Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ING Discerning Eye 2014 - Call for Entries

The call has gone out for the 2014 ING Discerning Eye art competition. 

Unfortunately it came out in July round about the time I was rushed off to hospital followed by enforced break and the last stages of my involvement with final proofs of my book. So there hasn't been a post on this blog until now!  This post seeks to remedy this - especially given the fact the deadline for entries fast approaches - 6th September 2014

Image from the Entry leaflet for the ING Discerning Eye 2014
Below you can find:
  • information about the exhibition - and the percentage of works which come from the open entry
  • a note about the judges - with links to websites
  • a summary of information about prizes
  • a summary of the information for artists e.g.  who can enter what etc.
  • information about the deadlines and dates and where to find information about regional collection points
  • links to websites and my blog posts showing images of the art selected and hung in past exhibitions for those unfamiliar with this art competition.

The competition is sponsored by ING Commercial Banking.

ING Discerning Eye 2014 - selection, exhibition and prizes

The first thing to say is that this competition generally enjoys a good reputation. It's getting better at providing relevant information for artists.

The percentage of the works exhibited which came from the open entry has been opaque in the past but this seems to have been addressed this year. I've been campaigning for some time for the percentage of works which come from the open exhibition to be made more explicit. This year the website states
Last year about 40% of the nearly 500 works exhibited were from the open submission.
This equates to c. 200 works from the open entry.

The exhibition is unusual due to the nature of the competition.
  • The focus is on small works
  • There are six selectors, each of which curates a small exhibition of a collection of work they like. This then creates a large exhibition made up of six smaller exhibitions which reflect the interests and tastes of the individual selectors.

Sometimes the exhibition is very eclectic. Sometimes it is really interesting - it all depends on who the selectors are, what their tastes are and how enthusiastic they are about putting on an exhibition.

Monday, August 18, 2014

BP Portrait Award 2015 entry goes digital

It could only be a matter of time before the BP Portrait Award switched to digital entries - and so it has come to pass. Next year, in 2015, the entry process for this very prestigious and world renowned portrait competition will be digital.

Main Entrance to the National Portrait Gallery
Banners for the BP Portrait Award either side of entrance

I applaud the move. It makes such a huge contribution to cutting the expense of entry for artists living outside London - both in the UK and overseas.

In all the art competitions where I have seen this happen, I've subsequently seen many more selected artists coming from places at some distance from London - notably from Scotland.

It also tends to increase the number of entries so competition becomes even more fierce!

The RA's Summer Exhibition switched to digital entry last year and I haven't heard any squeaks or rumbles following on from that change so there's every reason to expect that the switch to digital for the BP Portrait will work as well - so long as you get your photography sorted of which more below in
  • the importance of an excellent digital image; and 
  • how to produce a digital image for an open art competition.

Notification of the change

This is the letter which Sandy Nairne, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery has mailed today to all those signed up to the mailing list for information about the competition in 2015.

Dear Artist,

I wanted to update you on some recent changes that are taking place to the BP Portrait Award. Next year’s competition will have a new entry procedure which will mean that artists should submit a digital image of their work for the first stage of judging. The entrants who are successful in this round will then be invited to hand-deliver or courier their work to a judging venue in London for the final selection.

This is an exciting time for the BP Portrait Award and we hope that by making this change we will ease the entry process for everyone. We are so grateful for the commitment that past entrants have shown towards the prize but we are aware that the process of delivering your portrait can be lengthy and often very expensive. We have listened to your comments over the last few years and we are keen to bring the competition up to date so that we can make it as accessible as possible.

More details will be announced about the actual process of submitting your digital image when the Call For Entries goes live in November later this year. I urge you to look at these details carefully. We will ensure that they are as user friendly as possible in order to make the transition to digital submissions as smooth as possible.

If you do enter I wish you the best of luck for next year’s competition.

