Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016

This is the first in a series of three articles about prestigious portrait competitions in the USA and Australia 2016.

I've written about them before, but the purpose of the three articles is to:
  • show portrait artists around the world what styles of portraiture are valued in different countries and cultures
  • alert people to the opportunities and exhibitions about top level portraiture which exist around the world
  • stimulate thinking about portrature
[Note: I'd be very happy to hear from any of you as to the top level portrait competitions in your country.]

The first three I'm featuring are:
  • The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (USA)
  • The Archibald Prize (Australia)
  • The Moran Prize (Australia)
The first is The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016 - which you can see online

First page of the online exhibition of The Outwin 2016

The Outwin Boochever Competition and Prize

Why it exists

The aim is to
showcase excellence and innovation with a strong focus on the variety of portrait media used by artists today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art Collecting in the Digital Age

I came across a report about a survey of art collectors - Collecting in the Digital Age - done back in 2014 - which I'd not seen before. It's worth highlighting the key messages.

The survey was done by AXA Art who insure art and collectibles
  • The survey was done online. 
  • 972 people from around the world were asked questions between January 28 to February 25, 2013
  • The questions asked were based on several dozen long, face-to-face interviews with collectors.  The purpose was to check out themes raised in the conversations.

It should be noted that the survey was obviously directed at people with serious wealth.  While a third of respondents stayed silent on the size and value of their art collections, of the rest....
only a minority of respondents own small collections with less than 25 objects (15%) or a value of less than 100,000 US $ (22%). 
There again who wouldn't want to know more art collectors who have serious money for art collecting!

Particularly if you've gone professional and are now pricing your art accordingly.

Art collectors: who collects what, how, why and where?

Who is the art collector?

  • the typical collector and Internet user is a man
  • 80% have a college or university degree,
  • 73% of collecting is done by people aged between 40 and 70
  • most collecting is done by people with no children at home
  • nearly half are self-employed or entrepreneurs
  • only 25% are employees

What do people collect?

People like things which hang on walls.
  • 89% collect paintings
  • 63% collect works on paper (drawings / prints etc)
  • 60% collect sculpture
  • 49% collect photography

People collect a lot of other things - read the report!

Preference for the type of art collected varies with age
  • everybody likes contemporary art
  • young people like new art
  • older people like more traditional art 

How do people collect?

The survey report came up with a typology of collectors. The described them as follows
  • Young collectors: 8% of the collectors in our sample have "just started collecting recently".
  • Active collectors: only 45% of respondents state that they "have been collecting continuously and for a while".
  • Sporadic collectors: 18% buy collectables "every now and again in phases, with long intervals in between". 1 in 10 collections is worth more than $1m
  • Mature collectors: 16% are already beyond the peak of their collecting activities – they "have been collecting for a while, but not as intensively as before"
  • Non-collectors: A noteworthy minority, 11% of respondents, say they "would not regard themselves as collectors".

Interesting when asked about their collecting strategies....
  • most (65%) said they did it on "gut instinct"
  • 30% collect items of high quality

Why do people collect?

Three common reasons were
  • "I love to own beautiful things and to surround myself with them" (80%) · 
  • "I enjoy occupying myself with art and developing a comprehensive knowledge of art"(79%) 
  • "Collecting is a passion of mine" (72%)

Where do people purchase?

Collectors research before they purchase. 77% want to know about one thing - the artist.

(Anybody thinking they need to do a website / social media review of the information the put out in the morning?)

The think the best place for getting the information they want is art fairs.
  • 64% use trade fairs, exhibitions, events, presentations 
  • 62% find out via galleries
  • 58% read printed media, trade journals, newspapers, books 
  • 58% like to have discussions with artists 
  • 52% use their personal contacts to find out what they need to know
  • 51% use the internet - via online media, websites, internet forums, social networks 

The survey then asked "Where and how do you buy your works of art or collectable items?"
  • Most (73%) buy via galleries
  • However - and very importantly - 63% buy direct from the artist (now you know why galleries don't release details of who buys your art!)
  • 59% buy via auctions

For the rest of the places see the chart on the right - or the report.

Interestingly although 95% of art collectors visit art fairs only 39% purchase there.

Plus art advisers are a LOT less important than they may think they are!

Clearly the art fair is the place to meet galleries, find out who does what, see what interests - and find out about the artists!

There is a divergence of opinion about the importance of the internet

  • 95% use the internet for communication and researching art they're interested in.
  • However:
    • only 34% had bought artwork online
    • BUT 42% did not contemplate ever using the internet for purchasing art.

Which means that another 24% might do so in future!

All those thinking that serious art collectors do not use the internet need to do a rethink!

Different types of art collectors

The rest of the report - which I recommend you read then focuses on the different types of art collectors

I'd suggest you read these sections in detail to try and understand the sort of people you are dealing with when it comes to art collectors.

