Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MAMA Call for entries: Best Portrait by a female artist on a blog in 2008

Portrait of Ben
11" x 14", coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford Hot Press
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Making A Mark Award for Best Portrait by a Female Artist aims to celebrate and highlight excellence in portraiture and, in particular, to highlight the skills of female portrait artists whose work can be found on a blog in 2008.

I like portraiture a lot and have a lot of admiration for portrait artists. This comes from being acquainted with some of the difficulties associated with drawing people and animals!

I wanted to develop an award for portraiture and decided that this Making A Mark Award should be gender specific because it struck me quite forcibly in 2008 that women appeared to be under-represented in UK portraiture. Why should I think this? Here are some examples of what I found out:
  • Only 6% of the members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters are women,
  • Very few women have won the BP Portrait Prize and only about a third of the works displayed in the BP Portrait exhibition are by women.
  • Very few of the portrait works commissioned by national galleries are by women.
By way of contrast, I know that there are lots of simply stunning female portrait artists out there - Jennifer McRea for example (winner of this year's RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition) - but I think we need to see more of them!

In virtually every area of our working lives women now have the opportunity to work in the same way as men can and indeed many now play an equal role alongside men. Except, it would appear, in some areas of art. I can't help but think this is because views could be distorted by people being less exposed to the way that 'employment' practices have changed in recent years and/or because men still seem to be in the majority on some of the bodies which matter. When I queried the percentages I was given some of the explanations ("excuses"?) which I thought I'd stopped hearing long ago in relation to other occupations. Things like "Well of course women have to interrupt their careers for families". It's the sort of perspective which goes with the notion that a portrait isn't a portrait unless it's painted in oil and having a list of (mostly male) artists who you commission work from is not a bad thing - because of course you only commission on merit! OK - polemic over!

So I decided to take a stand - and this competition is it!

Having a competition which celebrates the work of the female portrait artist - as seen on an art blog - is my own small contribution to increasing the the profile of the female portrait artist on the internet. There are two awards:
  • The Making A Mark Award for best portrait by a female artist in 2008: You can find details of how to nominate below.
  • The Mary Cassatt Special Mention: Nominations are 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.
I hope you'll feel motivated to contribute both nominations and votes - and images if you are one of the artists nominated! Please note that I've decided that the scope should extend to include those who portray animals! I'm personally of the persuasion that thinks that creating a portrait of an animal is every bit as difficult as drawing or painting a person and the backgrounds are sometimes considerably more difficult!

The way the competition process will work is as follows
  • PORTRAIT: YOU identify and nominate a portrait drawing, painting or fine art print that you've seen on an art or illustrated blog in 2008
    • You can only nominate one portrait for the portrait award and one portfolio for the "Special Mention" for a portfolio (see below)
    • Eligible Portrait Subject: The emphasis is on the excellence of the portraiture and consequently the portrait can be of any living being. This means it could be a self-portrait or a portrait of a group or a single man, woman, child or animal or bird.
    • Eligible Portrait Media: I'm erring towards the traditional but not being as traditional as some! Work must be hand-crafted and two-dimensional. So the work of the winning artist can be a painting, a drawing or a hand-made fine art print. Eligible media includes oils, acrylics, tempera, casein, watercolour, pen and ink, pastels, coloured pencils, charcoal, graphite and fine art printmaking methods. This means no giclees, videos, photographs, digital art or sculpture.
    • The nominated portrait must have been produced in the last two years by an adult female artist and posted on an art blog in 2008.
    • You may nominate your own work - but why not see if somebody else does first!
    • You can endorse an existing nomination - if you'd like to identify a good and different reason for it being nominated. For this award, this won't affect your nomination and may influence the shortlist.
    • Age: All artwork should have been completed in the last two years. All artists must be aged 18 and over on 01.12.08.
  • PORTFOLIO: YOU identify and nominate a portfolio of portrait drawings and/or paintings and/or fine art prints posted by a female artist on her blog
    • This is for the body of work - a portfolio - which merits a special mention. You can nominate one artist whose portfolio (of drawings, paintings and fine art prints) you think should receive a special mention. Images will not be posted, and votes will not be invited but links will be provided to all those shortlisted and an image posted of the artist getting the special mention.
  • Use the comments function to nominate for the portrait and the portfolio. Remember that nominations are open and transparent and that it's good to share a genuine tribute. Please let us know your own views on the artist and why you are nominating the portrait you've chosen. You must:
    • PORTRAIT: State (1) the title of the portrait, (2) the name of the artist, (3) the title of the blog post and (4) the name of the blog on which the portrait appeared. The artist does not have to a be a blogger (so, for example, it might be posted by an art society on their blog or as part of a project on an art blog).
    • State the date of the post and the name of the work which you are nominating proposing and provide the URL of the post in question, otherwise known as the permalink (Let me know if you have a problem with the latter). Try clicking on the title or the date - that often brings up the URL for an individual post.
    • PORTFOLIO: For the portfolio state (1) the URL of a label/category or gallery (2) the name of the blog on which the portfolio appears (3) the name of the artist
    • Please explain why you are nominating the portrait or portfolio - and remember powerful supporting statements can be influential when it comes to putting a short-list together.
    • You can endorse a nomination and still nominate another artist.
    • All nominations accepted for shortlisting must be with the agreement of the nominated artist (ie all artists must agree to their work being put forward and for images to be displayed on this blog - or an alternative site - as part of the shortlist). The person making the nomination is responsible for securing that agreement and getting the artist to convey it to me .
  • The Deadline for nominations is midnight GMT on Sunday 21st December. Portraits appearing on blogs between now and 21st December are eligible! That gives me two days to complete viewing of all images, make sure all permissions have been obtained and images supplied and then get a poll sorted.
  • Short lists of five artists for each category will be selected by me. Digital images of a predetermined size (longest size 500 pixels/no larger than 100kb) will be required of all short-listed work for the portrait and must be available before 24th December. If images are not available the nomination cannot be taken forward to a vote. Ideally get the artists to email me or leave a comment below.
  • The shortlist for a portrait will be posted with a poll on 24th December 2008 and blog readers will then be invited to vote for the artist that they think has produced the best portrait by a female artist posted on a blog 2008.
  • The results of the poll - and the choice of which artist gets a Special Mention - will be announced as part of the Making A Mark 2008 Awards on 30th December.
Prizes and Sponsors
My own personal view is that competitions should be about recognition and the acclaim of those who love art rather than prizes per se.

