Saturday, May 21, 2022

How a Court Artist works

Court artists - not one but THREE - have been all over the news media in the last two weeks as the Vardy vs Rooney Farce has played out at the High Court. But 

  • do you know how a Court Artist works?
  • did you know there are only four court artists in the UK?

The Court Artists

Here's some facts about court artists working in the UK
  • There are only four Court Artists in the UK - and they are all women!
  • They exist because cameras are not allowed in UK Courts. 
  • Typically they are only employed to draw key players in the high profile / celebrity / sensational cases
  • Court Artists are typically hired by the news media and commissioned to produce visuals for major news stories involving court cases
  • To gain access to the the courtroom for high-profile trials, the courtroom artists must be sponsored by an accredited news agency.
  • Their major skill needs to be in memorising what the scene looks like as NOBODY is allowed to make a drawing in court. However court artists can make written notes about manner and clothing. 
  • Once they get outside court they have to work quickly to download the memory AND meet the deadline to produce the visual for the client. 
  • Typically most use charcoal pencils and pastels for speed and saturation of colour.
  • Each has a distinctive style - and some are better at accuracy and catching features than others.
  • Court artists can also merchandise their sketches via the picture agencies such as Alamy.
Their names are as follows and you can find links to their websites embedded in their names below (if they have one)
All the Court Artists seem to have been around for some time - and at least one seems to have retired herself. What I'm very surprised about is that:
  • they don't make more use of photographs of the key players when drawing them outside the court - given some of the drawings are HIGHLY exaggerated and stylised and sometimes bear little resemblance to the individual in question.
  • they don't have more competition from younger artists wielding marker pens which are so very often the medium of choice for those drawing fast for illustration today.
I'm impressed by the ensemble drawings of Priscilla Coleman - which you can see on her website. I assume most of these are drawn after the court risen for the day given the number of individuals she manages to cram in. It rather looks like she has a nice business in commission based artworks from some of those involved!

There's a really good way of checking whether you'd be any good as a court artist. Spend some time watching court cases on public enquiries on television and then move to another room and recreate a drawing of what you saw!

Back in January 2020 - before the Pandemic hit - The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 was published as draft legislation. The intention was that sentencing remarks in profile cases could be televised. However that's not the same as covering a civil court case such as Vardy vs Rooney - and I'm sure there will be a continued demand for courtroom sketches - done outside the court!

Articles about court artists

Thursday, May 19, 2022

TALK: Introduction to Retirement and Pensions for Artists

If you are a creative living in the Greater Manchester area and want to grow inbusiness confidence, you may be interested in a Zoom Talk I'm giving for the Islington Mill WEAVE Summer School


Islington Mill WEAVE Summer School

Islington Mill has an ongoing commitment to artist education and development. 
WEAVE is a free business support programme for Greater Manchester based artists, creatives and SMEs. I'm afraid you can't enroll if you're not based in the Greater Manchester area
The Summer School has been produced with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Summer School is a 4-day series of workshops and masterclasses, that are free to attend for participants of Islington Mill’s WEAVE programme. New participants are welcome to sign up at the event for free to enjoy our full programme across the week.

The modules have been chosen and developed through conversations with the Islington Mill community and are designed to support creative individuals and organisations. Whether you are a freelance performer yet to fill in your first tax return, a mid-career artist, or maker with an established business, we have classes to support your development and help you grow in confidence.

TALK: Introduction to Retirement and Pensions for Artists

My talk is going to be about one of the aspects most people don't think too seriously about when younger and some sadly don't at all until it's too late.
A career as an artist does not come with a pension plan - you need to think about how you will cope financially when you need to retire. Katherine Tyrrell will talk you through the basics of pensions for artists including why it's absolutely essential to think about later life and pensions from the beginning of a career, paying NI and some of the myths about how to fund yourself in later life and why these can be very risky.

This workshop aims to:
  • Get you thinking about planning for your retirement and pension planning
  • Point you in the direction of relevant reading material
  • Help you find places where you can get more advice
  • Provide a starting point for discussions with expert advisers

Zoom Talks for Summer Schools

I've started getting back to normal post sugery and clearance to start walking again - but it's slow going. 

