Sunday, September 27, 2009

Follow my travels........

With any luck, when this publishes I'll be sat on a train going to Paris.

I'm not going interactive - but if any of you are interested in following my travels in France, you can do so in one of three ways:

Travels with a Sketchbook in.......
  1. right clicking on the link above and either subscribing to the feed on Travels with my Sketchbook in......
  2. or checking out a link to the Travels with Sketchbook posts that I've written in advance about the places we're visiting. You can check these out - they's scheduled to post on a daily basis starting Sunday 27th September. (I learned a few things while putting them together!)
  3. Alternatively, if you already follow me on Twitter, then you might be interested to know that I plan to tweet our progress around Paris, Normandy and the Loire. Everybody who is already a follower will be able to access those tweets.
France 2009: Route Map

I'm afraid I've protected my Tweets to avoid all the types who want to follow you as soon as you mention anywhere famous. That means that I'm afraid you can't join as a follower on Twitter until I can vet requests to follow - which is not likely to be any time soon as I have updates switched off on my phone.

Similarly I'd love to read your comments on blog posts but they won't come up on either blog until I can access a 'safe' computer and have enough time - which probably won't be until I get back home. If you think I'm being OTT about this you should see what happens when I switch off moderation!

However blog posts with sketches of what I got up to will follow on Travels with a Sketchbook just as soon as I can manage when I get back home again!

Links: Where to go on my French trip?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

UKCPS Exhibition now online

You can now view the 8th UKCPS Annual Exhibition online on the UKCPS website.

Ecology Park Pond #1
now hangs in the exhibition.

If you go to the UKCPS News blog you can also see photos of some of the works on the walls of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery

Tomorrow the UKCPS News blog will have pictures of what's involved in getting an exhibition hung.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Society of Wildlife Artists - Annual Exhibition 2009

A selection of works from the Annual Exhibition of
the Society of Wildlife Artists

all artwork copyright the artists / all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I went to see the 46th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists yesterday - and it's very, very impressive. I highly recommend that all artists sketching, drawing, painting, printmaking or sculpting animals should make the utmost effort to go and see it.

One of the reasons why this exhibition is very impressive is the sheer range of styles of making art - it's a veritable visual feast. The mix in terms of sizes also makes for a very attractive exhibition. I always come away from it feeling hugely stimulated about making art.

The printmaking is absolutely stunning as usual and there is always far more sculpture in this art society exhibition than I ever see in any other. I loved the baby elephant!

For those who love birds or fishes or endangered species there is plenty to see - the birds in particular dominate the exhibition (as happens in most exhibitions of wildlife art). There's an awful lot of avid birders out there. Having got into drawing birds myself this year I was looking at all the artwork with fresh eyes!

Unfortunately, due to the need to continue with preparations for my trip to France, my detailed review of this exhibition will have to wait until I get back. You can however some of the works on display in a few of my photos take yesterday in the gallery and on the official SWLA website.

One special mention for a fellow artist blogger who will be well known to long time readers of this blog. In her first exhibition with the SWLA, fellow blogger and friend Tracy Hall (winner of the RMS Gold Memorial Bowl in 2008) has already sold one of her two miniature watercolour paintings of birds which are in the show. I still can't quite believe that earlier this week we were seriously discussing whether or not I could pick up her work at the end of the exhibition! ;) It's also worth noting that Tracy has a Miniatures Step by Step article in a UK art journal this month.

SWLA - small works wall
Do please also note that this is an art society which does more than just produce art.
The Society of Wildlife Artists is a registered charity that aims to generate an appreciation of and delight in the natural world through all forms of fine art, based on representing the world’s wildlife.

Though exhibitions and publications, the Society aims to further an awareness of the importance of conservation in order to maintain the variety of the world’s ecosystems and its wildlife. The Society also supports and promotes the arts-based objectives of other conservation and wildlife charities.
You can see the Annual SWLA Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. It closes on Sunday October 4th.

