Monday, August 03, 2015

Call for Entries Checklist 2016 - Federation of British Artists' Exhibitions at the Mall Galleries

Below you can find the Key Dates for the Call for Entries for Art Societies belonging to the Federation of British Artists - who will be holding their Annual Open Exhibitions in 2016 at the Mall Galleries

Art Society
Submit Online - DEADLINE
Receiving Day
in 2016
Exhibition Dates
in 2016
6 November 2015
9 January
23 February - 5 March
11 December 2015
23 January
17 March - 2 April
8 January 2016
13 February
6 - 16 April
29 January 2016
27 February
5 - 20 May
4 March 2016
9 April
16 - 25 June
24 June 2016
30 July
28 September - 8 October
5 August 2016
10 September
26 October - 6 November
26 August 2016
1 October
1 - 11 December
Note: The above do NOT relate to the remaining annual exhibitions due to be held in 2015 (ie re. RSMA, SWLA and ROI)

Receiving Day at the Mall Galleries - Carlton House Terrace entrance
The above table is an abbreviation of the 2016 Call For Entries Checklist published by the Mall Galleries on behalf of the FBA.  You can print either off and hang it on your studio wall!

The proper Checklist also includes dates for the following:
  • Online Submissions open
  • Login for Results of Online Assessment
  • Check for Results of Panel Assessment
  • Unaccepted Collection of artwork
  • Unsold Collection of artwork

You can find more information for artists on the Mall Galleries website in relation to:
I've also embedded links to the website of the relevant art societies in their names

Time to get some art society websites updated methinks! :)

I'll be adding the dates into my online diary - will you?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

"Flowering Bulbs and Tubers" - Exhibition by the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists

It's always really interesting to see the different approaches - in terms of style and media- used by the botanical artists of another country.  The "Flowering Bulbs and Tubers" exhibition by the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists can be seen in Galleries 2, 3 and 4 at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens. It provides an excellent opportunity to view how the Dutch do it - and they do it very well!  The work on display is excellent and the standard of presentation was also very good.

Lots of reds, pinks and purples in this exhibition
If you visit you can also see two other exhibitions before all three close on the 9th August. (Apologies for the late reviews!)

Artwork for Sale

This exhibition has paintings for sale.

I'm not too sure how many artists have realised that the Shirley Sherwood Gallery puts on exhibitions of paintings for sale. The first one I went to was the 'Black and White in Colour' - an exhibition of art for sale by two botanical artists Sue Wickison and Sue J Williams - which I reviewed in 'Black and White in Colour' at Kew Gardens - a review.

I must do a blog post at some point outlining the process for getting accepted for an exhibition and how the process works!

General Observations

The focus of the exhibition is flowering bulbs and tubers - a somewhat predictable choice for the Netherlands. I noted the following as I viewed the exhibition.
  • there were a lot of drawings and paintings which involved roots - and it's clear that some artists consider this as much a design challenge as anything else.
  • I was particularly struck by how much pink and purple - of every hue and tonal range - could be seen in  the exhibition. I wasn't too clear whether this was due to personal choices or reflects the colours which tend to be chosen for cultivation.
Below you will find images and comments - plus the names of the artists whose artwork I liked and links to their websites.

At the end is a note about the Society.

