Thursday, December 31, 2009

Making A Mark in 2009 - the results

This is the final post in my end of year annual review of artistic endeavours in 2008. So far we've had:
This post relates to my own personal review. Once again I'm going to review what I've done in relation to my own personal plan for 2009 - which, I hasten to add at this juncture, I've managed to singularly ignore this year.

Constructing this review is always a slog - and to be honest I only really write it for me - mainly to remind myself how much I did actually manage to get done! The review process itself also throws new light onto what I've enjoyed this year and what I need to be doing next year

However before we go any further, I did have one major achievement in 2009. On 1st January this year I gave up all the naughty calories (eg alcohol, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, cheese and anything else which was packed full of calories for relatively little nutritional value) PLUS vowed to do a lot more walking. As a result, in fits and starts (largely related to things like flu and how active I've been) I'm nudging a weight loss over the course of the year of very nearly 3 stones. Now that's not as good as Stephen Fry who managed to lose 6 stone(!) through diet changes, visits to the gym and walking to audio books - but then I didn't go to a gym or listen to audio books!

This is an art related achievement because I've have been ably supported in my quest by my cyber chums at Sketchercise which I founded this summer (see Sketchercise! for more about it; membership is now by invite only). I'm certainly not the only one who has been getting fit and losing weight! So anybody who is feeling the impact of the celebrations - can I recommend a brisk walk with a sketchbook!

I've also found myself taking a lot more photographs as I walked and a few of them even look like they ought to be in an exhibition! In fact, apart from the exhibitions, you can see where I've been this year by consulting my Flickr sets as I tend to make one for each trip or place I visit. I've started eyeing up expensive cameras but so far have contented myself with investing in a digi camcorder so you now get to see videos of art-related places on YouTube as well!
After a fairly intense period of reading, looking and learning I'm aiming to produce more art in 2009.
Making A Mark in 2009 - The Plan
Famous last words! Having said that my production rate in terms of finished drawings has been well down on previous years. Partly because I'm much clearer now that who I am and what I do is not just about producing art - (you can find out more here). This year seems to have seen a distinct shift from producing art to writing about art. I'm not unhappy about that but I would still like to be making more art.

The Grand Plan for 2009 - it was a good idea!

The 2009 Plan was guided by
  • principles - the way I want to be
  • goals - what I want to achieve
  • themes - how I will group activities
  • activities - what I'll be doing
Goals are good for moving forward - but too many goals can leave you spinning!

Principles are great for keeping yourself on track as the world about you changes - if you can work out what works for you.

Being specific about outputs and deadlines keeps people focused on what needs to be done and achieved - but only if your goals and principles are relevant to in an ever-changing world.
I still agree with most of what I wrote in Making A Mark in 2009 - The Plan. However as events turned out there was too much activity for the time available

How did I do?


These are all applicable to enjoying art and making art. You can see the explanation of what they are all mean in Making A Mark in 2009 - The Plan
  1. Life is too short - In principle I should have been focusing all my available time on doing what I enjoyed and walked away from the rest. In practice I spent a lot of energy this year on developing a residents association and fighting planning policy and a planning application which will affect my home. This wasn't planned - but then life events do tend to come along when we least expect them! I could have walked away however it was important, it was very productive for the most part and I'm glad I did it. The downside was that the learning and effort involved didn't seem to leave a lot of 'oopmh' for art. I now feel like I need a much better balance between the different aims and activities which compete for my time.
  2. The journey is the reward. As I get more and more into art I seem to spend less time making it and more time studying it. Is this a good or a bad thing? I'm not too sure. I guess it rather depends on whether the study is procrastination or the learning and the process of finding out more and more about artists and art movements from the past is a reward of itself. I lean very much towards the latter at the moment - the more I learn the more I realise I don't know! I really don't aspire in any way to be the best artist there ever was but I do want to improve in terms of how I currently create art. I'm still happy to pursue a notion that I'll become a better artist the more I absorb about art in general. I do need to apply myself more to the application though.
  3. The original and the best. The challenge of being me is still one I'm engaged with but I'm not sure I'm making much progress. I'm still trying to get my own interpretation of a painterly style in dry media and my idea of what this should like down on paper - and I'm not too satisfied with the results so far. More effort would probably be a good idea (see 1 above) I would like to emphasise that there's been quite a bit of art which you've NOT seen. I do find looking at the work of other artists does help me to realise better what might be - hence why I make time to go and see exhibitions.
  4. Variety is the spice of life! I've never been able to settle on doing just one thing - I get bored far too easily - and 2009 was no different. This year I got a rest from British art when I went to France and was able to spend two days in The Louvre Museum, The Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie (and made a video of the latter)
  5. There are no shortcuts! In January 2009 I wrote outstanding performance - a talent or 10000 hours of practice? which seemed to strike a chord with quite a few people.
  6. 'Good enough' is good enough. When I didn't even feel like I could achieve 'good enough' I didn't make art in terms of formal drawings. Sketching however continued to be something I did all year - maybe because sketches take so much less time and are easier to fit in?
  7. What goes around comes around and You get out what you put in. You get back what you give out. You get what you deserve. We create our own realities. This year I spent a lot more time on non-art activities and making art suffered as a result.