You can also read more about their exhibitions and see more art by various members in my reviews of previous exhibitions in the links below.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

BP Portrait Tour & Portrait of the Nation

The 2009 BP Portrait Award Exhibition has now closed at the National Portrait Gallery. The 56 portraits in the exhibition are now on tour and if you live in the south of England or Scotland I recommend that you try and catch the exhibition at:
  • Southampton City Art Gallery, Civic Centre Commercial Road Southampton: 28 September – 29 November 2009. This is the Exhibition's first ever visit to this gallery.
  • Dean Gallery of the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh: 12 December 2009 – 28 February 2010
Peter Monkman and his daughter Anna and
Changeling 2
winner of the BP Portrait Award 2009

photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The exhibition ranges between intimate and personal images of friends and family to revealing portraits of celebrity sitters and presents a variety of styles and approaches that together illustrate the vitality of contemporary portraiture. I'd certainly recommend that anybody aspiring to enter the BP Portrait competition should try and visit the exhibition.

I've started to get a lot of visitors to this blog looking for details of the competition for the 2010 BP Portrait Award. These will be published on this blog just as soon as they are available. Last year online entry for the competition opened on 15 December 2009. This link also provides details of last year's competition.

If you want to enter the BP portrait Award in 2010 you can register on the BP Portrait Awards website and you'll get an email when the call for entries opens.
The Award is open to everyone aged 18 and over in recognition of the outstanding and innovative work currently being produced by artists of all ages working in portraiture.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the BP Portrait Award in recent years you might like to read past posts on this blog - about entry, exhibitions and trends - which you can find in BP Portrait Award - blog posts

If you do you might end up as an anecdote on this blog! The is a story from my blog post about the 2008 Awards Ceremony
One final anecdote.

I was introducing myself to Peiyuan Jiang and his partner and told him the name of this blog. At which point, he beamed at me and told me that he knew all about my blog and had read my previous blog posts about the BP Portrait Award after he failed to get his entry into the exhibition last year! At which point I beamed back at Peiyuan Jiang. :D

So there you go - read my blog posts on the BP Portrait Award (see
below) and you too may end up learning something useful to your advantage!
Craig Wylie wins BP Portrait Award 2008 (a tale from the Awards Night)
Portrait of the Nation

If you live in Scotland it's also well worthwhile keeping an eye on Heads Up (nice title!) the new Portrait of the Nation blog created by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to provide behind the scenes details of what's happening while the gallery is closed.

The gallery closed in April 2009 for a major refurbishment and is due to reopen in 2011.

You can also:
Making a Mark reviews......

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kate Clarke wins Best in Show in UKCPS Annual Exhibition

Derwent Award for Best in Show (£400)
UKCPS Annual Open International Exhibition 2009
Old -Timers, One, Two, Free! by Kate Clarke
3x(39x26) cm, coloured pencils (£845)
Kate Clarke has won the Derwent Best in Show Award at the 8th Annual Open International Exhibition 2009 of the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) which opened to the public at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham today.

Images and details of all those winning prizes can now be found in UKCPS Annual exhibition 2009 - Award Winners on the UKCPS News blog. Those works which were highly commended will be posted tomorrow.

Kate Clarke has produced very different sorts of portraits in consecutive years. Her winning work is a triptych and a portrait of a lady with Alzheimers Disease. The drawing of the lady's head includes phrases associated with her life running through her hair - and the triptych very effectively illustrates the progression of this condition. Well done Kate!

The exhibition includes two of my works which you can also see here - Signature membership

The exhibition continues until 3rd October.

Making a Mark reviews......

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

à bientôt!

France 2009: Route Map

I'm off to France in 10 days time.

Until then I'll be delivering artwork to an exhibition, sorting major blog posts for said exhibition for an art society, delivering cats to my mother, doing yet more letters for a planning application we've been fighting for months, meeting up with my sister and niece in London and generally getting on with preparations for being away in France - hence posting might be a tad haphazard prior to leaving!

