Sunday, November 30, 2008

30th November 2008 - Who's made a mark this week

The first set of Kelpies by Andy Scott
Copyright - Any Scott (sculptures); Nisbet & Wylie (photography)
Phots courtesy of Andy Scott

Meet the Kelpies, Scotland's giant addition to the UK sculptural skyline is a Guardian article about sculptor Andy Scott.

Kelpies are mythical water horses in Scottish lochs and rivers but are now set to become a public art project involving two vast equine heads which will stand 35 metres high - that's a third higher than Antony Gormley's Angel of the North. The heads will become the centrepiece of a £49m eco-park near Edinburgh and will guard the entrance to a canal link connecting the Firth of Forth with the Clyde in Glasgow.

Andy Scott has very kindly provided me with photograps of the first set of relatively small maquettes for the project which helped to win both support and funding for the project. You can read more about the project and the public art of Andy Scott on his website Andy Scott Public Art.

Art blogs
Lots of people have been creating items associated with their art:
  • Cathy Johnson has created a gallery site for her art on Blogger - Cathy Johnson Art. As she says it's been a long time coming!
  • Lindsay Olson (Non-Linear Arts) has been making a paint map of the locations of all her paintings for her Waterways Project. Vivien Blackburn also has a paint map
  • Nicole Caulfield (Nicole Caulfield Art Journal ) has been making a blurb book about her portraits - see BLURB and preview the book here. It's got a nice balance between close-ups and full size portraits - ideal for her potential clients!
Plus more tributes to Cindy Woods (see last week's who's made a mark this week':
Art & Illustration - team blogs and projects
One more day to go! Tomorrow comes the announcement of a brand new team blog devoted to....but that would be telling! You may just pick up a clue from some of the teasers we've all been leaving lying around.....all over the place......even in this blog post!

Art business & marketing
Art Collectors
  • Edward Winkelman (edward_winkelaman ) offers his thoughts on:
    • How to Buy Art in a Recession, Part 1 which "discussed discounts, payment plans, and advanced payments as means of buying work when money's tight or taking advantage of the situation to secure a better position in a waiting list or pecking order." and notes that even Damien Hirst is now prepared to take a price cut
    • How to Buy Art in a Recession, Part 2 is about positioning yourself for the next upswing
For artists whose prices are in that difficult zone (too high for impulse purchases and low enough to indicate you haven't yet had a retrospective at MoMA), a recession is perhaps a good time to consider making less expensive works...just to keep your market active
Art Competitions
Art Economy
The art market's crash - for that is what it is - threatens to remake the art world. In the past few weeks, auctioneers, dealers, artists and collectors have changed strategies and policies, and it's likely that future changes will be even more sweeping.
Art Exhibitions
Oil on gesso board,10 x 18 cm 0r 4 x 7in

copyright Sarah Wimperis
available from the Beside the Wave Gallery
Art History
  • The Guardian highlights that in Auvers-sur-Oise Impressionist villagers protest at industry plan. Interestingly, while reading The Private Lives of the Impressionists I learned to my surprise that some of the places where Monet lived and painted were far from rural idylls and in fact there was a fair bit of noisy, smelly industry around and about
  • On Thursday, everybody in the USA ate Turkey and I wrote about Turkeys and Monet's Montgeron series
Art Supplies
  • Is it my imagination or are Dick Blick's percentage discounts in its sale getting bigger and bigger? Are we all being more circumspect before ordering and/or do they have a lot of stock to shift? Anybody noticed any other good deals?
  • James Gurney (Gurney Journey) highlighted a Fountain Pen and Marker on Gurney Journey this week. He also got 'marked' himself! ;)
Book reviews
  • I'm starting a series of blog posts highlighting books shops which are good for art books. I know the Internet can be cheaper but I actually like looking at art books before I buy. The first post was about The Bankside Gallery Bookshop which has probably got the best selection of books about the different methods of fine art printmaking anywhere in the UK.
Websites and Blogging
  • On Saturday, I posted about Search engines - some alternatives to Google - which has had a very good response from people who weren't aware of some of the searche engines I wrote about.
  • This is the Paintmap site and this is the Paintmap Blog - and How-to: Embedded Paintmap Maps tells you how to embed a paintmap Google Map on your website
  • If you're being green and saving power when you're not using your computer (but don't want to switch off) do you know the difference between Standby/Sleep and Hibernate? If not, read Hibernation revisited -- saving energy with a PC
  • Did you know the mouse is 40 next week?
  • Caution! Watch out for a new form of spam. I had a comment this week which left the link back to their product very low in the comment so it was easy to miss (ie there was no link in the text and the link comes just above the 'publish' link in Blogger). When I checked it this is what it said (below) - yuk! The person commenting came from a blog which was all about drugs. The stupid thing is it's completely pointless as all the links in Blogger are automatically marked up by Blogger as 'no follow' and hence never ever count as links! So watch out for all those human "seeds" (see quote) - I just call it seedy and stupid!
Our large fleet of human based publishers seeds / delivers the content about your product or service, including a link to your website on a variety of highly related and visited news, forum, blog, social bookmarking and other types of websites.
and finally..................

