Thursday, July 07, 2016

Interview with Benjamin Sullivan (BP Portrait Award 2016 3rd Prize)

The major benefit of NOT winning the BP Portrait Award - but being a regular exhibitor - is that the exhibition enables a lot of people to see your work. That, in turn, means more opportunities for selling work and getting commissions for future portraits from people who see and like your work.

Ben, Ginnie and Edie Sullivan and the BP Portrait Award Third Prize Painting of Hugo

That was the major conclusion drawn from my VIDEO interview with Benjamin Sullivan who won 3rd Prize in the 2016 BP Portrait Award. He's a "BP regular" who has had his portrait selected on a number of occasions since 2002. In fact I think he may well lay claim to being the portrait painter who has been selected the most times for this exhibition.

Let's also not forget that in 2015 the BP Portrait Award Exhibition was seen by 329,556 visitors.

Where else can you get this number of people viewing your portrait painting?

Plus if you keep coming back - and become a BP regular - some artists become better known than the people who won!

Video Interview with Ben Sullivan

My Video Interview with the 2016 Third Prizewinner Ben Sullivan covers:
  • the benefits - in terms of sales and commissions - for a professional portrait painter of getting a portrait into the BP Portrait Award Exhibition 
  • being a professional portrait artist
  • painting people in their own home
  • his approach to painting and how he starts
  • the importance of drawing from observation
  • working from observation vs working from photos
  • the value of painting family and friends on a regular basis

This year I wrote a post Comparison of the RSPP Open and BP Portrait Award Competition in which I compared the similarities and differences between the open annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the BP Portrait Award which is an art competition.

I think a number of portrait painters - around the world - might like to reflect on Ben's comments in the video and my observations in the abovementioned blog post.

More about Benjamin Sullivan RP NEAC

You can read a lot more about Ben in my shortlist blog post - £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016 - The Shortlist. Key facts are:
  • previously selected 12 times for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition (2002 and 2006-2015)
  • won the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize in 2007
  • the youngest ever painter to be elected (at the time) to both 
    • the New English Art Club (2001) and
    • the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2003)
  • BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College of Art (graduated 2000)
  • born in Grimsby in 1977 and lives and works in Suffolk - but will travel for commissions.
  • website:
  • Facebook Page:
Check out the portrait with the model.
This is Hugo Williams (the subject of the portrait) and his wife

BP Portrait Award Winners and Shortlists

You can read more about the past winners and shortlists in my post Interview with Clara Drummond - Winner of BP Portrait Award 2016.

Below is a list of the videos of past prizewinners

Videos of BP Portrait Award prizewinners

I began to interview prizewinners in 2012 - starting with Aleah Chapin - whose video has now been seen by around 80,000 people

I try to interview as many prizewinners as possible the following morning after the Awards Ceremony. It's often very loud and noisy in the exhibition and I try to leave the interviews towards the end of the morning when the hubbub has died down.  Sometimes there is a problem with language and sometimes the artist has disappeared before I can interview them!

First Prize

Second Prize

Third Prize

More about the BP Portrait Award 2016

You can see the exhibition at:

  • National Portrait Gallery until 4th September after which it tours to:
  • Usher Gallery, Lincoln (12 September – 13 November 2016) and 
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (26 November 2016 - 26 March 2017.)
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The BP Portrait Award 2016 includes over 70 colour illustrations, price £9.99 (pbk).

Plus you can see it online my video of the exhibition
These are my previous posts relating to the 2016 competition
This is how to sign up for information about the 2017 Award

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