However some made it past the digital stage and were one of the 439 that got in front of the judges. Of those some of the portraits below also made it all the way through to the penultimate judging of the last 209 paintings.
It was interesting doing the selection process. It was very easy to discard some and very easy to say 'definite' to others. The difficult part is deciding the ones that came in the middle.
I did my selection without looking at all at the copies of the competition emails that the artists had to send me to demonstrate they were genuine entries. These indicated at which stage the painting got to. For those who made it through to the last two stages I've indicated this under the portrait.
It was really interesting to see the extent to which my choice coincided with that of the judges!
I've commented on each portrait and indicated what I liked and what aspects caught my eye.
At the end of this post I've set out some learning points derived from the process of looking at the digital images of the portrait paintings submitted - which after all is the way the initial selection is made.
I hope any aspiring BP portrait painters find tribute to the those who didn't quite make it useful - and if you do, I'll repeat it next year.
So do please let me know what you think about the process.
The first five for me were out in front - as reflected by my comment in the caption.
Top Ten Best of the Rest
|Portrait (title?) by Justin Russell|
oil on board, 62cm wide x 90 cm high
[Last 209 paintings + a definite from me]
My guess - and it is only a guess - is that the 'thing' at the top left corner is very probably what excluded this portrait from the final cut - which would be a real pity if this is what made the difference. When you're having to choose between paintings you like a lot, it pays not to give the judges something to dislike!
That or the fact we always get a fair few hyper-realism paintings in the BP and hence the competition is strong and only the very best make it through.
|A portrait of the artist's Uncle Frank (2016) by Frank Oriti|
Oil on panel, 20”x16”
[Last 209 + a definite from me]
I thought I recognised the style and the quality and I was right - Frank has a painting in the BP Portrait Award 2015. He's got a very strong body of work on his website.
Frank Oriti was born in 1983 and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his B.F.A. in Two-Dimensional Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2006
|The Big Time by Alessandro Tomasetti|
50x65cm, oil on linen
(Selected for second round of judging) + [definite from me]
Alessandro Tomassetti is classically-trained in Fine Art and unclassically-trained in everything else. He recently moved from Los Angeles to Barcelona where his work continues his exploration of the analogue world: pencil to paper, Polaroids and hand-drafted patterns. He loves Caravaggio, the Smiths, Lanvin and the Real Housewives.
|Dapples at Scrobo by Julie Douglas|
oil on linen, 11inches x 14 inches
[Last 209 paintings + a definite from me]
Julie has a bit of a reputation for portraits of children in dappled light and I know of at least two which have been previous prizewinners - although not in the BP.
Julie Douglas is based in Ireland and runs workshops and regular drawings and painting classes.
|A Distant Calling by Rupert Brooks|
Oil on Canvas, 36 X 46cm
[definite from me]
I like the composition vertically although I'm not so certain I go with the horizontal crop. Plus I know the bulk of this must have been done from a photo as that is not an easy pose to hold for any length of time - and the BP Portrait does like to see evidence of painting from observation.
Having said that it's a very nice portrait of a child. Makes me think Rupert Brooks will go far doing portrait commissions for parents!
|'Three Queens' by Chris Dawson|
Oil on Panel; 34 inches X 55 inches
[Selected for Round 2 with 438 other paintings]
I like this portrait - and its ambition - but for me it's a near miss. That's because I'm not entirely convinced by the lighting on this one, some of the white paint needs the edge taken off and I find the grey rectangles in the background distracting and without purpose. Continuing to study classical painting as he already does - and practising painting from observation - will help enormously with future portraits
Chris Dawson is based in Bermuda and he's not yet got his website completely up and running and his CV is missing.
|She-Ra by Nadine Robbins |
oil on linen; 24x24 inches (61cm x 61cm),
(Selected for second round of judging)
Personally I don't mind the orange at all - and I like the fact it changes colour both in terms of background and fabric and isn't flat.
However, the issue for me with this painting is that the quality of the painting in the face didn't carry over into the knitted thing on her head. Invariably those getting selected for the exhibition can paint fabric as well as faces.
|Retrospective Fortitude by Johnathan Sundaram|
59.4 x 84.1 cm
(Selected for second round of judging)
There's a bit of a discontinuity in lighting but it's something I noticed after a little while rather than it jumped out at me (as happened with some of those that did not make it).
Unfortunately Jonathan does not have a website - which I think he ought to address as a priority if he wants to display and market his art with serious intent - which I think he should.
|Triptych of Laury by Frances Bell|
Oil on canvas 18" square x 3
(Selected for second round of judging)
Frances trained with the Charles H Cecil studios in Florence and the classical training is evident in her work. She has previously been selected for the BP Portrait Award and was selected in 2012 and has exhibited on a regular basis with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. She's also had solo shows with Bonhams in Edinburgh.
I'm thinking that maybe the overall coloration of these portraits (dark brown against dark grey) didn't do it any favours when in competition with others in the context of this particular competition. I'm also wondering if maybe the background wasn't entirely neutral that might also have helped. Of course I don't know for sure - but that was my first reaction.
|Portrait with Margaret by Hayley Hasler|
oil on canvas; 40 x 30 inches
[Last 209 paintings]
There are parts of this portrait that I like a lot and parts which grate. I like the face a lot, LOVE the guinea pig and the overall pose and the total incongruity of a dressy dress and a black guinea pig. (That said I LOVE some of the portraits on her website a lot more!)
However this is one of those portraits where I'm very distracted by the lighting and the background. The background really fights for attention but it's main sin in my eyes is that it is too flat. The it is lit doesn't seem to bear any relation to the lighting on the subject and her dress - and I assume was painted in isolation. I'm also not quite sure what happened half way down the skirt.