This is an item for both fans of Thomas Kinkade and those who are less fond of his painting style and business practices.

I was interested to read the Vanity Fair Article about Thomas Kinkade's 16 Guidelines for Making Stuff Suck. It reprints in its entirety Thomas Kinkade's memo containing sixteen guidelines for creating the "The Thomas Kinkade Look". I gathered from reading them that this is what he does when creating his paintings. So now you know..........

Incidentally Frank Pasquale (Concurring Opinions ) highlights this article in his comment on Copyright in Movie and Painting Styles?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Search engines - some alternatives to Google

St Paul's Cathedral from the Tate Modern cafe

Every now and again I take a look at the use of different search engines by people who visit my blog. Here's a summary of what you use and some suggestions for alternative search engines. Of the people arriving at Making A Mark as a result of a search
  • just under 70% had used Google
  • 25% had used Yahoo
  • just over 5% had used a variety of other search engines (MSN, AOL, AOL UK, and Windows Live)
If you can't find a site on Google or Yahoo, or maybe you feel like you're using Google a bit too much here are some alternatives to using Google or Yahoo as a search engine. In essence, they are about finding new ways of stripping out some of the visual noise and/or bias of Google results.

Search engine alternatives

Dogpile : I recommend giving Dogpile a try - it's a quite a bit slower at start up but returns all the results from all the main search engines. (Google, Windows Live, Yahoo! Search and

What this means is that if Google is being silly about a site (which it does periodically) and not showing it then you'll probably find it if you use Dogpile. I find it the best one for finding sites which are proving elusive. There is also a UK version of Dogpile.

From a personal perspective, the big bonus of Dogpile is that it tells you where your own website is showing up in different search engines. For example it shows this blog as being found on Google, Windows Live, Yahoo! Search but not in

It appears to me to be uncluttered by the sort of 'advertisement' entries which appear to becoming more and more prevalent in Google. It also highlights those entries whose only claim to fame is that it can be found on "Ads on Google". I find I tend to get a much 'cleaner' search on Dogpile.
It also shows popular searches of the moment on its front page.

I know it's an unfortunate name, the story about how it came about is equally silly!

Metacrawler is a new one I've only just found (by putting 'best search engine' into dogpile!) I like this one because it places this blog above that new upstart website for all the people who mark exams! ;)

Like Dogpile it indicates which search engines a site can be found on.

What's also interesting for me is that it also identifies the search engines which have indexed particular blog posts on this blog. I now know the reason why certain posts get such heavy traffic!

Clusty: Another good one is Clusty - mainly because it creates sensible groupings of links. This post by Vivismo explains how Clusty came about and how it works. I am still amazed at what it does. It's a revelation if you're used to conventional search engines.

This one is very good if you're trying to find a site which sounds or has the same name as something else.

Give me back my Google is an excellent site written by Oliver Humpage for getting rid of all those nuisance entries from all the major selling and comparison sites and affiliate links. They have the site clout to muscle their way to the top of the front page - but they can also really confuse your search results in a major way.

Give me back my Google basically takes your search query and then adds in an algorithm (with the syntax "-inurl:(site1|site2|site3...)" ) which excludes responses from the likes of kelkoo, bizrate, dealtime etc etc. Basically if a site is purely a comparison site, with no extra useful information, it gets removed from results. It leaves in all the pure paid for and obvious adverts.

I keep this one permanently on browser menu for those times when Google gives me the screaming abdabs! This is not one I usually use much. Partly because it has too few results per page relative to adverts and partly because it's impossible to get out of the UK site. However it is good at suggesting related searches.

Are there any more out there?

I'm always interested to hear of different search engines which have emerged. Do leave a comment if you know of a good one and please say why you have found it to be a good alternative to other search engines.