However one thing that's been very odd is that I've had lots of requests for Zoom Talks and help for individuals in the last few weeks. I was giving a talk last night and this one next week and then another one for a prominent arts organisation in August as part of another summer school.

If you're interested in a Zoom Talk on a variety of art busines topics, read this page on my Art Business Info for Artists website first and then contact me via the form at the bottom of the page.

If you have a Summer School focused on business matters for artists and would like some wider exposure you can always try messaging via my Facebook Page -


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Who painted this #65?

It looks like there's a decent number of people interested in this weekly challenge.

This next painting is one I photographed in the museum where it lives over a decade ago. 

Who Painted This #65?

I'm assuming that many of you will get the name of the artist pretty quickly. This week's challenge is reminder that the complete answer contains more details than literally who painted this

The challenge this week is to work out which one this one is - and where it is and other relevant details! Tell me the story of this painting as best you can!

Below you can find 

  • The details of how to participate in this art history challenge  
  • the rules of the challenge 
  • the answer to last week re. Who Painted this #64 
  • the names of all the people who got most or all of the answer correct
  • who provided the best answer last week - which gives you an idea of what a good answer looks like
Your answers will be published next Sunday - before the next challenge.

PS I need to be upfront and say the time the "who painted this" post will get published every Sunday depends on the weather!! I'm now doing my daily walk outside again - as I did before my surgery - and had to head out this morning as I checked the weather forecast and realised it was going to start raining at midday - as indeed it did on my return home - 200 yards from my front door. I'm afraid my physio/recovery takes priority at the moment!

How to participate in "Who painted this? #64

Don't forget - there are rules to how "Who painted this?" works - and these are detailed in THE RULES for participating in this challenge.
This is about using brains not technology - so please do NOT "cheat".
Briefly, in your comment ON THIS POST you must tell me ALL of the following:
  • the title of the artwork
  • the name of the artist who created this artwork
  • the date it was created
  • the media used
  • where it lives now
  • how you know all this eg how did you do your search
  • anything else you can find out about the artwork and/or artist - tell its story!
The Winner of this week's challenge is the first identifiable person (i.e. no anonymous guesses) who, in my judgement, is 
  • the first person to get to the answer by fair means 
  • AND provides the best quality answer in terms of added details about the artwork and artist
Remember also
  • no use of Google image search or Tineye to find the image allowed - this is a traditional web search of images using words only plus "hit the books" time
  • I don't publish the comments until next week's post.
i.e. comments are being opened up again - but ONLY for this weekly post and comments on this blog post will only be published once a week - on the following Sunday.

NOTE: You can find out more about the background to "who painted this?" and the RULES on this page

Who painted this? #64

Thursday, May 12, 2022

$100,000 Archibald Prize 2022

The premier prize for portraiture in Australia is The Archibald Prize - which has a first prize of $100,000.

Interestingly it's not the one which has always had the biggest prize pot (the Doug Moran Portrait Prize has been bigger in the past)  but it's certainly the one which attracts international comment.

The Archibald Prize for portrait painting is the country’s favourite and most significant art award. Since 1921, it has highlighted figures from all walks of life, from famous faces to local heroes, reflecting back to us the stories of our times.

Portraits have to be submitted with a signed statement from the sitter confirming that they have done at least one sitting with the artist. A rule which seems a very sensible one to me and one which could be introduced into some other portrait competitions to relieve us of the "I only paint from photos" cadre of portrait painters. 

I like to keep an eye on it as every year (see list of previous posts below) it produces ground-breaking interpretations of what contemporary portraiture should look like. I can't quite work out whether this is because 

  • EITHER all the finalists are people living in Australia 
  • OR the Judges of major Portrait Prizes elsewhere in the world have a much more conventional idea of what contemporary portraiture should look like
If the (bound to have a new sponsor) Portrait Prize which will presumably at some stage exhibit again at the National Portrait Gallery in London wants a "refresh" then it could do a lot better than import the Judges of the Archibald Prize to settle the question.....

That said I'm a little underwhelmed by the finalists in this year's exhibition - and while there are a significant number that are "different", there's very few which stand out as being a cut above.

Here's a couple which do. 