The thing is by the time you get to the last 209, judges do tend to start looking for things they don't like in paintings rather than things they do like. If you've got to start rejecting a painting at this stage little things can start to matter a lot. "Less is more" comes to mind on this one....
Interestingly almost all the ones I picked were done by experienced painters. The level of competence and innovation varied between the artists - but on the whole these were clearly the top ten of those submitted.
Things to watch out for
In terms of those that were submitted but didn't make it into my top ten I suspect some of my observations are probably applicable to other entries.
- You need to paint well - the ones which got discarded first were the ones where people did not demonstrate competence in painting
- Lighting needs to be consistent between model and background and between subject matter within the painting
- Form is really important - people need to have volume and look 3D
- Don't just focus on the face and forget the rest of the body
- You need to be able to paint fabric. Whether or not you get selected to paint commissions may depend on how well you paint fabric as well paint faces.
- The background is really important and can make or break a painting (as in get selected or not!)
- At least some of the painting needs to look as if it was painted from observation
- Modulation of tones is important if you're going for realism. You only see Titanium white in photos not real life.
- Show you can paint hands! I refer to my blog post of last year....
- Do study the paintings from previous years (see below)
Don't even think about putting in for the BP Portrait award before you've got your website sorted!
Just supposing you got selected! (For more info see Websites for Artists)
More about the BP Portrait Award
BP Portrait Award 2016
- Entry: £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016 - How to enter and how to get selected
- Shortlist: £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016 - The Shortlist
- Selected artists: BP Portrait Award 2016: Selected Artists
BP Portrait Award 2015
- BP Portrait Award 2015 entry goes digital
- How to enter the £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2015 - and improve your chances of being selected
- Selected Artists - BP Portrait Award 2015
- Brits lose out in BP Portrait Award 2015 - BP Portrait Award 2015: Analysis of the number of entries and the number of selected artists - between UK and international artists.
- Shortlist: Shortlist for £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2015 announced
- Israeli artist Matan Ben Cnaan wins BP Portrait Prize 2015 - includes names of other prizewinners
- Video Interview with Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2015 - My video interview with Matan Ben Cnaan.
- Michael Gaskell (2nd Prize BP Portrait 2015) - a video interview - the most consistent second prizewinner never to win!
- José Luis Corella wins BP Portrait Award 2015 Visitors' Choice Award
- BP Portrait 2015 - Artists with their paintings Some of the artists in the BP Portrait - with their paintings.
- Video of Exhibition: BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2015 - video and analysis - Video of BP Portrait Award 2015 Exhibition and in-depth analysis of three portrait factors - size, type and number.
BP Portrait Award 2014
- BP Portrait Award 2014 - Call for Entries
- Shortlist announced for BP Portrait Award 2014
- BP Portrait Award: From 2,500+ entries to just three artists
- BP Portrait Award 2014 - Video of presentation to prizewinners
- BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition - review and video
- A video interview with Thomas Ganter, Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2014
- Richard Twose and David Jon Kassan - video interviews with BP Portrait Award prizewinners 2014 (2nd and 3rd prizewinners)
- Video - what the artist saw
BP Portrait Award 2013
- BP Portrait Award 2013: Call for Entries
- BP Portrait Award 2013 - The Shortlist
- Susanne du Toit wins £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2013
- BP Portrait Award 2013 - Selected Artists and Statistics
- BP Portrait Exhibition 2013 - Video & Review
- Sophie Ploeg wins BP Travel Award 2013
- Carl Randall's Japan - the best BP Travel Award Exhibition ever!
BP Portrait Award 2012
- Call for Entries: BP Portrait Award 2012
- BP Portrait Award 2012 - 55 Selected Artists
- BP Portrait Award 2012 - The Shortlist
- Aleah Chapin wins £25,000 BP Portrait Award 2012
- A Profile of Aleah Chapin
- Carl Randall wins BP Travel Award 2012
- Review: BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2012 (Part 1) Focuses on a theory about what's important to getting selected.
- BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2012 (Part 2) Part 2 of a review of the BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2012. Focuses on portrait paintings I like.
- Video of BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2012
BP Portrait Award 2011
- CALL FOR ENTRIES: BP Portrait Award 2011
- BP Portrait Award 2011 Shortlist
- BP Portrait Award 2011: links to Selected Artists
- Review: BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2011
- BP Travel Awards: 2010 (Paul Beel) and 2011 (Jo Fraser)
- BP Portrait Award 2011: People's Favourite & Statistics
BP Portrait Award 2010
- Daphne Todd wins BP Portrait Award 2010
- Two American Artists win BP Portrait Prizes
- BP Portrait Award: Michael Gaskell's unparalled record
- BP Portrait Exhibition 2010 opens today (VIDEO)
- BP Portrait Award 2010 - Shortlist announced
- BP Portrait Award 2010: List of Exhibitors and Brian Sewell
BP Portrait Award 2009
- BP Portrait Tour & Portrait of the Nation (24 Sep 2009)
- Sue Rubira makes her mark on bp portrait (18 Jun 2009)
- Exhibition review: BP Portrait Award (18 Jun 2009)
- Peter Monkman wins first prize in BP Portrait Award 2009 (17 Jun 2009)
- BP Portrait Award 2009 - the shortlist (27 May 2009)
- BP Portrait Award - who enters and who gets selected (28 May 2009)
- BP Portrait Award 2009 - Call for Entries (15 Dec 2008)
BP Portrait Award 2008
- Making a Mark: Craig Wylie wins BP Portrait Award 2008
- Making a Mark: BP Portrait Prize 2008 - exhibition opens