[Note: Producing the sketch at the top of this post was not without problems. In fact it was quite similar to the sort of visual noise you sometimes get when doing a search. You can read about the problems of drawing buildings in the dark from inside a cafe in my post this week on Urban Sketchers - St Paul's Cathedral at night]

Friday, November 28, 2008

Two wildlife art competitions and a snow leopard

Snow Leopard by Gayle Mason
(mixed media)

I know lots of people working in coloured pencils and pastels are really interested in wildlife art so I thought I'd highlight a couple of competitions for wildlife art which have deadlines for entry in the New Year - plus an auction which will benefit the endangered snow leopard. These are:
Wildlife Artist of the Year

The Wildlife Artist of the Year, run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), is open to amateur and professional artists alike from anywhere in the world. Artists must be aged 17 by the closing date - 30th Jan 2009. Full details are available in the rules and conditions (pdf file) and the Frequently Asked Questions.
Entries must be completed by the artist within the last five years by the entrants themselves and must be their own original work. Artists using exact reference from another professional artist or photographer risk having their work marked down.
‘Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009’ Rules & Conditions of Entry
The major change for 2009 is that pre-published work is now ineligible. That means it cannot have previously published as a print.

Work can be in any medium excluding photography, film and electronically created images. Film, photography and electronic images will be disqualified by the judges. I'm guessing, but this presumably includes any work which starts from a print of a digital image onto a support.

There are five categories for entries
  • Endangered Wildlife - featuring any wild animal or plant that is threatened or endangered nationally or internationally
  • Wild Places - any scene or landscape showing the natural environment at its most beautiful or dramatic
  • Wildlife in Action - any wild animal jumping, fighting, flying or any other interesting behavior
  • Wildlife in 3D - sculpture in any medium
  • Open - anything to do with wildlife which doesn't include the above!
The prizes are:
  • Overall Winner £10,000 cash prize and title 'Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009'
  • Overall Runner-Up £1,000 cash prize and a personal art workshop with David Shepherd
  • Remaining Category Winners £500 each
Last year "Hope of Sepilok", a coloured pencil portrait of an orang utan from Borneo by Richard Childs won the Wildlife Artist of the Year. This has previously been exhibited at the UKCPS Annual Open International Exhibition in 2007.

The deadline for entries is 30th January 2009 - and you can enter as many pieces as you would like. You can use the online entry form to submit a jpeg file or download a postal entry form from the website. The jpeg file size must be no larger than 7MB and it must have an easily identifiable file name.

Finally, the short-listed selection from each category will be exhibited at the Mall Galleries, London in summer 2009. You can view the 2008 exhibition online.

BBC Wildlife Magazine

A competition to find the first ever BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Award has been announced.

Like the Wildlife Artist of the year, the competition is open to both professional and amateur artists - and there are no fees and charges to enter. Each category will have a winner chosen by our panel of expert judges (see the website for details). Details of the rules are available on the website - here's a short extract
4 The artwork must not have won any prize in any other competition anywhere in the world, or been previously published.
5 The artwork must have been created within the past year and be your own original work.
6 You must be the sole author and owner of the copyright of all artwork entered, OR if your work is copied from a photograph(s) that is/are not your own, you must have sole permission in writing from the copyright owner to use his/her work. Copies of published photographs or paintings are not eligible. Source material or proof of permission to use must be made available on request by the judges. BBC Wildlife does not accept any liability in the publication of unlawfully reproduced art.
7 All artwork must feature wild natural subjects: domestic, captive and feral animals will not be accepted, nor will cultivated plants. Wild mammals, birds, freshwater and marine life, invertebrates and wildflowers are acceptable subjects.

BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Award - extract from Rules
There are 14 different categories for the entries
  • British mammals (behaviour and portraits)
  • British birds (behaviour and portraits)
  • All other British wildlife (behaviour and portraits)
  • The wonder of plants (British and worldwide)
  • Beneath the water (marine and freshwater)
  • Animals in their environment (British and worldwide)
  • Dusk to dawn
  • World mammals (behaviour and portraits)
  • World birds (behaviour and portraits)
  • All other world wildlife (behaviour and portraits)
  • Black and white nature (pencil, lino cuts, etchings, wood block etc)
  • Visions of nature (innovative, creative impressions of wildlife)
  • Frozen planet (please note, entries must feature animal life)
  • Endangered species (entries must feature species listed by the IUCN as ‘endangered’ or worse)
The deadline for entries is 28 Ferbuary 2009.

The selected artwork will be displayed in the annual exhibition of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society and published in BBC Wildlife in August 2009.

The overall winner will be awarded the title ‘BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009’ and will also win a place on the 2010 Festival of Wildlife in Brazil

Snow Leopard Trust

The image at the top of the page has been produced by Gayle Mason for The Snow Leopard Trust the world's leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard.

The Trust is opening it's first ever online art auction live on December 3rd at 12:01 am PST. Work by SLT's artist partners- painters, photographers, sculptors have contributed work to the works for sale and the snow leopard is Gayle's contribution. The auction will end at midnight, PST on December 13th. Pre-viewing of the art is not available but Gayle will doubtless be reminding people on the 3rd!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkeys and Monet's Montgeron series

The Turkeys at Montgeron is the only painting I know in which Claude Monet painted birds. It was planned and painted as part of series of four decorative panels commissioned by his patron Ernest Hoschedé.

