Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’ 2021/22

Last year I found myself being caught on camera again – in a second sojourn to a Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year‘ set, having been upgraded from a Wild Thing on the previous series to a Pod Dweller at the Eden Project in Cornwall … where I spent a long hot day in August 2021 painting and being filmed by the StoryVault Films crew (who make the programme for Sky). With the episode having been broadcast at the start of February, it feels an opportune moment to offer up a description of my experience.

I arrived on site a little behind time (Cornwall is a long way from Nottinghamshire), to find a nearly empty breakfast van and the assembled crew and cast wiping greasy whiskers in satisfaction. Fortunately, there was one last vegan burger which had my name on it and Continue reading

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Happy New Year & LAOTY

Hi – this is a brief note to say Happy New Year for 2022 and to let you know I am in the latest series of ‘Landscape Artist of the Year‘.  The first episode aired this week and is on Sky Arts (Freeview channel 11) every Wednesday (at 8pm), with repeats on Thursdays (7pm) and Saturdays (2pm).

Look out for me in episode 4 (Weds 2 Feb). Below are a few images from the day of filming for that episode – just to tempt you in!

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‘The Green Fuse’ – part of the Living Landscape Project

HopBarn posterOver the summer I have been creating a living sculpture, ‘The Green Fuse’, as part of the Living Landscape artists trail at the HopBarn in Nottinghamshire. This project grew out of a small gathering of artists and makers invited by Angie Atmadjaja to the HopBarn early in 2020. Over that summer when lockdown was temporarily eased, we each visited the proposed trail and selected a site or sites and developed a response to the surrounding countryside that would suit our ways of working.

My chosen location was a spinney of mostly ash saplings and this provided me with a framework, together with much of the material I would need, and my initial inspiration. My intention was to build a site-specific piece of landscape work that would convey something about the immediate surroundings whilst also responding to the environment in a broader context.

Susan Isaac - Working on The Green FuseI wanted to convey something of the delicacy of the natural world together with its Continue reading

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Reviewing my work from 2020

Two months into 2021 has given me a little space to think about and review my work from last year, so … 2020 started well enough, with two of my paintings having been accepted to be in the Open 30 exhibition at the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester (which ran from 14 Dec 2019 to 24 Jan 2020). This was followed by two further pieces making it into the Royal Cambrian Academy open exhibition from 11 Jan to 8 Feb.Visiting Conwy to be part of the RCA exhibition opening on 11 Jan proved to be one of the last physical events I was able to take part in.


My daughters drawing in the gardenOn 23 March, Lockdown  turned everything outside in, and with pipelined projects Continue reading

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Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year 2020/21’

In August 2020 I found myself taking part in filming for Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’. With episode 2 having been broadcast in January, it seems a good time to give my recollection of that particular day.

Having watched LAOTY over the years, I’ve often mused wistfully that, despite promptings from friends and fellow painters, it would be unthinkable for me to offer myself up for scrutiny on a TV programme – being by nature a sociophobe! As an early fan of self-isolation I was ahead of the pack when lockdown dawned in the spring of 2020. But then, with the end of the world looking a bit nigh, I felt oddly compelled to address my fears, phobias and forebodings and drop my name in to the LAOTY hat. After all, I thought, even if this next series were to go ahead, by the time of broadcast there would surely be only a few people left alive to watch!

Thus I sent off an application and waited with mounting anxiety at my foolish folly. To my inordinate relief, the result was negative!  I could relax back into tried and tested anonymity. Summer pressed strangely on and just as I’d begun to brood over an opportunity missed, the call of the wild card dangled itself over the internet, like a Wonka factory golden ticket. I held my breath, clicked my heels and snatched the opportunity. This time the response came back in the affirmative. Moreover, I could see this lower-key approach playing better to my natural inclinations – in the mosh pits of the wild cards I could choose, if necessary, to hide behind vegetation, leaving no one the wiser that I had ever taken part!

Continue reading

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‘Between Times’ – Home Made Lemonade

Susan Isaac - Home made Lemonade (High Farm)In April last year, the pastel brightness of spring greens and cherry blossom was illuminating the garden day after day, tempting us outside to dig, paint or just sit and ponder. The Lloyd Loom Chair is a favoured piece of furniture which originally lived in my childhood bedroom and has since followed me around the country in a variety of locations. I love oddments of ‘occasional’ chairs and collect them like vases. The best ones are beautiful and functional as well as portable.