Also while I'm away there might be the odd scheduled post - probably along the lines of announcements or posing questions. However publication of comments will be very haphazard and will depend on when and if I get near a computer to moderate them (and I can't lift the moderation - I know what happens when I do!)

This blog will start to get back to normal some time around the week commencing 12th October - however if you want to know where I am and what I'm up to try checking out Travels with my sketchbook in...... from time to time. I won't be posting sketches (far too complicated!) but I am going to try and schedule posts to publish while I'm away which say where I am and what I think I'm probably doing - eg sketching in the garden at Giverny!

This post - tells you more about the trip - plus poses a critical question Where to go on my French trip?

Travels with a Sketchbook in.......

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sheila Wallis wins £25,000 Threadneedle Prize

The public have voted in their thousands. The votes have been counted and tonight came the announcement that Sheila Wallis, age 36, has been awarded the 2009 Threadneedle Prize (£25,000) for her self-portrait.

Self portrait by Sheila Wallis
oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm
Sheila Wallis comes from Derry, N.Ireland where she lived until she was 16. Born at the height of the Troubles, her work is partly inspired by themes of internal and external conflicts and the vulnerability and exposure of the existential human condition. She has chosen to express these themes by painting the body. In her early life, this was a form which she was prohibited from exploring by the moral strictures of a Catholic upbringing, yet her builder father's abilities with his hands and his talent for creation is her earliest inspiration.
Sheila wants her paintings to:
convey the vulnerability of exposure without being exploitative or cruel… [the subject] is aware of the scrutiny, but is not subjugated, objectified, nor dismissive of it. Essentially alone, all objects and paraphernalia other than the body and the surface it rests upon are removed, presenting a small, naked creature, not the classic ‘nude’.
Sheila does not seem to have a website but you can see more of Sheila's work in this You Tube film. During 2009/10, she's also the artist in residence at the Watts Gallery, in Compton near Suidford in Surrey and you can see more of Sheila's work on the gallery website.

Sheila's prize was announced by Lauren Laverne (host of BBC 2’s The Culture Show), following the public vote which was held both online and at the Mall Galleries.

Last year I voted for the winner (in the gallery) and this year I voted for the winner too (but this time online) after seeing the works at the preview. This is what I wrote about this piece.
This is my favourite painting in the shortlist because, in my view, it's the best painting.

The pose means that this is not a comfortable painting to look at - I'm not a fan of 'in your face' nudes (or self-portraits which can only have been painted from a photograph).

However there's something about the overall design and composition, the value pattern and the sensitivity of the colours used in this painting which makes you want to walk over to it and look...and linger, at which point you also admire the brushwork too!

Unfortunately, if it was in a competition to win prizes for presentation it would get marked down as its frame is really not doing it any favours at all and it would have been better presented simply as a board.

So lots of caveats - but still one of the pieces I liked the best and a candidate for my vote.
I waited a week before I voted - and then thought about which piece was still in my head. It was Sheila Wallis's painting and that's why it got my vote!

The awards were made at a dinner at the Mall Galleries this evening. You can still see the exhibition at the Mall Galleries until Saturday 19th September. Plus you can read more about the Threadneedle Prize in the posts listed below.

Links: Threadneedle Prize 2009
Links: Threadneedle Prize 2008 - Links to posts on this blog about last year's exhibition
Exhibition/Gallery details:

Making a Mark reviews......

Exhibition Review - Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition

Front and back covers of the catalogue for exhibition of works in
the RWS / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

The work which won the £12,000 First Prize in the RWS Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is Monte Carlo (see right) by Jonathan Pike (Jonathan Pike Paintings) . You can also see it on his blog here. If you click the images you can get a much better sense of the quality of work which won first prize.

Monte Carlo by Jonathan Pike
painting copyright the artist/
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Jonathan Pike is a well regarded painters of architectural subjects. Born in 1949, he studied at the Central School of Art and Design and at Falmouth School of Art where he was taught by Francis Hewlett and Robert Organ. He now lives and works in South London and his interest in architectural subjects and the urban landscape began when he first moved to Deptford, London in 1972.

