Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blogging Art in 2008 - The Making A Mark Awards (Part 2)

Following on from Part One of the Making A Mark Awards 2008, welcome to Part Two and:
  • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
  • The Going Greener Gong
  • The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches / The “Amusing Musings” Trophy
  • The Best Online Exhibition
  • The MAMA Prize for best portrait by a female artist
  • The Special Mention for a Portrait Drawing Portfolio
  • and finally………The MAMA Prize – for the best artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2007
(Some the images for this post may turn up a little bit later!)

The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize

This award is for excellence in plein air painting plus a strong commitment to sharing information. I'm not saying I've found everybody who provides good advice - but I do wish I could find more blogs which I could point people towards in terms of regular plein air painters who are informative and share useful information. I tend to check out blogs by finding the "plein air painting" label and then reading through the posts. There are a lot of plein air painters but not so many who share useful information on a regular basis.

This award has previously been won by
In 2008, the contenders are:
  • Michael Chesley Johnson (A Plein Air Painter's Blog) - Michael has published a new book in 2008 about Backpacker Painting. He specialises in painting in both oils and pastels and a lot of his painting is done plein air. He shares useful information in workshops and in his blog as well as in the book.
  • Irene Brady (Nature Drawing and Journaling Workshops) who tends to provide some useful and practical tips associated with drawing and painting plein air on location in the jungle! (see also the next award)
  • Linda Blondheim (Linda Blondheim Art Notes) who combines practical tips about marketing, painting and painting plein air with recipes.
  • James Gurney (Gurney Journey) - winner of The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal 2008 - and his practical tips about Plein Air Painting. Here's an example of how he approaches a painting outdoors during a Paint-Out.
This year I'm going to award the Painting Plein Air Plus Prize to two tutors with a long-standing commitment to helping artists to work plein air - and sharing their advice on their blogs. Painting plein air is a continuous theme of their work and their blogs and their advice.

The winners of the Painting Plein Air Plus Prize 2008 are:

The Going Greener Gong

This award is for the art blog which I've found most stimulating in relation to getting us in touch with nature and the environment. It encompasses those who blog about animals, birds, flowers and plants. Blogs are not required in any way to limit themselves to just those topics but they do need to have a feel for being green and sustainable about them. They also get extra points for getting out and about and drawing from life!

In 2007, the prize was won by Richard Bell's nature diary Wild West Yorkshire. Richard started his nature diary in 1989 and continues to set a standard which is hard to beat.

I guess I'm on the look out for the next Andy Goldsworthy! However I guess I'm not looking hard enough as I've not come across a lot of new 'greener' blogs by artists in 2008. Artists who had "going greener" credentials in 2008 included much the same people as last year:
  • Irene Brady's blog about Nature Drawing and Journaling Workshops. Irene has a very strong emphasis on drawing natural history and shows the work done in workshops in both the USA and overseas - including her Costa Rica workshop back in February when she lost her camera to a thief - but still had her natue journal recording all she saw and did. She provides lots of tops about how to draw nature up close and personal.
  • Tracy Hall's Watercolour Artist Diary blog displays her watercolour paintings which record nature in detail around and about the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland
  • Pica is still trying to sketch a bird a day, one at a time in Bird by Bird
  • Numenius and Pica describe Feathers of Hope as being a weblog on nature and place, the design arts, critters, and baseball. It certainly records a practical commitment to saving birds.
Artists also worth a special mention in 2008 are:
  • Rebecca Latham (Nature & Wildlife Art) whose blog features miniature paintings of wildlife and where she shares videos of her approach to painting.
  • Sherrie York (Brush and Baren) who produces delightful linocuts featuring nature and wildlife.
  • Debbie Kotter Caspari (Drawing the Motmot) whose blog is described as being about sketching adventures in the wide world of nature, with how-to sidebars and a bias for birds. I love Debbie's description of herself "I'm an artist with binoculars, a traveler with a sketchbook and a birder with a banjo.....I particularly love drawing from nature" Right now she's off Drawing the Amazon. Check out also her plein air forest interiors and Landscape vignettes which she developed as Artist-in-Residence at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts
plus there are numerous artists with blogs largely devoted to animals who are supporting worthwhile animal charities through their art.

