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Sky Arts Names their Landscape Artist of the Year

For the last several years, A. Richard Allen has been tucked away in his studio and hard at work. After years of building a successful career as a commercial illustrator, he found himself itching for a change and ready to embrace the next challenge. Interestingly, this period of growth revolved around reconnecting with one of his first loves – oil painting – and this personal creative journey was recently rewarded in a rather unique way: by competing on a UK television show and walking away with the grand prize.

Image by A. Richard Allen:

A. Richard Allen, "Petworth Lower Pond"

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As Richard explains it, “The show, Landscape Artist of the Year 2016, (on Sky Arts in the UK and to be shown at some point in 2017 in the US and Australia) pits seven artists against each other over four hours to paint a particular view. Winners from these six heats plus one Wildcard made it through to the semi-final. From there three progressed into the final and did an additional commission piece in the meantime. This piece along with the final four hour piece was used in judging the winner. And that, friends, was me.”

That was him!

Particularly when we consider the fact that Richard was ultimately exploring and developing a new voice and direction, his jump was a bold one. “From not exhibiting my work in any meaningful way over the last four years of painting to taking part in a series of timed, judged, competitive challenges, all the time being filmed for TV, was perhaps a little perverse. Particularly as conventional landscapes and painting en plein air simply haven’t been part of my practice.”

Images by A. Richard Allen:

Aberdulais 2 (2016) Aberdulais 1 (2016)

But happily, he not only made it out alive, but also with a wonderful affirmation of his work. As a condition of winning, he undertook a commission for the National Trust of the Petworth House, which is also home to an outstanding collection including pieces by Turner, Gainsborough, Bosch, Claude, and Titian. This lead rather notably to the estate’s offer to exhibit his work starting March 25, 2017.

“Fortune favors the bold,” they say – well that certainly seems to be the case today. Congratulations, Richard, on this tremendous accomplishment and adventure!

Image by A Richard Allen:

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Stowen, Margate, Urquhart Castle, Aberdulais, A Richard's original entry A. Richard Allen at work