The Turkeys at Montgeron 1877
by Claude Monet
oil on canvas, 174 x 172cm
Musee d'Orsay

These turkeys were painted in the grounds of the Chateau of Rottenburg at Montgeron (just south of Paris) which was the home of Monet's patron, Ernest Hoschedé, a wealthy department store magnate and art collector and his wife Alice and their children.

While at Montgeron in 1876, Monet started the four paintings which were intended to decorate the main drawing room of the chateau. The other three paintings in the series are:
It struck me that maybe the series was supposed to be in some way represent the four seasons of life at the castle

The other three panels in the series by Claud Monet
L to R: Corner of the garden at Montgeron, The Hunt, Pond at Montgeron

Images from the Atheneaum

The lives of the Monet and Hoschedé would later become very much intertwined following Ernest's bankruptcy (the following year). Ernest's art collection (including Monet's paintings) was auctioned off and Ernest, Alice, and their children moved into a house in Vétheuil with Monet, Monet's first wife Camille, and their two sons. Alice Hoschedé eventually became Claude Monet's second wife after Camille's death in 1879 and Ernest's in 1891.

The two families went through a lot together and I guess at the end of the day Monet, Alice and their children had a lot to be thankful about in one way and another.

However, one does rather wonder if Monet ever got paid for these commissioned works............

Best wishes to all my American readers - I hope you have a great turkey, that all your commissions pay up on time and that you have a really wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday! :)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Bankside Gallery Bookshop

Bankside Gallery Shop
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've previously mentioned bookshops which are good places to buy art books in London and I think I need to start reviewing them in the same way as I'm reviewing the art supplies shops.

One of the regular bookshops I visit is the one at the Bankside Gallery. It's not very large but it has an excellent selection of books. As one might one expect from the Gallery which is the home of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers there's a rather good selection of books for fine art print-makers and those who paint using water-based paints - but that's not all they do.

Entrance to the Bankside Gallery
(immediate neighbour to west of Tate Modern)

Here's what it's got and what's it's good at providing.
The Bankside Gallery Bookshop is the destination store for those interested in both the history and practice of watercolour and printmaking. Our selection encompasses art monographs, how-to-do-it books on painting and printmaking techniques, art fiction, art books for children, and guides to London.
Bankside Gallery - Bookshop

It's probably got the best selection of books about the different methods of fine art printmaking anywhere in the UK. I have never ever seen the breadth and quality anywhere else and I know that the bookshop is frequented by professional printmakers in search of information.

They have:
  • books about techniques, from introductory texts to more detailed ones for experts. Examples include The Instant Printmaker, Printmaking for beginners and the range of other printmaking handbooks published by A&C Black,
  • books about or produced by famous printmakers. Examples include books about Elizabeth Blackadder and Jenny Uglow's book Nature's Engraver, A Life of Thomas Bewick. Last week in the shop I finally found the exhibition catalogue produced by the National Gallery for Australia for the exhibition they had a while back about Whistler's Etchings - including the London Series and both Venice series.
  • books, prints and cards by members of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers

There is a really good selection of books about watercolour covering both techniques and artists.

The techniques section is equal to or better than the selection than I see in most good bookshops that stock books about watercolour. It's complemented by a number of good books about colour mixing and the use of colour. Yesterday, when I dropped in, it had the biggest number of Jeanne Dobie's classic book Making Colour Sing that I've ever seen (click the link for a review) - very useful to know for anybody teaching a class and wanting to recommend a book. It's a book which is not so easy to get hold of and you don't often see in normal bookshops.

Books by the Royal Watercolour Society. Prominent in the displays are a couple of books by the RWS. A few of the art societies have produced books about their type of art, but of all the ones I've seen I'd have to say that the RWS ones stand out in terms of breadth and quality.
  • The Watercolour Expert The Royal Watercolour Society, Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (Great Britain). Edited by Michael Leitch
The painters of the Royal Watercolour Society—among the finest in the world—present an inspirational showcase of their most innovative ideas. Using a highlighted sample, each artist details a technique that he or she finds particularly effective, and covers the entire process from concept to initial composition. Their enlightening discussions cover such subjects as training the eye, creating special effects, and working with unusual mixtures of paint. By revealing the thinking behind their compositional choices and offering expert tips on materials and techniques, these distinguished painters provide a unique introduction to their art and an intimate look at the creative process. In addition, a brief history of watercolor focuses on such illustrious past Society members as Cotman, Palmer, and Sargent.
Synopsis of The Watercolour Expert
There is also a very good selection of books about artists who worked in watercolour. I bought a couple of books about Edward Seago there last week.

