Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Virtual exhibitions online - what about the software / webware?

Two things became very apparent during the Pandemic

  • art galleries had their galleries closed - and finally appreciated why websites are important - and why you need more than just small thumbnail images of the artwork on your website - if you've got one.
  • art societies had their exhibitions cancelled - and finally got the point of the "virtual online art exhibition" - but haven't always known how to go about creating one

I plan to write something about how to develop an "online art exhibition" (as a replacement / add on for art gallery / art society exhibitions).

To this end I'm trying to identify relevant website software and/or webware platforms which have the functionality to deliver efficient and effective virtual exhibitions online.  
I'm also contacting software agents re "online art exhibition gallery" software/webware and pricing plans and how they work.

Help please

Can you please 
I'd much appreciate it, if those people who have been involved in developing an online exhibition told me

  • What software / platform host have you used - and what were the pros and cons?
  • When choosing which software / platform option to use what sort of criteria did you use to make a decision?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • What would you have done differently and/or spent more time on?
Plus for all those who want to know more about what you need to do to create a virtual online exhibition for an art gallery or art society
  • What do you want to know re how to develop an online art exhibition?

If you just need help with websites

For those wanting to know more about how to develop a better website more about see my HUGE section on Websites for Artists on my Art Business Info for Artists website

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

My top 10 portraits from BP Portrait Award 2020

What you see below is my choice of the ten portraits I liked the best in the virtual BP Portrait Award 2020. I've tried to pick up on themes I've commented on before - plus which portraits caught my eye and made me linger longer over the image

It's very difficult to review an exhibition which you can't see except via online images. I know from my many visits to the past exhibitions what a difference seeing a portrait in person is - compared to seeing it online. I have to say:
For the record I've chosen two heads, one head and upper torso (including hands) and the other seven are all full figures. Like I've said many times before, the good portrait painters are the ones who can tackle the whole body and not just the head.

NEXT BP Post: I'll be commenting more on the statistics from the exhibition in one more post - the analysis always makes for interesting reading.

1. Marriage by Jennifer McRae

Marriage by Jennifer McRae
The double portrait is of the artist and her husband, David, with the studio forming a third presence. The work required planning for the sittings to coincide with David’s own work schedule, but takes inspiration from Old Master artist self-portraits such as Diego Velázquez’s appearance in Las Meninas.
My favourite. I love Jennifer McRae's unique and impactful style of painting and almost everything she does - including this portrait.

Her style is so distinctive that I can spot her portraits from a very long way across the other side of a gallery.  Her ability to make oil look like watercolour (her other main medium) is amazing! I also like her warping of perspective to get everything in that she wants to include and her meticulous attention to the real portrait - of her paints!

About Jennifer McRae

  • Education: BA (Hons) degree in fine art painting from Grays School of Art, Aberdeen.
  • Exhibitions: Her work has been seen in solo exhibitions in the USA and UK and on numerous occasions in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and the Worshipful Society of Painter-Stainers exhibition winning the gold medal in 2019. Her work was previously included in the BP Portrait Award in 2009 and 2011, winning the Travel Award in 1999. Her portraits of Michael Frayn, Thelma Holt, Leonard Manasseh and Baroness Rebuck are in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery. 
  • website:

2. Kitty, the Teenage Baker by Mark Draisey

Kitty, the Teenage Baker by Mark Draisey
© Mark Draisey
My second favourite painting. I really liked this one because of the total believability of the individual and the beautiful colours and great textures. It just felt fresh and different.

The portrait is of the artist’s acquaintance, Kitty.
He says: ‘I first became aware of her in 2019 when, at the age of fourteen, she opened a pop-up bakery selling her home baked sourdough loaves and buns. Working with her father, they managed to raise the money to open a shop in South Oxfordshire through crowd funding, and every day they’re open, the stock completely sells out.’

About Mark Draisey

Mark Draisey worked as a professional cartoonist, caricaturist and illustrator for over 30 years - including designing puppet heads for Spitting Image. Currently works as a freelance illustrator for media companies and as a portrait painter.

Education: BA (Hons) degree in illustration at Brighton Polytechnic
Exhibitions: His work has been seen in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. He was elected a member of the Oxford Art Society in 2019.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Call for Entries: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2020

Entries from non-members are now welcome for The Natural Eye 2020 the 57th annual OPEN exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists

This is
an EXCELLENT exhibition which I very much recommend to those interested in wildlife art Review: 2019 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists
paintings, drawings and sculpture from last year's exhibition

All images in this blog post are from the Annual Exhibition held in 2019.