Did I achieve my goals for 2009?

Here's how I think I've done in relation to different themes and activities - grouped against whichever goal seemed most appropriate. In amongst all this are numerous activities which I hadn't planned - but that's OK!
LEARNING: To look at and learn more about art which I find stimulating. I'm not trying to understand all art. I don't mind if the stimulation is to the eye, brain or heart. I just want to know more about the art which arouses a response in me.
Learning more about art and artists - past and present - and in particular female artists: I've made progress but not done as much as I'd hoped. I've bought a lot of new art history books and visited a lot of exhibitions and art galleries and museums. I do enjoy this aspect of art and I think I might have much more of a 'bent' towards art history than I thought. Two of the female botanical artists I learned more about are:

Having to select artists to feature and write about in my exhibition reviews is also wonderful for making me focus when I visit and exhibition. I've developed a whole new routine for viewing an exhibition as a result! It's a little bit like the way art often gets judged by panels of artists when entered for an exhibition.

The series of interviews with female contemporary artists collapsed somewhat after interviews with coloured pencil artists Alyona Nickelsen and Ann Kullberg plus Society of Botanical Artists President Margaret Stevens in the first part of the year. Which is a pity as I have a number of artists who have agreed to do an interview. However I did also get an interview with Lynn Painter-Stainers Prizewinner Toby Wiggins. (I've just noticed that I can date all the interviews to 'before' and 'after' the planning application!)

Mixed Media: I've started to make tentative steps in this direction but not done as much I had thought I might. I've at least clarified that underpainting does have a role to play in my art

Printmaking - I'm now the proud owner of a set of lino cutting tools but apart from a trial go have not yet had the time to pursue this. I need to find a better way of keeping the lino warm while I cut to avoid my tenosynovitis from flaring. However I have been taking a much greater interest in printing this year - and what the rest of you have been getting up to.

DOING: To make art worth making. I'm more interested in doing better than doing more of the same. I'd like to be able to get what's in my head down on paper! I'd like to get past the feeling that I can't start because it won't be good enough - I know I have to start somewhere!
I've been trying to focus more on developing some themes for my artwork. Something that makes it easier to describe what I do within the context of being a person who likes variety.

Series: The Ecology Park Pond series started well ( I even trecked out to see it on the day of the 'big Snow') and then it wilted under the onslaught of the planning application. Plus it was very odd but I found I liked the pond a lot less in summer. I think that had an impact on visits. I've decided that I like it best when there's no-one there. However I have learned the value of visiting one place a lot - plus I've added two more lakes to my 'keep an eye on and sketch' list and I've now got a massive portfolio of photographs of the pond taken in every month of the the year which should provide a huge amount of material for deciding what to focus on next year. I'm pleased with some of them - this is Textures - a portfolio of photographs of natural textures from an area of East London just over 2 miles east of St Paul's Cathedral

The Face and the Figure
: I've still not submitted my drawings to any portrait competitions/exhibitions. However I am very much clearer that I ought to be doing more finished drawings worked up from my sketches of people in cafes and restaurants.

Flowers and Plants: I haven't as yet settled on a common format for drawings. However working out what to produce for the San Diego exhibition next year was very instructive as was the exercise with photographing textures.

Examples of my drawings of cacti and succulents
coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Places: I continued to draw a lot of water - and started drawing birds as well! In fact I've now drawn birds all over London! That wasn't planned! I've also enjoyed going out with the two drawing groups I belong to and have visited a lot of places in London which I might not have got to otherwise. Most of the work done in terms of drawing places can be seen in my sketchbooks of London, France and Interiors. Finally I sketched my way round Paris, Normandy and the Loire in September and October.

Drawing Technique: It's making progress - very slowly! I now know a lot of ways I shouldn't work!
SHARING: To celebrate what's good in art and to share it with others - whether it's art, artists, art techniques or art supplies. This is a major theme of my life. It's who I am and what I like to do. Sharing has many facets
Overall this has had a much bigger emphasis than I was intending. I'm wondering whether this was because it was the aspect which was easiest to pick up and put down. Work which contributed to sharing activities tends to come in small defined bit-sized chunks and hence is a lot easier to get on with. It also meant that I had a constant sense of achieving some output! Which is not say it wasn't a struggle at time when too many things were competing for my time.

Who's made a mark this week?