General Artists Books

The more general art history and art techniques sections generally include standard texts. These are the sort of books which you might well find elsewhere simpley because of their generalist nature. At the same time they have very specialised books as well - and I've certainly raided the shop for books I've never seen anywhere else.

Royal Watercolour Societ
y Paper and Sketchbooks

The Gallery shop also sells the watercolour paper produced by John Purcell Paper working in conjunction with the President and Council of The Royal Watercolour Society. The paper has a cotton and linen furnish, is surface sized with gelatine and deckled edged. Each sheet is watermarked ROYAL WATERCOLOUR SOCIETY and stamped RWS on each sheet. Sheets are available in 50 x 65 cms and 56 x 76 cms in 300gsm and 425gsm in HP, NOT and Rough surfaces and are sold as single sheets or in packs of ten.

Sketch books created from the paper are also available. The red, green and blue covers denote the type of paper being used. The large landscape format sketchbook is very expensive but well worthwhile for those wanting a larger than average sketchbook which contains good quality paper. I keep umming and erring about which size I want to get and I think I'm leaning towards the big one if for no other reason than it's difficult to find anybody else doing one. The only issue then is working how to carry it - but I'm sure I can think of a solution...........


The shop stocks books about sketching and various published sketchbooks (some relating to series) which have been produced relating to various specific locations.

Pages 84 and 85 Lucca
"Taking a Line for a Walk"
copyright Christopher Lambert - used with permission

This is the shop where I bought Taking a Line for a Walk by Christopher Lambert which I gather is very popular and always in stock. Click the link for my book review.

Art Fiction

There are quite a lot of novels written about art and artists and this bookshop provides a great shelf to peruse.

Children's Books

There is an excellent selection of books about visual art for children or books for children which contain excellent examples of visual art.

Fine Art Prints

A wide selection of artists' prints - made using various fine art print-making techniques - are for sale in the Gallery. These include prints donated to the archives for support of the Gallery by past or deceased RE members.

Greeting cards and wrapping paper

If you like to buy good quality greetings cards which are a bit different, then this is the place to come. You can find a really interesting selection of cards which you won't often find on the high street. Besides cards produced by members of the societies, they also carry other stock and also make seasonal adjustments to the range (eg the Christmas cards have arrived).

If you need a present, wrapping paper and a card for a present for an artist which can all be purchased in one spot then this is the place to come!

In conclusion

The thing that makes this bookshop different is the quantity and quality of the resources it provides of interest to both society members, gallery friends as well as the general public - plus the books, prints and cards which are produced and/or designed and/or written by society members.

I forgot to mention that as a Friend of the Gallery, I also get a 10% discount on anything I buy there which creates a certain incentive to linger..........

If you're interested in watercolour or print-making and are walking along the South Bank/Bankside, it's worth paying a visit to the Gallery to check out the Gallery shop. They also have some rather good exhibitions!

The current exhibition - which finishes on Sunday - is The Poet and the Painter in which twenty Members of the Royal Watercolour Society, in collaboration with the Poetry Society, explore the way in which painting can flow from poetry.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Selection, jurying and must-see lists

Last night I read a post post about jurying and criteria and this morning I got an email about another list of 100 must-see blogs (I'd been included).

What is it about selection, jurying and ranked lists that always generates a response in most people - including me?

For the record, I responded very positively to the reasoning that Tracy had set out in her post More concerning the Fine Art Department and less well to the email which 'thought' my readers might find it interesting and hence that I would want to mention both it and the fact that I'd been included in a list on this blog.

The back cover of the catalogue
for the
2008 RWS/Sunday Times
Watercolour competition

My thoughts on selection, jurying and ranked lists

Emotional response - The word 'selection' has all sorts of potential negative connotations - it's associated with 'rejection' as well as 'success'. It's both a 'turn on' and a 'switch off'.

Not surprising then that people can often feel twitchy and also feel a need to explain their reasons when consciously making a selection.

However when one person is chosen over another it does not mean that the person who is not chosen is 'not good enough'.

Who is the best? Who's to say? Juried selection may appear to "get it wrong" at times but that's only because assessment is subjective. My eyes and experience are individual to me - they don't see art the same way as other people.

If there's one thing I've learned from watching people enter work into exhibitions it's that the decision will vary depending on who looks at the work in a given context. What gets rejected from one exhibition will win prizes in another.

If I've learned anything from going to exhibitions with other people it is that we may all agree about certain works which we think are good - but in all probability we'll all select something different as our 'standout top prize' piece.