These are
  • Type I: art aficionados – collecting out of passion - typically people who like contemporary art; like their collection to express their personality and value the social contacts and friendships they get through collecting art. They often have a plan for how to develop their collection.
  • Type II: traditionalists – collecting over generations - they collect because their family has always collected - it's what they do!  They also like to own and surround themselves with beautiful things and preserve them for future generations to enjoy them.  Two thirds collect on the basis of gut instinct.
  • Type III: investors – collecting for the portfolio - these are people who read auction results and prices paid for an artist the way others would read stock market changes. They collect for investment and enjoy speculating on whether an artist's work is likely to move up or down in value.  Their purchases give them status and express who they are in society.   They are more likely to buy via auctions or on the internet. They are less likely to visit the artist's studio.


For me, the different types of art collectors will remain stable over time. The motivations are similar irrespective of the sector of the art market we are talking about - although I think the Investors are probably more important at the high/expensive end.

My guess is the internet has become much more important since the survey was done.  As I indicated recently in Art Collectors and Instagram, social media has proved invaluable to many collectors for being able to survey what's on offer and just browse.

The imperative for artists is to:
  • make sure you present both themselves and your art in the best possible way - on websites and through any social media that they use. (see Marketing and Communication for Artists)
  • make sure that art collectors can find out 
    • what they want to know from you
    • how to buy or commission art from you. (check with independent third parties whether your website makes that easy or difficult).
  • make sure that any art gallery that sells your work knows how to promote art and artists on the Internet!

Monday, September 26, 2016

About Marianne North

Marianne North is a woman who painted 800 paintings of plants and flowers, representing over 900 species from 17 countries on 6 different continents in 14 years.

Below is a map at the beginning of her autobiography which indicates where she went painting plants.

Countries Marianne North travelled to and painted plants and flowers

Life begins at 40

All this started after the age of 40 while travelling solo, painting in oils, dressed in long Victorian dresses and making plans for a new Gallery to house her collection of paintings when she got back to England.

Admittedly her family was well connected and she was comfortably off, but she still had to endure an awful lot while off painting in the back of beyond!

The Marianne North Gallery

This is now the only permanent solo exhibition by a woman artist in the UK - and you can find it at the Marianne North gallery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The prompt to complete my new page About Marianne North on my website about Botanical Art and Artists is a television programme about Marianne North which is on BBC4 tonight at 9pm.  It's called Kew's Forgotten Queen. You'll be able to find it on iPlayer on this link after it has aired.

In the meantime, if you'd like to find out more about Marianne North, the new page covers
  • the timeline of her life and travels
  • her paintings and painting methods
  • The Marianne North Gallery at Kew

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: 3rd Derwent Art Prize Exhibition

I'm writing this review more for the record and the benefit of those thinking of entering the competition for the Derwent Art Prize (sponsored by Derwent Pencils ) in future years.

This week has seen a surfeit of exhibitions for me - and yet more problems for me with my joints! I really shouldn't spend so much time standing looking at art in art exhibitions - as it now means I can't move the next day!  Hence the delay.....

The Derwent Art Prize - selected works

The 3rd Derwent Art Prize Exhibition 2016

The exhibition finishes today at the Mall Galleries. Frankly 6 days is not enough for this exhibition. However you can see the art online and it will get another outing - and I'll let you know where when I know (keep an eye on my Making A Mark Facebook Page!)
The exhibition will tour to a number of venues throughout the UK from October - December 2016. Full details will be announced shortly.
  • First some gallery view images of the exhibition
  • then a summary of what was good and where there is scope to improve
  • finally, some images of the 8 drawings I liked by 6 artists. I also liked others - but these have all got an extra something...
I've already commented on the prizewinners in Derwent Art Prize 2016 - Prizewinners

Gallery views

There are two absolute truisms about drawings when seen online:
  • they do look different when seen in the gallery - you can't ever beat the face up cloe to the work to get a really good sense of what a work is about and how it has been made.
  • you can never ever get a proper sense of the relative size of different artwork - unless it is seen in context

That's why it's essential to go to exhibitions and not just look online - even if you end up crocked afterwards (as I do!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016

Earlier this week I visited the 29th exhibition of Sunday Times Watercolour Competition at the Mall Galleries and this is my review of this year's selected paintings.

This post is about:
  • the exhibition of selected works - there are 78 paintings in total in the exhibition (12 less than last year and 22 less than was advertised in the Call for Entries)
  • which artwork I liked the best
  • aspects I think can be improved
If you want to see the exhibition you need to hurry up and do so this week as the exhibition closes at 4pm on Saturday 24th September. Admission is free. After that there are two more chances to see the exhibition:
  • 24 - 29 October 2016 Parabola Arts Centre, Parabola Road, Cheltenham GL50 3AA - Monday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm. 
  • 10 December 2016 - 28 January 2017 Guildford House Gallery, 155 High Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3AJ. Monday – Saturday: 10am - 4.45pm.
You can also see the works online on the exhibition page of the website (it takes AGES to load) - and compare them to those in previous years (scroll down).  Each painting also has an individual page on the website.

Viewing the exhibition - prizewinners on the left.
This is my fourth blog post about the competition. The first three were:
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition Prizewinners - on the wall

Review of the exhibition

Before I start.....

Why the big reduction in number of paintings selected and hung?

The very first comment I wrote in my exhibitions notebook was "smaller than in previous years?".

I'm very puzzled as to why the number of paintings exhibited has dramatically reduced.
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