I've now done 121 "who's made a mark this week?" posts and some people tell me they've given up reading the Sunday papers and prefer to read my blog post instead. I don't think I missed very many weeks this year but I'm not actually sure how many I did - probably mid 40s. I continue to enjoy highlighting artwork which has impressed me - particularly when it has been done by fellow art bloggers - and

This year I introduced the notion that my weekly post will highlight exhibitions by art bloggers. That wasn't an invite to art galleries to send me their exhibition notices even if some seem to have read it as this. I only accept exhibition notices from the art blogger in person - NOT the gallery.

Exhibition reviews on Making a Mark

I very much enjoy doing my exhibition reviews - although this year other commitments have competed with when exhibitions have been showing and I missed some of the ones I would have liked to have seen.

My exhibition reviews this year covered the following (all listed here in case any of you missed any - I know how much people enjoy seeing my review photos of the artwork!):
I'd very much like to thank all those who I communicate with during the course of the year concerning the exhibitions at the Mall Galleries, Bankside Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery Their co-operation and help makes reviewing exhibitions a much more productive exercise. Thanks to Lewis and Neil in particular.

Making A Mark Reviews
In 2009 I created a brand new blog! I started Making A Mark Reviews...... so that I had a blog which was about being a consumer's guide to quality and value in art books, art supplies and services to artists. I've always enjoyed doing reviews and providing feedback and it seemed a good idea to develop this activity a little further. It now includes: book reviews; reviews of art bookshops; reviews of art shops; product reviews; webware reviews and widget reviews

It's now got over a 100 subscribers and has achieved 10,000 unique visitors since it was created in April. I'm pleased with how it's going and I'll be continuing to develop this in 2010. One of the ways I want to this is for it to act in more of a curatorial role by highlighting good reviews of art products, books or services on other blogs. Sio if you'd like to spread the word.........
Do let me know if you've reviewed:
- an art instruction book
- a book about an artist or period in art history
- an art product you use (art media or support or tool)
If suitable, I'll summarise you review on this blog and link back to your review.
Making A Mark Reviews......
Making A Mark - Resources for Artists
I produced numerous new information sites. I confess I find researching and producing these sites to be very relaxing! You'll find some of the new ones in 2009 referenced throughout this post - here are some of them

Making A Mark Guides
I created only two Making A Mark Guides this year - mainly because something has gone wrong with pdf converter!
The Making A Mark Monthly Polls
I've enjoyed doing these polls and judging by some of the responses disciussing the options a number of you have also enjoyed them too. Given the difficult context of the year some of the polls lent themselves to the notion of the wisdom of crowds - we could see what other people were thinking and doing without anybody having to identify themselves. For example:
You can see all the polls, a summary of the results and links to the blog posts in The Making A Mark Poll - Resources for Artist.

Writing and workshops
A total non-starter in 2009. It's still a theme I want to pursue but I think I need to map out some dedicated time for this otherwise it won't happen.
SHOWING: To show artwork because it merits display rather than because it's the thing to do. I much prefer seeing exhibitions to submitting work to them!
Exhibitions have really not been a priority in 2009 - mainly because of the pressures of other commitments. However I do continue to exhibit work in a low key way.

(Peony) Potential and Prelude
8" x 10" and 12" x 8", both coloured pencils on Arches
Juried into the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
In 2009 I had work exhibited in:
  • Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2009 at Central Hall, Westminster - I was VERY pleased to get into this one
  • Society of Feline Artists Annual Exhibition 2009 at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, Waterloo - my work was on the front cover
  • Society of Coloured Pencil Artists Annual Exhibition 2009, RSBA Gallery, Birmingham - and achieved my signature status with UKCPS with my work being included in this exhibition.
The 'showing' goal also generates 'sharing' activities and this year I produced and updated a number of information sites and posts related to exhibitions. These included:
I did succeed at the beginning of the year in producing a schedule of dates and deadlines for various exhibitions and competitions so I wouldn't miss deadlines. Except it meant this year it tended to mean that I now knew when I didn't have the time to meet a deadline! I'll be doing the same this year in the next week or so.
SELLING: To gear selling activity to income targets and the realities of the marketplace. Right now this means that this is a low priority. Picking up on the principle of variety being the spice of life but too many genres makes an artistic identity confusing - I need to try and identify (say) three main genres to pursue.
This totally fell off the 'to do' list in terms of priorities. Although the quantity of work I now have to store does make me think I should get on with sorting out my etsy shop.

Resources for Artists - Selling Art Online

I've got a very big streak of "analyst" running through my heart. Within the context of a very difficult economy, I did a series of blog posts at the beginning of the year about selling art online. I was particularly interested in checking out whether the claims of different websites stood up to scrutiny. The simple answers is that some sites have great hype but not great traffic! In the process of checking out which sites seemed to work best I discovered that I could create charts which would automatically update to provide the latest data on traffic to a site - which in turn would help any artist visiting one of my informantion sites to check out how well an online gallery or auction house was doing.

Information sites I created this year included:

You can find these and others in Resources for Artists - Selling Art Online Headquarters

......and finally
I'd like to achieve 500,000 visitors by the end of June 2008.
Well somehow or other I actually managed to achieve this by the middle of June

By the end of the year Making A Mark has received more than 600,000 unique visitors and had 2,100 subscribers - so I guess I must be doing something right!

