the path to the show
I don’t normally blog but I figured this is a fun way to share this incredible worthwhile of experience being on the show. This will also answer questions that many have been asking me. If you want to read more about the show skip to below this section.
First, I would have never thought in a million years I would be participating on a reality show, but here we are. When I was approached by a producer for a casting call last year during the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, it completely caught me off guard. I had many thoughts:
- Is this actually happening? How is this a thing?
- Is this legit?🤔
- TV would be too much pressure, I would be out there with everyone watching.😫
- Is this legit?
This went around in circles for a bit as you can imagine. I wasn’t given a lot of information and the casting call pamphlet wasn’t exactly reassuring (it resembled something a student would make at Kinkos an hour before the deadline 🙄) On top of this, I had crippling anxiety and fear of being exposed on television. I guess you can say I’m a bit of a self-doubter. I applied thinking I can defer this decision once I hear back and get more information, I also reassured myself I can bail later if it didn’t add up. 😅
About a month later I received an email thanking me for applying but unfortunately, I was not picked to be a main participant, but I was invited to attend as a wildcard contestant. This meant I would paint alongside others who would show up on the day of shooting to paint for a chance to appear in the show finale.
In the past few years, I’ve been living my life fairly differently than I have my whole life, I welcomed new challenges (leaving my career in architecture) and began pursuing the things that truly made me happy (art). I looked on the bright side, and really nothing negative can come of this experience. I went in without any expectations only to take it upon myself to try this once in a lifetime experience and just enjoy the process. So, it was official. I was all in!
Below: Aerial view from Midland piers, the area and view where wildcard artists painted
The Lead up
We (wildcard contestants) were given three days to choose from to show up and paint. Each day of shooting was at a different location, that remained undisclosed to us until 48 hours before the calltime! I don’t particularly do well anxiety and the unknowns, but I felt like I handled it fairly well this time. Once I knew it was Midland and realizing it’s easily a 2 hour drive morning traffic from Toronto, I knew it was going to be crazy getting there for 9am. I quickly secured accomodations in Midland.
Arriving the evening before afforded me the time to walk around the town and snoop! I started researching Midland in hopes of getting inspired. Midland has a small town charm as one would expect a rural Ontario town to be. Apart from its gigantic mural on its silos on the water front, Midland has more to offer. Around almost every corner off its main corridor King street are murals depicting scenes from history of the city and its importance to the region. Midland was a hub for railway, shipping and was a lumber mill; I was full of ideas! Oh, how wrong was I going to be!
Each day of shooting was at a different location, that remained undisclosed to us until 48 hours before the calltime!
pick up your brushes!
The weather was poor that morning, but spirits were high. We met on the waterfront. Wild card artists mingled in our group as we were not allowed to meet any of the main competitors or go near their area on another side of the waterfront. I had the pleasure of meeting many other new artists and even ran in to familiar faces. We geared up and were shuttled to our area where we will begin our painting. We ‘fake’ walked over while being filmed for our entrance and then waited for the start. We arrived at a PIER.
Remember how I had all those ideas of the town and its history, well it all got tossed out the window as we were presented with perhaps the least interesting view of the entire area. On the other side of our view was the giant silos (which the main competitors painted). We had A LOT of water and several shorelines off in the distance.
It was just like ‘TV”. They said “GO!” and we were off, we had to find and claim our spot in a designated area, set up our gear, and paint all within four hours. There were no breaks.
Painting under pressure was pretty exhilarating but FUN! Don’t ever forget to have fun, even in stressful times. I reminded myself how cool it was to be there to paint with everyone and just be in this unique sitaiton that we were in. Although we did have a long list of distractions that included: the time limit, constantly changing weather, glaring sun, strong winds, bees, flying drones, camera crews with sound swinging sound booms, camera men watching our every move. 😄
My strange painting
If you’re still reading, thanks!🙏
I’m not sure what came over my that day but looking back the colours are pretty funky. I was somewhat disappointed that our view was so limited with little interesting subject matter so I decided I was going to feature the clouds and the shoreline of homes in the distance.
I had this idea of a vertical composition of colour ribbons. I usually depict my subject matter far from its original true colours so this was no exception to that rule. The clouds being various shades of tans, pewter, reds and pinks that would contrast with a jarring cool green and blue land mass. For my fellow artist readers and those interested in the technical: it is essentially a complimentary colour scheme of red and green, but involves tertiary colours from that pairing (this is how I paint a lot of my paintings) The painting relies on the rule of thirds for composition (the land taking up about 1/3), this also applies to the colour palette (1/3 green to the red).
In hindsight I would have interpreted the colours more in my own graphical language. The clouds were changing so fast that day that by the time I was finished, there were no clouds left in the sky!
“I shouldn’t like it, yet I can’t stop looking at it.”
It was a pretty cool experience to meet the judges artist Joanne Tod (having seen her work and attended her show months prior. and Marc Mayer (former director of the National Gallery of Canada). They would drop by to chat with various artists for a minute throughout our four hours. It was nerve wrecking during our first chat because I didn’t know what to expect and there’s a boom mic near my face along with a giant crew of people.
I always thought on TV shows the contestants would have met the judges prior to the show, but this isn’t true at all. The first time we meet them isactually what you see on screen!
I loved one of Marc’s comments when he said something a long the lines of “I shouldn’t like it, yet I can’t stop looking at it.” Might not be verbatim but I thought it was hilarious! 🤣 Well, I won’t say more in case you havne’t watched the episode so I‘ll leave it at that for now!
For more information about Landscape Artist of the Year and how to watch, refer to the link and resources below:
Hi Nelson, your description of the day is so relatable, well done! Great to see your painting again.
We have just seen LAOTY Canada on TV here in UK. I like both the paintings you did, and thought you were a worthy winner. Really like the way your blog describes the Wild Card experience. Congratulations and all the best, Loueen
Hi Loueen, thanks for tuning in and the kind words! 🙂 All the best! Nelson
I just binge-watched “Landscape Artist of the Year Canada” and was thrilled, and in tears, when you were announced the winner. Your bravery in leaving the career you studied for to pursue your passion inspired me. And the fact that it seemed, through the episode chats with judges, that you didn’t have full support from your family pulled at my emotions. I’m excited for you as your journey continues and proud of you. Having been to the McMichael Gallery decades ago and seen how incredible the collection is I can only imagine how it must feel to have your piece prominently displayed there … and on one of the Group of 7’s easel as well! Good luck to you Nelson. Cheers, Joanna 🙂
Hi Joann, glad you enjoyed the show! And thank you so much for taking the time and leaving such a kind message. Hope to meet you at a show in the future someday. All the best!