In recent years, apart from his regular visits to Italy, he has travelled to paint in Sri Lanka, USA, Portugal, Spain, France, Holland and Belgium and several times to Cuba which has been the source of much of his recent works.

The Shopkeeper is another of his works which is also in the exhibition (and on his blog - click the link).

Other prizewinners

The other prizewinners are:
  • 2nd Prize £7,000 - Camper van and car, Falmouth bay (the middle picture on the right) by Danny Marky RWA (b.1965). This is very simple and has obviously been painted plein air. It made me think it might be a bit of a pun on "white van man" whose normal haunt is east of Falmouth.
For me painting and the choice of subject is impulsive. However I do avoid the picturesque and look at the unregarded yet common aspects of the world around me. In the end what matters is what you make of it in paint but I seem to need to find a place, a landscape to get me going and the little epiphenies that trigger ideas for my paintings can occur in the most ordinary settings.
  • Young Artist £1,500 - Starting to miss Blighty by Edward Morgan. I can't find any information about Mr Morgan on the internet.
I absord the world around me. I draw patterns, buildings, animals and miniscule heaving crowds. Starting to miss Blighty originates in visual chaos.
  • A new prize - Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize £1,500 - generated a lot of interest. As a result, there are a lot cityscapes on display. The winner was Janet Kenyon's Northern Lights - a painting of Blackpool illuminations in the rain. How true! Any small child taken to see the illuminations will tell you that Blackpool illuminations are always seen at night and in the rain!
It’s a watercolour that actually looks like one. The light on the rainy tramway and the glare in the sky are especially well done.
Frank Whitford - Sunday Times
  • Penguin Classics Prize for Cover Art £500 was won by Park by Jonathan Huxley. I'm afraid I give up on websites which don't work too well.
Works which were Highly Commended are:
  • Bella Easton's Dream on dream home - and you can see a very similar painting on the online website for the Threadneedle Exhibition - where she is also exhibiting what appears to be an almost identical painting - but this time in oil.
  • Malcolm Hopper works a relief sub-postmaster in the north of England and paints part-time. Urban landscapes absorb him and this is reflected in Urbania

Other work I liked
  • As always I adore the work of Paul Banning RI, RSMA. The Bonfire, Queen's View, Ewshot showed a masterly employment of glazes in muted colours. I do recommend a visit to his website for all those who love watercolour which emplys glazes.
  • I loved David Forster's You will fish long enough before you catch anything (Peebles) which looks like a very conventional watercolour from a distance and as you close in on the mark-making reveals a very painterly touch to the brushwork. You can see more of his work on his website - however the size of images available do not highlight the quality of his work well enough. He won 2nd prize in the 2005 Singer and Friedlander / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2005.
  • Peter Kelly NEAC RBA has two works in the exhibition - I really liked University Square, Istanbul which demonstrates a great appreciation of evening light and the ability to paint it. You can see more of his work here.
  • Sue Read's very plain and simple Knitting pattern bowl was a winner for me - it gave an apparent sense of 'less is more' and yet looking at it one knows there's a bit more to it than that! You can see more of her work here
  • Robert Bates Kites over Clun Allotments was delightful.
  • Warren Baldwin's lady who won him the Jerwood Drawing Prize, got his work into the Lynn Painter Stainers last year and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy this year (I think - need to check that one!) this time turns up in watercolour form as Study for a Portrait (in the middle of the group of paintings below). I'm at a loss to know why he isn't already a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - I can only assume a bias towards oil!
Portraits in the RWS / Sunday times Watercolour Exhibition

The Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition

Overall I thought there was a very high standard of work in the exhibition and I enjoyed the work selected by the panel as much for its variety as its quality. There was a nice balance between the very contemporary and the more traditional approches to watercolour.

It seems to me as if the RWS/Sunday Times competition hasn't embraced acrylic in quite the same way as the RWS. There are many more conventional watercolours - in terms of media rather than style - than I am now used to seeing in an RWS show. This sort of show is much more the sort I prefer - simply because I enjoy lookingf at paintings produced by people who know what they're doing when using a very challenging medium.

The Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition continues at the Bankside Gallery until Sunday 20th September 2009.

What could be improved for next year

Regrettably, none of the works can be viewed online. The catalogue - which cost me £4 - neither provides basic information about size, media or support nor supplies an image of each work in the exhibition. It achieves a rating from me of "needs to try a LOT harder".

I do wish exhibition organisers would get to grips with the digital paperless world that we now live in! This is a major prize of interest to watercolour artists all over the country - however only some will be able to travel to London to see it. Over at the Mall galleries is the Theadneedle Prize exhibition - which managed to get all its entries published in an online exhibition BEFORE the gallery exhibition even opened. Maybe the sponsors and the organisers would like to consider how many more visitors they might get, how many works they might sell and how many more entrants they might get next year if they commissioned a microsite of images of the works in the exhibition each year.

I'm very sure all the artists would appreciate it since this benefits all the artists whose work is in the show - not just the prizewinners!

The works which won prizes are hung together - and this photo shows the sort of size of the winning works - except for the one which came second which is obscured by the person's head. Safe to say it was small. I'd be guessing but I'd say 10" x 8" max.

Exhibition visitor looking at the wall of prizewinning paintings
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Making a Mark reviews......

Sunday, September 13, 2009

13th September 2009 - Who's made a mark this week?

I went to see the exhibition for the RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour competition yesterday which is on at the Bankside Gallery until 20th September. If you went today you will have been enjoying the Thames Festival as well (see what it looked like outside the Tate Modern yesterday below)!

I'll be writing a review of the exhibition tomorrow.

The Thames Festival outside the Tate Modern 12th July 2009

Most of this last week has seen me buried deep in the internet booking accommodation and travel arrangements for a visit to France which starts towards the end of this month. You can expect to see a few posts about this prior to that on both this blog and Travels with a Sketchbook - as I gather information together - plus some intermittent posting (or maybe some scheduled posting) due to
  • next week: a trip to take my cats to stay with my mother
  • the week after: when my sister and niece arrive in London prior to
  • the week after that: when we go to France!
One of the bonuses of our trip is staying in a cottage near Tours which enables me visit with fellow Watermarks member, Ronell (of African Tapestry and My French Kitchen. Ronell has a wonderful post about Montlouis where she lives right next to the River Loire. I'm going to be sketching the Loire in October! :) Or sketching Ronell cooking or maybe both!

Drawing and sketching

Hydra morning by Julie Oakley
  • I highly recommend you go take a look at Julie Oakley's blog Julie's Pictures. She's been sketching recently at both the Edinburgh Festival and in Greece and it's good to see so much evidence in lots of posts about 'what she did on her holidays'. So often I hear about trips but never see any sketches which makes it really great to see so many great sketches by Julie.
  • This one came through as I was writing this post. Paul (Learning to See) has started Sargent Portrait Copy, Part 1 - with lots of explanation about process. His 100 Still Life Drawing Series - all drawn without the use of line is very interesting
  • Cathy Gatland's Sad Tale of a Dikkop includes a wonderful drawing of a bird on A Sketch in Time
Coloured Pencils and Pastels
Digital Art
Painters and Painting
When I was in Art School one of my professors told me that I'd be an artist when I'd completed 100 paintings. There's a lot to that.
  • I spotted a lady called Cherie Smith sat on the grass outside the Tate Modern yesterday creating a 'plate' for printmaking using an etching needle on a sheet of orange plastic. She was drawing a musician participating in the Thames Festival from life with ehr etching needle. It's a first for me.

Art Business and Marketing

Art Competitions and Art Societies

  • The CPSA Explore This! prospectus is now online - I'll be doing a post about this later next week.

Art Exhibitions and art fairs - and culture!

