Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 - Prizewinners & Exhibition

Next week the exhibition for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 opens at the Mall Galleries - as do two other exhibitions (see the end of this post). This post is about:

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019
  • the prizewinners
  • selected artists
  • exhibition details

PLUS: Other Exhibitions this week at the Mall Galleries (17 September 2019 to 22 September 2019)

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 - Prizewinners

The prizewinners were announced in the Sunday Times on 1 September 2019. You can see images and details of the artist and painting below

First Prize (£8,000):  Leo Davey

Leo Davey won the £8,000 First prize with a very unusual and creative painting which looks very much as if it demonstrates great skill in the use of wet in wet and glazes.

Always really nice to see the first prize in this competition being awarded to a medium which cannot be emulated by any other when the painter is skilled!

Condensation by Leo Davey

© Leo Davey
The image of a child in the shower, drawing lines in the glass, showcases both the artist’s clear skill and a taste for the off-kilter. The child is left genderless on purpose; not everything in the composition is in sync. “It gives a sense of unease,” says the 41-year-old artist
Sunday Times Art Section 1 September 2019
Leo Davey lives and works in his home town of Minehead in West Somerset where he has both his studio and a gallery.

Leo studied at Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. He now  where he has his studio/gallery. His subjects and styles and ways of painting vary a lot.
From the meticulous to the abstract, Leo refuses to settle on any particular genre of painting and continues to explore and develop ways of seeing and defining his landscapes through his works. (his website bio)
He's been selected for The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2012, 13, 14 and 17 and won the competition's Smith and Williamson Cityscape prize in 2015. His work has also been selected for the exhibitions by the Royal West Academy, Royal Watercolour Society, and Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour.

Second Prize (£3,000): Aidan Potts

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Why did my painting not get selected?

One of the questions which artists who submit paintings to art competitions want to know is
"Why did my painting not get selected"

This post:
  • makes a suggestion to those running open exhibitions and art competitions
  • tells you what you can do to find out why your artwork did not make the grade

Dear art organisations - charge a fee!

I know why art organisations do not provide feedback on selection. 
  • Far too many entries and far too little time. 
  • There is absolutely no way that 100% of entries are going to get feedback on why they didn't get chosen.

However, what I don't understand is why organisations which, in general, say they are supportive and encouraging in relation to emerging and young artists do not find some way to provide feedback.

For example - they could
  • charge a realistic fee for the time required for somebody to review an artwork and highlight some of the reasons why it did not make the cut - via email.  
  • differentiate fee costs by age. For example such a fee might differentiate between:
    • emerging artists under 30
    • artists aged 30+

Such a fee could be
  • designed to be income-generating i.e. providing the organisation with income if artists were prepared to contribute feedback for free
  • self-financing i.e. sufficient to pay somebody to take time out from their normal work to provide feedback.

Just a thought!  However you already have competition......

Would you like me to help?

Contact me - I already charge a fee for feedback!

See below for details or see my web page Would you like me to help (in the ABOUT section on my Art Business Info for Artists website - where you can also read more about me and what qualifies me to comment.)
I'm not in this for the money - I want to help people make a difference to their lives and careers.
banner for my "Would you like me to help?" page

What I can offer

In the absence of anybody else providing feedback to aspiring artists, I've started a service which allows aspiring artists - of whatever age - to engage me to get feedback on their art
I've provided formal (fee-paying) and informal business advice to artists for a significant period and have seen a number of them go on to make significant achievements as a result
Those who were astute enough to find my Would you like me to help page on my website have already been getting that advice!

In fact I was sat at Kings Place yesterday afternoon, after viewing the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Exhibition, talking with two young ladies who are both aspiring young artists who have both won prizes. They are serious about their art, are undertaking further studies and both are entering open exhibitions and art competitions - and wanted advice.  One had heard me talk previously and deemed me good value!

They came up with the great idea of them both meeting to talk with me about their art and finding out more about how to get selected - and sharing the fee for my time!

I can offer advice on various matters - including how to improve your chances of getting selected for an art competition or open exhibition.