I decided that the winners of the Going Greener Gong in 2008 should be two ladies who share a common theme which is a bit of a pun on my part. They both draw nature in the raw, travel into the forest ("going greener") at home and in distant lands to do so and then record what they in their sketchbooks and on their blogs.

The winners of the Going Greener Gong in 2008 are:
The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches / The “Amusing Musings” Trophy

There are two key essentials to this prize(s). One is that the blogger must be writing tales of life as it is lived in an artist's household and, second, ideally there is an amusing edge to it! Plus this is when you find out whose blogs I read for reasons quite apart from the quality of the art!

Contenders include:
  • Gayle Mason (Fur in the Paint) whose tales - told with an exceptionally dry wit - about what three males, five dogs and an unruly pond can get up to when she's not looking regularly generates a very broad smile on my face
  • Walt Taylor (Crackskullbob)- who has a variety of names as does his blog - regularly cracks me up. The rest of the time I go away with a puzzled look on my face..........
However, I have to confess I am totally riveted by tales from the frontline - amusing and otherwise - from the Helgeson Household in upstate New York. I never ever miss an instalment. I enjoy Tracy Helgeson's paintings (Works by Tracy Helgeson) very much indeed but I'd turn up for the stories even if she never posted any paintings. Well so long as she posted photos of the house, the veggie garden, assorted animals and children and varioous excursions........not to mention the studio!

I was going to have a separate award for the The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year for the most improved studio of the year but I never got myself organised enough to make a note of all the studio improvments which I read about during the course of the year. However I thought it would also be a bit of a fraud because I always knew that I was going to give the award to Tracy - and her brand new studio in the attic. She moved her studio, had a new floor laid, new walls and storage sorted, painted it all, bought and installed new studio furniture and then renovated her ex studio/new sitting room - and took photos and took us all through the process with her. Talk about comprehensive!

So the winner of The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches / The “Amusing Musings” Trophy for 2008 is Tracy Helgeson (and Doug and Ginger and all those who helped with the new studio)

Previous winners of this prize are:
  • 2006 - Ruth Phillips (Meanwhile, here in France) won The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches
  • 2006 - Hugh McLeod (Gaping Void) and Maggie Stiefvater (Greywaren Art) won the Amusing Musings Trophy
  • 2007 - Dermott (I am Dog Hear Me Snore) the Australian Old English Sheep Dog who lives in Tuscany with Mr and Mrs We Spent a Long Time Boofing This Dog - won both!
The Online Exhibition of the Year

This was a new award this year - and its focus is on areas of the online artworld where we are seeing innovation.

The intention was that the term "online art exhibition" should be interpreted quite loosely ie it did have to be online and accessible, about art and in the form of an exhibition - and ultimately impressive enough for you to remember it and want to nominate it - but that was about it. After that it could have been created by a publicly funded/major art gallery or museum, or a private art gallery, or a charity or by an artist on their website or on Flickr.

I was quite disappointed about the number of nominations received - but having increased the number of awards people could nominate for from one to three, maybe that's something I should have expected! I'd be interested in your feedback as to whether you think this is a good idea for next year.

Two exhibitions were nominated by three readers:
I'd like to nominate the NEWA (National Exhibition of Wildlife Art) online exhibition.
I find everything about this exhibition to be done professionally. The online gallery provides large clear images of all the work with the added facility to reserve a painting.
Gayle Mason
I would like to nominate the Canine Art Guild's "Helping Paws" exhibition. This innovative show has participating artists designating various canine shelters and rescue groups to receive a portion of revenue from sales. People's Choice awards were given with the price money being awarded to the artist's chosen partner group.
Linda Shantz

The cause is right and the artists feel strongly about it + a nice variety of different mediums and techniques.
Sheona Hamilton-Grant
What I find absolutely fascinating is that both exhibitions are about animals and both have got themselves organised so that they can raise money - for artists or charities - by selling art online via a virtual exhibition.