First some comments on exhbitions in general. Great minds.....? Or maybe they just read one another?
  • The Drawing Campaign celebrates its first decade of the Big Draw with Now We Are Ten, an exhibition and a unique auction at Idea Generation Gallery, 11 Chance Street, London E2 7JB, from 8 - 20 September. Amazing drawings made in the Campaign’s name, and new work by many leading artists, illustrators and cartoonists, go under the hammer on 17 September to support the Campaign. Yesterday, the famous annual Battle of the Cartoonists kick started the 10th anniversary of The Big Draw. Cartoonists from Private Eye, The Sun, Professional Cartoonists Organisation and The Independent took part. Most of the events will be taking place between 1st and 31st October.
  • The Culture Department has announced the longlist to be the UK's first City of Culture - more about this later this week.
  • Culture24 is a useful website for art exhibitions in the UK
  • Spain - Goya to Picasso continues at Royal Scottish Academy Building until 11th October
  • you can visit Swindon Open Studios 2009.

Art Education / Workshops / Tips and techniques

This landmark event is an opportunity for cultural educators (education teams in museums, galleries and heritage sites), teachers (in formal education and lifelong learning) and artists to come together and explore drawing as a tool for learning, engagement and enjoyment. It reflects increasing interest in the learning potential of the Campaign’s flagship programmes, The Big Draw and Power Drawing Professional Development, from colleagues inside and outside the UK.
  • The Power Drawing professional development programme includes:
Acrylic Practice, 24 x 24"
copyright Jana Bouc
Next weekend The Guardian and The Observer are producing two guides to Drawing and Paintings - more details here. Now that's what I call a neat idea to get you to buy the paper editions of a newspaper! :)

Artists and Art History


Opinion Poll

Lots of people are responding to this months's poll and it's producing some very interesting results! If you've not yet voted you'll find it in the right hand column. This poll will run until the end of September but the analysis will only emerge in mid October.

Tips and Websites, webware and blogging

At the start, critics often said, "Twitter is fun, but it's not useful." At one point @ev responded dryly with, "Neither is ice cream." Things have come a long way in a short time.

and finally......

Don't forget to enter my A "Little Break to Brussels" competition. I haven't had any comments from people intending to enter although I have heard from people who would very much liked to have been able to enter!

If you're planning on entering it would be good to hear from you. At the moment anybody who enters has a really good chance of winning those two free tickets to visit Brussels!

Making a Mark reviews......

Saturday, September 12, 2009

RWS/Sunday Times Exhibition - two workshops

The Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition opened at the Bankside Gallery this week and I'm trying to get to see it today - review next week!

Courses, talks, demonstrations and painting holidays

In the meantime, it's worth noting that the RWS has a full programme of courses, talks and demonstrations over the course of the year and these are usually linked to their exhibitions at the Bankside Gallery.

The link also provides details of painting holidays led by artists who are members of the Royal Watercolour Society.

Two workshops in September

Here's a quick alert to what look like two very interesting watercolour workshops taking place during the exhibition.

It's so nice to see workshops which step outside the conventional 'how to paint watercolour' format!

Workshop: Why do we paint?
A One-day course of discussion and debate by Geoffrey Pimlott RWS
The day will consist of looking at how past masters of watercolour painting experimented with and explored this versatile medium, critical debate of the work in the RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition exhibition in this same context, and analysis and criticism of the work you bring along to the day work with the expressed intention of inspiring and encouraging you to paint in watercolour in an even more exciting and exploratory way!

Please bring along four recent works for criticism plus sketch books and a pen or pencil.
Tutor: Geoffrey Pimlott RWS
Date: Sunday 13th September 11:30am - 5:30pm
Venue: Bankside Gallery, 48 Hoptom Street, London SE1 9JH
Maximum Class Size: 15
Price: £25 per person
Booking Contact: 020 79287521 or email

Workshop: As I See Myself
A one-day masterclass led by Cameron Galt ARWS

You are invited to join this workshop aimed at artists of all abilities. The workshop will offer a range of approaches as a 'way in' to the strong artistic convention of self portraiture, through the mediums of drawing watercolour and mixed media. Together we will explore techniques from traditional drawing & watercolour to collage – you are invited to bring printed or photographic material of yourself for such purposes.

