 

Look how much more are visible below – or they would be if not totally
obscured by the Judges!

Judges obscure the artwork yet again

It’s almost as if the programme makers don’t understand that 

  • the submission artwork is critically important to who gets
    shortlisted and who wins
  • people watch for the ARTWORK and NOT interminable pictures of the

In my view, it be would be such a better programme if more of the
Judges’ comments were done as voiceovers and NOT as ‘talking heads” –
and there was more emphasis on the visual art and much less on the
judges and presenters. 

Somebody needs to construct a placard and walk round with it at the next
filming. It could maybe say something like “People Watch for the Artwork and the Artists”
– as it very much seems as if some people need reminding of this.

Themes, Learning Points and Tips

A very BAD location/programme for a country in economic crisis

How on earth anybody thought that showing these Ascot episodes in the current economic context was a good idea is completely beyond me

Instead what we got was lots of footage of a very segregated location with toffs on “a very expensive jolly” displaying their wealth via quaffing champagne and general very conspicuous consumption so they can have a good time – and display their wealth! Let’s not forget the ‘in your face’ wealth!

I’m assuming nobody at Storyvault or Sky Arts has the sensitivity or perception to realise that many people watching this episode would find these episodes HUGELY INSENSITIVE – if not offensive – within the context of a country which has experienced massive hikes in mortgage rates, food bills and energy costs. 

Why also were we getting shots of the Royal Enclosure when the artists were nowhere near it and could not see it even if they had binoculars?

Is this a programme and/or companies with no moral values whatsoever? 

Luke Adam Hawker caught the nature of the place exactly – and I thought his drawing was very brave – and I thank him for that. His imaginative composition of the sense of segregation was spectacular – as was his mark-making in pen and ink. I thought it was stunning.

Get a pair of binoculars and take them with you

One of the big problems with the location was that they were a VERY long way from any action – unless you count an excess of green racecourse with trees in the background as all you need for a landscape – plus horses streaking past very fast from time to time!

If they are going to carry on with these very silly locations, I strongly recommend you do as one artist did – and bring a pair of binoculars with you to work out what you’re looking at.

Or maybe to confirm that you can’t actually see what they tell you is out there!

Maybe also turn round and look the other way too. There’s no reason why you have to paint what you’re pointed at!

“It’s very undone”

The word ‘undone’ has been been a description used by Kate Bryan REPEATEDLY this season. She needs to stop.

It’s shorthand art lingo – which makes it sound rather “arty farty” but, in case you were wondering, the term is not included in any recognised dictionary or glossary of art terms.  

  • She means “it’s not very finished” – but spares us the explanation of whether this is a good or bad thing. 
  • The definition of ‘undone’ is ‘NOT DONE’ or ‘UNFINISHED’. 

What it would be more interesting to know is whether this quality of ‘undone’ is positive or negative – as she’s used it in both senses! 

Maybe the use of other words would be more instructive?

Very hot days and media don’t mix!

I know that quite a lot of those turning up for LAOTY filming have never painted plein air before – and can experience some nasty surprises as a result – particularly in extremes of weather.

For those not used to plein air painting, it’s worth remembering that ALL art media behaves differently when it’s blisteringly hot. In general, it affects the way the paint binds with the support – although sometimes the impact is noticed later rather than sooner!

  • watercolour dries almost instantly. 
  • acrylic also dries much faster and becomes ever more difficult to handle – except in the hands of those who’ve experienced this before
  • it’s unwise to use oil paints in temperatures in excess of 90 degreesF

Dry media and pen and ink are sometimes better options. I’ve certainly drawn all over the world using these and had no problems. Mind you I was doing the sketches rather than “paintings to impress”!

TIP: If you want to participate in LAOTY, make sure you acquaint yourself with how media behaves differently in different types of weather

Decision Time

Wildcard Winner

As somebody observed, “there’s nothing monochrome about (the wildcards’) efforts”.

an ambitious watercolour diptych on paper by a wildcard

The wildcard winner was
Lucia Hardy
– who you can see below.  I think I liked
her painting
more than any of those by the shortlisted artists!

Do visit the link embedded in ‘her painting’ – where she describes what it was like
painting there on the day!

I’d never been to Ascot before, I quickly realised I felt much
more suited to the stables than the trackside glamour we had
surrounding us. But I was fascinated by the horses and their
riders, the connection, the dynamics and energy they brought to
the race.

Our painting time started long before the
races were due to run and although I could work on most of the
painting in the lead up – I wanted to take the gamble and include
the racers before finishing my painting

She paints in acrylics, draw and use mixed media, working from her
garden studio on the borders of London and Essex, UK and exhibits with
Bob Cat Gallery Online, Gallery No.3 in Ingatestone, Essex and the
George Farnham Gallery, Saxmundham, Suffolk. 

Episode 5 artists lined up to hear who has been shortlisted
to right: Edwina, Luke Alison, Peter, Michael, Steve, Dawn and

I have to say 

  • I thought most of the artwork produced on the day was pretty underwhelming – for which I blame the programme makers and not the artists
  • I think also it’s very possible that the shortlist might well have been
    different if we’d been in a different location. One with some proper

There were a number of comments online about this being “a weak
episode” – but I don’t think the artists really had a chance to shine,
although I confess I do think there have been much better artists in other

The shortlisted artists were:

  • Alison Boshoff
  • Steve Nice 
  • Tushar Sabale

I personally would have included Luke Adam Hawker, although I’m not sure who’d I’d have pulled to make way for him. 

But maybe the Judges were now wary of selecting another imaginative response to a dreadful location?

These are their submissions and heat paintings lined up next to one
– ready for the final judging – and you can see, for the first time, their relative size.


Paintings by shortlisted artists
Left to right: Alison,
Steve and Tushar

The main issue for me with all of them is how the depth of the painting – from front to back was handled. They all come across to me as rather flat and curiously two dimensional.

Alison Boshoff: Submission painting and heat painting

I liked Alison’s two very colourful paintings a lot. I also liked her
idea of getting “Dame Joan” as she called her into her painting – while
using her phone!

The compositions were generally good and the colour mixing and the
brushwork were lush!

I do wonder whether the final result might have been different if Alison
got some bigger boards and bigger brushes and painted BIGGER!

Steve Nice: submission and heat paintings 

Steve has a very sharp edged graphical way of painting volumes and shapes. The monochromatic submission with strong cropping of the scene and “dabs” of colour works really well. Tai referred to it having a “flat pop sensibility”.

In his heat painting, he certainly got the most people in and as a record of the day it’s curiously effective without speaking at all of the colour, light and heat.

For me, it looked very flat mainly because there was no recognition whatsoever of atmospheric perspective which should have meant that the contrast between tonal value in the foreground was more marked than that of the background – whereas the contrast worked at the same level through the different zones of the painting.

About which nobody said a thing! Which I found odd. 


Leave a Reply