Friday, October 19, 2007

Celebrating the sea with the Royal Society of Marine Artists

Front cover of the catalogue for the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists
Getting ready, Worthing yacht Club (oil) Lorraine Abraham RSMA
The aim of the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) is to represent and encourage the very best in contemporary marine painting, drawing, sculpture and print-making.

The RSMA is a member of the Federation of British Artists and its 62nd annual exhibition is currently on display at the home of the gallery home of the Federation - the Mall Galleries near Trafalgar Square in London until 28th October. I didn't spend as much time as I'd have liked in this exhibition as I also wanted to see the exhibition of Miniature Art (featured yesterday) so I'm going again after my lecture at the National Gallery next week. I'll be trying to make sure I'm there in time to see the demonstration by Paul Banning RSMA who will be painting in oils. I really like his work - you can see his marine work here. He has that happy talent like David Curtis (whose work I adore!) of making watercolours and oils look very similar. You can see a watercolour demonstration on his website.

There is a programme of demonstrations during the course of the exhibition - with artists demonstrating in different media - dates, artists and media used are as follows - 21st: John Lines - oil; 22nd: Stanley Andrews - watercolour; 23rd: Bruce Mulcahy - gouache and 25th: David Allen - pastel.

Although the Society doesn't have a virtual exhibition of You can also see more example of work by the members in the website gallery. Click on an image to get a larger view.

The membership of the Society is relatively small - you can see the names of the members here - but the exhibition certainly wasn't! It displayed 333 works in the main exhibition plus the work of the 10 finalists for the Young Marine Artists Shipwrights' Prize - which was won by Laura Rouse with a splendid 'fresh' gouache painting of beach huts.
This year sees the first award of the Young Marine artists prize, worth £700 in total, sponsored by the Workshipful Company of Shipwrights. Work has beel selected from young artists in the 16-25 age range, taking as their inspiration the sea itself, the coast and seaside, ships and sailing craft, beaches and wildlife, portrait and people, history or anything that goes with the maritim theme.
Exhibition catalogue
Prizewinners in the main exhibition are as follows:
  • The Pears Prize for the best painting by a non-Member - Ivan Lapper
  • The 'Classic Boat' Prize - Jenny Morgan
  • Conway 'Age of Sail' Prize - Ross Ryan (Belinda del Pesco will be interested to know that this was a large and rather splendid collograph)
  • St. Cuthbert's Watercolour Prize - Keith Noble ARSMA - an admirable demonstration of the qualities of the paper in relation to wet in wet watercolour and scratching out
Now - what are my overall impressions (bearing in mind I intend to go back and have another look)? There are an awful lot of boats in this exhibition (my note says LOTS AND LOTS OF BOATS and I only use caps when I want to emphasise something to myself!) . There are obviously many more artists out there who love painting boats of all types, ages, shapes and sizes than I realised! But I guess many of the people who like marine paintings are also people who are boat owners or love messing around in them.

Most of the work is representational erring towards realism but there were some elements of pushing towards abstraction. All media seem to be represented but there were lots and lots of watercolours but fewer print works than one might have expected. There's a distinct dominance of UK marine and tidal river scenes but overseas was also represented.

Back cover of the catalogue for the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists
Low water at Beer (watercolour and bodycolour) Colin Allbrook RI, RSMA
This is an exhibition which obviously welcomes submissions by artists who are not members however the overall standard of the exhibition is high - as one would expect from a national society. Full Members also had up to six works exhibited - which suggests to me that this society which also appears to emphasise offering good value to its members.
Entries are welcome both from artists who have a marine interest, and from people involved with the sea - marine industry, youth organisations, or marine sports - who think they have artistic talent to offer. All art media are acceptable, including paint, drawing, printmaking, mixed media, and sculpture (gallery contraints do not admit installations or video). The maritime theme must be the inspiration. This can include the sea itself, the coast and seaside, ships and sailing craft, beaches and wildlife, portraits and people, history, or anything else that goes with the sea.
Society of Marine Artists page on Federation website
Now all I have to do is find out why a certain artist of my acquaintance who does marine art all the time isn't exhibiting at this exhibition! Mind you it always surprises me how many waterscapes I do and I think I might just have a go at getting my marine scenes from last year's travels with a sketchbook in the USA worked up in time for the deadline for submissions for next year's exhibition - under the theme of 'From sea to shining sea - California to Cape Cod"!