Hertfordshire Life Landscape Painter of the Year finalists revealed

Lush grass buttercups and fields (Boxmoor near Hemel Hempstead, acrylic on canvas, 20x20") by Sally

Lush grass buttercups and fields (Boxmoor near Hemel Hempstead, acrylic on canvas, 20x20") by Sally Bassett, Albury. The essence of Sally's work is its energy, vitality and colour, drawing inspiration 'from the sea, the landscape and wild flowers'. She works in several mediums including acrylic paint on canvas and board, multi-media collage on paper, charcoal on paper and silk dye on silk - Credit: Sally Bassett

The finalists have been chosen for the first Hertfordshire Life Landscape Painter of the Year competition to find the best artists capturing, in their own unique ways, the often unsung views in the county

Frithsden, John Plummer

Frithsden, John Plummer - Credit: John Plummer

More than 100 paintings were submitted by artists living in the county to the inaugural Hertfordshire Life Landscape Painter of the Year competition.

With a diverse range of subjects, mediums and styles, the works were of a very high standard – proving that we have much artistic talent in the county and that while we may not have mountains or a shoreline, the landscapes of Hertfordshire inspire contemplation and expression.

Huge thanks to all those who entered and gave us the very tough challenge of choosing 13 finalists (it was going to be 12, but we loved all these here). All the shortlisted paintings are shown on the following pages and can be viewed at a special show at Churchgate Gallery – sponsor of the competition and a leading Herts arts venue, studio and tea room just off Market Place in Hitchin. The exhibition will be on throughout March.

The winner, whose prize will be £250 and a feature on his or her work in Hertfordshire Life as well as being exhibited in the show alongside the other finalists, will be announced at an awards reception at the gallery on March 3.


Frithsden (acrylic and oil on canvas, 36x28”)

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John Plummer, St Albans

Poppies in Priory Park, Karen Taft

Poppies in Priory Park, Karen Taft - Credit: Karen Taft

John moved to St Albans from the North Norfolk coast and is impressed by the beauty of rural Hertfordshire and its villages. A lover of bold, life-enhancing colour, last autumn’s vivid tones inspired his choice of a woodland lane in Frithsden.


Poppies in Priory Park (Hitchin, alcohol inks, 8x6”)

Karen Taft, Letchworth

Wooded area Verulanium Park, St Albans, Michael Beddall

Wooded area Verulanium Park, St Albans, Michael Beddall - Credit: Michael Beddall

Karen studied Visual Arts at Northampton University after a foundation course at University of Hertfordshire. The mum of two young children loves trying ‘new ways of expressing my art. I love card making and stamping as well as painting and drawing and I just love trying new mediums.’


Wooded area, Verulanium Park (St Albans, oils, 18x24”)

Michael Beddall, St Albans

Berkhamstead Castle, John Durham

Berkhamstead Castle, John Durham - Credit: John Durham

‘In my artworks I want to convey the experience of being immersed in a particular place and time,’ Michael says. ‘There is a certain element of sentimentality in these works, particularly in the way a motif or topic is used to express an emotional response.’ Michael says his work is based on observing what is in front of him, ‘although it may move away greatly from that starting point before it is finished’.


Berkhamsted Castle (Berkhamsted, acrylic, 8x12”)

John Durham, Hemel Hempstead

Mist on the moor by Susan Chester

Mist on the moor by Susan Chester - Credit: Susan Chester

John’s academic research studies in geology inspired a love of landscapes, and his passion for rocks and stones has been the inspiration for his art. He uses colour and form ‘to explore and reveal the structure and geology of some iconic landscapes’ using vibrant colours and tints to illustrate the composition of these sites.


Mist on the moor (Boxmoor, pastels, 30x23”)

Susan Chester, Bovingdon

Moonlight reflections over Stanborough Lakes, Rita Dare

Moonlight reflections over Stanborough Lakes, Rita Dare - Credit: Rita Dare

Susan paints the countryside near her home, the flowers in her garden and various favourite objects in her home. Influenced by stained glass, she often changes and enhances colours to ‘recreate a sense of the moment’. She works in pastels, inks and watercolours to produce her vibrant paintings.


Moonlight reflections over Stanborough Lakes (Welwyn GC, oils, 12x12”)

Rita Dare, Stevenage

Autumn, Pixies Mere, Mitzi Green

Autumn, Pixies Mere, Mitzi Green - Credit: Mitzi Green

Rita’s paintings explore ‘the boundaries between contemporary and traditional figurative painting’. Her work aims to evoke a feeling of place, atmosphere or an unexpected detail rather than a direct likeness. Her aim is ‘energising the stillness of the person, the place or the object’.


Autumn (Pixies Mere, Hemel Hempstead, acrylic and inks, 29x29”)

Mitzie Green, Berkhamsted

Poppies in Sandridge, Margareta Nikolic

Poppies in Sandridge, Margareta Nikolic - Credit: Margareta Nikolic

Mitzie has a passion for vibrant colours, textures and free-flowing style. She paints in watercolours, acrylics and mixed media and works ‘spontaneously and in a manner where the medium can flow’. She has a strong bias towards tactile effects and a ‘sensuous expression’ and enjoys experimenting with unconventional tools.


Poppies in Sandridge (oil on canvas 18x24”)

Margareta Nikolic, St Albans

Shady bridge, Fiona Pruden

Shady bridge, Fiona Pruden - Credit: Fiona Pruden

Margareta is captivated by the light and colours of nature. ‘In my paintings I always try to capture what drew me to a beautiful scene and how I experienced them. This way I am reminded of that particular moment whenever I look at them.’


Shady bridge (Gobions open space, Brookmans Park, watercolour, 20x20”)

Fiona Pruden, Knebworth

St Albans Abbey, Verulanium Park, Karim Friedli

St Albans Abbey, Verulanium Park, Karim Friedli - Credit: Karim Friedli

‘Sharing my skills and encouraging people to use watercolours as its own unique, vibrant, transparent medium has become my life-long mission’, Fiona says. Working with opaque materials like oils, pastels, acrylics, gouache and watercolours is her focus. ‘I love the excitement and unpredictability of painting.’


St Albans Abbey, Verulanium Park (acrylic, 13x21”)

Karin Friedli, St Albans

Brambles and Bluebells by Anna Perlin

Brambles and Bluebells by Anna Perlin - Credit: Anna Perlin

Karin has been painting at an evening class for the past five years. ‘I seek inspiration from my surroundings and the beauty of nature as well as studying and continuously learning from renowned contemporary landscape artists’. She paints mainly in acrylics but sometimes experiments with oils.


Brambles & bluebelles Heartwood Forest, St Albans (mixed media: painting and collage, 24x24”)

Anna Perlin, Harpenden

Lee Valley Canal, Susanne Nielebock

Lee Valley Canal, Susanne Nielebock - Credit: Susanne Nielebock

Anna is an established artist and printmaker, creating her distinctive work in her Hertfordshire studio. The environment around her, the British landscape and people and places she visits are themes in her work. She moved to Hertfordshire ‘for the countryside and landscape, which I absolutely love’.


Lee Valley Park (Broxbourne, acrylic on box canvas 12x12”)

Susanne Nielebock, Cheshunt

Susanne has painted ‘all her life’ and recently returned to being a self-employed professional artist. Raised in East and West Germany, she spent seven years living in the US during the 1990s and has been living in the UK since 2000. She paints mostly in acrylics or oil, on canvas or on board in a semi-abstract style. Her inspiration is ‘anywhere and everywhere – in a book, a picture, a view. I’ve always loved colour and I paint bold and bright.’