‘Home Made Lemonade’, oil on paper, 38x28cm, £480 at Gallery 6 in Newark-on-Trent – part of my continuing ‘Between Times’ solo exhibition.


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‘Between Times’ – Kitchen Sink Drama

Here is another work from my ‘Between Times’ solo exhibition, which continues at Gallery 6 in Newark-on-Trent – ‘Kitchen Sink Drama (High Farm)’, mixed media on canvas, 51x51cm, £500 (unframed).

Susan Isaac - Kitchen Sink Drama (High Farm) Whilst looking around the kitchen for inspiration one day, the accumulation of dishes in the kitchen sink drew my attention. I must confess that I quite enjoy the routine process of layering and building semi-balancing towers, reminiscent of a child’s set of stacking cups, placing smaller pieces within larger vessels and in turn arranged these within the framing of the ceramic sink. The outlines of these shapes then become interrupted by an assortment of knives and spoons, counterbalanced across rims or protruding from within mugs. Above this, running like a dado border, is a more carefully spaced and semi-permanent display of jugs and pots on the window sill. The draining board striations, repeated in the wooden planking of the flooring, are a reminder of a familiar drawing room motif, hinting at lines of perspective.

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‘Between Times’ – The Wicker Chair Trio

Susan Isaac - The Wicker ChairThis is the fourth installment about my solo exhibition, ‘Between Times’ at Gallery 6 in Newark-on-Trent, 9 Dec 2020 to 9 Jan 2021. Although the gallery is currently closed under Covid restrictions, you can see the full catalogue of works on the gallery website and contact the gallery for more information.

The wicker chairs that appear in these paintings becamSusan Isaac - Wicker Chairs and Tablee an important motif for me this year. They were, in part, a reminder of shared time with friends who’s company, under the circumstances, could no longer be enjoyed. But also these old Rattan chairs had belonged to my parents who had died some years earlier, and although still retaining their elegant form they had very little structural integrity and were no longer in useful service.

I put them in the orchard in early spring, and as summer progressed into autumn they dissolved further and the orchard vegetation began to grow rather beautifully through them, gradually absorbing them.

Through April and May, the Rattan bindings remained reasonably intact and their sharpened details gave opportunity to create striking woven textures to contrast with the abundance of nature’s patternation. The lines of elegantly Susan Isaac - Sun through the Orchard (High Farm)manufactured shapes harmonised with their organic surroundings whilst at the same time drawing the eye to an ephemeral human presence.

By September, as the surfaces lost their distinction, I let the pair take on a more distant silhouetted appearance, entwined with the apple branches, sometimes flushed with an acute golden sunlight.

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‘Between Times’ – Rabbit Hole Days, Apple Blossom & Washing

Here is a third installment about my solo exhibition, ‘Between Times’ at Gallery 6 in Newark-on-Trent, 9 Dec 2020 to 9 Jan 2021. Sadly the gallery has had to close under the latest restrictions, but the full catalogue of works is on the gallery website and you can contact the gallery for more information.

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By March of this year, the luxury of being outside and near to nature took on a new and urgent importance for me. Passages of the farm land, at one time taken for granted, became precious places as we were gifted with a moment to ‘stand and stare’. The orchard in particular became a refuge of abundant plant and animal activity.

The unabating ‘business as usual’ pattern of bird life all around was immensely soothing, as was the seasonal performance from the variety of apple, pear and plum trees. I allowed myself to sit and be mesmerised by the gentle theatre surrounding me. An old 3 legged fruit-picking ladder often strode into view, giving a hint of human habitation. This was gradually supplemented by a washing line which animated the scene. Eventually chairs and a table were fetched up to give new forms and textures and as a reminder of more congenial times. And all against a changing backdrop of buds, blossoms and fruits.

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‘Between Times’ – two paintings

Here are two more pieces that are available as part of my ‘Between Times’ exhibition Gallery 6 in Newark – the gallery is hoping to open again on Weds 30 Dec, meanwhile all of the paintings can be viewed on the Gallery 6 website.

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These were experimental paintings that followed on from my tonal studies of the same subject matter in my earlier post, exploring ways to convey spacial depth. They were made at home in March at the outset of lock down. I’m working here in the old crew yard on our farm, where 6 months earlier we’d held a ceilidh for our eldest daughters wedding. Unable to travel under the new restrictions, I was searching for something of interest to work from. I also saw the potential for variety in further studies – an ever changing washing line. Standing here on sunny days I’m always struck by the way that light diffuses through the clothing as well as the changing patterns of shadows being cast on the crew yard floor.

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