Robert Peston learns the art of landscape painting

Robert Peston with landscape painting of Kent Downs The artist with his masterpiece

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Robert Peston's many talents appear to extend beyond the realm of explaining economics.

The business editor also seems to have a natural knack for landscape painting, after being set the challenge of mastering the artistic pursuit in just one afternoon.

The idea for the challenge originated on Radio 4's PM programme. Only a few weeks ago, Peston confessed on air that he found it hard to understand his energy bill. One listener came into the PM studio and explained to the journalist how the tariffs were calculated.

Following the success of this segment, the editors decided it would be interesting to get Peston to learn other things - and landscape painting came top of his list.

'Nerve-wracking'

So off went the new art student on a train to the rolling hills of Kent Downs, where he met PM listener and artist Linda Leroy, an experience Peston describes as 'nerve-wracking' for the programme's Wednesday broadcast.

'Will I be as bad as I fear I may be at all of this,' the editor asks himself, 'or could I be the new Samuel Palmer?'

Leroy is less nervous and more sceptical about the task at hand. 'It's quite an unusual way to be teaching, I have to say. Everything I know in half a day,' she remarks quizzically.

After describing the beauty of the spot on an early summer's day, Peston attempts to recreate a triangular-shaped golden field surrounded by a dome of blue sky and bordered by a clump of trees.

The amateur artist first does one watercolour that 'plays to my not very fine motor skills' and then quickly moves on to the more challenging oil on canvas.

'Go for it'

'You've only got one shot with oil,' his teacher warns him. 'Just picture your composition before you start and then go for it,' she advises.

Peston bravely starts freely daubing at the new canvas, amid slight chuckles and the sound of confident brushstrokes.

Even though he is slightly biased, Peston judges his second attempt much better than his first. 'It's not quite right but broadly what I wanted to achieve,' he laughs loudly.

Sounding slightly at a loss for words, Leroy believes the painting is 'very experimental' and has 'pushed some boundaries'.

It's a matter of perception, of course, but the boundary he has pushed might be more primary school than art school.

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