For some peculiar reason having a virtual exhibition is something which most art societies have not yet got their heads around and are unable to do for the most part (a notable exception being NEAC)! I wonder whether this is something that will change as the recession bites in 2008? I know I lost count of the number of art society websites I came across which failed to get any images at all from their Annual Exhibition online at the same time as the actual exhibition was on show. I came across a fair few society websites which were still showing images from an exhibition which was more than a year old. There will come a point when communication via the Internet (website and/or blog) will become part of the overall plan for an art society exhibition - but I am beginning to wonder how long this might take!

From my perspective I could nominate rather fewer sites than I'd like to. However 2008 for me will be remembered for
  • introducing an online and interactive element to the award of major art prizes. The Threadneedle Figuratibe Prize is a new major UK Art Prize where the public can vote online for one of seven shortlisted artists (see below) to win the Prize worth £25,000. All the artwork in the exhibition at the Mall Galleries is also seen in a virtual exhibition on the associated website where members of the public can also vote for the prizewinner - see Threadneedle Figurative Prize (part 1) - view the entries and vote! and Nina Murdoch wins the Threadneedle Figurative Prize 2008. (However I have to say I was much less impressed with the associated blog)
  • The use of video to publicise art exhibitions and further art education. An example includes videos posted in relation to the exhibition "J. M. W. Turner" at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art by (1) VOANews about the Turner Art exhibit and (2) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on You Tube. The latter are ten minute chunks of a talk by Simon Schama, Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University about the work of J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) but have had surprisingly few visitors! You can see links to them all here JMW Turner - Turner and the Romance of Britain
I'm going to identify two exhibitions for a Special Mention this year - and will find a way of providing a bigger choice next year. Something tells me I need to keep a running list of sites which have impressed me!!!
  • the best website organised to support an exhibition of animal art is the NEWA exhibition. It impresses because of the professional approach to delivering a website which is likely to generate sales - and because all of this was accomplished without a formal art society infrastructure to support it.
  • the most exciting online exhibition innovation in 2oo8 was the virtual website for the Threadneedle Figurative Art Prize - and the scope to vote for the winner online. This site really captured the imagination and I gather it also delivered a fair few votes!
I'm not going to identify an Online Exhibition of the Year this year - but would like to commend all the abovementioned sites to you asvery worthy of exploration.

The MAMA Prize for The Best Portrait by a Female Artist on a Blog

Readers of this blog voted for this prizewinner between Christmas Eve and the poll closing at 1 minute past midnight today. During the poll, the artwork in the lead kept changing all the time! You can view:
Congratulations to all those who were shortlisted for making this a very interesting process and many thanks to to all those who took time out to vote for their favourite.

Zen by Nicole Caulfield

I'm pleased to announce that the artwork which received most votes for the MAMA Prize for The Best Portrait by a Female Artist on a Blog is Zen by Nicole Caulfield. Zen attracted 28.29% of the vote. I'd also like to congratulate Nicole's 10 year old daughter Katie Caulfield who also made a significant contribution to the final result!

Both second and third paintings also held top spot for a significant time during the course of the poll.
The 'Special Mention' for a Drawing Portfolio

Nominations were also invited for an artist with a blog who has, in your opinion, displayed a consistent high standard and posted the best portfolio of portrait paintings, drawings or fine art prints on a blog in 2008. This is where an artist has consistently maintained an excellent output of portrait work. This was not just limited to women!

