A former Weavers Academy pupil has scooped first place in a national competition to find the country’s best landscape artist.
Richard Allen, who now lives in Bournemouth but often visits his parents in Orlingbury, claimed the title of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year.
Mr Allen and other finalists were challenged to create a piece of art depicting Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness.
His winning portrait has earned him a £10,000 commission to paint the National Trust’s Petworth House in West Sussex and £500 of CassArt materials.
He said: “Winning the show has been such a thrill for me and for my loved ones.
“On a personal level it’s a welcome validation for all the endless years spent painting - a rather absurd pursuit if one stops to think about it.
“Like most artists, I would never admit to craving approval but it’s a touching and very public recognition of something that I find very meaningful.
“Having to demonstrate my working practice and discuss my thoughts on my painting over the course of filming has helped me to pin down what matters to me in my art.
“It has also made me appreciate that making art is only half of the experience and that art needs an audience.
“Finding a receptive audience is, essentially, what winning means to me.”
Mr Allen’s work was aired on TV in the show, which not only highlights the tremendous artistic talent from every corner of Britain and Ireland but also how the beautiful British countryside has inspired past and present generations of artists.
He added: “I would like the win to give me a platform for exhibiting and selling my work.
“I hope that recognition and exposure will mean that I have more opportunities to sell work, and to meet with curators, artists, students and like-minded people (all the time, swigging champagne and troughing on endless canapes).
“With any luck, exhibiting, working to commission and selling work will provide creative momentum and suggest new painting possibilities, new possibilities in general.
“Whilst I am forever doling out advice - often unbidden - I’m not sure what words of wisdom I would dispense to budding artists.
“My own path to becoming an artist has been both determined yet haphazard.
“Have cast-iron self-belief tempered with a polite receptiveness.
“Also don’t spill Prussian blue on the carpet, the stain will never shift.”