I liked the 'almost' uniformity of the framing used for the exhibition.
It really helped to give it a sense of a coherent identity.
On the right is Fritillaria persica in coloured pencil by Sigrid Frensen
  •  I first met botanical illustrator Esmée Winkel at the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2013 - where she won a Gold Medal and I interviewed her (read my interview with her) . It was great to see her work again and, in particular, I loved the sense of the imperfections of the plant in her watercolour painting of 'Belamcanda chinensis'
  • In the photo at the top you can see Tulipa 'Zomerschoon' by Anita Walsmit Sachs (b. 1948). It demonstrates very fine gradations of colour in the leaves and shows all stages of growth of the tulip in five blooms. Anita has worked at the Nationaal Herbarium of the University of Leiden as chief of the art department since 1998. Her pen and ink drawings have been published in numerous scientific publications and she has received an RHS gold medal.  She was also the perdon who led the formation of the Society.
There's some considerable interest in pencil artwork on the Netherlands
  • Sigrid Frensen (b1972) has a coloured pencil drawing of Fritillaria Persica which demonstrated very fine pencil work and sinewy growth from bloom to bud. This is Sigrid's blog post about it called 'I love big bulbs and can not lie' where you can see a bigger version of the drawing. 
  • Ineke Smeets's contribution was two coloured pencil drawings of allium which were extremely well done. They had a very spare and elegant design - you can see one in her website portfolio.
  • Nicolien Bottema-Mac Gillavry (b1941) I can't quite make sense of my notes and wonder if the autocorrect in Evernote has been misbehaving again (it's not very tuned to Latin!) Anyway I've got a note of a work which I have down as "Chrysalis cava". My notes also say it's an attractive botanical illustration in watercolour minus the size indicators on dissections.
  • There were also some some great graphite drawings by Els Hazenberg-Meertens (b1942) - see below
Left and Centre - graphite drawings by Els Hazenberg
'Chasms (?) the floribunda' and 'Hippeastrum hybrid'
Note: the Vereniging van Botanisch Kunstenaars Nederland is the Dutch name for the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists. It was founded in 2006 and celebrates its 10th anniversary next year. The Society was formed from a small group of enthusiastic professional and non-professional artists from across the Netherlands with a keen interest in botanical drawing - 44 in total. Most had attended Anita Walsmit Sach's courses at the Botanical Garden at Leiden. Since then they have progressed and developed, and many initiatives have been undertaken to achieve their aims: 
  • To provide information about botanical art and to bring it to the attention of as wide a public as possible
  • To bring together botanical artists, illustrators and anyone interested in botanical art.
  • To improve the quality of botanical art in the Netherlands
The group now numbers 170, Members have the opportunity to attend courses by  reputable botanical art tutors from other countries - notably the UK. Past visiting tutors have included Valery Oxley (2009), Anne Marie Evans (2010 & 2012), Elaine Searle (2011), Jenny Phillips (2013 Australia), and Helen Allen (2014).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Joy of Spring - an exhibition of works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection

The Joy of Spring is coming to an end at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. The last day of the exhibition is the 9th August after which the gallery closes for the installation of the next exhibition.  It's an exhibition which is well worth seeing...
The Joy of Spring features a sequence of glorious paintings of spring flowers, each selected from the contemporary Shirley Sherwood Collection. This exhibition displays an array of wonderful spring flowers, from snowdrops through to magnolias and camellias. Iconic spring blooms such as daffodils and bluebells will also be included in the exhibition.
For those who have not seen it you can find some highlights below.  

I made notes on my iPhone while going round of the artists whose work I found particularly attractive and/or interesting.  While looking up the best links online to each artist I discovered some more information about them - which you can also find below.

One of the interesting things I noted when matching paintings to artists' websites is that there appear to be absolutely no records of the paintings bought by Shirley Sherwood on their websites. Nor do they seem to be available as prints. Just a thought for those aspiring to join the collection one day.

I found it interesting comparing the styles of paintings of different artists. Some make them completely lifelike while some are rather over stylised so that they look 3D but somehow don't look too real - perhaps because they are too perfect. I wonder if this reflects the change in tastes and styles of botanical painting over time?

My favourite painting is Susan Christopher Coulson's 'The Winter Garden, scented twigs and feisty flowers' which captures perfectly all those flowers which are part of the transition from winter to spring. I'm also a huge fan of her compendium drawings which are always designed both thoughtfully and effectively. I always spend ages staring at her artwork.

'The Winter Garden, scented twigs and feisty flowers'

© Suan Christopher Coulson
Other paintings I very much liked included:
This exhibition featured selected artworks done by Marilena Pistoia of Modena, Italy, for three publications: F. Bianchini and F. Corbetta, I Fruitti della Terra (The complete book of fruits and vegetables) and Le Piante della Salute (Health plants of the world: Atlas of medicinal plants) and Laura Peroni, Il Linguaggio dei Fiori(The language of flowers), all published in Italy by Arnoldo Mondadori between 1973 and 1984 and subsequently in America by Crown and by Newsweek. The artist donated all the original paintings for these books to the Institute.
Some of the paintings in the exhibition
Far Left: Susan Christopher Coulson
Next: Snowdrops by Kate Nessler
  • A huge wonderful painting of dandelions and other flowers by Rosie Sanders called ferns bluebell wild garlic yellow archangel and dandelion 
  • There is a stunning pink rhododendron painted in gouache on black paper by Sally Kier (who died in 2007).  Her obituary in The Guardian notes...
She was commissioned by Shirley Sherwood, a renowned collector of botanical art, to paint a pink rhododendron, which featured in her worldwide exhibition of botanical art in 1997. Her paintings were also included in the gouache section of Margaret Stevens' book, The Art of Botanical Painting. She sold more than 450 works, and several of her paintings were used as greetings cards and sold commercially.

