Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015 - Call for Entries

The Royal Watercolour Society published their Call for Entries for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2016 last week.

Webpage for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2016

Call for Entries

This is a link to the Application Pack which provides the details about who/what/where and when.

Who can enter

The Royal Watercolour Society’s annual competition is open to all artists except RWS Members.

In effect it's an open entry for artists who may become the next Associate and Full Members of the RWS as the competition takes place prior to the elections to membership.

Eligible work

  • Original work: The work must have been made by the entrant. There are no comments about derivative pieces or use of photographs taken by other people.
  • Subject matter: no constraints
  • Age of work: completed in last four years. Yet again we have a competition which does not stipulate a date to indicate the "later than" constraint.
  • Size of work: Slight contradiction on the FAQS which says in one sentence that all sizes of work are welcomed "However, if your painting is framed, it should not exceed 100 x 100cm"
  • Eligible media: includes: "all water-based media" - which means watercolour, acrylic, gouache, ink or any other water-based media on a paper support
The judges will be looking for ideas, competence and integrity – as long as the materials conform to those stipulated on the application form, they will be interested in how you choose to use them and will be excited by both innovation and expertise in traditional methods in using water-based media.
  • Pricing: all work MUST be for sale.  Note that the Bankside Gallery levies a commission of 40% + VAT on picture sales
There's a strong emphasis on "contemporary artwork'.
The judges are looking for pieces that push at the boundaries of watercolour, promote water-based media at its most accomplished and ask audiences to see the medium in a new and contemporary light.
I very much hope that they get - and select - artwork which clearly demonstrates the effects which can be achieved when watercolour is used with skill and accomplishment. I've been waiting a very long time for the RWS to find the next Leslie Worth!

What I can tell you is that, based on recent exhibitions, relatively few traditional watercolour paintings have been selected in the past.

Maybe it will be different in 2016?

My Review: RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015 is recommended reading for those thinking of applying for this competition. In it I commented on:
  • who won the prizes
  • what the exhibition looked like - on the walls of the gallery
  • the lack of sales for a certain type of painting
  • why I think this competition and exhibition has lost its way
Exhibition for RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015
My most significant comment - which I think definitely think bears repeating - was as follows
I also think somehow people have got the idea in their head that maybe "contemporary" means abstracted and entirely without any evidence of draughtsmanship - and that is simply not true. The definition of "contemporary" which should inform this show is "belonging to or occurring in the present"
That actually means it should represent the complete gamut of art being produced today - because otherwise the exhibition just reflects what gets submitted and what gets selected according to the personal tastes of the judges
Exhibition for RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015 #2

Deadline for entries

The deadline for entries is Monday 18th January 2016, 12 noon

How to enter

You can enter a maximum of 6 paintings.

Entry is by digital submission - of form and artwork - via this webpage plus payment of the relevant fee
  • photographs should be of the unframed work - cropped to the edge of the painting - in even light.
  • Images should be in jpg format and no bigger than 2MB
  • the forms must state title, framed dimensions, medium and price. So if you've not framed the work you need to estimate what the framed dimensions will be - and then not exceed them if selected!
The fee for entry at £14 per artwork.
  • This is discounted by £5 each for works 3-5 and £10 for #6 i.e. the total cost of submitting 6 entries is £59. 
  • this is comparable to the £14 per artwork charged for the open exhibitions of the other national art societies exhibiting at the Mall Galleries. 
  • There are reductions on multiple submissions.
  • entries from bona fide art students at recognised art schools and Watercolour Society Friends are free


The judges are:

A list of paintings selected for the exhibition will be published on the RWS website on Friday 29 January. 

You have a month to get your selected work framed and couriered or transported to London.

Delivery of unwrapped and framed paintings is to Bankside Gallery on Sunday 28 or Monday 29 February, 11am-5pm. Paintings may not be delivered on any other date.

Note in particular that
Work will not be accepted if delivered by Royal Mail, FedEx, DHL etc., or by taxi as they do not have specialist art insurance.
You just know that there have been disputes over damage when you see notes like that!

Note the requirements of all paintings selected for exhibition identified in Preparing Your Paintings for Exhibition of the Application Pack. . You can be selected and then not hung if you don't meet the requirements.


