Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blogging Art in 2007 - The Making A Mark Awards (Part 1)

Last year I inaugurated the Making A Mark Awards (MAMA) as the third part of my review of blogging art in 2006. I very much enjoyed creating the Awards (and inventing the names of each one!) and, judging by the comments, they seemed to go down well with readers so I'm continuing with them again this year.

My original inclination was to recognise the most influential blogs in some way - before it struck me that since it was only my opinion, the central notion of the awards had to be about blogs or blogposts which had an impact on me - so that's what they are.

I've changed the categories this year. I've merged two of the awards and created two new ones - both of which are in Part 2. These are:
  • A new award for an art blog with green credentials.
  • and finally....a new award for the best artwork completed and posted on a blog in 2007 - which people have been voting on over the last week (deadline midnight tonight!)
I'm going to try hard to award prizes to new people this year if I can. You will note that my own personal peccadilloes crop up as implicit criteria – such as the fact that I always value people who make me think, make me laugh and teach me something new.

On with the awards! The Prizes are:

  • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
  • FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
  • The Make Me Think Gong
  • “The Moose”- award for the best animal in an illustrated blog.
  • The Best`Art Blog Project of 2006 Virtual Challenge Cup
  • The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy (which absorbs the 'Get Off Your Blogging Bottom and Sketch' Brass Plate)
  • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
  • The Going Greener Gong
  • The Amusing Musings Trophy
  • The "Tales from the Frontline" Mention in Despatches
  • and finally………The MAMA Prize – for the best artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2007
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
Duane Keiser (A Painting A Day) and Julian Merrow Smith (Postcard from Provence) won the prize last year and I'd like to give them both an honourable mention this year for continuing to produce and publish a new painting virtually every single day. Julian informs me he's nearing his third anniversary! I know they both are still producing paintings which make me sit and stare at my screen thinking about how I must take up oil painting!

I’ve previously highlighted the concept of stickability, however - to be honest - I'm less bothered about whether people manage to produce a painting absolutely every single day and much more interested in whether they produce a good quality painting nearly every day.

For me, in 2007 the artists whose daily paintings interested me this year are the same ones as interested me last year - and they're all women! Namely Karen Jurick (A Painting Today), Carol Marine (Carol Marine’s Painting a Day) and Sarah Wimperis (The Red Shoes). I'm so very pleased that they are now all gathered together under the same banner - Daily Paintworks - as it makes my daily viewing so much simpler!

It's also great that both Carol and Sarah started delivering workshops and painting holidays this last year which will enable others to share their approaches to painting. Great also to see that both Karen and Sarah had two of their daily paintings works nominated for the best artwork posted on a blog in 2007.
Bowl of Rubies by Carol Marine
6" x 6", oil on canvas

The award goes to the person who, in my eyes, has been consistent, has posted most often during the year and who has also continued the tradition, started by Duane, of also sharing her talent and her approach with a wider public through the workshops she has been teaching this year. The Painting A Day Stickability Prize this year goes to Carol Marine.

I also find Carol's colour palette very easy to relate to; I love looking at how she varies simple shapes and colours yet again to produce a fresh-looking painting. Probably most important is that I can pick any month and I'd happily hang a lot of her paintings on my walls! This image is her 400th daily painting since 5th October 2006.

The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. Kofi Annan
I like sharing information on this blog and in my various information websites (see Making A Mark - Resources for Artists) so I’m always very pleased to see other people who have blogs that focus on the visual arts who also share information which aid artists who are also bloggers in some way. This category is open to people who aren't themselves artists or don't post art on their blog as the sort of information we all need isn't limited to how to draw or paint!

Here are some of the people who immediately came to mind - and who weren't going to crop up in other categories - when I started to think about who should win this award this year.
.....and the winner of the FAQs and Really Useful Answers Medal is Charley Parker for the following series of very comprehensive posts on his blog Lines and Colors

The “Make Me Think” Gong
Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing - then a work of art may happen. Andrew Wyeth

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor. Robert Frost
Last year this was restricted to those blogs or near-blogs which produced regular newsletters. This year I’m restricting it to just those who are artists and/or have art blogs. I'm also eliminating the e-mail and newsletter element and am focusing just on the ‘makes me think’ bit as otherwise it would eliminate anybody who can write just one stunning post which really stops me in my tracks and really makes me think – or people who I regularly enjoy reading but who don’t produce newsletters.

So this gong is now about making me think in relation to the activities of artists who are operating online and it’s written by an artist or illustrator who has a blog.

Strong contenders in this category - which means people whose blogs I enjoy reading for the narrative as much as the images - are:
All three frequently refer to the wider aspects of how we live our lives, difficulties we have to deal with and approaches which seem to produce good results. They all speak about both everyday matters and bigger concepts in an everyday way. They often make me step back and think about what I'm doing and how I relate to what they are talking about. In other words they take my perspective out for a spin!

However Robert shared this prize last year so this year I propose that both Tracy and Jeanette share the "Make Me Think" Gong in 2007.