  • Mieko Ishikawa's painting of flowering cherries (Prunus pendula) is impressiveShe apparently paints within three themes only:  “Flowering Cherries of Japan”, “Tropical Rainforest Plants of Borneo” and “Conifers.” There's a nice article about her on the ASBA site - Mieko Ishikawa's Story Behind the Art which focuses on her painting of the mysterious Rafflesia, a parasite of vines in Borneo.
  • There's a delightful painting by Pandora Sellers of Snakeshead fritillaries and cowslips 
  • Jessica Tcherepnine's 'Crown Imperial' looks as if it's dancing! The leaves are wonderful. 

TIP  Do one painting really well and others will commission you to do more!

Jones’ major book, Flora Superba (1971), published in the same year that he was awarded an OBE for his services to art, carried a preface from Sir George Taylor, Director of London’s Kew Gardens: ‘They are technically astounding, scientifically exact and aesthetically so thoughtful and pleasing that, without risking hyperbole, I would rank them amongst the very finest achievements in the whole gallery of botanical art.
  • Olga Makrushenko (b. Russia 1956) has a painting of a deep pink magnolia, painted in mixed media on paper. This is a gorgeous deep pink colour and design and it's a very fine painting (which is second from right below)

Extreme left - In the background is the painting by Paul Jones
and second from right is the painting by Olga Makrushenko

Also included in the exhibition are the working drawings and the finished artwork produced by Julia Trickey for the Royal Mail for the Post and Go Collection - British Flora (Spring Blooms) Stamp Set. Julia has also produced a publication Plant Portraits by Post (Published by Two Rivers Press) about the process and pitfalls of producing the Royal Mail British Flora illustrations.  Plus a painting from her last exhibit at the RHS Botanical Art Show.

Julia Trickey's artwork for the Royal Mail's British Flora (Spring Blooms) Stamp Set

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Selected artists - Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015

This post highlights the names - and the websites - of the 80 artists who have been selected for the 2015 Exhibition of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. Plus some of the images which have been selected for display.

Ellis Nadler, Anemone Hats
It's great to see somebody using their imagination while painting!
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition provides an opportunity for artists across the UK to redefine and celebrate the beauty and diversity of watercolour and water-based media, whether through abstract or figurative, contemporary or traditional painting.


The Winners of the First Prize of £10,000, Second Prize of £6,000, and the Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 will be announced in the Sunday Times during August, and awarded at a private ceremony during the exhibition at the Mall Galleries.

Some statistics

Over 1,200 works were entered and 90 works by 80 artists were selected. The ratio of selected to entered artwork is 7.5% which is considerably better than artists can expect in some other national art competitions.

The Selection Panel

This year's panel of selectors were
  • Sarah Dudman Artist - age 50, she was selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Prize Exhibition in 2013 and 2014.
  • Desmond Shawe-Taylor LVO Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures
  • Josh Spero Editor, Spear’s Magazine (that's the one for people with high net worth individuals) and Art Critic, Tatler.
  • Lucy Willis Artist - a very popular watercolour painter. Uses traditional watercolours in a traditional way - and everybody loves them!
  • Louis Wise Critic & Writer, The Sunday Times
You can see photos of scenes from the Judging Day in Behind the Scenes
“The final exhibition aims to reflect the scope of what artists are doing with water-based media today, and each selected work has been chosen on individual merit as being an outstanding example in its field. In the most successful cases, the artists' mastery and understanding of the potential of the media and technique completely resonated with their intent or subject, creating works which truly are greater than the sum of their parts.

As we worked through the selection stages, the decision became increasingly difficult. Decisions were debated, works were fought for, and at all times, the final choices were agreed against shared criteria, which essentially came down to the strength of the work as a whole. Had the artist used the unique and essential characteristics of water-based media to effectively convey their intentions at a very high level? The answer for all the selected entries is a clear 'yes'.”

Sarah Dudman
This does not augur well. It sounds like it's going the route of RWS competition of "water-based media" as opposed to watercolour painting in the sense that everybody and everybody's art shop understand the term.

One of the things that I've always liked about the Sunday Times Watercolour competition is that it had excellent examples of "proper" watercolour paintings i.e. those that were created using media which says watercolour paint!

Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2015 - Selected Artists

Below you can find a list of the names of the selected artists

Those who have websites have their names in bold have links to their websites embedded in their names - where these could be found. Any errors please let me know (see side column for how to contact me).  I'd like to thank all those artists who have generated a decent website; got it onto the first page of Google - and provided easy to find details about the artist!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Georgia O'Keefe - major retrospective at Tate Modern in 2016

Yesterday the Tate announced its exhibition programme for 2016. It will include a major retrospective of the work of Georgia O'Keeffe as the Summer Exhibition at Tate Modern running between 6 July – 30 October 2016. Booking will open shortly and I predict this will be an extremely popular exhibition.

The above link goes to an article about what we can expect from the exhibition.
Tate Modern will present a major retrospective of the American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe, a century after her New York debut. The exhibition is the first important solo institutional exhibition of the artist’s work in the UK for a generation.
Below are links to my own research about O'Keeffe and her work in the last ten years.

Georgia O’Keeffe | Abstraction White Rose (1927)
Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
She straddles the line between figuration and abstraction with her abstracted paintings of flowers and landscapes and the figurative features of her deliberately abstract paintings.
"One paints what is around" Georgia O'Keeffe
I'm a huge fan of her paintings of flowers and these have very much influenced my own approach to developing macro perspectives on cacti and succulents. I also love her landscapes and her ability to see a rich and colourful language within the landscape of Northern New Mexico
"Nothing is less real than realism...details are is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things" Georgia O'Keeffe

My Georgia O'Keeffe Month

Back in 2007 I did a project on Georgia O'Keeffe which I recorded on this blog.  It was prompted by my July 2006 visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was a fan when I went and came away an even bigger one.

The Georgia O'Keeffe museum was stunning. I've felt an affinity with the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and her approach to art (her focus on landscapes, macro flowers and colour) for some time and have been keen to know how she achieves such deceptively simple images. I've been wanting to go to the museum for a very long time - on the basis that you can't beat seeing art 'up close and personal' as an aid to understanding art - and was not disappointed.
Subsequently I wanted to find out more about Georgia O'Keeffe and her art, her flowers and her landscapes.  Here's a record of the posts I published in 2007 and subsequently. These posts record the process of discovery and my conclusions as I studied her art. 

I adore flowers and images of flowers and enjoy the process of developing artwork based on a flower or flowers as much as looking at the end result. In developing my own work I've become increasingly drawn to the notion of exploring the flower through focusing on the structure of a single bloom. I now want to see how I can develop further and this is what this month will be all about. Naturally, in wanting to learn more about how best to do this, I've become very interested in the work of Georgia O'Keeffe - hence Georgia O'Keeffe month!
As you know I've been hunting down useful books for my Georgia O'Keeffe month. On Friday, I bought "Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections (Volume 2)" by Barbara Buhler Lynes at Kew Gardens. Having now had a chance to look through this book - which is the right way to describe a book which is mainly full page plates of colour images of her work - I've come to a few conclusions.
I've included some quotations from Georgia O'Keeffe which I copied down when I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe last year.
I'm trying to get to grips with Notan - using "Composition" the book by Arthur Wesley Dow, first published in 1899, which was Georgia O'Keeffe's bible when she went through the same process.
This post follows on from Learning about Notan #1. I thought I'd share something about what Dow has to say about Notan - the Japanese concept involving the placement of lights and darks next to the other to read as flat shapes on the two-dimensional surface - and harmony in two value designs and then how this can apply to compositions involving flowers.
I've been finding it very difficult to reduce to just two value Notan. Although I understand the principles, it would appear my brain does not want to play!
Also included are reviews of books about her art

"O'Keeffe" by Britta Benke (subtitle Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986, Flowers of the Desert) is a splendid and very informative book. It's also a complete bargain, being available for an amazing price whichever country you live in.
I also published posts about her work on other blogs

Georgia O'Keeffe's favourite 'place to paint' landscapes was northern New Mexico. My personal view is that her landscapes although less well known are just as worthy of public attention and acclaim as her very famous paintings of flowers.
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDThe landscape of New Mexico is just a strong motif in Georgia O'Keeffe's work as her popular flowers. This book explores the locations she painted in and analyses her approach to her landscape work in New Mexico. It provides insight into both the character of the place, the painter and the person.

I love this video of her talking about her work on YouTube

I love this quotation of what Georgia had to say to those people who developed their own (often perverse) ideas about what her flower paintings were about.
Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven't time - and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself - I'll paint what I see - what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it - I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

...Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower - and I don't.

Georgia O'Keeffe
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