The exhibition will be at the Bankside Gallery 4-16 March 2016.


There are a range of prizes but these rank alongside those available at the open exhibitions of other national art societies rather than those of the more prestigious art competitions.

Monday, October 12, 2015

LinkedIn Groups - a summary of changes

A lot of the professional artists and other art business professionals (museums, galleries, publishers, suppliers etc) that I know are members of LinkedIn - which is a network designed for connecting professionals.

It characterises itself thus
the world's largest professional network with 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe
I'm a member - and this is my public profile. If you're a member of LinkedIn and one of my 'connections' then you'll see a different profile. (Please note as with all social media I only connect with people I know).

You can check out whether people view your profile!

Changes at LinkedIn

LinkedIn is making some major changes at the moment. This post attempts to summarise some of these changes - because interestingly communication is not LinkedIn's strong point when it comes to managing change!

I've done a bit of research and it appears the changes are being driven by the facts that:
  • LinkedIn is a business and its shareholders would like to see a better return on its investment. (see Fortune: Here’s why LinkedIn’s shares are tanking today
  • LinkedIn Groups are running on what I consider to be antiquated software!
  • the competition is getting serious. For example, Facebook for Business appears likely to get more serious about the business/professional side of 'making connections'. It could present some very serious competition to LinkedIn. (By way of comparison, this is LinkedIn's public Business Solutions page)
Below is my effort at trying to understand the changes which are being made to LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn Groups

If you're a member of LinkedIn, chances are that you'll be a member of some of the LinkedIn groups relevant to art AND be in blissful ignorance of what's going to start happening this week.

The changes to groups are probably happening this week. They were announced to those of us running groups five days ago.
The Groups team has been working on some really exciting new improvements that will change Groups dramatically, starting October 14th.
  • The changes are being driven by the problems that have existed for a while with the way LinkedIn Groups are set up. For example - LinkedIn Groups have been magnets for spam by people who can't read or refuse to comply with the rules.  I currently spend part of every day deleting spam or moving it out of the discussion area of the group I moderate.
  • LinkedIn states that the changes being made are to promote engagement and are in response to what irritated people abotu groups and what people wanted to see change. 
  • Interestingly, those who manage and moderate groups have a different perspective. 
    • Many were clearly not consulted and are expressing some very serious concerns about the changes - specifically in relation to the control of spam.  
    • In addition, a number of the features which managers and moderators have been asking for to make their groups more effective are not part of the proposed changes.

Posts will change

They aim to make group posts more dynamic and interesting. Unlike at present, in future you will be able to:
  • include an image in a post
    • This is welcome and will be of great interest to artists. However bear in mind you can already post images to LinkedIn by sharing an update, uploading an image or creating a post - from your dashboard. i know some artists who use this regularly - and others who either have no idea this funtionality exists or choose not to use it.
    • I'll be interested to see how this impact on the speed of the site. As many of us know, those posting very large images can slow a forum to a standstill! 
  • mention another member of LinkedIn by name and html link and automatically signal to them that they have been referenced in a discussion. (Basically they seem to have copied the functionality already available on Facebook and which will be very familiar to those using Facebook.) This is a good move. It's very frustrating at present that linking to people is so very clumsy.

A new Groups app for iPhone and iPads

They aim to create more participation in Groups and to do this they needed to make Groups more accessible on the move. The existing app for LinkedIn generally gets a huge 1* rating in the Apple app store!  It's very difficult to use LinkedIn Groups on the move and anything that improves the current situation is welcome.
  • There is to be a new Groups iOS app - which is about time! I'll be taking a look at the app when it comes out.
    • It will offer the scope for push notifications. 
    • It will be available in English speaking countries to start with. 
    • This should mean that people will be able to do more 'out and about' posting - however the promotional nature of that posting will very much depend on what each individual group allows
Obviously the movers and shakers are all perceived to be major users of Apple products - or maybe we're just more vocal! Android doesn't get an app as yet but apparently one will be available soon

