Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016 - Call for Entries

The Call for Entries for The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016 has been published.  This is the 29th year of the largest and most prestigious prize for contemporary watercolour painting in the UK.  This is the one that most watercolour painters want to be selected for as a mark of credibility on their CV.
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the medium of watercolour
This is my annual post in which I...
  • summarise the process
  • provide some tips for those thinking of entering this prestigious watercolour competition; and
  • include links to all the blog posts I've written in previous years about the exhibition, who won prizes and who got selected - and their websites!
So if you want to immerse yourself in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition this is the blog to read! :)

"Reveal" by Deborah Walker RI

OVERVIEW: Call for Entries

This post tells you about:
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the time table
  • the prizes
  • the judges
  • the exhibition

Here is a summary of the KEY POINTS

  • The deadline for submissions 5pm, 13th June 2016. 
  • Entry for the 2015 competition is digital and ONLINE.
  • Your digital file for submission needs to be 300 dpi with a file size of 500kb or less
  • This is the official website.  Plus these are the rules
  • The top prize is £10,000 and the second prize is also good (£6,000)
  • Those who like painting cityscapes compete for a special prize worth £1,500
  • You'll find out on 21 June 2016, via email, whether or not you have been selected for the final judging in front of the selection panel.


  • You review the images from past exhibitions (see blog posts reviewing past SWC exhibitions at the end of this post)
  • you review the Facebook Page for the competition - which demonstrates the diversity of ways in which watercolour can be used 
  • Have a go and enter two works
  • The cost relative to the achievement and the experience is negligible

Who can enter

  • The competition is open to all artists born or currently resident in the UK. 
  • There are no age limits for artists wishing to enter.

What you can enter

The Selfie-Conscious by Juliet Benini

Eligible media includes:
  • any water-based media
  • this includes acrylic, inks and gouache (note it does NOT state that watersoluble oil paint is acceptable!)
However you should make a particular point of noting two points emphasised in the rules
Artists should note that whilst any water-based mediums are acceptable, this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting.
The judges will therefore be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water based medium in this respect.
In other words this is called a "watercolour" competition - NOT a "water-based medium competition".
  • This competition is very popular with the public and they are expecting to see a lot of proper watercolour paintings - demonstrating what it is possible to do when using watercolour paint.
  • In other words exactly what I have lamented as being missing from another prominent competition.

I'd expect the final selection to include other water-based media - however I would also expect that it will be exceptional and other media will not dominate traditional watercolour paint. However that's just my take on it.


Take them at their word. Don't be boring! Show them what watercolour can do....


The first round involves you submitting a digital image. There is then a sift and sort selection process to produce a list of works which need to be seen in person by the Judges.

After that if you get through the first round, you will be supplied with labels and forms and need to bring or send the artwork to London (to arrive on 1 July) for the second round of judging by the Panel of Judges.

TIP: This is where you can lose out through bad presentation or inappropriate framing which will drown other work. Don't be loud!
approximately 250 shortlisted artists will then be invited to deliver their actual works on 1 July 2016, from 10 – 5pm, to the Federation of British Artists (FBA), 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD, for final judging.
Within a week you will know whether your work has been selected for exhibition or you (or your courier) will be picking it up on 8 July.

It's expected that around 100 paintings will be selected and exhibited from the entries - but it partly depends on size.

Very often some artists have more than one work selected so it's generally less that 100 artists - which is why it's worth submitting two works - because if they like your work they might take two!

2016 Timeline

  • 13 June Deadline for online entries, by 5pm
  • 21 June Email to artists - advising of the outcome of the initial review of works entered 
  • 1 July Shortlisted artists must submit works to FBA (on this date)
  • 6 July Email to artists - advising whether their art has been selected for the exhibition - or is available for collection
  • 8 July Unaccepted short listed works available for collection at FBA, 10am-5pm
  • 19 - 24 September Exhibition at Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 10am-5pm
  • September 2016 – Spring 2017 Smith & Williamson Exhibition tour

Selection and Judges

The job of the judges is to select around about one hundred works in watercolour that reflect the true breadth of the medium.

The 2016 judging panel includes
  • Akash Bhatt, Winner of Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015; 
  • Sara Dudman, artist; 
  • Desmond Shawe-Taylor CVO, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, and 
  • Louis Wise, Critic and Writer, The Sunday Times.


The Prize Fund covers:
  • a First Prize of £10,000, 
  • Second Prize of £6,000, and 
  • the Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500. 
The announcement of the prizewinners will be in advance of the exhibition - and will be announced in the Culture section of the Sunday Times on Sunday 28th August.

The Exhibition

You can see exhibition for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition at
  • the Mall Galleries, London from 19 - 24 September 2016 (Admission is FREE)
  • followed by the Smith & Williamson Tour to venues across the UK, including the Guildford House Gallery in Guildford (1pth December 2016 - end of January 2017

More posts on Making A Mark

I'll be writing further posts about:
  • the selected artists + their websites (please send me an image of your work if you get selected and would like it appear in my post - which gets a huge audience!)
  • the prizewinners
  • a review of the exhibition once it's open.

More about the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

I've been covering this competition for some years. If you'd like to read and view the competition and exhibition in previous years..........


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