Many thanks to all of you who have contributed suggestions and comments during the course of the year - they are always very much appreciated.

[PS This has been such a long slog, I'm taking a break now and coming back later to add in some images from the year!]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Making A Mark Awards 2009 (Part 2)

iFollowing on from The Making A Mark Awards 2009 (Part 1), welcome to Day 2 and Part 2 of the Making A Mark Awards for blogging art on the Internet.

Yesterday in Part 1 I covered:
  • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
  • The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy
  • The Going Greener Gong
  • The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
  • The Make Me Think Gong
  • The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon
Today in Part 2, it's my pleasure to award the following:
  • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
  • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
  • “The Moose” - the award for the best animal in an illustrated blog
  • The “Tales from the Frontline” Amusing Musings Trophy
  • The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year
  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Portrait/Figures) on an Art Blog
  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Place) on an Art Blog
  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog
  • ...and finally - Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog.
This page on my website also references every award, everybody who has been nominated, all the nomination posts and all past winners.


The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
Art can be quite a lonely activity and it's noticeable that people often like to have some sort of involvement in groups and projects related to art! This award is For EITHER a major and reputable new project which adds value and involves a large number of bloggers OR or a project which has grown over the course of the year in question or otherwise had some significant impact during the course of the year
The nominations were:
Both are worthy candidates and both received multiple nominations. I added another couple to the mix
  • Sketching in Nature (yesterday's winner of The Going Greener Gong)
  • First Annual Autumn Arts Painting Challenge 2009 - which also has a group on Facebook with 1,400 members. I was on holiday when it started and came to this project very late in the day and consequently don't really feel in a position to judge it for this year. However if it continues next year it looks like it must be a very serious contender. It would also be great to see more priojects like this. It would also be nice to see this have a more extensive blog.
Sandy Askey-Adams, Jean Levert Hood, and Nancy Medina launched the first Art Challenge on October 1, 2009. The group attracted over over 1000 members who have submitted over 900 pieces of original artwork during the 30-day contest period.
The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is this year awarded to Gabi Campanario and Urban Sketchers

On the whole, of the four sites, Urban Sketchers is by far the most mature candidate. The blog was set up by Gani Campanario in November 2008 and since then it has developed and become a landmark art blog during the last 12 months.
The gist of the network is to show the world one drawing at a time. This is the manifesto urban sketchers follow:
  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Here are some of the features of Urban Sketchers in late 2009:
  • it has 3,896 readers
  • hundreds of contributors from six continents
  • thousands visit daily for inspiration or to travel vicariously
  • it has been featured in magazines (MyMidwest, Anima(ls) and The Artist's Magazine) and newspapers (Público in Portugal, La Repubblica in Italy and The Bangkok Post in Thailand) across the world
  • it has an active Flickr group
  • 1,543 followers on Twitter
  • and 2,954 fans on its Facebook fan page
The Urban Sketchers nonprofit organization has recently been set up and aims to serve this global community better by organizing educational workshops and raising funds for grants, scholarships and publications to foster the art of on-location drawing.

The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
The Painting a Day Stickability Shield is awarded to daily painters who maintain a consistently high output of onsistently good quality paintings over the course of the year and set a good example to others
The nominations were:
  • Painting a Dog a Day - nominated by Kimberley Santini produced about 250 posts each year and averages around 20 posts each month on her blog which is dedicated to painting dogs. She's painted some 800 "furry faces" since 2006. That's pretty consistent and is obviously paying off in terms of the forward booking on commissions.
  • Cotswold Sketchbook - self-nominated by Nigel Fletcher. This nomination is ineligible and I'd like to explain why. Nigel's website does not have a blog format, nor does it operate like a blog (eg it's impossible to access past posts). This award is limited to art bloggers and art blogs and hence the nomination is ineligible.
  • Loriann Signori's painting-a-day - nominated by Doug Daniels. Loriann posts virtually every day. What's more she shares her tips and her mistakes with her readers.
  • Karin Jurick's A Painting Today - nominated by Lisa Daria. This is indeed an excellent painting blog, however Karin's success with this blog has directly led to her commitments to painting for her gallery exhibitions - which means we've not seen as much art or posts on her blog this year.
The winner of The Painting A Day Stickability Shield for 2009 is Loriann Signori (Loriann Signori's painting-a-day).
Christine had an idea. Why don't we use the wheelbarrow to cart our stuff for the 2 miles?
my turn at the wheelbarrow on the return trip
Plaudits for Loriann's work were cited yesterday when she was the joint winner of the The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize.

This award is for stickability - Loriann's complete dedication to getting out and about whatever the weather and wherever she is. As a result she created 344 posts in 2009. Given the fact she's no stranger to exercise, I think I need to send her an invite Sketchercise!
I paint landscapes, most which are created en plein air, in all kinds of weather. I view them as my vitamins.