My advice on art competitions can cover a variety of matters - including:
  • why their entry did not get selected - I'm happy to highlight likely reasons
  • whether their artwork is suitable for a specific exhibition  - i.e. Is it good enough? 
  • which art competitions and open exhibitions to target with artwork - sometimes the problem is that artists are entering the wrong exhibitions / competitions
  • how to make it more likely their artwork will get selected - LOTS of practical matters to attend to which can help give you the best chance
Mind you I always counsel people to take a look at this paragraph in the How does it work and what will it cost? section BEFORE engaging me for an assignment.
I will warn you that my style is to be honest and direct.
  • If you're somebody who only wants warm words of encouragement and nothing else then I may not be the right person to help you.
  • However if you prefer a style which is honest and does not 'sugar coat' then I might be what you need.

If you're interested why not have a READ of:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

More Wayne Thibaud: "This for you is my world to look at"

Where to see more about Wayne Thiebaud

Add caption

For me this is a bit of a click and salivate post!  In all honesty written entirely for me - for looking at from time to time - rather than sharing with any of you - but you can look too! ;)
discusses drawings versus prints, the audacity of the artist’s vocation — and why he doesn’t believe in ‘the idea of success’
"my work is not showing off, not grandiose, - human things..."
"This for you is my world to look at" - Wayne Thiebaud
Thumbnails of Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud
Though Thiebaud is most often grouped with the Pop art movement for his subject matter, the artist considers himself “just an old fashioned painter,” and “not a card carrying Pop artist.” He remains best known for his still lifes of confections—sometimes painted from his own memories—which he considers interpretations of “Americanness.” In his works, objects and their shadows are characteristically outlined in multiple colors, creating a visual effect Thiebaud calls akin to vibration.
  • Wikipedia as per usual provides a useful overview of his life and work. According to one line - 
he apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios drawing "in-betweens" of Goofy, Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket at a rate of $14 a week
In a contemporary art world enthralled with such stunts as Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, Thiebaud is wonderfully ungimmicky.
I think I like him because 
  • he's both ordinary and original, 
  • of the optical mixing he does (which I also do), 
  • of his strong emphasis on line - which I like a lot, 
  • his ability to be figurative and abstract at the same time
  • and the fact that when he paints his paint is LUSH! His lush cream pies also sold for $4 million!
There are other affinities? Did I mention I have been known to go round sketching food (and people eating and drinking) - a lot?!

and finally......

Did you know Wayne Thiebaud is 98 years old? (he was born on 15 November 1920!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wayne Thiebaud working on etchings (video)

Below is a rather good short video about Wayne Thiebaud working on etchings.  The video was made by the Crown Point Press, based in Hawthorne Street in San Francisco. (They have some impressive clients!)

Worth a watch.

This is the link to the exhibition referenced in the video

I've found more good stuff about Thiebaud online but if I stop to process and organise it nothing will get posted!

Monday, September 09, 2019

Review of a critique of an art society exhibition

What happens when somebody reviews an art society exhibition as if it was a "proper art exhibition" i.e. using the same sort of criteria as might be used for any other sort of art exhibition in the area?

This post is generic in nature - in terms of conclusions - but does take one example to highlight the sort of issues that can arise.

Brea Gallery shows off what the Colored Pencil Society of America can do is a magazine review of the 27th Annual International Exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America at the City of Brea Art Gallery, 1 Civic Center, Brea, CA (July 31–September 13, 2019).

It's written by a chap who has written for the Orange County Weekly for the last 8 years as its art critic.

I supposed the best way of summarising his review is he's called it as he sees it.

That's not the way some of colored pencil artists see it who have responded by commenting on his review - worth a read!

They diverge between those that
  • welcome a contribution to the ongoing debate about the use of photographs by CP artists
  • one lady who is not averse to slinging insults around - not realising that Google picks up on comments as well as websites and that her name is now forever irretrievably associated with her comments!
  • some who criticise the reviewer for not understanding the medium of colored pencils. For example.....
Mr Barton, You should be ashamed of yourself, given the ignorant nonsense you’ve written here about this medium, these artists, and art in general, frankly. Did you interview a single artist, or even leaf through a copy of “Colored Pencil” magazine? Your level of ignorance is astounding.
I do remember another CPSA exhibition where the independent Juror did provide feedback afterwards about the show as a whole - and mentioned a lot of aspects highlighted in this review. It didn't go down well that time either. However it does say something about the extent to which coloured pencil artwork has moved on in the last decade or so if the same sort of comments are still being made by independent individuals who have studied the artwork.