Ergo - who is best is entirely subjective.

- I know I always look very closely at the artwork chosen by people I respect.

If you produce good work - in my eyes - then I respect your judgement. If you talk intelligently about art - in my view - then I respect your judgement. Even when I don't agree with you.

If I respect your judgement and you tell me who you rate and provide a link then, in all probability, I'll check out the website.

The listing/linking wheeze
- If you turn up out of the blue with no name and no background with a top 100 list then I'm afraid I find it very difficult to take you seriously. Especially if you have no background with me, no name on display on the website/blog and no credentials on display (as was the case with the website/blog which was the subject of this morning's email.)

The ranked list wheeze is a very common tool used by those who are looking to optimise their own ranking in the search engines. It works like this:
  • list top ranked blogs (very often a 100 - because of course it's so much nicer to get 100 potential link backs rather than just 10!)
  • create a post about their top 100 list on their (often very new) blog,
  • email the list to all those listed and 'suggest' that those included might want to mention that their blog is on the list.
  • get a load of links
  • their own ranking shoots up. Despite the fact they've done very little to earn that ranking in terms of the creation of solid content.
This is why Google doesn't count links which are more than six months old. It's a wheeze which ultimately doesn't work unless you keep the content up to scratch and continue to generate links.

Well I'm sorry - but that's not the way I operate. Establish yourself, display or earn your credentials (eg by creating an archive of good quality posts) and only then create that sort of list. Then I'll take you very seriously and be pleased to acknowledge you and your list on this blog - even if my blog does not get included!

Lists and blogrolls
- You can find a list of blogs in the blogroll of most blogs. If you like the blog there's a pretty good chance you'll like more than a few of the blogs in the blogroll (unless the blog is one which does 'link swaps').

However I don't think anybody pretends they have all the 'best' people in their blogroll. They make a choice depending on their individual perspective. My perspective is that nobody has to justify who they are and nobody need justify their perspective or their choices for who gets included in their blogroll. However I do understand when you feel a need to explain and even do it myself! ;)

I'm thinking of giving mine an overhaul in the near future and one of the reasons is the new blogger widgets are making me think that I want to focus it more on people who post on a regular basis and produce good quality content - in terms of art or text or both.

Which isn't to say that people I like will not be on my Google Reader list or dropped off my Followers list.

Experience of looking at art - The more we look at art the better we get at selecting what stands out and deserves to be acknowledged as such - through awards or whatever.

It's why I go to as many exhibitions as I can. It's why I like looking at all the work on the website of artists I come across. I'm pleased to say that this year I'm on a roll in terms of selecting prizewinners before I know who they are! :) However I don't think I could have that small boast if I didn't look at art on a regular basis.

Jury credentials - I take a lot more notice of awards given by people who have earned their their jury credentials. The credibility of an art award often depends on who an organisation or art society can get to judge an award.

However I have some caveats about jurors:
  • there are a fair few people out there who seem to have made a career out of judging and I'm not sure how I feel about this any more. It seems to me they have the capacity to have an undue influence on outcomes and artists' careers. If they award an artist a prize in one competition, are they more likely to also award a prize to the same person in another?
  • Should people be allowed to jury people they mentor? It happens.
  • I'm also more than a bit concerned that some jurors apparently are unable to spot 'fakes' and don't know how to apply tests to detect digital fakery.
It's good to see a jury of more than one and a balance between different perspectives.

Fresh eyes are always good too. Hence why the ING Discerning Eye award is so interesting each year. For once we don't see all the 'usual suspects' winning yet more awards! :)

Those are my thoughts but how about you? What do you think - about the process of selection, jurying and jurors and those ranked lists?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Making art and selling art - communities of interest for artists

This post looks at the rise of blogs and websites in 2008 which represent communities of interest for artists. In particular, it highlights:
  • the development of group blogs and joint projects for making art
  • some brand new sites for artists selling their work online
In the first part of my review of blogging and art last year I noted that it continued to be very difficult for artists to get noticed online - partly because there are just so many people putting their art online!

I also speculated that the credit crunch would have a very significant impact on the art market - and what gets blogged online.

