• Christoper Byrne

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018

3 weeks of glorious sunshine. Record temperatures. Heatwaves. No clouds. No rain. No typical Scottish weather..... until I had to be in front of a camera!

For the 2nd year in a row, I was invited on to Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year as a Wildcard Artist. I was based at Loch Fyne, at Inveraray.

Having experienced Landscape Artist of Year 365 days earlier, in the glorious North Yorkshire sunshine, at Knaresborough Viaduct, I leapt at the chance to appear on the show again. The scale and reach of the show is massive, and as I found out when the 2017 show aired, a mere 5 minutes in front of the camera can make a big difference to the end of the working year. After 2017's Episode aired, I was non-stop with commission and exhibition work until the New Year.

Knaresborough 2017- Sky Arts LAOTY

Knaresborugh Viaduct- FInished Painting

This year, for the 2018 episode, I decided to stay in my homeland and take the short trip to Inverary, Scotland.

The episode was filmed on the 11th of July, in the midst of a UK wide heatwave. It was ROASTING! A cloud hadn't been seen in the sky for 3 weeks and there was a nationwide shortage of disposable barbecues (okay, slight exaggeration). I arrived the day before on the 10th to watch another episode at Inverary castle be filmed. It went smoothly on a nice, warm day. A lot of talent was on show from both the podium artsits and the Wildcards. It was actually quite inspiring and I felt ready for my day of filming.

I woke up on the 11th at 5:30am to get set up and sign all neccessary documentation for the show. When leaving the hotel to meet with the production team, I saw it for the first time. And by it, I mean absolutely nothing. A wall of mist had descended on Inveraray and the colourful, warm landscape of the day before had been replaced by a wall of grey. Lots and lots of grey. To add insult to injury, the 3 weeks of rain that we never got because of the glorious sunshine decided to all fall in the space of about 6 hours. It was brutal! Being from Scotland and keen on plein air painting, I really should have been prepared.... but I became complacent. At least I didn't bring charcoal and paper as a few poor fellow artists had done.

I was set up to paint Loch Fyne, right at the edge of the bay. Despite all the mist I felt confident that I could create an atmospheric piece of work and that my style would stand out. Unfortunately as all artists found out, lots of rain and paint don't mix. I spent the first hour of my 4 hour film slot wrestling with the canvas and trying to keep the paint from running off. I failed miserably (however I did turn the grass a nice shade of Prussian Blue). I gave in and went off to search for umbrellas to protect myself and my work. A big shout out to all the tourist shops of Inverary that I raided in search of umbrellas! Protected from the elements, I could buckle down and finish my painting.

Plein Air painting, within a time frame, is a very useful tool for an artist. It helps you to reflect on your practice and highlights your strength's and weaknesses. Ultimately, filming with Sky Arts improves my skills as an artist. It very quickly tells you where you need to refine your practice.

Despite all the rain, it was a brilliant day! Stressful at points, lots of fun at others and full of caffiene. The weather didn't do anything to dampen the spirits of artists, presenters or Sky Arts team. I really enjoyed the work i produced and it certainly pushed my next batch of work in a different direction.

The Episode, 'Loch Fyne', aired on Sky Arts on October 30th. See if you can spot me painting!


Striking a Pose- Sky Arts 2018

Landscape Artist of the Year 2018

Loch Fyne- Sky Arts 2018


​© 2020 Christopher Byrne

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