Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Making A Mark Awards 2010 (Part 2 - Learning about Art & the Art Business)

On to the next part of the Making A Mark Awards - this is the section related to Learning about Art and the Art Business.  There are three awards:
  • The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
  • The Make Me Think Gong
  • The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon
This is the area which focuses on our personal development - whether that's via:
  • regular posts on a blog wholly focused on the development of artists
  • a really good series of posts on a particular topic of major relevance to artists
  • a new art instruction book
  • a new book about the artist and the art business
    The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
    This award value blogs which also aim to share good information - including what they have learned - with others.
    This is a particular favourite of mine as it's what an awful lot of this blog is about.  It's not limited to artists who are also teachers, it's also open to those who just love to share what they've found out (like me!).
    Paul Foxton (Learning to See) nominated by Shaun G. Day  The Make Me Think Gong I believe must go to Paul Foxton.  I don't think that I've ever come across a more helpful, educative and inspiringly well-written blog about learning how to paint.  (This was nominated in the Make Me Think category but more properly belongs over here)

    Stapleton Kearns (Stapleton Kearns) Nominated by S. M. Lacy Stapleton Kearns writes a blog for painters, and has posted almost every single day for 2 years. Every post is useful (similar to James Gurney's site). It's a huge resource. I have learned so much from reading.

    Noemí (Pintar a la acuarela) Nominated by Noemí.  This blog is about the practice of watercolor. Watercolor Painters of the World: interesting links to artists working with this technique. Events related to the watercolor competitions, contests, Meetups, exhibitions, symposia and festivals, national and international. Techniques: explained through videos, step-by-step. Materials: paper, brushes and pigment. Analysis and presentation of books and magazines in watercolor. Links to pages around the world related to watercolor. The problem (or not): spanish language
    Having excluded all previous award winners, to these I would add three artist/tutors
    Deborah Secor Landscape Painting in Pastels and Deborah Secor: Today's Art Class.  Deborah is an experienced artist/tutor who shares an exceptional amount of her knowledge and experience online - including the content of her classes.

    Richard McKinley (The Pastel Pointers Blog) is an experienced artist/tutor who contributes regular and thoughtful posts about the practice of painting landscapes with pastels.  These have now been published by North Light Books who also commission Richard to write his blog.

    Armand Cabrera (Art and Influence) is an artist/tutor who writes regular weekly articles about aspects of the painting process
    I read all these blogs on a regular basis apart from Noemi's - because I don't read Spanish!  However her blog looks fascinating and certainly looks like a blog which is worth reading if you can handle the language issue.  For those who prefer to read in Spanish she also has a whole bunch of Spanish watercolour blogs in her blogroll

    Paul's blog is a one-off.  It's a record of a journey in relation to classical techniques which occurs in fits and starts.  However Paul produces long and interesting posts when he's posting and has a significant fan base.  He also draws and paints rather well.

    Artist/tutor blogs, such as the ones written by Kearns, Secor, McKinley and Cabrera, are typically distinguished by the fact that they are often well written, often very practical, often very useful and produce regular content.  This content then varies according to the individual interests and preferences of the artist/tutor.  In some ways it seems invidious to try and choose between them as I know I read and enjoy them all and they all have their own particular pros and cons. 

    I'm trying to avoid doing split prizes this year.  I've also looked back at the previous winners of this prize and it strikes me I do like people who provide a good read! 

    Consequently I'm going to award the prize to the artist who most often tackles the spread of topics which most appeal to me.  He achieves a nice balance between art technique, art history and art business (although I think he needs to rationalise his two art business labels into one!).  If there's one thing I would change it's the black background which I find makes his posts more difficult to read.

    The 2010 winner of
    The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal is
    Stapleton Kearns

    The Make Me Think Gong
    To be eligible for this award you must make me think and offer insights which are transferable to the activity and business of being an artist.
    This is the award which leans more towards matters pertaining to being an artist rather than artistic practice per se.  So less "how to paint" and more "how to avoid being a starving artist"

    Nominations received are:
    Elizabeth Barton (Art and Quilts, cogitations thereon Nominated by  She writes about her experiences making, observing, teaching, reading, and critiquing.  She is also very interactive with the people who comment, encouraging a real online dialog.
    Katherine A. Cartwright
    (Katharine A. Cartwright Studio) Nominated by Casey Klahn.  Seconded by Peggy Stermer-Cox  Kathy posts book reviews and hosts a discussion style format via her comments. A community has developed there, and I always look forward to the thoughtful interaction that takes place.  

    Peggy also added 'I'm glad to see Casey nominated Katherine A. Cartwright's Studio. I'll second the nomination. The discussions she leads are thought provoking, interesting and educational...besides being fun! And, she's a great art blog hostess.'

    Kirsty Hall  (Kirsty Hall) Nominated by riseart .  Seconded by S. M. Lacy
    For Learning about the art business the Rise Art Team would like to nominate blooger Kirsty M Hall for her work on encouraging and supporting artists in finding their way online.