Blogging Art in 2007 - A Review (Part 2) considered the wider context for blogging and blogging art , communities of interest in a web 2.0 world and the sphere of influence for art and illustrated blogs.
It’s my belief that in 2007 we are becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways people communicate about art online and the richness of the content which is out there....What we desperately need is a way of accessing it more easily.
The blogosphere for artists seems to have matured in 2008. The rate of increase of blogs for artists seems to have slowed. At the same time there seems to be more and more efforts to create the communities of interest which I predicted would emerge

Communities of interest are people who are linking together to create sites which provide:
  • a joint focus for their efforts,
  • a chance to talk with like-minded people or people with a similar interest
  • an increased chance of getting a profile for their art and for people to get to know about their blogs, and
  • for some, a better chance of selling their art.
During 2007, I began to have the notion that we maybe now need to develop a new conceptual model for how blogging could be used to provide a link between the looser web 2.0 affiliations of artists which exist on the internet in terms of eg. blogrolls, cyberchum groups, sketchcrawl communities et al and those communities of artists which exist back in the ‘real ‘world - such as artists and art groups based in a locality and national art societies.
Internet communities
Blogging Art in 2007 - A Review (Part 2) 23rd December 2008
Some of the software (eg Flickr and Ning) is now making it a lot easier for artists to take this route towards forming communities. Also, once an artist has become experienced in using blogging software, confidence grows about the idea of creating team blogs. (Watch out for a new one - due to arrive on next Monday, 1st December!)

Making art

2008 has seen a growth in communities who are making art - for the sake of making art. The Flying Pictures project (Seven intrepid handmade sketchbooks, collecting pictures as they wing their way around the world) is a fine example of this.

Others have developed very focused projects which allow much larger numbers to participate. In doing so they follow the grand tradition started by blogs like Everyday Matters (the super EDM blog) and Illustration Friday (blog). Examples include:
Selling art online - some new sites

An online presence is now a very important way of raising your profile, highlighting the availability of your artwork for sale, allowing people to browse and, maybe, selling online.

In December 2007 I predicted that in 2008
the credit crunch will have a significant impact on the art market and what gets blogged by those marketing their art online. The credit crunch is already having an impact on the housing market and the purchase of decorative art. I predict that it will continue to bite and a recession may be just around the corner - which will inevitably impact on those selling art and using their blog to do so. Those who will do well and survive/continue to sell during a difficult period are those who keep focused on the customer and the bottom line in both the short and longer term. In other words success will come from examining and finding the most cost-effective way of selling art and thinking about how to look after their customers and make it easy for them to continue buying.
BLOGGING ART IN 2008: a few speculations and predictions
Blogging Art in 2007 - A Review (Part 1) 22nd December 2007
The issue of selling online has become more critical for artists with the very rapid onset of a recession. It's now an option that more and more artists looks at as they try to diversify the ways that they can get their art in front of potential purchasers. After all, what's the point of focusing only on galleries if the galleries themselves are also finding it difficult to keep afloat?

We saw several examples of group websites oriented towards sales emerge out of the phenomenal interest in the very popular and successful daily painting blogs. They have formed and reformed during the latter end of 2007 and have continued to do so during 2008. Daily Paintworks for example is now in its third incarnation in terms of its regular members and has resisted any notion of expanding much beyond the original number of artists. It started as a small group and it remains a small group.

Those taking a lead with these initiatives have had to consider whether the creation of a community of interest should involve the payment of fees and whether or not access to membership should be controlled. One of these which does both of those is the Daily Painters Art Gallery.

A new direction for selling art? In the last month or so we've seen the emergence of some new blogs and websites. This stimuli has been the financial climate of recent months and weeks and its impact on the art economy.
  • Tracy Helgeson has started a new blog called The Fine Art Department. This is intended to be a great place for people to browse if they're interested in buying art. The idea behind the blog is that it should be part of a team effort to help tackle the current economic climate (see below). She intends to post an image, a short description and a link to artists who are selling their own work.Read Fine Art is a Good Gift This Year from Tracy's main blog Works by Tracy Helgeson for some background to her decision.
  • Another example of team work is a new website for what is at present a small group called Small Art Showcase also featuring a group of artists - highlighted by Lisa Call on her blog. This was organised by Jeanne Williamson and is a collection of fine artists who are making their work accessible and affordable to art lovers and collectors by showcasing their art on a website dedicated to affordable art priced between $25 and $500.
As part of my contribution towards the team effort, I'm in the process of creating/converting part of my blogroll to include links to artist/blogger owned and managed blogs and websites of this kind . Note that I am going to exercise some quality control over this and will tend towards favouring those created by artists for whom their art is serious and a significant part of their income.

If you know of any other similar sites - for making art or selling art - please feel free to highlight them by using the comments function. However please note the emphasis is on communities of interest created by artists/bloggers and I'm not offering to advertise the more commercial online galleries.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

23rd November 2008 - Who's made a mark this week?