Types of Groups changing

Going forward there will be only two types of Groups. This is the change which is causing most ripples with the Owner/Manager/Moderator community - mainly due to the loss of control over membership in the Standard Group and moderation of people commenting. Many are predicting a spamfest will occur.
  • Standard - used to be known as 'Open'. As you might expect, historically these tended to generate a larger percentage of low-quality conversations
    • Any member of a group can invite any of their 1st degree connections to join - and approve their membership. Many Owners/Managers/Moderators are characterising this change as the equivalent of a spammers' charter.
    • The existence of Standard Groups will show up in search results (but not the conversations). 
    • You can probably expect to have some suggested to you.
    • From a business perspective - this is the only way people will know you exist - but you will have minimal control over who posts and content.
  • Unlisted - used to be known as 'Closed'. 
    • You won't know they exist unless you are 'connected' at 1st degree level to somebody on LinkedIn who is a member. That's because it cannot be identified via search and members cannot display the group on their profile, to members who don't belong to that group.
    • Only the group's owner and manager can invite members to the group - or respond to a request to join from an invite sent.
    • Participating in such groups does not offer either links juice or raise your profile in a wider community other than those visiting the group
    • The option to make a group unlisted occurs only when the group is created.
    • Members can join an Unlisted Group by invitation from the group owner or manager, or by requesting to join from an invite link sent to them.
  • Common features of all Groups:
    • all groups will be members only and only members can post in discussions
    • all groups are now Private (i.e. conversations and comments are visible to group members only. The notion is that these are better quality if private.)
    • discussions cannot be accessed by any search engine
    • conversations will now be posted instantly to a group without the need for manager approval. This gives scope to spammers to post spam BEFORE they can be booted out of a group. 
    • Group owners, managers, and moderators can still remove off-topic conversations
    • Members can still be put on moderation.
Bottom line a group will only be free from spam if members flag it and moderators are on it straight away.

I'm going to wait and see how the changes affect the group I moderate. At the moment moderation probably takes no more than 5 minutes per day. If the changes mean the group becomes less effective and/or the moderation more onerous, I've decided I will resign as Moderator and spend my time on my other projects.

It all boils down to how easy it is to control the spam. Unfortunately LinkedIn does not have a good track record when it comes to controlling spam:
Virtually everyone who joins a LinkedIn Group is eventually hit with a deluge of spam.
It is possible to keep reasonable control over spam with scrutiny over membership and robust rules as to what can be posted. I'm really perplexed as to how relaxing the proactive controls on who can become a member and/or post can mean better control of spam (e.g. careful scrutiny of a profile to check fit with the ethos of the group). It seems to me that LinkedIn is expecting unpaid members and moderators to do it for them!

My expectation is that a number of groups may now start to relocate to other platforms. I'd give it a month or so and then check in to see what it's like in the groups you belong to.

Removal of Promotions Tab

The Promotions Tab is being removed. In the group I moderate people are not allowed to drop unrelated links and/or promote themselves within Discussions. It works pretty well although that doesn't stop people trying - and posts get moved across to the promotions tab.

In future, I expect there will be a lot of deletions of posts happening - unless the LinkedIn Filters are effective at capturing them.

One thing is certain - LinkedIn Groups are NOT going to be a place where people can promote themselves and their art in future.

Removal of SubGroups

Some groups have subgroups - and these will be converted into full blown groups

Rules changing within Groups

It's certainly the case that there's very likely to be a rewriting of the rules within Groups to accommodate the changes and the removal of the Promotions Tab.

Groups Highlights and Email Digests

LinkedIn revised their software recently to produce selective highlights for a digest. We've noted that this has reduced the level of activity as people think there is less going on.

More about Art Business and Marketing

You can find out more about Art Business and Marketing for Artists on my new website Art Business Info for Artists

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

RIP Polly 2000 - 2015

Time for a pause in blogging - for reflection on the life of Polly, my much loved Abyssinian cat.

Polly sunbathing in the doorway heard me behind her
and an ear twitched round - worked up from a 15 second sketch and my memory!
14" x 11" coloured pencil on black Stonehenge paper
She died this afternoon after becoming very sick with heart failure 10 days ago.

Losing Polly would be bad enough on its own but coming on top of the loss of Cosmo to cancer four months ago (see RIP Cosmo 2000 - 2015) - it's really knocked me for six.

Cosmo and Polly as kittens
Guess who was boss?
They came to me at three months old in 2000 and started out as cute and continued as cute!