“The Moose” - the award for the best animal in an illustrated blog
Named after the first winner of this award. This award is for particularly noteworthy artwork about an animals or animals (wild or domestic) posted to an art or illustrated blog in 2009
The nominations I received are:
However this award isn't necessarily about a particular painting - although it can be. In trying to arrive at a decision, I find I'm always influenced by the dedication of the artists to the portrayal of the animal of the choice. All the previous awardwinners had created a significant amount of animal art and in 2009 I'm going to continue to lean towards an artist whose genre is animal art. The context and content of a blog also yields useful information when I'm trying to arrive at a decision.

Which is why in 2009 the winner of the "The Moose" is Kimberley Santini for her blog Painting a Dog a Day.

This is to reflect Kimberley's total commitment to painting dogs and blogging her art - since she started the project in 2006. She posts consistently and to a high standard. In 2007, Kimberley's work was work recognised when she won the Fifth Annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Commemorative Art Poster Competition - and a limited edition of 500 copies of the poster with fund raised going to charity. A year ago she also produced a book of the first year of her paintings - Painting a Dog a Day - the First Year. In addition Kimberley and her patrons have, through sales of her paintings, raised over $5500 to benefit animal welfare.

The “Tales from the Frontline” Amusing Musings Trophy
Originally two awards but combined into one for the last two years.
  • The Amusing Musings Trophy is for keeping me amused.
  • The “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches - my favourite blog by somebody who lives with an artist.
No nominations this year!

If I want to smile, I just head on over to my chum Maggie Stiefvater's blog Words on Words. Now an author who's been on the New York Times best seller list for 20+ weeks rather than the artist she was when she first won this award in 2007 (and "The Moose" in 2006) , she keeps me amused - a lot. She's also getting a mention because this is a new blog.

She definitely merits The Amusing Musings Trophy for her words and I'm just wondering whether all the graphic art she posted on this blog in 2009 count for the purposes of an art blog? Given that these awards are about art blogs...........

Readers might want to ponder on the fact that Maggie has generated a huge following twice now - and I think the humour has helped! :)

Similarly, Walt Taylor aka 'Wally Torta' and Crackskull Bob has been making me chuckle for a few years now - mind you he can make me grimace too at times!

I love his sketches of people in Starbucks and keep wondering whether various Virginians have yet recognised the immortality they have achieved on this blog. It's the extracts of conversations which crack me up. I'm a great one for writing down the very silly things I hear people say on my sketches - but Wally published them! I also like the amusing digs at political topics. He's also one of the few digital artists that I actually like.

I'm guessing Wally yearns to be Madonna at heart - that or Picasso - given the number of reinventions of his identity in terms of title and author that we have seen over the years. He's not yet developed conical breasts though - however it can only be a matter of time.

The Amusing Musings Trophy for 2009 is awarded to Ruben Fletcher and The Locust on the Goat

---with an honourable mention for Maggie Stiefvater and an accompying injunction to get on with her graphic novel! (I've also decided this year that nobody can win the same award twice in five years!)

NEW!!! The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year
For the most impressive and/or improved studio of the year
I simply love looking at other people's studios and what you do with them. I'm always really pleased whenever I see a studio which makes me want to tidy up my space and spruce it up! I try to keep my own personal greeneyed monster at bay as I read all the details about how it's constructed and put together and the creativity people use in managing to get all their "stuff" organised and stored.

In fact I so love looking at other people's studios that I decided that I needed to have a prize for this and consequently this is a NEW PRIZE this year.

Put simply - all you have to do is simply make me drool with envy!

The nominations were:
Teresa's studio in Ontario is light and spacious and tidy! It has all the elements in place for immersing yourself in art. She uses it for teaching classes and opens it to studio tours.
nominated by Jeanette Jobson
The studio is gorgeous because of the art not the physical space itself. I call it her cave of color and light. It takes your breath away to walk in and you are immediately transported to a world of pure color and joy.
nominated by Rebecca
The artist with The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year is Lisa Call (Lisa Call - Contemporary Taxtile Art).

For me there was no contest - although I did wonder if there was any other artist out there who endeavoured to do what Lisa had done and photographed and documented it as well using photo archives and blog.

The 10 foot studio walls going up in the new rear extension!

Lisa has:
  • done a major makeover on moving to a new house.
  • AND she also recorded the whole long journey meticulously from the 'before' photos and uprooting trees in the back yard through all the contrsuction work, the lighting, the flooring, the storage, the painting - you name it she covered it! Most of her blog posts for the first part of the year were all about the makeover. You can also see the New Home Studio Construction galleries on smugmug.
It's all been incredibly well thought out as well. The whole project is a real inspiration for anybody planning a studio makeover and it really gives some pause for thought in terms of the work involved for those of us who haven't even got that far as yet!
For proud owners of studios or those planning a studio makeover: the nominations for this category don't have to be about a makeover. However should you be planning one for 2010, please note that I love work in progress photos and posts which include insights into your deliberations about what to do and what goes where.