Yours sincerely,
Sandy Nairne
National Portrait Gallery

The importance of an excellent digital image

What the letter doesn't highlight - but I will - is the importance of the quality of the digital image.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Making A Mark on Art - and the end of Squidoo

Over the last seven years I've created some 160 websites about art (Making A Mark on Art) and artists (About Artists) on Squidoo. Yesterday I had news that Squidoo is closing down. Seth Godin has arranged for my featured sites to be merged with HubPages and the current links to them will become redirects after October.

I don't know if I'm surprised or not - I've been predicting the demise of Squidoo for some considerable time and if anything I'm only surprised it's survived for so long.

I now need to decide how and where I host my content in the future.

That's going to take a bit of time which means I think I need to take a break from blogging to make sure I've got all my content backed up and accessible if I need to move it to a new site within my control.  As you can imagine the notion of putting it on another website where somebody else determines what happens to it has little appeal right now!

I had already started planning what I'd do next. However that planning extended to one topic and I've now got lots to sort in an extremely short space of time.  However the good news is that at least I'm not on holiday unlike some poor souls who will come back to find their options very limited indeed!

My presence on Squidoo started off because I wanted a place to organise and host my bookmarks after a computer crashed and took them all with it!

My main reason for hosting on Squidoo was that it was free and it was very easy to add in new information to modules within my compendiums as time passed.  It was also an excellent way of grouping and clustering different sites on a topic and generally there were lots of good things about it. I often said I wished I could have the software for delivering the site - and use it on my own websites.

I now need to find a new way of delivering my content and this time I'm looking more closely at options for economical and easy ways of doing this on my own sites. Some may well migrate to HubPages but I think it's more than likely that some content will find another space to inhabit.

Any suggestions for good ways of hosting INFORMATION websites which are heavy on content are welcome.  These are ones which have

  • content structured in an orderly way - all on one page
  • plus links to lots of information and advice on other websites.

In the meantime here are links to some of the most popular of my websites - soon to be reinvented in another guise!

1. The Best Books about Drawing and Sketching
The Best Books about Drawing and Sketching
Do you want to learn how to draw? Want to find out which are the best books about drawing and sketching? This is a big site designed to help those who want to * LEARN TO DRAW * DEVELOP YOUR DRAWING SKILLS and learn about drawing at an advanced level

2. The Best Watercolour Paint for Artists
The Best Watercolour Paint for Artists
Do you want to know about: * which is the best brand of professional grade watercolour paints for artists? * the colour range and characteristics of different brand of artist-quality watercolour paint? Or maybe you want to know what other artists think about different brands of paint

3. Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists
Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists
Find out about coloured pencils and coloured pencil art and artists. This leading resource has information on every aspect of coloured pencils for everybody - from experienced artists to improvers and beginners wanting to learn all they can about how to work with coloured pencils.

4. How to pack, post and ship art - Resources for Artists
How to pack, post and ship art - Resources for Artists
How do you pack art? How do you post art? How should you send a painting by post? How do you get artwork to an exhibition - and back again? What are the best packing materials? What are the best methods for different types of art? How do you ship art internationally? How should you pack a painting?

5. Pastels - Resources for Artists
Pastels - Resources for Artists
For both new and experienced pastel artists - useful information and advice about: artist grade pastel brands | which are the best pastels | how to use pastels - including tips and techniques | pastel artists | pastels in art history

6. Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums in the World
Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums in the World
Find out which are the top ten art galleries and museums in the world - based on visitor numbers in 2013 - and how to visit them in person or virtual reality. Find out the answers to: * Which is the top museum in the world - and year after year? * Which is top art gallery in the USA? *

7. How to write an Artist's Statement - Resources for Artists
How to write an Artist's Statement - Resources for Artists
An Artist's Statement is essential - but lots of artists dread writing a statement about their art! DO YOU NEED HELP? Do you need a statement for an art competition, an exhibition catalogue, a grant proposal or a website - but not know how to express your art in words?