Cindy (on Wednesday) by Wally (crackskullbob)

A celebration of Cindy Woods

Cindy Woods really made her mark on the world of illustrated blogging. Lots of us knew and appreciated her wonderful drawings of her world which she shared with us on her blog Learning Daily and on Flickr. However I think some of us are only learning now - through the comments being left - just how much how she inspired and supported many other illustrated bloggers across the world. On Friday afternoon she lost her battle with cancer. The last four posts on her blog tell the tale of Cindy's last journey.
People respond in different ways. On Wednesday I had no words at all after getting the news. On Thursday I grappled with trying to say what I wanted to - and failed in Trees at Tate Modern. Yesterday morning I just wrote about how I came to know Cindy and love her work and why I admired her so very much - Cindy Woods - learning daily (1956-2008).
I never met her either, but I always felt as if I knew her just the same...
a comment on a tribute
A lot of people will never forget Cindy. However sadness at Cindy's passing is also being accompanied - quite rightly - by a celebration of Cindy's life and her work. Many people gave her fantastic send-off through the comments left on her blog. Today I'd like to feature some tributes by just some of the people who knew Cindy in one way or another. She did after all have 1,161 contacts on Flickr! :)
Cindy Woods has long been one of my favorite sketchbook artists. I love the quality of her line, the clarity of her observation. And she is a strong exemplar of the fact that no matter what one's situation, drawing makes it better. She recorded her life at the Virginia Home, a nursing home for Disabled people, with grace, humor, and warmth.
Danny Gregory
She is the most inspirational of artists. Her blog has been a joy to follow over the last three and half years. She has inspired me in so many ways. More than anything her tender portrayals of her friends have made me appreciate the beauty of going back again and again to drawing the same person.
I'll leave the last word with Cindy.
Thanks to all who have visited me and left comments, I have enjoyed the exchanges between my all Internet friends immensely and want you all to know what joy it has given to get to know you as we have shared our lives online.
Cindy Woods
...and now back to the rest of the people who made a mark this week

Art Blogs

Carlson codified some of his teachings into a book, still in print after almost 80 years, as Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting.
This is the short version of what I've learned: Consistent repetitive practice and tolerance/acceptance of negative emotions/thoughts are critical. Everything else will be learned on the way. That's really all I have to say. You can skip to the paintings now.
Jeff Mahorney - What I've Learned (After 120 paintings)
One of the advantages of going to art college is that it teaches you to think deeply about your work.
Unfortunately one of the downsides of going to art college is that it teaches you to think deeply about your work!
Art and illustration - team blogs and projects
  • Sketchbook Month challenges participants to completely fill a sketchbook over the course of one month - I'm seeing more and more people participating in this
  • Charley Parker Lines and Colors) wrote a review of Urban Sketchers this week.
  • A new blog will be launching on 1st December......more about this next week!
Art Business & marketing
  • There's just eight days left to vote in the Making A Mark Poll for November - How much art have you sold via your blog/website in the last year? (see the poll in the side column)
  • I'm afraid I've found it necessary to produce A cautionary note about Imagekind
  • Andrea Pratt (colouring outside the lines) is inviting people to contribute their views about a friend who is on the horns of a dilemma. Is the gallery playing fair?
  • Don't forget to thank these people from Art Biz Blog by

THE 2008 autumn art-auction season, barely a month old, has been characterised by two extremes: stacks of unsold works, and a few eye-watering purchases.

Day after day, auctioneers on both sides of the Atlantic have been faced with the dull atmosphere of near-empty salerooms, bought-in masterworks and overpaid guarantees.
The Economist - Salvation in Cyrillic
On the Art economy front:
  • Salvation in Cyrillic was posted by The Economist yesterday. This reviews the impact of rich Russians on the art market and suggests keeping an eye on an upcoming sale of Russian art for indications of whether they're still "investing". The Economist's art.view provides a different perspective on the arts and art auctions.
  • Jeff Watson suggests that the Art Marketing is coming back to earth but also that major pieces are no longer being consigned for sale at the major auctions. Methinks 'time out' has been called.
Art competitions
Art Education
2 minute life drawings (from the mirror)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • I came across a Ning community for art educators Art Education 2.0 which is about Using New Technology in Art Classrooms
Art History
A Laughing Boy (Henry VIII) attributed to Georgio Mazzoni
11" x 8", pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • I would tell you about Europeana, which is a digital museum that allows visitors to explore classic paintings, photos, recordings and texts - but it would be pretty pointless as the 10 million hits an hour it got shortly after it opened last Thursday have overwhelmed its servers so they're taking some timeout for a rethink! The idea is that digital content will be selected from that which is already digitised and available in Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collection. The Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are participating and a lot of the current material is French
Art supplies
Tips and techniques
Websites and blogging
and finally.......

Who can resist the idea of redesigning the Oval Office - here's what some designers came up with.