Sunday, June 26, 2016

BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings

The BP Portrait Award over the years has developed an increasingly international dimension.  On Wednesday I was delighted to meet and photograph a number of the artists - with the portraits they painted for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION.

You can also view the websites of more of the artists selected for this year's exhibition plus a and a short summary of their CV via my earlier post BP Portrait Award 2016: Selected Artists.  The link to their website is embedded in their names. The names are organised by the country where they live at present (when available).

I'll also be doing more posts about the exhibition. Upcoming posts will include:
  • The Best of the Rest - my choice of my top 10 paintings (excluding the prizewinners)
  • A Video Interview with Clara Drummond
  • A Video Interview with Benjamin Sullivan
  • A review of the exhibition - including a video tour of the exhibition sone after the awards Ceremony last Tuesday.
  • The BP Travel Award

The Painters

The painters in this post are: Alexander Chamberlin;  Sopio Chkhikvadze; Thomas Dobre; Thomas Ehretsmann; Samantha Fellows; Jane Gardiner Fiona Graham-McKay; Eilis Otway; Teri Anne Scoble; Daisy Sims-Hilditch; David von Bassewitz ; Simon Richardson; Shany van den Berg


Alexander Chamberlin (b.1972)

James Rhodes by Alexander Chamberlin
Oil on Canvas, 500 x 400mm (January 2016)
Alexander Chamberlin is a London based figurative oil painter - painting landscapes, portraits, still life and flowers. He grew up near Earls Court and has a studio located on the western edge of Chelsea. He's always loved to paint,  has a BA (Hons) degree from Newcastle University and he's has had work in numerous exhibitions in London and in numerous group exhibitions including those of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Chelsea Art Society. (This is his Facebook Page)

He paints portraits from life on location or in his studio. His portrait is of his brother-in-law James Rhodes who is a British classical concert pianist who has made classical music much more accessible the informal presentation of his performances and campaigning for music tuition for school children. He's also well known for his international bestselling memoir, Instrumental (2014) - which he was originally prevented from publishing due to a gagging order but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in what was seen as a major legal judgement relating to free speech and an endorsement of the right of survivors to tell their stories

Alexander pointed out to me that he painted it for his sister Hattie and James as a wedding present - but so far they haven't actually received it and now won't get it for nearly a year!
What's interesting about the painting is it looks unfinished (note the right hand side) and yet the bright splash of orange means it works better as a painting.

Note for those hoping to get their work into this exhibition. Alexander had previously produced large paintings and not had his work accepted. This year he decided to go much smaller - in a year in which the exhibition has lots more small paintings.

Sopio Chkhikvadze (b. 1972)

This one is a bit different as I came across her model at the show but not Sopio! The portrait is of the photographer, Martin Chaffer who is also a Past Chair of the Social of Fulham Artists and Potters. The map of London was added to provide an interesting visual context.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia and lives in London. Sopio studied art at Tbilisi Nikoladze Art College  and Tbilisi State Academy of Art, Georgia. Her work has been seen in exhibitions in Tiblisi, Prague and Moscow and those of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists. She won the Michael Harding Award at the RBA Annual Exhibition 2016. I saw one of her paintings at this show and found it interesting.

Portrait Of Martin Chaffer by Sopio Chkhikvadze (B.1972)
oil on canvas

Samantha Fellows (b.1971)

Samantha is a scenic artist who has worked as head artist for many UK leading set designers, painting scenery for numerous theatre and television productions. She paints portraits, mostly of children, in oil on birch plywood panels. Interestingly although British she studied art and gained a BA (Hons) degree in fine art at Oregon State University.

She had work in both the RBSA Portrait Prize Exhibition and the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists (both 2015).

Samantha Fellows with her daughter Pearl and her portrait
Pearl In The Morning, Ready For School 
oil on panel
‘I was struck by Pearl’s look of very slight apprehension. She also possesses a certain teenage bravado that I also hoped to capture.’
Pearl only got the morning off the Press Preview - she was back at school in the afternoon!

The painting of her daughter is part of a series of paintings of both daughters. Samantha is having a good year this year. If you visit her Facebook Page you can see her portrait of her other daughter Rose hanging in the Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition. That one (Rose's School Picture) has sold!