8. The Best Watercolour Painting Instruction Books
The Best Watercolour Painting Instruction Books
Do you need an instruction book about how to paint in watercolour? Do you want to develop your skills in painting with watercolour? Do you want to find out more about watercolour art and artists who use watercolour?

9. How to sign a painting, drawing or fine art print
How to sign a painting, drawing or fine art print
What's the best way for an artist to sign a painting? Should you date as well as sign a painting? How should you sign a fine art print? How can you identify the genuine signature of an artist? Where can I see artists signatures?

10. Composition and Design for Artists
Composition and Design for Artists
Do you want to know more about "the rules" of Composition? Or an explanation of the Principles and Elements of Composition and Design? Have you ever tried to make your artwork more pleasing to the eye? Or wanted to know what makes some paintings draw you in?

11. Online Art Galleries and Stores for Artists
Online Art Galleries and Stores for Artists
Online galleries offer to help you sell your ORIGINAL ART - but do they actually work? Which is the best and which gets the most traffic? This site provides you with lots of information. So - if you're trying to find out more about online art galleries - this is the site for you!

12. How to Price Your Art - Resources for Artists
How to Price Your Art - Resources for Artists
Check out different approaches to "how to price art". Identify costs that need to be recovered, review different pricing models and factors that influence the setting of prices Many artists ask the question "How should I price my art?" - especially emerging artists getting to grips with the art business

13. How to write an Artist's Resume or CV
How to write an Artist's Resume or CV
How do you summarise your life as an artist in a CV or resume for galleries, exhibitions and potential employment? Do you understand the difference between an artist's CV, artist resume and a bio - and how to write them?

14. The Best Botanical Art Instruction Books
The Best Botanical Art Instruction Books
Learn about botanical art and botanical illustration from the best botanical art instruction books, covering every aspect you need to know about. Read reviews about which are the best botanical art instruction books

15. The Best Art Books - Colour
The Best Art Books - Colour
Read the best books for artists and painters about understanding colour, mixing colours and using colour in paintings. * Find out which are the leading art books about colour. * Read associated art book reviews.

16. The Best Art Books - Composition and Design
The Best Art Books - Composition and Design
Find out which are the best art books about composition and design for art students, leisure painters, improving and advanced artists and art teachers. This site is for those who to learn more about: * composition and design in art * how to draw the eye and lead it around your painting.

17. Print Art on Demand - Resources for Artists
Print Art on Demand - Resources for Artists
Check out the suppliers of print on demand ( POD ) services for Art Prints / Art Books & Catalogues. Review what artists think of them & traffic to their sites. Find out about: - what is print on demand / publish on demand? - suppliers of print on demand services for art - and reviews

18. The Best Books about Oil Painting
The Best Books about Oil Painting
Do you need an instruction book about how to paint in oils? Want to develop your skills in painting with oils? Are you interested in knowing more about oil painting and oil painters? Find out about art instruction books and books about artists painting in oils

19. Art Supplies Around The World - Resources for Artists
Art Supplies Around The World - Resources for Artists
Where are the best art shops? If you're an artist and want art supplies while travelling - where should you go? If you want to know the answers to those questions, bookmark this site as I've started an inventory of links to websites and address and contact details for art suppliers recommended by me

20. The Art Business for Artists
The Art Business for Artists
Do you want to know more about the business side of being an artist? Or maybe you're looking for a particular piece of business information for artists? Whether you are an emerging or experienced artist, this site provides you with a link to information and advice about professional development

Friday, August 15, 2014

Who painted this? #61

"Who painted this?" returns following the break while I wrote my book!   

This week we'll start with a painting which is both seasonal and is a painting I've never seen before. However I could tell who the painter was straight away due to a particular attribute of the painting. I'm thinking a fair few will also make the connection - identify the artist - and go hunting for the title.

Who painted this? #61
Don't forget - there are rules to how "Who painted this?" works - and these are detailed in THE RULES for participating in this challenge.