You can see my much larger versions of photos of last year's exhibition in my album SWLA: The Natural Eye 2019 on my Facebook Page. You can also see images from previous exhibitions in all review blog posts listed at the end.

As I've previously commented
(the) annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries is emphatically not an exhibition of photorealistic artwork. Review: Society of Wildlife Artists 55th Annual Exhibition

Call for Entries: 57th annual exhibition of SWLA

Three points to bear in mind at all times if 
  • you are thinking about or interested in submitting an entry 
  • whether for the first time OR you have submitted before but failed to get selected
  • experience of an animal can only have been gained from seeing it "for real" in the wild.
The (Selection) Committee is seeking work that evokes the spirit of the natural world and which reveals a personal experience or true understanding of the subject. Call for Entries
The (Selection) Committee is particularly keen to encourage all artists with fresh visions to submit work to the Annual Exhibition that shows imagination, artistic ability, originality and genuine creativity. Submissions - Guidance from the Selection Committee
The SWLA call for entries is administered by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries and you can find more information below and on their website

For full terms and conditions, click here.

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including:
  • The Terravesta Prize: £2,000 for the best work exhibited
  • Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award: A prize of Swarovski equipment
  • RSPB Award: £500
  • Larson-Juhl Award: To celebrate drawing or dry media, draughtsmanship and capturing ideas as an art form. £500 worth of Larson-Juhl materials to the winner and a feature in their '4Walls' magazine (Larson-Juhl was formerly know as Arcadia)
  • Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award: £700 split between the artist and a conservation charity of their choice
  • Dry Red Press Award: The winning work reproduced as a greetings card

Eligible artists

Any artist over 18 may submit.

Eligible artwork

The artwork MUST be of wildlife.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Google's NEW Blogger interface does not work properly!

The tech people at Google may be regretting the notion of revamping BloggerBelow I'm itemising the problems I've encountered. There may be more!

If you are an ordinary reader please excuse the VITRIOL - which is included in the hope that somebody from Google Blogger might read it!!

Below are two main faults 

  • poorly managed change process
  • very poor communication and very poor design
plus a section why the new interface is dysfunctional - which contains 
  • 10 points explaining what is wrong with the NEW BLOGGER interface

Poorly managed change process

It's a big mistake to change what works - without
  • a very good reason and 
  • a very good team to deliver that change 
  • a very good communication system for communicating the change
It's an even bigger mistake to announce - with a month to go - that 
  • a new interface is to become the default in a month's time 
That was the situation in May. We're now reaching the end of June and it would appear that 
  • the new Blogger is now the default
  • BUT somebody in Google Blogger has seen sense and the message saying that the system would remove the Legacy Blogger has been removed.
They better not remove Legacy Blogger because the system STILL does not work properly - and this post is being written in Legacy Blogger to preserve my sanity and keep my hypertension in check!

Very poor communication and very poor design

It's an even bigger mistake to be appalling at communicating about change - but that is what Google has succeeded in doing
Obviously Fontaine - who wrote the blog post - has had no training in communication because s/he/it LEFT OUT the critical information that Blogger users need to know until the penultimate paragraph (my bold of the critical information which is NOT ON THE DASHBOARD)
  • new interface becomes default in late June
  • Classic Blogger - now called "legacy") will disappear in July
This proposal frankly shows evidence inexperience, lack of awareness and ineptitude in equal measure.

How can you do away with a legacy system when THE NEW ONE DOES NOT WORK!!?
We’ll be moving everyone to the new interface over the coming months. Starting in late June, many Blogger creators will see the new interface become their default, though they can revert to the old interface by clicking “Revert to legacy Blogger” in the left-hand navigation. By late July, creators will no longer be able to revert to the legacy Blogger interface.
  • Plus in May we got a new banner on the dashboard
    • a month before the new interface becomes the default. 
    • That's the new interface WHICH DOES NOT WORK.  
    • It forgets to mention that the existing interface will disappear in July - despite the fact they do not have a fully functioning interface and it has NOT been tested with users.
  • BUT there is no HELP Page which explains how the new system works!!!
  • The Google Blogger Help Community - set up for Blogger by Google - is NOT MONITORED BY THE BLOGGER IMPLEMENTATION TEAM!!!!!!!
    • so we have huge numbers of people reporting various problems with the new interface
    • nobody from Google responding to them
    • just one blog post which highlights that they recognise there is a problem with images - but that's the only problem they recognise.
I know a number of my Readers use Blogger for their own blogs - in which case:
  • you will be interested to learn about why the new interface is dysfunctional
  • you may well become as worried as I am about the almighty cock-up already manufactured by Google