However if an organisation would like to sponsor and offer a stunning prize for this competition please contact me in the normal way (see right hand column). I don't feel in any way bound to accept any offers - but if it's a really stunning one from a prestigious organisation I guess I'd have to think very hard about it!

Links: Portraiture - Resources for Artists


  1. Okay, I'll go first.

    I'd like to nominate:
    (no title - 2nd portrait on the blog, of 2 women)
    by Tracy Helgeson
    Blog post: Score! (, posted Nov 3rd.

    I've only recently started following Tracy's landscape and she says she's returned to figures and portraits - and wow what a return! I find them very evocative and intimate. This piece in particular has a sense of real people, and a friendship conveyed in a warm loose way but probably more precisely about the pair than a realism style would be.

  2. Portrait Nomination
    Artist:Bonnie Luria
    Post:Wife Imitates Art
    Date:April 8th
    CaptuRED is what brought me to Bonnie's new blog, I was looking for roosters and found this amazing painting. It evokes a feeling of mother nature in all her glory. This painting is stunning and she has a wonderful tale to tell about it.

    Portfolio Nomination
    Blog: Illustrated Life
    Artist:Jeanette Jobson
    Jeanette is an amazing versatile artist. She prefers dry mediums, but also does amazing work in wet ones. Jeanette has the great ability to bring out the "life" of her subjects, you get the feeling that a story is being told. Whether it is graphite, colour pencils or oils there is always a soft dreamy feel to her portraits. Well worth your time to take a look.

  3. Walk Through, Karren Jurick, blog post “Walk Through” on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 on her blog “A Painting Today.”
    I love her enigmatic series of people looking at paintings but this one bursts with colour and a great contrast between the static watchers and the walkers.

  4. How embarassing, I am the only one nominating herself.
    I have a blog that I use for writing news about my work, it doesn't receive many visits therefore I am shamelessly going to put my painting forward.

    Title: The chef and his shadow
    Blog: Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco -News, posted the 8th of March

  5. I nominate "Cool Off" by Sharon Wright. The title of the post is "Cool Off"; the title of the blog is Sharon Wright Artist. The URL for the post nominated is -- posted August 5, 2008.

    I chose this piece because of the immediacy and downright human spirit it portrays as well as the crisp handling of light and the freshness of color.

  6. Here I go...Nominating myself.
    Title: Logan
    Atrist: Olga Wagner
    Blog Post: Chubby Cheeks
    Date: Dec 10, 2008

    Most of my work involves animal portraiture, but I do love to work on chubby cheeked children. My nephew Logan was a perfect subject for this fun little portrait.

  7. I'd like to nominate myself, for my portrait of my little daughter.
    Title - "My Masterpiece"
    Artist - Nithya Swaminathan
    Post - My Masterpiece
    Blog - A splash of color
    Date - 19th Dec 2008

    I believe I captured my daughter's beautiful naughty smile very well, and achieved a 99% resemblance. I am nominating it myself because my blog isn't too popular and doesn't get many visits.

  8. That's OK Nithya - this is not a popularity contest for blogs.

  9. Portrait Nomination
    Title: Pride
    Artist: Elena Petrova
    Post: December 18, 2008
    Blog: Elena Daily

    Elena is my sister. I love all her paintings,their energy and bold expression. I picked this particular portrait because I liked a straightforward and laconic way emotions of the sitter are expressed. Isn't it the way we all feel pride? Does it need more words?

  10. OK, I'll be brave too and nominate myself as this is a category we girls should support!

    Title: Paul
    Artist: Felicity Grace
    Blog: Felicity's Philosophies & Other Curiosities
    Date: January 29th

    Paul is my brother and I was especially taken with his pose and the way his hair outlined his back. He's a very laid back guy and I felt it came across here. It was my first large portrait using colour and colour pencil.

  11. I'd like to nominate
    Someone You Know by Judi Winn posted on on her blog Everything is Contextual February 5, 2008

    If you know her blog you will know that this self-portrait is extremely revealing in terms of this artist's ability to portray her lively talent and imagination. I'd like to nominate the entire portfolio of Judi's work this year.

  12. Hello, I'll enter the competition too!
    The diptich (diptico agudo) you can see here:
    Artist: Lucie Geffré

  13. fantastic portraits/artists nominated. decided that nothing ventured.....

    I'd like to nominate myself
    Title : Responsibilities
    Artist : Ujwala Prabhu
    Post : Back on Track
    Dated : Nov 25, 2008
    Blog : Maya


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