Briefly, in your comment you must tell me ALL of the following:
  1. the title of the artwork
  2. the name of the artist who created this artwork
  3. the date it was created
  4. the media used
  5. where it lives now
  6. how you know all this eg how did you do your search
  7. anything else you can find out about the artwork and/or artist
The Winner is the first identifiable person (i.e. no anonymous guesses) who, in my judgement, is the first person to get to the answer by fair means AND provides the best quality answer in terms of added details about the artwork and artist

Remember also I don't publish the comments until next week's post.

How to participate in "Who painted this? #60"

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.

Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer - search using words only on a database of images
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog - do not leave the answer on Facebook!
  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer
  • if wrong it will be published
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is NOT THIS WEEK the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know. It's the person who does all this AND provides the BEST answer (see above)

Who Painted This #59 - The Answer

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sophie Ploeg and The Lace Trail - BP Travel Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

Sophie Ploeg's BP Travel Award exhibition 'The Lace Trail" can currently be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London - until 21 September 2014.  It then tours to Sunderland and Edinburgh in 2014-15.

Sophie Ploeg with part of The Lace Trail
the exhibition for the BP Travel Award 2013
at the National Portrait Gallery - 26 June - 21 September 2014

The exhibition follows on from Sophie winning the BP Travel Award in 2013.  Her exhibition is about Fabric and Lace in Early 17th Century Portraiture - An Interpretation in Paint. To my mind it's a bit of a masterclass in how to portray complex fabrics in portraits - in the past and the present - as well as an academic exercise in understanding something about the art history of the portrayal of lace and how paintings from the past can inspire those of today.

What follows is:
  • a video interview with Sophie Ploeg
  • photographs of Sophie and her models - with their portraits
  • photographs of the exhibition
  • a review of her book - produced as a result of her project.
I'm afraid this post got bumped by the proofing and final stages of my book and then my unexpected admission to hospital. However the book is on its way to the printers and I'm now getting back to blogging more normally, so.......

Sophie Ploeg in front of
She Becomes Her (2013)
oil on linen, 1010 x 660mm

The Lace Trail

As my video interview with Sophie makes clear, winning the BP Travel Award does not actually give you a year to deliver a project.

The paintings all need to be completed and ready to hand in well before the opening of the exhibition.

So a good deal of preparation and planning and being very organised helps enormously when it comes to producing a quality exhibition - in just 8 months!  It's very evident that Sophie was very organised and got all the trips, work and the paintings finished on time - at the same time as being a wife and mother of two young sons!  This was a woman on a mission!

The exhibition

The Lace Trail exhibition forms part of the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - if you go to one you will see the other. Sophie's exhibition is near the door and is the section hung on grey walls.

Background to the "The Lace Trail" - some facts

Sophie Ploeg was born and bred in the Netherlands. She came to the UK in 2000 and now lives in the West Country with her husband and two sons. She's a practising professional portrait artist working in oils and pastels (who also paints still life - very often of fabrics) and undertakes portrait and garment commissions.  Her work has been exhibited in the annual exhibitions of a number of national and major regional art societies - including the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Pastel Society.

Note: Having seen a lot of Sophie's work in prestigious exhibitions in recent years I'd highly recommend her for anybody who wants a permanent painted record of a particular fabric or clothing. She's definitely one of the best I know at portraying material and fabrics - which can be so important to the completion of a portrait or sometimes even be a record of a person or event in their own right.

She studied art and architectural history (MA, Ph.D) at Dutch universities. Consequently she came to her project very well versed in the art of research related to her interests!

Her winning proposal outlined a project to explore how fashion and lace was represented in 17th century art, as well as in modern applications.