Why the new interface is dysfunctional 

Let me count 10 ways it does not work

1. IMPOSSIBLE to upload images from my computer

This is the big one. IT's improved somewhat - but is still not working for everybody.

What was happening is that you click the picture icon and say "I want to upload an image from my computer" and it triggers a large white box with a spinning wheel over a document icon - and momentary notice that it is unable to contacts Google Docs. Given the fact I had no intention of connecting to Google Docs this was very puzzling. It then got extremely boring because the spinning wheel never went away.

The latest is that a picture is uploaded and then does not appear.

So, currently, uploading images very much continues to be a problem for some - particularly those using Safari for a browser.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Art Galleries and Museums to reopen - with covid secure measures

This lunchtime it was announced that Art Galleries and Museums can reopen from 4th July 2020. However they will have to comply with ongoing requirements for social distancing for interiors.

At the same time the social distancing rule will be limited to something called "one metre plus" which seems to mean a minimum of one metre if two metres is not possible but try and do more than one metre.

The British Gallery in the National Gallery of Art

Art Galleries and Museums in London

Most of the larger arts venues fall under "step three" of the official lockdown plan. Step three relates to all those which are seen as "higher-risk businesses" either:
  • because they involve crowds of people in close proximity
  • or because it's know there is a much greater threat of Covid-19 transmission within enclosed spaces
Hence they were told that they could not legally re-open before July 4 - but that to be confirmed and today it has.

The Directors of the Tate, Science Museum Group, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the British Museum and the V&A welcomed the news and issued a joint statement which said
“The British public have faced a wretched few months of isolation, loss and anxiety in confronting the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said. “The reopening of museums – whose galleries speak to the creative, resilient power of the human spirit – will provide solace and inspiration as Britain looks to the future.

All the following closed on 18 March 2020 and have now been closed for over three months.

Covid-secure measures

It's expected that it will be mandatory that all public spaces inside MUST follow they follow guidance to ensure they are "Covid secure"

The type of measures we can expect to see when the art galleries and museums reopen are:
  • minimise face-to-face contact by requiring customers to pre-book tickets, 
  • require the public to stand in spaced queues and to enter and leave through different areas. 
  • erect screen to minimise the risk to staff 
  • staff wear face visors
  • improve ventilation systems where these are problematic and/or fail health and safety tests re. circulation of Covid19 laden air.

Why no announcements?

It's been clear that moves were afoot to reopen art galleries and museums since the Director of the National Gallery returned and did a short video from inside the National Gallery a couple of weeks back.

As a result I'm really VERY surprised that nobody had their Press Releases sorted in advanced and ready to go when the Government announced the changes.

I'm wondering what's going on which means that none to date have actually announced they are reopening. I'm guessing representations are being made about money re. loss of income and the additional costs of reopening.

Tate Galleries - closed until further notice - or 4th July???

There is nothing on the websites of the following - which is surprising given they've known this has been coming for some time.
  • British Museum
  • National Gallery 
  • Tate Britain / Tate Modern
  • Victoria and Albert
  • Royal Academy of Arts - but they at least have announced changes to exhibitions for 2020/21 (see NOT The Summer Exhibition)
  • Wallace Collection
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery

Temporary Closures beyond 4th July 2020

Food and Drink

The hospitality side of the galleries and museums should also reopen BUT they are presumably under the same constraints as all other venues inside providing food and drink i.e. if you enter you must give your name and address for contacting.

Smaller commercial art galleries were successful in getting recategorised as non-essential retail and hence were allowed to open earlier - but have adopted an approach of "appointments only" + strictly limited numbers at any one time.

NOTE: Theatres and concert halls are able to reopen from July 4 but not for live performances. What do you do if not have a live performance? Show films?  I think this may come within the following
Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.