Polly contributed cute kittens for drawing and took the matriarch role, while Cosmo did cuddles, played nursemaid to the kittens - and knew his place in the Polly pecking order.

Polly says "A girl can never have enough feeds"
Cosmo says "I want a feed too!"

Guess who's bottom looks big in this?
Polly in particular was a very pretty cat for fifteen years. Latterly people were amazed at how old she was. Here she is in 2013

Polly demonstrating the advantages of backlighting
She was however VERY difficult to draw - maybe because she was so petite, precise and neat! She was always much easier to do from behind than from head on!

Polly - Study#1
pen and sepia ink, 10" x 6.5"
Polly had a certain way of staring at you when she wanted her next meal
"Polly" in 2008
pen and ink and coloured pencils
I ended up drawing her kittens more than I drew her - until the last few days.

Meet the Kittens (her second litter)
This made it on to the front cover of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Feline Artists
and into my book Sketching 365 (page 90)
Coloured Pencil on Paper, 11.5 x 7.5 ins 290 x 190 mm
Polly - true to form - looked cute and gorgeous right up to the end. This was her yesterday afternoon.

Polly on 6th October - she died 7th October 2015
Having sat with her and next to her for the last three days, watching over her as she went downhill very fast, I now need to take some time out. Blogging will be back next week.

Monday, October 05, 2015

ING Discerning Eye 2015 - Selected Artists

The names of the artists who have artwork selected for the ING Discerning Eye 2015 Exhibition were recently announced.  You can find them below, ordered by the number of works selected and with links to their websites in their names - where I can find them.

I'm very reliant on artists getting their  website on to the front page of Google and actually announcing their good news on their website - and the general look and content of the site. However if I've got any of the links wrong do please let me know (see side column) and I'll change it straight away.

Artists also have the opportunity to email me an image of the artwork which has been selected and I'll update this blog post with the image - if I like it! This has worked very well in past posts about selected artists (eg I had LOTS sent to me for the Sunday Times Watercolour selected artists) - so for everybody else you might want to bookmark this post and come back and check from time to time

Ing Discerning Eye 2015 - The Exhibition

The Exhibition is on display at the Mall Galleries from 12-22 November 2015. It's open from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.

Eligible work had to be handmade. Drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs were all admissable.

Mountain Village by Sue Wales

Ing Discerning Eye Exhibition 2014 - Selected Artists

Below the list of selevcted artists is split by (1) the number of works and (2) alphabetically. The link in an artist's name is to his or her website. Links to a commercial gallery page or the website of an art society are noted separately.

Some of the websites reminded me of the imperative to say what you do succinctly in your about page - in one line. Some did do that while with others, I read through several and was none the wiser when I got to the end.

Six works

Five works

Four works

  • Day Bowman - previous exhibitor
  • Chris Bushe - (gallery) a landscale painter and a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW)
  • Michele Griffiths - weird website - I'm not seeing any images 
  • Richard Heys - an abstract painter and sculptor

Three works

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser

...which is why you really need to practice drawing in pen and ink!

10 reasons to draw in pen and ink

When you draw in pen and ink you'll learn...

1. How to observe

When you can't erase, you'll find you learn to become much more observant and practice looking more carefully on a routine basis when you're drawing.

Drawing with a pen and without an eraser means you slow down at first and pay more attention to how and where you make marks

2. How to become develop motor control and become confident in your drawing

After you learned how to observe and practised and trained both your eye and your hand, you also become much more confident when drawing.

I now frequently draw using a pen without looking at the page - it's the drawing equivalent of touch typing!

This is a video of me drawing trees at Chartwell with a pen - it's not speeded up.

3. How to hatch

.....because that's how you create tone when drawing with a line

A head with absolutely no contour lines
drawn entirely from observation
using hatching lines

pen and ink
Katherine Tyrrell

4. How to make marks in different ways

.....because it's fun and effective to draw in ways which don't involve lines.

Plus you also need to learn ways to resolve those mistakes you made....

This drawing of a garden with flowers by Vincent van Gogh
uses all sort of different marks - lines, hatching, dots, circles, - to create the overall effect

5. How many implements can be used to draw with when using ink

I've got a number of favourite and very different pens - and I've also very much enjoyed trying new ways of drawing with ink.
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