Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards

Ladies and gentlemen - I'd like to introduce you to "The 2006 Making A Mark Awards" for excellence in blogging art and about art in 2006 - according to me. Absolutely no consultation or voting has been involved! Get your hot drink of choice and find a comfy seat - this is a long one and comes in two parts!

When I started my review about blogging art in 2006 I wanted to recognise those art/illustrated blogs which had been most influential. Gradually I realised that I'd only be indulging in very spurious accuracy. So I've switched it to recognising those blogs which have most influenced me for one reason or another in 2006. Some also have made it in to the awards list for clearly having a verifiable influence on others. I felt I had to exclude from the awards those blogs where the blogger is employed by an organisation to blog on its behalf - although some very definitely have merit.

I've had great fun inventing categories and auditioning for my new Making A Mark awards for 2006 - and I think I'm going to have to make this a regular event! I might even come up with an actual award by this time next year.

The awards come in two parts as follows.
  • The Painting A Day Stickability Prize
  • The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
  • The Best Art Blog Project of 2006 Virtual Challenge Cup
  • The Make Me Think E-Mail Gong
  • Best animal in an illustrated blog Award
  • The ‘Get off your Blogging Bottom and Sketch’ Brass Plate
  • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
  • The Travels with a Sketchbook Award
  • The Amusing Musings Trophy
  • The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches - my favourite blog by somebody who lives with an artist
Links to their sites are in the body of the text and links to relevant posts on this blog are listed after each section.

The 'Painting A Day' Stickability Prize
"What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way." Winslow Homer
Two blogs tie for this one and I've had both on my blogroll now for so long they almost feel part of the furniture. Let's hear it for Duane Keiser ( A Painting A Day ) and Julian Merrow Smith ( Postcard from Provence ). They posted a new painting a day on their blogs for well over a year and, although they're not now posting a new painting absolutely every day, they're still managing a lot more than most 'painting a day' blogs.

I admire these two for a number of reasons. Most of all I like the way they paint and what they paint and never get tired of looking at their unique daily perspective on their regular motifs (Duane is now on his 20th broken egg!). I also admire Duane's focus on the process of art and continued innovation in blogging about art (which continues to stimulate). Julian's business set-up also managed to impress by coping with popularity of the blog both before and after they were swamped with buyers and selling everything Julian had in stock some 5 minutes after the publication of the New York Times article about him in February. He's now notched up over 200,000 visits to his blog and generated a mailing list of 3,000+ people.

These two also deserve an award for the enormous influence they have had on many, many other artists who have tried blogging art daily as a result - even if most had to drop back to a 'nearly daily' position. They certainly helped to influence a number of extremely popular posts on this blog judging by the visitor numbers (see below).

The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal

I like sharing information on this blog (but see also Making A Mark: Resources for Artists in response to Jeanette's comment on an earlier post) and I value blogs which also aim to share good information including what they have learned with others.

An honourable mention should go to Justin Clayton (Daily Paintings) who started doing daily paintings on January 1 2006 and provided an extremely informative set of answers to questions he found he was frequently being asked.

I would have liked to have included a mention for Marion Boddy-Evans of were it not for the fact that is part of the greater New York Times empire and has to be excluded from the awards according to my criteria.


The Best Blog Project of 2006 Virtual Challenge Cup

Everybody had blog projects in 2006! How to decide? My forehead now needs Botox for the wrinkling you all caused me - but in the end I decided that this award had to be split between two very different projects

Do you all remember that curious period in June and July when everybody started doing self-portraits? The Self Portrait Marathon started by Wally Torta/Sparky Donatello winkled no less than five blog posts out of me and four self-portraits and 390 entries overall from all those participating - pretty good going in numbers terms but completely stunning when you see the level of creativity that it generated in the marathon gallery hosted on Crackskull Bob.


The second award goes to the "Daily Painters" blog, started by Micah Condon. The blog, (and subsequent website) and mailing list provide contemporary original art for sale by painting a day artists and habitual painters.