The project has involved a lot of work besides painting! In pursuing her project she has:
  • visited famous lace-making centres such as Bruges in Belgium and Honiton in Devon
  • met modern lace makers and artists, 
  • viewed antique lace collections in Bruges, Honiton, Bath and Gloucestershire
  • visited 17th century art collections including, amongst others:
    • the National Portrait Gallery, The National Gallery, the Tate Gallery in England, and
    • the Rijksmuseum and the Frans Hals Museum in The Netherlands
  • spent 8 months reading around the subject and undertaking a significant amount of research about art history and the history of lace.
  • produced 10 paintings in total as a result of her project - of which seven are on display in the exhibition.
  • written a book - The Lace Trail

A lot of information about the project is also available on a sub-domain of her website - http://www.lacetrail.sophieploeg.com. For example you can:
  • read about her adventure in lace on her blog and her website (see research 1 and research 2)
  • see A Year in Pictures - a slideshow of photos taken during the course of her travels and work

Video interview with Sophie Ploeg

I interviewed Sophie prior to the opening of the exhibition to the public and she provided a splendid account of what it's like winning the award and the work involved to deliver the exhibition - and a book to accompany it.

The Four Ages of Women

What I found very pleasing is that all of her portraits were of women. Sophie's portraits also provide a contemporary twist on the early 17th century portraiture she studied in museums across the UK and the Netherlands.  I found myself guessing which portrait paintings had inspired her!

Sophie and her models

Another layer to the portraits completed are the portraits which inspired Sophie's portraits.
I wanted to honour these women (in the 17th century paintings) and the lace in my portraits. Although the sitters were often rich and famous they were still just women, like me and perhaps you, with their own feelings and taste. Their beautiful portraits inspired me to create portraits of women today: 21st century women. I have created four portraits that each represents a phase in our life, four generations of women. he women are not related in any way, except they share many things with us and the women of 400 years ago.
Below you can see Sophie's portrait painting and her models for her series The Four Ages of Women.

The Four Ages of Woman - a series of four paintings
oil on linen, 50 x 60cm
This series portrays modern 21st century women at various stages of their lives
Their portraits portray them wearing an authentic piece of early 17th century lace, as often seen in 17th century portraits.
(top left) The Lacemaker
(Top right) A Fine Thread
(Bottom left) Repeating Patterns
(bottom right) The Pearl Necklace

The models were told to wear what they liked and then Sophie added an original piece of antique lace - acting as a remnant and echo of the past.  She took as inspiration one or more of the paintings she had identified during her research.

The four paintings are:

Other paintings

Three more paintings are in the exhibition. These are:
  • Pleating Time - I think this is one of my favourites, Sophie had to learn how to produce a ruff to paint this self-portrait
  • She Becomes Her - Another favourite - partly because of the face but also because of the spectacularly good painting of the fabric
  • The Handkerchief Girl - this is a play on the recurring motif of a handkerchief in 17th century portraits
Pleating Time by Sophie Ploeg (2013)
oil on linen, 400 x 600mm

The Tour

After the exhibition finishes in London it will then tour to
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens - 4 October – 16 November 2014 - twmuseums.org.uk
  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery - 28 November – 12 April 2015 - nationalgalleries.org

Prints and Book

Cover of 'The Lace Trail' book
The Book 'The Lace Trail contains details of Sophie's findings about
  • early 17th century portraiture in England and The Netherlands, 
  • the history of early lace, 
  • styles of painting lace
  • the background story to her paintings and 
  • a catalogue section with all 10 paintings.
It includes lots of interesting detail - including details of Sophie's assessment of how past artists such as Rembrandt, Franz Hals and William Larkin painted lace.

You can buy a signed copy of the book direct from Sophie

Alternatively you can order her book and/or prints of the portraits from the National Portrait Gallery online shop or buy them in the shops within the Gallery.

Follow Sophie Ploeg

If you'd like to follow Sophie here are the links to her website and various social media sites:

More about the BP Travel Award

The BP Travel Award 2013 was judged by:
  • Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, 
  • Liz Rideal, Art Resource Developer, National Portrait Gallery, and 
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP.
My blog post year about Sophie winning the award contained Tips for Travel Award Applicants

See also my previous BP Travel Award posts on this blog

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