Saturday, July 05, 2014

There will now be an interlude.....

I'm taking a break from blogging for a week or so while I give some priority to other things going on in my life - but will hopefully be back soon.

Here's a new drawing.....

City of London from Tate Modern
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils

© Katherine Tyrrell



Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Edward Sutcliffe wins BP Travel Award 2014

Edward Sutcliffe with Copycat - with Li Wu Da
Oil on canvas, 150 x 60cm

This is the proposal which won Edward Sutcliffe the BP Travel Award 2014 (£6,000).

Any artist who submits work for the BP Portrait Award can also submit a proposal for the BP Travel Award - but your proposal is only reviewed if you are selected for exhibition.

The Travel Award is based on the idea that an artist of merit should have the opportunity to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. The portraits painted as a result of the project then receive their own mini exhibition in the following year’s Portrait Exhibition.  Which means you are then able to say you have had an exhibition of your work in the National Portrait Gallery!

The proposals have been wide-ranging and have resulted in exhibitions which appear to have an ever increasing high standard. So if you submit beware you have a very high standard to live up to.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ BP Travel Award Proposal 2014 – Portraits from Compton Cricket Club


A few miles south of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood lies Compton, an area of Los Angeles synonymous with poverty and crime. It was from this environment twenty years ago that Compton Cricket Club was formed as an initiative to help encourage and empower the disaffected youth of a neighbourhood pulsing with gangs and lawlessness. It is their amazing story, rich in character and powerful in emotion that I am inspired to paint.

It is my ambition to Travel to Los Angeles this summer and witness this wonderful group of people that have transformed their lives through Compton Cricket Club. By spending as much time with the team as possible (whether on the pitch or in their everyday lives) and seeing the impact playing cricket has had on these amazing individuals from some of L.A.'s toughest streets, I will be able draw, paint and document the players, producing a group of astonishing portraits to be included in next year’s exhibition.

Cricket is a wonderfully chivalrous game that has never lost its Victorian ethos of fair play and I want my work from this project to be a series of startling paintings that fuse the starched whites and leather on willow (typified so vividly in the portraits on display at Lords) with tattoos, low slung jeans, and baseball caps that have come to symbolise the distinctive visual culture of South Central Los Angeles.

I have recently made contact with Katy Haber, the founder of Compton Cricket club and the club captain , Ted Hayes. Since the formation of the club they have both helped to arrange tours to the UK, Australia and are even currently arranging a trip to South Africa. They are both very excited about the possibility of my visit and feel it would be fantastic for the club. They have suggested where and when I should visit and would be invaluable in helping me to successfully complete this project.

Travelling for three weeks this summer will give me enough time to gather all the source material to produce a series of paintings for the following June. Budgeting £1000 for flights, £2500 for accommodation and living expenses, £700 for equipment for the trip and a further £1500 for materials and framing, I can successfully complete this project for under £6,000.

I believe that having this opportunity will enable me to create an exhibition of portraits that show an amazing visual fusion of two very different cultures and tell a wonderful story of the people that have fallen for the game of cricket embracing it's ethos of fair play and honestly.
   Edward SutcliffeApril 2014

More about past years of the BP Travel Award 

See my previous posts on this blog

Copycat by Edward Sutcliffe with Li Wu Da


Edward Sutcliffe is an 'old hand' at the BP Portrait Award. He has had work included in the exhibition in 2000, 2007, 2009-2012. His painting this year is of John Myatt - a well known art forger. Sutcliffe works in a highly realistic style and is interested in the processes of copying and mimicry, He commissioned Chinese artist Li Wu Da to paint the appended distorted mirror image of the portrait at the foot of the panel to add a further copy and reinterpretation.

What I liked most about this portrait is that on the face of it looks highly realistic until you look at it closely. That's when you realise that the skin is made up of an intense pattern of calligraphic type squiggles. In a way it's akin to a Chuck Close painting which looks very real at a distance and much less so close up.  It's abstraction within realism - something I've always found very curious and entertaining and so much more interesting than a straight copy of a photograph!


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition - review and video

  • Read about my review of the BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition in which I highlight the portraits I particularly liked  and focus on key themes and points to note for those aspiring to enter.
  • View my latest walkabout film of the exhibition in the gallery. 

A walk around the BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition


Followers of my previous videos of the BP Portrait Award exhibitions (see a list of those from previous years at the end of this post) will note a much lighter brighter better picture in this year's video BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition.  That's because I now video using my iPad Mini and I'm getting a much better light balance - so long as I'm using HD! It's also an awful lot simpler. However you still get the "walking around effect" since that is literally what I'm doing....

This year I also managed to do my walk round just after the Wolfson Gallery - where the exhibition is held - had been cleared. I've got special permission to do this from the NPG but cannot hang about because the security people need to lock up so they can have their lunch - so apologies if I don't linger on your favourite portrait.

The wonderful thing about doing it in an empty gallery is I can walk backwards without having to watch where I'm going!