I have to confess I've been somewhat ambivalent about this initiative. Let me start with what I like about it. It's main benefit for me is that it has succeeded in alerting me to artists that I was not aware of and for that I'm very grateful. It also helped to get some artists blogging their art who hadn't hitherto. As a result I've been looking at a lot of new art and new artists every day and I like very much some of the artists I 'discovered' due to this initiative. Of these, my current favourites are Carol Marine, Karen Jurick and Sarah Wimperis.

My ambivalence stems from the fact that it started out to be a community blog about artists who were following the painting a day tradition. Within a month it was redefined to cover both habitual painters (those who paint most days but don't necessarily produce a new painting each day) as well as the people posting a new painting each. Personally I think there's still room for blogs covering both groups and I'd still really like to see a blog which actually limits itself to people who produce a new painting virtually every day as they are a unique set. Let's see what 2007 brings.........


The 'Make Me Think' E-Mail Gong

This is for the weekly e-mail letter and associated blog or website which operates in an interactive way and makes the biggest mark on me - ie they always gets read.

I've got two award winners here:

Alyson is focused on the business end of being an artist, as does this blog from time to time (the career aspect of 'making a mark'). Her e-mail letter arrives in my inbox every Monday and always gets read as does her blog.

I've been reading Robert Genn's twice weekly letter and subsequent clickback for the artist community who subscribe to the Painters Keys for a very long time and he's been writing them for a long time too - since 1999. If you've not tried them before take a look at the archives. Robert's 'blog post' is actually an e-mailed letter but the opportunity he provides for people to respond makes it seem very much like a blog in my eyes. He includes some of the responses in the clickback and comments also provide material for future letters. I wonder what it would be like if it actually operated in exactly the same way as other blogs?

I'd like to thank them both for providing stimulating material for blog posts - ether indirectly or directly (see below).


Best Animal in an Illustrated Blog Award

No contest - Moose wins by a mile. Maggie Stiefvater characterises her cat Moose as a "criminally insane cat, furry muse, catcher of moths, grabber of ankles" but I think he's a total star. He's been breaking ACEO records and has also been featured in an article in Art Calendar about daily painting blogs. I fully expect he'll be having to complete his own tax return very soon.

Moose gets the prize for being most often featured in uncommon but totally typical images of a cat. I can only manage drawings of the catnapping variety as they always move in for a stroke as soon as I get the camera out. Moose however is a total luvvie and absolutely loves the lens. You can see more of him on Maggie's blog Greywaren Art and her website "Portraits with Character".

This award will in future be called “The Moose” in honour of its first prize-winner.



The next post contains Part 2 of the Making a Mark Awards for 2006


Technorati tags: art, , art business, art marketing, , , daily painter , daily painting , daily paintings , painting, painting a day


  1. Ah, drat, I'll never be able to win a medal... It's like sports day all over again...

    Here's wishing even greater things for your ever-fabulous and fascinating blog in 2007!

  2. Moose was unfortanately unable to accept his award as he was tangled in the blinds, so I will graciously accept it for him. Thank you and we wish much catnip to everyone for 2007.

  3. And more than anyone, you deserve an award for the most informative, encouraging, and brilliant art blog. I always feel gleeful when I've set aside the time to visit your blog, and always come away enriched by it. Thank you!

  4. I agree with Jana, you should get an ward for being the most knowledgeable, thorough, conscientious and uplifting art blogger around! (Can I have my marble doggie now? ;D) Your work on its own is award-worthy, too.

  5. Making and talking about art is a lot of hard work and I would like to congratulate those winners that Katherine has listed. It is a shame that you can't list yourself Katherine but I think many of us have you listed up anyway. :D

  6. Thanks to everybody for your extremely kind comments. They really mean a great deal - and that's enough on the gushing front or you'll have me blubbing!

    Marion - I'm thinking I might have some sort of award for corporate-type blogs next year - we'll see! But then what about a compendium category and maybe one for crafts and of course there's always illustration.

    I haven't decided but I do think there is some scope for maybe one or two more categories - but only ones which I feel I can comment on. I honestly don't look at enough craft or illustration ones to do them any sort of justice.


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