Others who deserve an honourable mention are
  • Anna of See.Be.Draw (for her meditations on the art process and practice) and
  • Rose Welty at Rose's Art Lines for joining in on a number of my art projects this year and ALWAYS finding something out that I didn't!
“The Moose” - Best Animal in an Illustrated Blog Award
The smallest feline is a masterpiece. Leonardo da Vinci

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose. Garrison Keillor
This award is called “The Moose” after Maggie Stiefvater’s cat Moose who broke ACEO records and won this award for her last year.

There are any number of blogs which should receive an honourable mention for the way in which they portray animals generally – and these include award-winning Rebecca Latham’s Nature and Wildlife Art blog and Tracy Hall’s Watercolour Artist Diary blog for her beautitful rendition of birds and other animals found on the Orkney Islands.

However, the award goes to just one animal – so it has to be a pretty special whether it's just one drawing or a whole suite of them! The contenders this year are:
For this prize drawings or paintings of animals are always going to have the edge over the real thing so I’m afraid that rules out Dermot and Tripod in their exceptionally photogenic mode.

I'm very tempted by Simon's video however I’m awarding the prize to Gayle Mason as she has consistently produced excellent drawings of both dogs and cats during the course of the year – and shared her art materials and approaches as well on her blog.

"Out of Sight"
10" x 14" coloured pencil on Arches HP paper
copyright Gayle Mason

"Out of Sight" also has the distinction of being sold twice over by the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery after it was exhibited at the Society of Feline Artists exhibition in London in September. Fortunately, Gayle's approach meant that by changing the colour of the eyes the second drawing became another original piece as a commission for the second buyer!

Some of you may have noticed there was a certain commonality to the animals chosen as contenders (except for Dermott!). What can I say? Cats are the only animals I draw - maybe I should make this a feline art award! ;)

The Best Art Blog Project of 2007 Virtual Challenge Cup
In art or architecture your project is only done when you say it's done. If you want to rip it apart at the eleventh hour and start all over again, you never finish. I was one of those crazy creatures.
Maya Lin
Blog Projects seemed to be very different in 2007 - with a number of small groups of people or individuals having their own projects. However I either didn't come across or can't recall any really big ones like the ones which won the cup last year.

Possible candidates include:
  • the projects I've been involved with which spent a month focusing on one artist - such as John Singer Sargent or Vincent Van Gogh or took one subject as a theme - however I'll be commenting more on those in my own personal review of the year.
  • the regular challenges of sites like Illustration Friday or Everyday Matters - but I don't participate in either of these although I do very much recognise their worth to other people. I have to confess though that I find the various sites associated with the latter to be extremely confusing!
I've also got to mention the Campaign for Drawing's Big Draw which - if it had an element involving blogging or art bloggers - would have undoubtedly also be on the list as this is one very impressive project!

However, my vote this year goes to the one project which I have participated in which is global and involves lots of people, a lot of whom are bloggers.

This is the International Sketchcrawl drawing marathons which are now taking place on a fairly regular basis.

I also like the way that Enrico Casarosa's arrangements for the various internet sites which provide information (about the sketchcrawl/ details relating to participation and materials / forum / blog / newsletter) are also getting progressively better so that there is now one page on the website which provides clarity and access to the whole project. You even get a countdown now to the date of the next sketchcrawl!

So - that's the first half of the Awards - please come back tomorrow for the second half of MAMA!


Dermott said...


I knew slagging off Cosmo would cost me!

Miki Willa said...

How difficult it must be to narrow these awards down to one or two winners. You have made some interesting choices. I recently came across an interesting blog you might enjoy, if you have not already discovered it.
So far, there have been some very interesting articles. I am looking forward to seeing what you have tomorrow.

Jeanette Jobson said...

What a task to make choices in these categories! And thank you for considering me and Tripod. I'm thrilled to bits to share the Make Me Think Gong with Tracy Helgeson. How lovely!

Tripod, of course, has gone to bed in a depression after learning he wasn't number one. However, its nothing that a tin of tuna and a quick sticking out of the tongue at poor Dermot won't cure... :)

A Reason to Paint said...

Wow a fabulous roundup of some great blogging; I've enjoyed following the links.

Dermott said...

Bring it on, Tripod. Bring it on.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thanks Katherine, I am also pleased to be sharing the Make Me Think Gong with Jeannette.

Do we both get a trophy, or will we have to time share one?:)

Making A Mark said...

These are virtual tropies and prizes Tracy! ;)

However "he who must not be bored while i sketch" suggested yesterday that I should at least be doing certificates - which I think is rather a good idea so I'll be doing that - but have to work out how first!!!

Kirsty said...

Thanks for the recognition and the link, Katherine, I very much appreciate it.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Moose wanted to thank you for remembering to name the prize after him, despite my unforgivable slacking -off on my duty of recreating his image in the past few months. He is pleased to see that someone remembers his status.

Gayle Mason said...

Thank you so much for awarding the Moose award to 'Out of Sight' I am really honoured.

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