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Landscape Artist of the Year

I had the adventure of a lifetime yesterday up in Castle Ward in Northern Ireland where I competed as a wildcard contestant in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the year. The competition was whittled down from over 10,000 entries right down to 348. There were 50 wildcards and 8 contestants competing in this heat. This was heat number 5. There were already 2 heats in Royal Ascot and two in Blackpool in the UK. The last heat is today the 23rd of June again in Castle Ward.

It all started at 6.45 in the morning where everyone had to register. We were all greeted by Skys production team who were very helpful and encouraging. Everything was explained properly as we were led to the destination. We were told we may see the Judges and presenters fleetingly and as it turned out they were all out in force and happy to chat to everyone. I was itching to get my photo taken with them all but nobody else seemed to so I left it so. We were all positioned by the Loch with the Castle behind us. We were all told to have a good look and see what jumped out at us. I had a good look around and settled on trees across the Loch. It was a really dull day so the Loch itself didn’t appeal to me. Turns out that was a mistake because one of the Judges Tai-Shan Schierenberg asked me why I hadn’t painted the Loch as that was the star attraction. I ploughed on with my painting but knew at that point the Judges were looking for paintings of the Loch. Ces’t la vie.

The winner was called out about 3.30. It was a painting of the Loch with the town in the distance. It was a very worthy winner. Overall it was an amazing experience. The atmosphere was brilliant and all the artists were popping around to each other. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I was super proud to get that far. I’ll be bringing my completed painting from the Competition to the Abbeyleix House Fun Day on Saturday. You can buy the piece here.



I’ll be painting and selling my wares at the Abbeyleix House Fun Day this Saturday 25th June from 12:30pm to 5:00pm. Hopefully, see some of you there.

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Aileen Donovan

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Togher Wood, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, R32 X9AC

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