Please also never ever hesitate to nominate your own studio if you're proud of it. You now have a whole year to lick it into shape!!!


The results here were determined by your vote which has been taking place over the last five days (see Vote for the best artwork on an art blog in 2009). Thank you to everyone who voted and to all those people who came up with nominations.

The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Portrait/Figures) on an Art Blog
The winner of the Best Picture of the Year (Portrait/Figures) is "Palm Sunday" by Karin Jurick (A Painting Today) (nominated by James Neil Hollingsworth)
The simplicity of this piece in both composition and palette terms belies the sophistication of the modelling of both form and values. Karin achieved all this while also varying the degree of impasto across the overall picture. I found that I kept looking at his face and marvelled at the degree of character and sense of 'real life' that I found within this painting.

Other shortlisted works were "A woman sketching" by Gary Nemkosky and "In your own darkroom, wishes..." by Pierre Raby. You can see all the nominations in Making A Mark Awards 2009: Nominations for the best picture (portrait/figures)

The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Place) on an Art Blog
The winner of the Best Picture of the Year (Place) is Lazy River by Casey Klahn(The Colorist).
I'm pleased about this as I do feel that Casey's series of pastel paintings of rivers this year were the best work I've ever seen him do. I'm guessing I'm not alone in thinking that!

Other shortlisted works were "Helford Regatta"
by Sarah Wimperis and "The Temple of the Four Winds"
by Michael Hampton. You can see all the nominations in Making A Mark Awards 2009: Nominations for the best picture (place).

The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Still Life) on an Art Blog
The winner of the Best Picture of the Year (Still Life) is Sometimes I feel you look right through me by Sally Tharp (Sally is painting today....
I can't help but feel "the title with added insight" attracted some extra votes! It certainly helped to make me look twice the first time I saw this work. I am so envious of people who can produce a great title which includes social commentary!

You can see more of Sally's really stunning glass paintingsSally is painting today... on her website and follow her still life paintings on her blog This category was by the most keenly contested and any one of the three works might have won.

Other shortlisted works were "Nine Stones" by Don Grey (Daily Art West) and "Blocks No.5" by Neil Hollingsworth (Paintings in Oil). You can see all the nominations in Making A Mark Awards 2009: Nominations for the best picture (still life)

The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog
This is awarded to the picture which got most votes in the poll.
The winner of this award was in the lead right from the off and has never ever looked like coming second.

The number of votes given to this picture also well exceeded any given to any of the previous Making A Mark prizewinners for best picture.
The winner of The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog is Karin Jurick.
Karin in fact polled a third more votes than the runner up which was Casey Klahn. In fact the voting was so strong and so conclusive that this award was the first part of the MAMA posts which I drafted because I was so confident Karin was going to win! Overall, the number of people voting was also comparable with the number voting last year.

Personally, apart from it being an excellent painting, I think the vote might also be an indication of the very high regard that people have for all Karin's figurative work and her paintings of museum patrons, people on the beach, people reading and people around and about and in the street. I know that her very considerable efforts to help improve people's painting with her project Different Strokes for Different Folks - which won the best art project of the year award last year - is also very much appreciated by a wide spectrum of participants and viewers.

If you're interested in Karin's work, you can find the answers to the questions Karin frequently gets asked on her website.

and finally......the 5th Annual Making A Mark Awards 2010

Can I invite you all to make notes of those who impress you during the course of the year - because I'll be back again inviting nominations in December 2010 when I will be launching the 5th Making A Mark Awards 2010!


Meanwhile I'm back tomorrow with my own personal review of the year followed by my plan for 2010 on New Year's day - which I think is going to include a couple of projects you might be interested in.

Links: The Making A Mark Awards 2010 for blogging about art
nomination threads

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Making A Mark Awards 2009 (Part 1)

This is the fourth year of the Making A Mark Awards. It's always good to celebrate the achievements of others. I try to do this with my weekly post, 'who's made a mark this week?', and these awards are in effect the annual version of that post.

It's given me great pleasure this year to open up the nominations to regular art bloggers. Particularly as you've given me reminders about really good candidates and introduced me to people I'd never met before!

I did have some people in mind for the different awards and in some instances your nomination served to confirm my initial view and in others you changed it!

The voting: The voting this year is limited to the 'best picture' awards which will be announced tomorrow (see Vote for the best artwork on an art blog in 2009 - you have until midnight tonight to vote if you haven't done so to date. Remember it's only vote per person/IP)

Just a word before I start. There are, as you know, no absolutes when making judgements. It's only one person's opinion and if I can't decide which person to give it to I usually opt for a joint award! The reasons for nominations can be read in earlier nomination posts (see end for links) and I've quoted a few of these in this post.