Fiona Graham-McKay 

Fiona's portrait of Sir Andrew Motion was commissioned by the BBC. You can listen to the programme for Radio 4 that the BBC made about the process of making the painting. Fiona and Sir Andrew had some interesting discussions about creativity and how this relates to painting and poetry during the sittings.  This BBC site provides pictures of her studio in Rye

She studied at Maidstone Art College and the Royal College of Art. She originally trained as an illustrator under Quentin Blake where she learned how to draw - and also learned how to work to a deadline!

Her website declares that she is a painter much in demand and that she has travelled thousands of miles in the last five years fulfilling commissions. Her work is frequently seen in the exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters including her portraits of HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Lord Carrington and Seamus Heaney. She has been an artist- in-residence on the Beaulieu Estate and an expedition artist with a medical charity in Pakistan and the Afghan borders. This is her blog.

Fiona Graham-McKay and her portrait of Sir Andrew Motion
oil on canvas, 870 x 680mm (January 2015)

EilíS Griffith Otway  (b.1991)

Eilís Griffith Otway studied painting at the Manchester School of Art and graduated in 2013 when she was awarded the Ken Billany Painting Prize and a BA (Hons) degree. She continues to live and work in Manchester where she also shows her work in group exhibitions. She doesn't have a website.

The portrait is of John, who is both a friend and a professional artist’s model. In the portrait he's singing.

I am interested in the dialogue surrounding painting’s situation in both contemporary and historical contexts, and the changing role of the image in a contemporary environment. This painting was made in the context of working independently, post-graduation with all of the anxieties and struggles that involves.’
John by EilíS Griffith Otway
oil on canvas, 500 x 350mm (December 2015)
She told me that Jenny Saville, of the Selectors this year, was the reason she started painting. She had been shown photos of her paintings while at school. She considered her very much a role model for female painters and she stopped being nervous about her painting after she saw Saville's paintings

Teri Anne Scoble

Teri Anne Scoble had a a successful career as an actor and stagecraft teacher before she took up painting in 2007. She's done well as her portraits have been exhibited in the BP Portrait Award 2013 and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition 2015 and she was an Edinburgh Heat finalist in the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition. She is currently working on a portrait of Edward Watson, Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet.

She is a member of the the International Midnight Painters' Society (as Leslie Watts was last year).  This is her Facebook page.

Her portrait painting is titled titled "The 271 to Arsenal (Xavier and Max)". She was commissioned to paint the brothers Xavier and Max and discovered that the young men were keen Arsenal fans. She portrays them at the bus stop in Islington where they catch the bus to matches. The time on the digital watch reads 20:16 to record the year.

The 271 To Arsenal (Xavier & Max) by Terry Ann Scoble
"What do you want to do when you grow up?""I want to paint!" was my swift reply."What do you want to do now?" inquired my mother "do you want to go out and play?""I want to dance!" was my equally swift reply."Shall we tidy your paints away?""Yes, I can paint when I am too old to dance!" I proclaimed haughtily.

Daisy Sims-Hilditch (b.1991)

Alessandra by Daisy Sims-Hilditch
oil on linen, 1,000 x 700 (May 2015)
Daisy Sims-Hilditch is a big fan of painting from life. Her portrait is of her friend Alessandra who she met while studying in Florence. The painting was done entirely from life over a period of seven weeks and she worked on it for about 3 hours each day. Her work is inspired by John Singer Sargent and she used the sight-size method which she very much recommends.  Her ambition in the short term is to get more colour into her palette!
‘One of the most exciting challenges is making the painting work as a whole, but also capturing the sitter’s inner emotions.’
She has been studying at the Charles H. Cecil Studios, in Florence in Italy for just over three years. The Studios provides places for those who want to follow a classical atelier training. She was brought up in Wiltshire and while at school, her portrait of her grandfather was in the top 20 of the Saatchi Gallery and Daily Telegraph’s School Art Prize and was exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery.

She's also a big fan of plein air painting and has been honing her plein air skills by painting with with Ken Howard RA in Venice, Morocco and Santorini.

Daisy is planning to move to London in the near future and find a studio. I'm sure she'd love to hear from anybody who knows where one is available!

[Note: Daisy Sim Hilditch is one of the few artists whose website impressed when I reviewed it earlier in the year in terms of being up to date and business-like. This is her commissions page.]


Thomas Ehretsmann 

He has a degree in illustration from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Strasbourg and now works as a progfessional illustrator.A professional illustrator whose work has been seen in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Elle Magazine.

