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 - artbusiness.com 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


  1. Some really great blogs in the awards (including those who did the nominating!). I've just added quite a few to my google reader feeds so I can enjoy them regularly. Now I just need to make sure I set enough time aside from reading all the great posts to do some painting myself!

  2. Great to see all the nominations, Katherine! Will certainly be watching your blog as it contains a wealth of links to other artists.


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