This page on my website also references every award, everybody who has been nominated, all the nomination posts and all past winners.

So - let's proceed with Part 1 of the Making A Mark awards. Part 2 of the Awards is posted tomorrow.


First a category of awards which are all about people who draw and paint outside their studio.

The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize

This award is for excellence in plein air painting plus a strong commitment to sharing information.
In other words creating great plein air paintings isn't enough - I'm looking for an artist who also wants to communicate what they've learned so others can do likewise!

The nominations are:
This is the link to Marc's April archives highlighted by Jo below. The small 120 something 7 x 5 paintings he produced in April are a delight.

‘Cold Creek’ oil, 5x7,
© Marc R. Hanson 2009
He paints plein air daily when he is not teaching or traveling, but usually gets something posted. Last April he had his Painting Marathon and painted 4 plein air paintings a day for the month of April. They are not three strokes, one for sky, one for tree and one for land. These are beautiful paintings with composition, theory and all included. He also wrote about the paintings each day. Amazing.
Extraordinary hour of calm
36x36 pastel on marble dust board
© Loriann Signori 2009

Here's what Casey and Astrid had to say about Loriann's plein air painting practice
Loriann plein air paintings and working habits are such an inspiration. If you go back to the blog beginnings and compare it with her latest work you can see, that all her dedication, effort and love for her environment has paid off.
Astrid Volquardsen

Loriann, of Silver Springs, Maryland (USA) paints outdoors every single day, with few exceptions, and posts the rich results for our enjoyment. Her dedication is matched by few, and her process is illuminating and a joy to observe. I love her color-rich river scenes, and she also favored her readers with a series from the Richard McKinley workshop this past fall.
Casey Klahn
You may think I post a lot - but Loriann Signori posts even more than me - and what's more she's posting about plein air paintings. This year Loriann produced 342 blog posts! She also knows how to paint in pastel on top of frozen watercolour! Loriann posts her thoughts about hiow she constructs her paintings, the materials she uses, how she addresses problems in the field - it's the nitty gritty behind the great colourist paintings she produces. What I really like is that she also sometimes posts the photo of the place she's been painting plein air and then you can see how much of the art is pure Loriann and what it might have looked like if she'd been painting from a photo!

The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize is this year shared between Marc Hanson and Loriann Signori

The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy
This award goes to the most intrepid and/or industrious artist travelling with a sketchbook.
'Intrepid' and 'industrious' are thet key words here which set past award winners above those of us who also carry a sketchbook from time to time! Nominations for this trophy were as follows:
  • Susan Abbott Let Me Show You Vermont nominated by eLIZabeth Floyd. It's great to see somebody documenting the place where they live - I wish there were more people doing this.
  • Lynne Chapman of An Illustrator's Life for Me - nominated by Felicity Grace - 'Intrepid' Lynne Chapman - who went to Costa Rica and also sketches as she travels around the uK by train
  • She brought back some beautiful sketches from her trip to Costa Rica this year but I think she deserves the award for the sketching she does as she travels around the UK by train. Despite the frequent delays and the tiring work schedule she never misses an opportunity to sketch. To top it all she does it with her characteric good humour and makes it sound like fun - she's a real inspiration
  • Joan Tavolott - Watercolors by Joan nominated by Jo Castillo 'Industrious' Joan Tavolott was in France at the same time as me (as she posted her sketches I got more and more surprised we didn't trip over one another!) Joan completely put me to shame in terms of the number of sketches I produced and the number that Joan produced. She even went to back to Giverny to get more sketches done! Check out her sketches in her archives for October and November.
However I'm very pleased to say that this year, The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy goes to Enrique Flores (Cuatro cosas).

I've admired and been in awe of Enrique's travel sketchbooks ever since I first became aware of them back in 2006. What I most like about them is the fluidity with which he extracts and simplifies the scenes in front of him - and the ease with which he draws with a brush in watercolour. Enrique also goes to such interesting places - this year it's been Moroccco. Enrique's blog is a little unusual in so much as he usually chooses to post a sample of pages and then a link to the video of the sketchbook. You can see videos of his sketchbooks on YouTube (where his user name is acuarelista) - they're really inspiring - this a recent video of one moleskine sketchbook! His travel notebooks have also now been published - this is the video of the one for Cuba. On his blog I tend to look at One of the additional joys of his blog is his writing - typically about or stimulated by places he visits - which comes in the section called Leo. Get out the Google translate function and start translating! You can also read my 2007 interview with him here in Enrique Flores sketches everywhere!

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.
The nature in question can be wildlife 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!

