Finn Campbell-Notman: Landscape Artist Of The year

The Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year Series 8 has been announced. After closely watching 48 artists and a selection of wildcard artists painting breathtaking scenes across the UK, the esteemed judges have selected their winner, Folio’s own legacy artist, Finn Campbell-Notman!


With this exciting win, comes a prestigious commission for Royal Museums Greenwich to create a work celebrating the Dutch fathers of seascape painting – the Van de Veldes, we caught up with Finn to talk about his experience on the show.

Finn Campbell Notman: Landscape Artist Of The year 5

Over the course of several weeks, Sky Artist Of The Year was shot in a variety of locations to give inspiration and fresh perspectives to all of the artists and allow them to capture scenes with their own dynamic styles. The final artists were whisked away to different sketch locations, not knowing where their final spot would be allocated, allowing them nine days to complete their paintings ahead of the final. Finn stayed with a friend in Bath and utilised their studio to work on his final piece, noting that the quiet was just what he needed to capture the serenity of his final piece.

“What the viewer sees on screen is the tip of the iceberg” he explained as he spent most of the summer travelling the UK shooting the show,  visiting a variety of beautiful locations in the UK such as Pen Y Fan (Brecon Beacons), Lampeter, Aberystwyth, and Machynlleth, before finally arriving in Porthmadog the night before the final. Throughout this process, the other artists also had exciting adventures as they toured the country, and Finn noted that they all entered the final as a team, rather than competing individuals “We all felt we would do our best and be happy for each other whoever won.”

The final location was revealed as Portmeirion in Wales, a fairy-tale tourist village beloved for its unique Italian-inspired architecture and fantastic colour palette. Faced with such an array of colours, eclectic architectural styles, and compositional elements, we asked Finn how he decided to settle on a final composition for his last painting of the season, “I took the same approach as I had done for the other heats: not a direct transcription of a single view but selected elements which would add up to a strong compositional ‘stage’ (Portmeirion is exactly that) within which I might later decide and see some element that would perhaps indicate a story.”

Finn’s work is renowned for its subtle storytelling, with his perceptive use of colour and composition creating a sense of mood and atmosphere in his work that impressed the judges throughout the competition and led to his victory. The prize, a commission for Royal Museums Greenwich, saw Finn creating a piece of work that honours the Dutch fathers of seascape painting – the Van de Veldes. He spent a considerable amount of time studying William Van de Velde the younger and his interpretation of landscapes. Van de Velde the younger transformed the elder’s drawings into oil paintings – depicting atmosphere & emotion in billowing clouds and tumultuous waves.

In Finn’s winner’s commission ‘Fail We May, Sail We Must’, the calm seas and skies he saw on his travels were slightly lacking, so he chose to incorporate some local Devonshire seascapes into the piece to emulate the atmospheric works of the Van de Veldes. We asked him about how he approached this piece of work and how he went about ensuring that it resonated with his audience. He replied that “each of us carries within a multitude of inner landscapes and for me, these are the mirrors in which the external is reflected. This I think is the reason my work provokes particular responses: because my imagery is both retrospective and prospective: since my work simultaneously looks within and without upon a prospect”.

The completed painting ‘Fail We May, Sail We Must’ is comprised of various concepts and Finn’s own personal experience. The final painting is multilayered with concepts and thoughtful composition, the concept of home and exile/place and displacement, time and space, and juxtaposition of poise. Finn carefully considered these concepts to create a piece that is perfectly balanced and honours the original inspiration.

As the winner of the series, we asked his advice for artists contemplating entering “I would say, enter with all your heart…I’m not really a plein air painter, and indeed the format really suits practiced plein air and impressionistic painters best: it’s outside and in one day so if I can enter and succeed then there is hope for everyone.”

What is next for Finn Campbell-Notman? He describes the experience as a breath of fresh air that has both validated his experience as a fine artist, but also inspired him to create more artwork and find more opportunities to pursue as an artist. He is hoping to take time to explore British Landscapes and discover new places and landscapes to capture in his paintings, but if nothing else, he hopes to try to continue, as he always does, to make his next painting the best one so far!

View Finn Campbell-Notman’s Portfolio