He has exhibited his paintings in group exhibitions in Paris and Strasbourg. You can see his selected painting on this page of his blog

Vacuum 2 by Thomas Ehretsmann
acrylic on wood panel, 300 x 400mm (March 2015)
Thomas intended the portrait to have a dream like quality as he was painting his friend Simon who still lives there against the background of the place where he grew up in the Vosges mountains. In a way it's a painting of himself and his home.
‘I used tiny brushstrokes of semi-transparent acrylic paint in order to try and make the piece look similar to an egg tempera painting’.


Boris Dobre 

Boris was born in Rumania and was awarded a BA degree, followed by an MA, at the Bucharest National University of Arts, specialising in easel painting. He was previously selected for the BP Portrait award in 2014. The portrait is of his wife Oana.

The idea was to make the picture very simple. All of the focus is on the head alone, leaving everything else in shadow. That left me with the face only, discovering it as an object, its various shapes, hues, its beauty and its defects together.‘
Oana by Boris Dobre

David von Bassewitz 

David von Bassewitz is a freelance artist and painter based in Hamburg and Berlin. He studied illustration at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg and cinematography at the University Erlangen.  He's done a lot of commercial art, has a prestigious client list and has won a lot of awards for his art including:
  • the Montreux Golden Award
  • the Cannes Silver Lion (both 2005) and 
  • Best Illustrator at ADC Europe 2010. 
The portrait is of the artist’s close friend Falk, depicted in his apartment, filled with books, paintings, drawings and sculptures. It also include an upside down self-portrait of the artist

Interestingly they weren't even in the same city when it was painted from life. I think this is the first portrait I've come across in the BP Portrait Award which was painted with the aid of a web cam!  Falk was in Berlin and David was elsewhere.  He'd also photographed the scene so as to give himself the information he needed to fit the painting on to the very unusual size and format of the support.
Falk by David von Bassewitz
oil on canvas, 2250 x 450mm (February 2016)
‘It is like entering Falk’s train of thought. You could say his apartment in itself is a kind of portrait with him at the centre.’

New Zealand

Simon Richardson

He's a full time artist having from the Otago School of Art in New Zealand with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996. He's fascinated by detail. This is an a very informative article about him and this is his Facebook account

Simon Richardson gained a BA degree in fine arts from Otago School of Art, Dunedin, New Zealand. His work has been seen in solo exhibitions in Dunedin and Auckland and was a finalist in the Parkin Prize 2014 and the Wallace Award 2012.  He's also received three Elizabeth Greenshield Awards

The portrait is of the artist’s daughter, Mila. During the course of the work, Richardson’s brother-in-law died at a young age. Richardson was inspired to create portraits he describes as: ’Standing against mortality and the fragility of life preserved in a jewel-like quality.’
Mila by Simon Richardson
oil on board, 320 x 402mm (October 2015)


Jane Gardiner 

Jane is an artist who uses a traditional figurative approach to create paintings of people who use props, masks and costumes she has collected to dress up. Hence the subject of her portrait has large artificial rabbit ears! Last year Jane had to have hand surgery and was aware she would be unable to paint for some time after the surgery. So she organised sittings with friends to create sketches, photographs and reference material that would provide a resource for her to work on once she recovered.

The portrait is of Julie, a friend and fellow artist.

Jenny Saville told me that she pushed to have this painting included in the exhibition because she really liked the way Jane had treated the light. It also falls into that class of painterly paintings which Saville also favoured.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who grew up to be a painter and lived happily ever after.
To sense what is coming by Jane Gardiner
Oil on Panel, 304 x 406mm

South Africa

Shany van den Berg (b.1958)

Born in Riversdale in the Western Cape, South Africa but has lived here for 5 years. She is also largely self-taught and has worked as a full-time professional artist since 1992.

She was previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2009 and in 2010. Her website has all her entries and each is listed with the stage it got to. My personal view is that I think reviewing this would be instructive for a lot of artists who aspire to be selected for this exhibition.

This year she was shortlisted for the Travel Award.  She took under 10 days to complete her own self-portrait.

‘In the age of instant selfies, fleeting likes and constant sharing, there is something wonderful about the permanence of a self-portrait painting. It invites repeated musing and offers newly discovered details even after a thousand views.’

Shany van den Berg with her self-portrait
oil on board, 300 x 210mm

More about the BP Portrait Award 2016

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