Portrait of Peter Wegner by Hong Fu
oil on canvas, 152.7 x 152.7 cm

Wegner and Fu have known each other for 20 years. ‘We both live in Nillumbik Shire in Victoria and Peter’s wife works in an art supply shop near my home. They sometimes come to my studio and exhibitions, so he trusts me and was happy to be my sitter,’ says Fu.
I selected this one on the basis it was one which made me want to look closer. How was I to know it was OF last year's winner - but I'm pleased to know that my "I can spot a winner" eye still works. ;)

The Archibald Prize 2022

The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.
In effect, it's like saying here's someone who should be memorialised via portraiture as a distinguished Australia who doesn't play sport.

This one caught my eye - and I liked the concept used for this portrayal - based in both relevant culture and art history of both sitter and artist.

Yumi Stynes as onna-musha (female samurai) by Yoshio Honjo
natural earth pigments on handmade washi paper
97 x 66 cm
Yumi Stynes is a second-generation Japanese–Australian. She is an author, broadcaster, television presenter, food fanatic, fitness enthusiast and mother of four. Her podcast Ladies, we need to talk, a focus on women’s health and social issues, airs on ABC Radio.
There were 816 entries from Australian artists for this prize - worth 
Of these 
  • 20 entries were from Aboriginal artists
  • 52 portraits were selected for the exhibition
You can see the works in the exhibition on this page of the AGNWS website. There's no slideshow; it's on of those really irritating click the pic to see a bigger image and then click out again to get back to the finalists page where you then move to the next one you fancy a closer look at. I do wish we got a slideshow of the larger images as an option.....

You can also get an insight into what some of the entries look like in this Guardian picture article - 
Archibald prize 2022 finalists: Benjamin Law, Helen Garner, Taika Waititi and more – in pictures

The Archibald Prize 2022 Exhibition is being held, as always, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (in Sydney) between 14th May and 28th August 2022.

The winner will be announced tomorrow (13th May). You can even watch 
Watch the livestream of the winners announcement from 12 noon on Friday 13 May.
Just bear in mind that's 3am on Friday morning in London!

The Packing Room Prize

The Packing Room Prize is a $3000 cash prize awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the Art Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, including head packer Brett Cuthbertson, who holds 52 percent of the vote.
The Packing Room Prize has already been selected and you can see the quasi 3D winner below

Taika Waititi by Claus Stangl
acrylic on canvas
245 x 195.1 cm

Previous posts about the Archibald Prize

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Nearly the end of the Sackler name on art buildings?

This is an update on how the Sackler name is being stripped from very many public institutions, art galleries and museums.

Two more art galleries have quietly removed the name - without announcement 

  • the Guggenheim in New York and 
  • the National Gallery in London

Photo: Wikimedia Commons courtesy Jean-Christophe BENOIST

I've written before about how the Sackler name on buildings which house art has become total anathema to very many people - both artists and art fans. For an explanation as to why if you're totally unaware of the furore over and fallout from the Opioid Crisis - see

The removal of the Sackler Name

You and I used to see the Sackler name everywhere. It verged on ubiquitous if the arts were involved.

Then artists started to get involved in highlighting why it was wrong.  See An astounding list of artists helped persuade the Met to remove the Sackler name | New Yorker

Very slowly - starting with the Louvre back in 2019 - the name has come down from various instutions of the art world

One cannot help but think that lawyers have been poring over the legal bequest documentation and should by now have now come up with clauses about "doing nothing to bring the name of the institution into disrepute" i.e. if you're naughty, all bets are off and the name comes down - and we don't have to give the money back!

There again..... I wonder how many institutions are combing through their bequest records to identify how much they've received from the now disgraced Russian oligarchs?

Art Galleries and Museums removing the Sackler Name

For the most part, those which had received significant funding leading to the naming of spaces waited until the legal situation was clear. Ties started to be cut in 2020 after the family company Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected to marketing of addictive painkiller OxyContin.
Purdue Pharma reached an $8bn settlement and pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2020 over its marketing of the painkiller, which played a key role in the emergence of the opioid epidemic. The Sackler family won immunity from further litigation in September this year and have given up control of the company.
Museums Association
Here are the places that no longer boast a space or a building using the name "Sackler".