Inspiration can be drawn from and linked to Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times exhibits and from the collection in the National Gallery. You may also bring your own works for criticism.

Please bring a sketch book and a pencil, plus your watercolours if you have them. Charcoal, mirrors and limited watercolours will be available for use on the day.

Date: Sunday 20th September 11:30am - 5:30pm
Venue: Bankside Gallery, 48 Hoptom Street, London SE1 9JH
Maximum Class Size: 15
Price: £25 per person
Booking Contact: 020 79287521 or email

Booking is essential for all courses.

Making a Mark reviews......

Friday, September 11, 2009

The end of the art holiday exhibition

The Vollisos Exhibition - 12th May 1995

I've hung exhibitions all over the world......just not in galleries!

My speciality is being able to hang exhibitions of 30-40 pieces from scratch in under two hours on bare walls in studios, hotels, restaurants and meeting rooms!

I've always had an itch to create exhibitions - I find it a challenge to my visual aesthetics a bit akin to creating an artwork. Watercolour artist Paul Riley (UK readers of The Artist will be familar with his articles) usually closed his overseas courses with an exhibition, so when I was on one of them I invariably offered to hang the exhibition.

Yesterday, I came across this photograph of me hanging an exhibition of paintings in the local village bar in Vollisos, a village on the greek island of Chios. I was getting LOTS of help from some very acute art critics - mostly aged under 10. There are also a couple of works up on the wall in the photo which now appear in watercolour painting instruction books such as Paul Riley's Watercolour Workshop!

The end of course review - the art holiday exhibition

Most art holidays have a review of people's work at the end. One way of doing this is to sit in a room with people displaying examples of their work one by one. It can be very interesting but I've also known it to be very tedious depending on the tutor.

Personally, I've always found that a review has much more impact when an exhibition is created of people's work. Plus it can also make for a much more interesting and valuable crit session.

People who have made good progress on a course can occasionally be a little reluctant to having their work hung if they're new to having their work reviewed in this way, Mostly they say that they really don't think it's good enough. However, one of the reasons I'm personally a huge advocate of such exhibitions is that I've seen how it's possible to improve people's perception of their own work. Rather than hanging each individual's work together, I typically used to hang artwork in groups which focused on a similar subject and, failing that, in colour themes - because that's the way work looked best to me. Invariably everybody's work always looked good - even if I say so myself! Thankfully, that was also the comment which others made too. It was also very interesting to hear what people who had not been involved in the sourse had to say - which was usually very positive.

To my mind it's very much like the way an artist with a solo exhibition can have a major visual impact when showing a series of works with the same theme.

I used to observe that fellow students who had been nervous about showing their work became much more confident about their abilities after seeing how their work looked on a wall and hearing what others had to say about it. Some even told me that they were now motivated to start entering exhibitions!

Over to you:
  • What sort of reviews have you experienced?
  • What do you think works well?

PS Don't forget to enter the "Little Break to Brussels" competition!

Making a Mark reviews......

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A "Little Break to Brussels" competition

Eurostar/Little Break/We Are Social have very kindly provided me with two FREE tickets to give away to my readers so you can experience your own little break in Brussels like the one I went on last month

This is part of my ticket for my recent Little Art Break in Brussels and visit to the Magritte exhibition at the Magritte Museum)

What's on offer
  • An opportunity to see a capital city with some really fabulous architecture, excellent art museums and amazing street graffiti (see the Brussels Comic Strip). You can find out more about Brussels at their Tourism website for international tourists. Here's what's on in:
  • Two Leisure Select tickets on Eurostar - from the UK to Brussels - which are the ones we used for our trip. That means you get nice comfy seats, breakfast on the way out and dinner and champagne on the way home! I can highly recommend them!
  • a couple of travel guides courtesy of the office of Brussels Tourism (they're very good).
You get to decide:
  • when to go - any time between now and the end of October
  • how long to stay - so long as the trip is completed before the end of October.
  • which Eurostar station you want to go from and return to: London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford (assuming the train you want to travel on stops at either Ebbsfleet or Ashford.)
This is the Little Break Big Difference website for Brussels. You can check out dates and times of tickets in the ticketing menu bottom right of the website.