Interestingly, some of those who commented got stuck on some of the earlier comments and appear to have completely missed the last paragraph.
For the future, the process of work such as this needs to be demystified. Art historians and critics, including myself, usually do little to shed light on how work is created, focusing mostly on the materials used or the feelings we have when looking at it. Focusing solely on the ideas is a primarily selfish, insular thing satisfying only the person writing about it, when opening up the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears behind the art should be our goal.
Images (in cropped format)
of some of the artworks
winning awards in the exhibition
You can see more photos of the prizewinners on Facebook and more of the pics in the rest of the exhibition on the Brea Gallery Instagram account

A Making A Mark perspective

I'm really not having a go at CPSA or its members in particular here. The issues for me are essentially generic - other than to highlight that it's interesting that some common criticisms from an independent perspective of this type of artwork are still the same as they were more than a decade ago.

My reason for commenting is more about the need for artists to understand that if and when you put your art "out there" - via an exhibition or a website - then

  • people will make their own assessment and think what they think 
  • sometimes they will say what they think - and 
  • sometimes they will maybe even WRITE what they think.

Here's my take on it.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Lucian Freud - new books and exhibitions (Autumn 2019)

More on the famous painter Lucian Freud - this blog post covers

  • two books - about his plants and early life
  • two book reviews - of the latter
  • an article in today's Observer by William Feaver his biographer 
  • a talk at The London Library by William Feaver on 24th October, and 
  • an exhibition of self-portraits at the Royal Academy of Arts opening 27 October 

In fact a perfect surfeit for Lucian Freud fans!

Lucian Freud Herbarium

Lucian Freud's Herbarium by Giovanni Aloi - Published last week by Prestel
Yesterday I received a copy of Lucian Freud Herbarium from the publishers.

I've long been a HUGE fan of Freud's paintings of plants. The book reveals that's painted a lot more than I've seen and includes some of my absolute favourites - of which more when I review it on my Botanical Art and Artists News blog later this week

UK Book Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Prestel (5 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 379138533X
  • ISBN-13: 978-3791385334
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 2.3 x 31.4 cm

The Lives of Lucian Freud by William Feaver

I've been waiting since Lucian Freud died and the announcement that William Feaver would be publishing his biography for news of the book's publication.

Well it arrived last week - and it's not book but books - with a series title of The Lives of Lucian Freud. The subtitle for this first volume changes between the UK and the USA. In the UK it's called "Youth" and in the USA, I think they reflected on the fact it takes him up to the age of 50(!) and they've sub-titled it "The Restless Years".

We now have the first edition of what is obviously going to be a work of multiple volumes - and I have an addition to my birthday present list for "he who must not be bored".

Here are two reviews of the book:
UK Cover

I've not seen it, I can't tell you anything about it - but do know that it's:
  • based on very many discussions between Lucian Freud and William Feaver (on most days) since 
  • full of the "voice of Freud" - which is unsurprising given the tale of how he gathered his material - revealed in the article below.
BUY THIS BOOK (UK)  The Lives of Lucian Freud Youth from Amazon UK:

UK Book Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (5 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408850931
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408850930
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 6.6 x 24.1 cm
USA Cover
ORDER THIS BOOK (USA)The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922-1968 from

USA Book Details
  • Hardcover
  • Pages: 704 Pages 
  • Product Dimensions:  6-1/4" x 9-1/4"
  • ISBN 9780525657521
  • Published by Knopf / Penguin Random House
  • Publication date: Oct 29, 2019
  • Price: $40.00

UPDATE: After finishing and publishing the blog post I learned (from the FT) that there is also a THIRD new book - of photographs of Lucian Freud - due to be published next week titled Lucian Freud: A Life Edited by Mark Holborn and David Dawson.