    Corinna Spencer (Corinna Spencer) Nominated by riseart.  Additionally we enjoy Corinna Spencer's blog an artist who writes about other shows, own work, etc

    To these I'm adding Joanne Mattera - Joanne Mattera series on Marketing Mondays.  This is extremely wide-ranging in its coverage of very practical issues for artists.  The content is also very helpful and I invariably find myself highlighting them on Who's made a mark this week? 
    It's good to see artists being nominated by more than one blogger so congrats to Katharine A Cartwright and Kirsty Hall for that distinction.  I've always thought Kirsty wrote in a fresh and accessible way and lights on topics which might pass me by - which means she often makes me think.  Katharine is an artist and an art instrucor and her blog is less well known to me although I have visited before.  It looks like it's a good place to go when you want to give your brain cells a bit of exercise.  She also has the merit of writing blog posts on a regular basis.  Elizabeth's blog has got lots of good stuff to read but I find the stretched format and the big blocks of text a bit of a challenge to read - but I've got this 27" screen for a reason not unconnected with cataracts!  I'm finding narrower columns and short paras work really well for me.  I'm afraid Corinna's blog is one I don't know so well - so congrats on the nomination.
    The 2010 winner of
    The Make Me Think Gong is
    Joanne Mattera
    Joanne tackles the really routine issues relating to doing business and marketing your art which affect most artists.  Plus she also covers some aspects which are less routine but useful to know about none the less. I find that she almost always manages to bring a fresh perspective on what might be thought of as the "same old topics"and she often manages to add some small nugget of information which I've not heard before.  She certainly makes me think.  Many a time she's popped a thought into my head while I've been reading one of her Marketing Mondays posts which has then turned into a blog post on Making A Mark.  She's also consistent and reliable.  So much so that she is now one of my regular ports of call whenever I'm constructing my weekly blog posts - and by definition that puts such a blogger in the running for an end of year Making A Mark award!

    The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon
    This award is for the most helpful book written/produced by an art blogger and published in 2010
    There were some great new art books published this year - but this NEW award is limited to those written by artists with active art blogs which they write themselves! The author MUST be somebody who blogs about art - but they don't have to be an artist.  The book should be published in 2010 but this is not an absolute and some flexibility is permitted in relation to books published at the year end.

    I'm aware of four artists who have written significant books published this year. This is one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make this year.  I could make a very good argument for any of the contenders to win the award.  I've enjoyed all their contributions on their blog and have read two of the books in print, all of the third onscreen and most of the fourth onscreen.

    James Gurney's book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter managed to go straight to the top of the charts on pre-publication sales.  I can only imagine that those who bought the last book and/or read James blog Gurney Journey were very happy to order the new book.  Of course a lot of the material had already been published via his blog as he wrote the book.  However there's nothing quite like having it in book format so you can read it through and/or dip into it for reference purposes.

    I've had a rule up until now that you can only win a prize once.

    To be honest if I didn't have that rule, then James would probably edge it as he has written a really excellent book (see my review Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney).  This is because he's written a book which focuses on a very important topic about which very few good practical books have been written.  It has the distinction of being a valuable addition to my existing library of all the good books on the topic written so far!

    However on the basis you can only win the prize once the three contenders are:
    Richard McKinley (The Pastel Pointers Blog) for Pastel Pointers: Top 100 Secrets for Beautiful Paintings.  Richard is another artist who has written his book on his blog - and with the support of North Light Books, has then gone onto publish it.  It's now doing very well in terms of sales.  I haven't seen the book yet but I do read all his posts on his blog and they are excellent practical advice from an experienced artist and good tutor.

    Deborah Paris (Deborah Paris) for Studio and Business Practices.  Interestingly this was not written on her blog.  However Deborah does share all the lessons she's learned as a professional contemporary artist.  I think it's an excellent book and found myself nodding several times as I read it.  It has a small format and only 76 pages but while very slim the emphasis is on being succinct and making every word count.  It's packed full of advice about sound studio and business practices for artists. 

    Deborah Secor (Landscape Painting in Pastel) for Landscape Painting in Pastel - which has been published in full on her blog of the same name. The difference here is that the book is not going to be published in print.  Deborah's book is very thorough and I'm guessing might possibly be a tad too long for most publishers these days.  She's also thought of more subject matter she'd like to cover so there's more to come!
    I've pondered this one backwards and forwards.  I've read all the material on Richard and Deborah Secor's blogs and it's all very helpful.  I think Deborah Paris's book is simple but extremely useful and has the advantage of being written by an artist who has run a business and hence knows which way is up and how to manage the income stream.
    The 2010 winner of 
    the Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon is 
    Deborah Secor
    In the end the one factor which differentiates these is that Deborah Secor has sought no financial reward for her book.  She has published it for the love of giving.  That's one of the best things about art blogging - we're sharing freely with one another.
    I contemplated selling this book, but in the final analysis I decided that it was better to give. Jesus tells us, "Freely you have received, freely give." So I will. I hope you enjoy and benefit from it.
    Deborah Secor
    That makes this a book for me which stands out - and it seems to me a prize in recognition of the quality of her book and that giving freely would be most appropriate.  Thank you Deborah!


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