Portfolios of portrait drawings mentioned during the nomination process for the best portrait and the best artwork on a blog in 2008 are:
The Special Mention for a Portrait Drawing Portfolio is shared between:
  • Cindy Woods (Learning Daily ) - for her regular drawings from life of her fellow residents at the Virginia Home where she lived. Who could ever forget her vivid portrayals of certain residents!
  • Adebanji Alade (Adebanji Alade: My Art, My Passion for Sketching) for his portfolio of drawings of people on buses, tubes and trains in London. Adebanji shows a firm commitment to drawing from life at every opportunity despite the fact that drawing on a moving bus/tube/train is not easy and your models are always apt to exit at the next stop!
The MAMA Prize for The Best Artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2008

Many thanks to all those people who took time out to nominate and the people who voted on the shortlist for The MAMA Prize for the Best Artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2008. You can see
The winner of the MAMA Prize for the Best Artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2008 is A Walk in the Ocean, a small pastel painting by Margaret Dyer (Small Pastels and an Occasional Oil) - nominated by Casey Klahn (The Colorist)
In 2007, the inaugural winner was Carol Carter (Carol Carter) with Up from the Abyss

I hope you enjoyed the Making A Mark Awards for 2008 - I know I enjoy doing them and will be here again with the fourth set - including some new awards - in December 2009.

What do you think are the awards which are missing?

I know I'm very inclined to get organised so that I can have a new award for The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year - for the most improved studio in 2009. This can be for anything from a major clean-up and sort-out through to a complete new-build. I've introduced this category as there have been so many people having a go at doing something about their studio - and then showing us the results and it would be really nice to recognise this in some way in 2009. Make sure I know about it you do something major to your studio!


  1. Thanks for your dedication and passion for artists and bloggers. I especially love these year end awards.

  2. Thanks for your sharing your passion for art and blogging. I especially love these yaer end awards.


  3. All I can say is thank you. If there was an award for the most valuable and wide-ranging source of art information provided with enthusiasm, wit, and intelligence on the web, it would be yours, hands down. So thank you for all the introductions and connections to other artists and art bloggers, for holding high standards for blog writing and artwork, and for all the hard work at researching, writing and editing you do!

  4. Katherine,
    I feel incredibly humbled and honored by your award. Thank you so much for all that you do all year round to promote artists.
    Linda Blondheim

  5. Thank you all for all your very kind words.

    I do these awards because I'm a big believer in saying when something is good and worth sharing with others. Giving recognition is a really valuable way of making sure people go on being good and sharing what they do!

    I know all your comments make me determined to try and keep doing what I do! :)

    I also do the awards because sharing information about "what works" helps other people, in a small way, to get better at doing whatever they do in the art world. I can link and show - but it's every individual's choice as to whether or not they take advantage of what's on offer. However I do get incredibly pleased when I see the 'payback' later in blog posts which links back to where it all started.........

    Now - I can't be doing with humble!!! You've got to stop it Linda! I'll have to take it back if you use words like 'humble! :) ;)

  6. Thanks a million for this mention, I cherish your blog and to be mentioned for something noteworthy is thrilling!

    Keep up all the good work!

  7. Hi Katherine,
    Thank you so much for the lovely nod in my direction. I, too, thank you for all you do for art and artists the world over, and for the providing a constant little nudge to step up my own work and efforts. Well done!

  8. I do so enjoy the final results of your MAMAs and this year is no exception.

    I also love that you have shared awards between people in some categories. That's a great idea.

    Thanks for my mention, with or without an award, it makes me set the bar higher for myself to keep on producing.

  9. What a plethora of talent. Marvelous to see. My ravens are cawing their approval.

  10. As usual another great year of awards from you.

    Studio award - yeah - I could go for that one. From my bedroom to my studio that will be done in 2 months - I'm going to have a major expansion in that area :)

  11. Humbleness removed Katherine. I'd hate to lose that award!! :>)

  12. I feel so honored to receive The Going Greener Gong 2008 award ~ I'm trying to stomp down (with limited success) that critical person inside that whines "you don't deserve this!"

    Despite that, my greatest feeling is one of gratitude and pleasure, and the hope that I can continue to promote the wonders of nature through my blog. Thank you for helping me do this through your award and link! Your blog is a remarkable resource to the art and nature community. I come to visit often.

    By the way, is there a button or something for the award I could post on my blog, to show my appreciation?

    Again, thanks!


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