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  • Writer's pictureNick Pike

Sky Arts 'Landscape Artist of the Year 2016' by Wild Card painter, Nick Pike

*New* 'Scotney Castle' Oil on deep edge canvas (40 x 50cm)

Painted entirely with sponges - Available now!

I was chosen as a 'Wild Card' for this year's Sky Landscape Artist of the Year in May but have had to keep it a secret up until now!

The new series of the show started last night at 8pm on the Sky Arts channel, where hosts Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner are joined by judges to find the nation's best landscape painter.

The venue for the first episode was Scotney Castle, which I chose as my preferred location, unaware that my parents' friends Janet and Ron not only live just up the road but Janet actually works at this National Trust site as a volunteer!

I had a great morning and the painting was going really well but when I took a break and returned, my painting had fallen over in the wind (this happened to quite a few people)- I hadn't counted on that. Personally, I would have preferred rain as I had to change the setup dramatically and hold my canvas a lot of the time to stop it happening again. When I came back home I realised I hadn't prepared for the sun either -I had quite a tan!

The highlight of the day was being approached by Joan Bakewell, who was so genuine and very interested in my painting of Scotney Castle. She began to ask about my technique of using sponges and wondered how integral the hollow window at the top of the building would be for the composition of the picture. It was quite surreal us talking about the cubist, Cezanne-like influence while the cameras were rolling and this further influenced my approach to the painting!

Painting 'en plein air' always brings elements and obstacles out of your control. Apart from the strong wind, I also had flies to contend with - a lot of them...

Around twenty flies decided they would prefer to be in my oil painted sky than in the real one - which I pointed out to one of the judges; Kathleen Soriano, moments after the above photo was taken.

Some more photos of the day; the top two show some of the eight 'Pods' where the previously chosen artists were positioned. Below, us 'Wild Cards' had to find our ideal spot to recreate the castle (I'm in the middle).

The above slideshow displays the painting early in the day (before the wind swept my canvas to the floor, flies beginning to arrive..) and after, the finished 'Scotney Castle'.

Watch the first episode of Sky Arts 'Landscape Artist of the Year 2016' again and see more Nature paintings from me at

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