There's a great article about it on the FT - Looking at Lucian Freud: photographic portraits of the artist - with LOTS of photos!

Book Details

  • Lucian Freud: A Life - ORDER/BUY from Amazon UK | from
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; 1 edition (12 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714877530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714877532
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 3.6 x 36.3 cm
  • Price: £150 | $200

Article by William Feaver (his biographer)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: ‘I was Lucian Freud’s spare pair of eyes’ by William Feaver  | The Observer 8 September 2019

This is an absolutely fascinating article which tells the story of how Feaver first met Freud and how come he's writing his "authorised" biography - in the sense that he was banned by Freud of publishing anything in his lifetime - but could do after he was dead.

I guess it is also something of a taster for the first volume of Feaver's biography of Freud which was published last week.

I've saved it for reading again and referencing it in the future.

William Feaver on the Lives of Lucian Freud

Based on the above article, I've also just booked my ticket for the talk by William Feaver at the London Library on 24th October (6.45pm - to 8.30pm)

Check out Eventbrite for more details
William Feaver on the Lives of Lucian Freud 
Date: Thu, 24 October 2019
Time: 18:45 – 20:30 BST
Location: The London Library, 14 Saint James's Square, London SW1Y 4LG

Non-members are £15 per ticket

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits

This autumn there is an exhibition of self portraits by Lucian Freud at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Crop of "Self Portrait, Reflection" (2002) Lucian Freud
I have on my iMac a wonderful folder full of the photos I took at the press preview for the retrospective exhibition of portraits by Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012.

As an exhibition it had the major advantage of:
  • having been organised in close collaboration with the late Lucian Freud (these sort of exhibitions take years to come to fruition) 
  • focusing on paintings of the artist's lovers, friends and family, referred to by Freud as the 'people in my life' - as well as self-portraits
  • including 130 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before.

It was an amazing exhibition - and one which has remained inside my memory.

Hence I'm rather puzzled as to why the Royal Academy of Arts is hosting a second exhibition - within 7 years of the first.

However I do suppose its focus on his self-portraits does provide some sort of justification.....
When asked if he was a good model for himself Freud replied, “No, I don’t accept the information that I get when I look at myself, that’s where the trouble starts”.
.....were it not for the view of Lucian Freud that all or most of his paintings were, in effect, autobiographical
'My work was purely autobiographical. It is about myself and my surroundings. It is an attempt at a record. I work from people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know.'

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits is at the Royal Academy, London, 27 October to 26 January 2020

Interestingly if you put "Lucian Freud portraits" into Google, the NPG microsite for their exhibition (see above link) outranks the RA Exhibitions microsite!

Friday, September 06, 2019

The world record mass paintout in Cornwall

Last Sunday over 1,000 plein air painters turned up to form an almost continuous line of painters on the Cornish coastline between Land's End and Sennen.

It looks like it was an AMAZING event!

The Line of Plein Air Painters from Land's End to Sennen in Cornwall

Courtesy of Anthony Garratt

It was the first ever mass plein air painting event in the UK organised by the Art For Good initiative pioneered by Anthony Garratt with Newlyn School of Art.
The Art for Good initiative is a new series of mass painting installations for environmental causes
Hence the painters were also aiming to raise money to preserve National Trust footpath between Land’s End and Sennen in Cornwall from erosion (due to the number of visitors to the area).
All participants will stand an equal distance apart and the reverse of their painting panels will be painted pink so that from an aerial perspective, they form a continuous dotted line when held above the participants heads; the denotation of a footpath on an OS Map
They certainly succeeded in raising the profile of both the path and the event as it got covered by the BBC News on Sunday where there was some splendid video of all the painters.

This footage is hard to believe - do watch - my jaw DROPPED (and I'd already seen some footage of the event on the BBC News)

I've taken the liberty of scouring Facebook for photos which could be embedded of the event, the artists and the paintings they produced and have included links to every Facebook account or Page beneath the image.

Some of the artists and their paintings

Now for pics of some of the artists - and their paintings!  They look great!