The nominations are:
It's the variety I enjoy - from the flight of an eagle owl to his current project of an elephant installation. His "getting out and about" ranges from sketching orang utans in Indonesia to illustrating sparrow identification posters for London. Main reason for nomination though is that he finds every which way of giving something back, so the orang utans, rhinos, lemurs and the charities that protect them, benefit too. Art with a heart!
In addition I had Sketching in Nature in mind for this award. This is a group blog, started by Cathy Johnson in April 2009. As a result, I seem to be coming across rather more nature journaling blogs around the internet. It's become the "Everyday Matters" of nature journaling and currently has between 15-20 new posts each week. I particularly like the fact that it follows the Urban Sketchers model - with correspondents being invited to join after demonstrating their interest and commitment on existing blogs or in the associated Flickr Group as to my mind it raises the calibre of the posts included in the blog.

The Going Greener Gong this year goes to Sketching in Nature - for reviving an interest in and highlighting the joys of nature journaling


The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal

This award value blogs which also aim to share good information - including what they have learned - with others.

It's not limited to artists who are also teachers, it's also open to those who just love to share what they've found out.

Nominations received are:
  • Vivien Blackburn - Painting Prints and Stuff - nominated by Julie Broom. Vivien is a full art teacher and professional artist. This year she had some popular challenges - including one on drawing trees.
This blog has been a real treasure trove of information, ideas and inspiration for me during 2009. Vivien's posts often preempt my questions with clear explanations of her creative processes and techniques. The student demos she shares and challenges she sets are also extremely helpful learning aids.
In addition, I originally had Roz Stendahl in mind for for this award. Roz works as a I work as a graphic designer, illustrator, and book artist. She has also been teaching adult and youth classes in journaling and art-related topics for over 20 years.

The winner of The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal is Roz Stendahl and her blog - Roz wound up .

The bottom line here is that I find myself referencing Roz's posts a lot on my weekly posts about 'who's made a mark this week'. Roz came late to blogging but was a complete natural once she got started. She's is articulate and writes very well and at some length about the topics which interest her. Two of these topics are visual journaling and art materials. Her series on journaling superstitions is a masterpiece! She enjoys experimenting with art materials and paper and her very thorough testing of art materials sets a standard for artists writing reviews on the Internet.

The Make Me Think Gong

To be eligible for this award you must make me think and offer insights which are transferable to the activity and business of being an artist.
Nominations received are:
I'd never come across Lynne or Myrna's blogs before and both look great! This only goes to show that opening up the nominations to a wider group of people was a good idea!

I've always thought of this award as being the one which leans more towards matters pertaining to being an artist rather than artistic practice per se. Maybe I need to make that clearer next year? Three more people who I find always make me think are:
  • Edward Winkelman - edward_ winkleman is a New York Gallery owner who this year wrote a book about How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery. He's a very generous blogger who consistently provides some very useful advice for artists wanting to pursue a career as an artist and/or want to get into a gallery and/or keep being a gallery artist. He also attracts a diverse group of readers which makes his thought-provoking open discussion posts very interesting.
  • Joanne Mattera's blog series on Marketing Mondays have been extremely wide-ranging in their coverage and helpful in their content. I just wish Deborah would use a label for these posts so that it's possible to get one feed for the lot!
  • Alan Bamberger - unfortunately as Alan's site isn't a blog he's not eligible. I have suggested that maybe he could introduce an RSS feed for his articles for artists but nothing has happened as yet. His contributions are however significant.
The winner of The Make Me Thing Gong for 2009 is Edward Winkelman.

The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon

This award is for the most helpful book written/produced by an art blogger in 2009
There were some great new art books published this year - but this NEW award is limited to those written by artists with active art blogs which they write themselves! Thus the three contenders for this award are:
Martin's book is self-published but its combination of images and content is better than a number of commercially published art books I've seen on art bookshop shelves. Ed's book is by all accounts very good but probably has a fairly limited audience.

On the other hand, two months after publication, James Gurney's book is
  • still #1 on Amazon for books about Realism and Neo-Classical Painting and
  • #2 in books about Painting - some two months after publication.
I've got a feeling that James' book is going to become a standard and do very well for a very long time. You can read my rave review of it here - Book Review - Imaginative Realism by James Gurney. I won't elaborate any more in this post - however this is a book which is highly recommended by me.

James Gurney's book Imaginative Realism wins the The Best book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon.

Don't forget to vote

Don't forget that the vote for the Best Picture of the Year finishes at a minute after midnight GMT on the 30th December. So if you've not yet voted click this link and decided which paintings should be the best paintings of a figure a place and a still life on an art blog in 2009.

and tomorrow find out who's won......

  • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
  • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
  • “The Moose” - the award for the best animal in an illustrated blog
  • The “Tales from the Frontline” Amusing Musings Trophy
  • The Most Gorgeous Mouthwatering (MGM) Studio of the Year

  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Portrait/Figures) on an Art Blog
  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Place) on an Art Blog
  • The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year (Still Life) on an Art Blog

and finally....The MAM Award for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog

Links: You can read the citations for the different Making A Mark Awards in previous years in the following blog posts

2009: The Making A Mark Awards 2010 for blogging about art- Nomination posts