You must be 18 or over to enter the competition, live in the UK and all expenses associated with the trip other than the tickets - including making your own way to and from one of the Eurostar stations - are your responsibility.

What YOU need to do to win

If you're really keen to have a Little Break in Brussels, you need to:
  • identify what a difference a little break in Brussels will make to you. Create a post on your own and be as creative as you like in whatever media you choose. You can draw, sketch, take photographs, make a video or just write about what it would mean to you. You can even be surreal or show me a piece of existing street art!
  • leave your name, the name of your blog and the name and the URL of your blog post as a comment on this post.
  • make sure that your blog signposts an easy way that the 'we are social' people can get in contact with you
  • enter before midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 15th September - that gives you at least five days to come up with something. (I'll be giving you a reminder on Sunday!) and you can also enter as many times as you like!
  • make sure you are over 18 and live in the UK!
and the winner is....

I'll be picking a winner from a shortlist of the five most amazing/funniest/brilliant responses chosen by Sarah and the team at We Are Social. I'll be aiming to do that just as soon as I can after the closing date.

I'll also include links to all five shortlisted posts in the post which announces the winner so you can see what the competition was like.

If you're still not decided try checking out videos and photosets taken by some of the people I travelled to Brussels with on 15th August.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Scottish portrait artists

I made a note of the Artists mentioned in the Peter Capaldi programme about Scottish portrait artists - A Portrait of Scotland (which is being repeated EARLY on Friday - see details see below) and also made notes about some of the things which were said in the programme.
A Portrait of Scotland BBC4 Friday 11 September 12:40am - 2:10am (VIDEO Plus+: 36516966)
Repeat, Subtitled, Widescreen, Deaf-signed

Actor Peter Capaldi explores the story of Scotland's art, examining the paintings and artists that have made Scottish art special. Capaldi sketches some of the most important Scottish portraits, and by focusing on the tradition of portraiture that goes back 500 years, he shows how Scotland's art has reflected the changing face of the nation.

A Hinds Daughter by Sir James Guthrie
Oil on canvas; 91.50 x 76.20 cm
National Galleries of Scotland

Capaldi introduced the programme by indicating that the importance of portraiture in Scottish art stems from the fact that on the 11th May 1559, John Knox, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, outlawed the making of all religious images - and the market for religious paintings immediately died.

Portraiture, he suggested became the perfect art form for a new way of thinking - which emphasised the importance of the individual.

A lot of the works he introduced to those of us watching the programme now live in the Scottish national portrait Gallery which as the very first purpose built portrait gallery in the world.
Allan Ramsay - self portrait
  • Sir Henry Raeburn(Scottish, 1756 - 1823) - works in the National Galleries of Scotland. Raeburn is perhaps best known as the man who painted The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (sometimes known as The Skating Minister); ; Gracefield Permanent Collection
The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch
by Sir Henry Raeburn
The Glasgow Boys introduced forms of Impressionism to Scotland in the 1880s and 1890s, developing their own individual interpretations of it, often highly coloured. As well as painting in Glasgow and its environs they sought scenes of rural life and character in other parts of Scotland. Principal members of the group included Joseph Crawhall, Sir James Guthrie, George Henry, EA Hornel, Sir John Lavery and EA Walton.
Tate Glossary - The Glasgow School
My one comment about the list is that it does provide a great overview of Scottish portrait painters - but not Scottish art.

I know I didn't manage to write down every name - however it did become very clear while watching that it's also a VERY masculine list and frankly Scotland also produces an awful lot of very good women painters - such as Anne Redpath 1895 -1965, Elizabeth Blackadder, Barbara Rae, Alison Watt (interviewed in the programme). The latter features in the programe commenting on the brushwork and style of Raeburn.

Making a Mark reviews......