Here's the video - A walk around the BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition

Overall Impressions

BP Portrait Award 2014 Exhibition opened last week
This is my favourite corner! 
I love the juxtaposition of the monocromatic portraits
- different sizes, different approaches, different subjects
    I wrote down my impressions and then tried to sort them out.  I'm going to write a separate post later this week about the statistics relating to the entry and who all the selected artists are.

    Themes this year include:

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

    Video - What the Artist saw

    This is another of the films which the National Portrait Gallery have commissioned Lonelyleap.com to make about the competition process relating to the BP Portrait Award 2014. This film - BP Portrait Award 2014: What the Artist saw - The Judging - is about the judging process and features two artists
    • Alan Coulson - a past prizewinner. He won the the third prize in 2012 for this portrait of Richie Culver and also has a painting in this year's exhibition - see Jordan below and Jordan and Alan in the screen image for the video.
    • Jo Fraser - who has had her work selected in 2011 and won the BP Travel Award in 2011 (see BP Travel Award 2011: Jo Fraser travels to Peru)
    Jordan by Alan Coulson 2014
    I think it's a great film - and very nicely edited. It gives you the artist's perspective and also shows you the Judges and what they have to say.

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Richard Twose and David Jon Kassan - video interviews with BP Portrait Award prizewinners 2014

    Here are my next two video interviews with artists winning prizes at the the BP Portrait Award 2014 Ceremony,  held this week in the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

    Video interviews below are with:
    • 2nd prizewinner - Richard Twose (UK)
    • 3rd prizewinner - David Jon Kasssan (USA)
    All three of the prizewinners have something to teach us about the process of being selected for the BP Portrait Award
    • An awareness that you really need to raise your game and paint your very best if you want to be selected. All had thought about entering the competition for a long time before they submitted this year's entry. 
    • The advantages of choosing a model with an interesting head and face and backstory. None of the models were young. All have faces which have lived a life albeit they have all led very different lives. I guess that gives character to the portrait as well as making painting skin a lot more interesting!
    • They all have a passion for painting which comes through strongly in each interview
    • All were humble about their own selection. All felt very strongly that just being selected for the exhibition was a massive achievement of itself - since the work of only 55 artists is chosen from submissions by over 2,377 artists
    Both Richard and David agreed that Thomas's portrait of Man in a Plaid Blanket was a very worthy winner - and that you cannot beat inspecting a painting in person to see the paint on the surface of the support and what the artist has done with it.

    In addition I would note that ALL THREE of the prizewinning portraits were of the head and upper torso and the hands as well as the face were very evident in all three. Hence you might get selected if you enter just a head but I doubt you'll be shortlisted.

    So - on to the interviews.

    An interview with Richard Twose


    Jean Woods  by Richard Twose
    Second Prize (£10,000): Richard Twose (age 51 - 01.04.1963) for Jean Woods (900 x 600mm, oil on board).

    Judges’ comments - Jean Woods 


    The judges immediately recognised the strong personality coming through in this portrait. The stylish Modernist quality of the painting was well judged and seemed to reflect the subject perfectly’
    Richard Twose is a Bath-based art teacher (for two days a week - in a large sixth form college in Bath).  His portrait is of Jean Woods, age 76, a grandmothe of four, a former fashion model and the star of the documentary Fabulous Fashionistas. Listen to the interview to find out how Richard came to meet Jean and paint her.
    Sometimes as Jean was talking, especially about her much-missed late husband, she reminded me of Rembrandt's Portrait of Margaretha de Geer. Jean has a similar intensity and honesty in her gaze. I wanted to capture that sense of someone who has learnt to be almost fearless, looking forward to life still but with a great richness of experience behind her’.



    An interview with David Jon Kassan



    Letter to my Mum by David Jon Kassan
    Third Prize (£8,000): David Jon Kassan (age 37 - 25.02.1977) for Letter to my Mom (1245 x 810mm, oil on aluminium panel)

    Judges’ comments - Letter to my Mom

    ‘The judges were moved by the palpable relationship between the sitter and his mother in this portrait. They felt there was a serenity in the pose and were particularly struck by the artist’s attention to his mother’s hands’.
    David's portrait of his mother includes a written tribute in Hebrew inscribed into the painting. His mother is not a willing sitter but consented to sit when she was offered a paint of her grandson Lucas.
    ‘My work is very personal and heartfelt. It’s my visual diary, so my family and loved ones make up a large part of what and why I paint. My parents have always been inspirational to paint. This portrait is a letter to my mom, who hates it when I paint her. But I tell her in the painting that by painting her, it is my way of spending time with her, contemplating our relationship and time together, my earliest memories’. 
    The Hebrew text painted onto the portrait above the sitter reads: 
    ‘Dear Mom,/ This painting is my way to spend more time with you./ My way to meditate on our life together./ And all of the earliest memories I have / All of my earliest memories from you.’


    Note: I should explain that both interviews were held in the noisiest BP Portrait Award Press View I've ever been in - lots of chatting going on. Consequently the view of faces was dictated by how close I needed to be to make sure the microphone picked up their voices!

    BP Portrait Award - previous years

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