by Cass Art

Heat six of Landscape Artist of the Year took us to a very wet and windy Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. With grey skies and changing tidelines, the view was a real test for the contestants. Whilst the wild cards were battling the elements, even the pods were drenched, but that didn’t stop the artists embracing the challenge.
Impressing the judges with his bold composition and brushwork, Tom Voyce was crowned this week’s heat winner.
A 28 year old art teacher from Burton Upon Trent in Staffordshire, Tom studied Fine Art at Aberystwyth University in Wales, specialising in drawing and painting. Working for the university as a technician he eventually travelled to China where he taught drawing for a semester, before moving to Cambridge to work in a school for two years. Tom has exhibited widely and was selected for the Federation of British Artists 'Futures' exhibition 2015 at the Mall galleries in London. He now lives and works in his hometown.
Hi Tom! Congratulations on winning Heat 6 of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017! What was the experience like painting at Worm's Head against the elements?
It felt absolutely wonderful to win my heat in such challenging weather! I never expected to achieve anything in the competition so just did what I always did when it came to making my paintings. I figured that I should adapt to only what was necessary as too much will create headaches for me. Having lived in Wales before I felt accustomed to the elements so that wasn't too bad. Saying that I didn't have cameras filming me all day and I wasn't on a national art competition before! I really enjoyed the day itself. The TV crew were great, the presenters are hilarious and make you feel very relaxed, and the banter with the other artists makes it really fun. 
Painting worms head was a challenge. I anticipated painting the view of Rhossili when I was preparing as we were only told of the location and nothing more! So I have a stash of Rhossili practice studies at home now. This worried me a little to start with, but you have to deal with what is in front of you and everyone is in the same boat. The weather and the changing tide meant that the view itself would vary drastically! But again, you deal with it.
Judge Kate Bryan really admired your submission piece, your brush work is so energetic, with transparent layers of paint built up, the brush marks scrape through the paint to reveal highlights and tones beneath. Tell us about your process, the brushes and tools you use to achieve this. 
My work is influenced by places, originally places that I saw whilst travelling such as airports, motorways and railway stations etc. as a result the body of work was called 'In Transit'. I work in a semi-abstract style with thin layers of oil paint diluted with linseed oil. Working in layers, I have to be careful not to work wet in wet and muddy the painting. As a result I work on more than one at once to allow each image to dry. This created a problem on the program, when there was a strict 4 hour time limit! The size that I work at has been commented on. This began by purely being practical.
After completing drawings on the move, I would work on small postcard size boards to create compositions. I found that by working in this way I was able to create a lively, energetic painting that has all of the elements that I enjoyed in a painting. They didn't have that same energy when I attempted to enlarge them, so they stayed at this size. When I lost a studio space and began working in a shed it made a lot more sense!
I also use a 'pebble' (catalyst painting wedge) type object that my friend bought me from Cass Art a few years ago. This has been a godsend, and allows me to create marks, lines and structure on my paintings and manipulate the paint. Prior to this I made my own ruler type tool which was not as good. In making my paintings I like to show the structure of an image- and its history. The wedge helps me build this.
What are the benefits of working on several pieces at once?
In the heat I worked on four boards of varied size. For the semi's I think I will give myself an easier option by limiting it to only two or three boards. This helps me by allowing mistakes to be made, but also allowing good features to flow from one board to another. I can also explore a few different compositions that come to mind.
The judges really enjoyed your confidence in applying paint in interesting ways to fill large areas. The final piece you chose has a bold geometric composition with the sky dominating the work. Are you inspired by abstract artists? 
I’m heavily influenced by post war American abstraction- artists such as Richard Diebenkorn have had a massive influence on me- as has Edward Hopper. Contemporary artists Ben Aronson and a tutor at university June Forster all helped me develop a style that has become my own.
Going into the semi-final, do you think you will approach your next landscape differently?
My approach in this competition is to take everything in my stride and to enjoy the moment. That is key. If you don’t enjoy the opportunity then your work will show this. I always have key rules that I stick to in my work. I like structure, contrast, and perspective to be present but when you are given a scene to paint you lose that freedom to choose, so I will have to see what I am given. But basically I will approach the semi's in the same way as before. I have my process and I'll stick to it as it has got me this far!
Feeling Inspired?
Discover more of Tom's work on his website or on his Instagram page @tom_voyce or Twitter page @tomvoyce4
Follow Tom's lead and experiment with oil paint, develop your practice with Catalyst Painting Wedges or explore our range of oil painting materials online and in-store. Share your landscapes via our social channels using the hashtag #LOATY2017 and don't forget to tag @CASSART


Inspired by this year's heats? Sky Arts is once again on the hunt for the next Artist of the Year. Whether you're a master of portraiture or a pro at plein air, submit your works for a chance to win a £10,000 commission and £500 worth of art materials from us here at Cass Art. Both competitions are now open for submissions. Find out more by following the links below:


Back to blog