Monday, May 31, 2010

Have you bought a painting DVD? (MAM Poll results)

 The April Making A Mark Poll looked at Have you bought a painting DVD?  Right click the image to open a larger version of the chart.

The headline results (below) indicate that painting DVDs are not as popular as books or other forms of media delivery of art instruction however around half of those who are interested bought a painting DVD in the last 12 months

Only 82 people responded to the poll - and that's a much lower number than usual

Of those 82 people who responded, the main findings are:
  • 65% own a painting DVD (although in reality this is probably less than half the people who normally respond to my monthly polls)
  • 48% had bought a painting DVD in the last 12 months.  This is a respectable number of people and obviously learning about art via a DVD is here to stay
  • 17% have bought a painting DVD in the past but not in the last 12 months.  I'm guessing but I think it's quite likely that those who haven't made a repeat purchase of a DVD may well have bought a book in the same time period
  • 20% said the main reason why they don't buy painting DVDs is the cost - they're just too expensive.
The minor reasons for not buying DVDs related to
  • lack of choice - people couldn't find any they wanted to buy (which to me echoed the issues re the quality of available books)
  • 5% were happy getting their art instruction via free art videos - on places like YouTube and Flickr
  • 4% have had or have got problems with getting DVDs which will play on their DVD machines
I'm guessing that another reason which I forgot to identify was lack of a DVD machine - but I guess I was thinking most people now have computers which will play DVDs so that should not be a problem

My overall conclusions are as follows:
  • DVDs provide an important format for art instruction and the appreciation of art
  • however DVDs are not as important as books
  • more people would use this format for learning more about art if they cost less. 
  • a minority already prefer free art instruction available via the Internet
  • people making DVDs need to offer a lot more than is available for free if they are going to secure repeat purchases
What about the future?

The interesting aspect for me is how much the sale of art DVDs will change now that we have more smaller and more mobile laptops and and computers equipment like the iPad available.

I predict that producers of art DVDs are going to have to get to grips with the type of technology which makes films about making art much more accessible. 

They certainly need to review pricing models and to work out how people can buy an art DVD in much the same way they can currently buy a track or album from iTunes.  Frankly, there simply isn't a need to deliver all films about art on a DVD - and the pricing should certainly reflect this.

More Making A Mark Opinion Polls

You can find more Making A Mark Polls
Tomorrow's post will be about a new Making A Mark opinion Poll for June.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

30th May 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

I had a very enjoyable time at the evening reception for the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 at the Mall Galleries on Monday night.  See the prizewinners in Adam Binder wins Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010

Pensive by Tracy Hall (Highly commended)
8.2cm x 5.7cm, watercolour
copyright the artist

Congratulations to two gorilla artists I know.  Tracy Hall (Watercolour Artist Diary) got a Highly Commended with her very first entry to Wildlife Artists of the Year.  You can read her blog post here wildlife artist of the year exhibition

Leslie Evans (Chisaii) had three coloured pencil works in the show - shipped over from the USA.  She also got a Highly Commended for her gorilla and her giraffe - and both of them also sold which should help with the shipping costs!

Patches by Leslie Evans (Highly commended)
45.7cm x 71.1cm, coloured pencil (sold)
copyright the artist

The rest of this blog post has pictures from the exhibition - to give you an impression about just how many people attend on the Private View night and how fast the works now sell!  This is of course to encourage all you wildlife artists to enter next year's show!

Art Blogs

  • Not quite sure which category to out this blog in - but it's interesting.  My Third Eye Scratched describes itself as A satirical look at the neo-pop art scene as practiced today by the cool, tight and trendy pimp-celebrity, post-mod, bobo, hipster artists
Botanical Art
Drawing and sketching
  • Lynne Chapman (An Illustrator's Life For Me!) has been visiting the Antiques Road Show and of course sketched throughout!  Lynne also participated in her very first International Sketchcrawl recently - and you can see the result in Wakefield Sketchcrawl.  It all sounds as if it was really well organised and now Lynne is promising one for Sheffield.
Coloured Pencils and Pastels
Painters and Painting
I have been surprised at how difficult these little paintings are and my appreciation for them has grown substantially after this experience.
 Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 - a wall in the main gallery
all art copyright the artists / all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    • On Watermarks, Jeanette Jobson (Illustrated Life) celebrates getting a grant for a A fishy project to produce a body of work in gyotaku (fish rubbing) using species found in Newfoundland waters.  She will also be offering a workshop next spring to share what I have learned with other artists.

    Art Business and Marketing

    "Since the material value of art is negligible, we’re paying for something - but what?"
     Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 - main gallery
    all art copyright the artists / all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Art and the Economy / Art Collectors / Art Theft

    Art Exhibitions, art fairs and open studios

    art galleries and museums
    "Forty years of Glastonbury – I’ve been at most of them, I've painted over a quarter of them. Greenpeace has also been there throughout my life and their fortieth is coming up." Kurt Jackson
    art fairs and festivals
    • There apparently won't be a Zoo companion to the Frieze Art fair this year - see Zoo says no to 2010 edition
    • If you're planning a visit to the Patchings Festival 2010, (10th-14th June) make sure you go and visit Gayle Mason SOFA (Fur in the Paint) who is exhibiting there for the first time since she became a full time artist and tutor.
      open studios
      art bloggers

      Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

      Art instruction
      Tips and techniques
      A flat light for a flat surface: a good thing to use for this is two direct light sources that can be reflected off a white or bright surface. A perfect surface to use is a large sheet of paper to reflect the light source on the subject placing an even light onto what is photographed.
       Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 - the awards ceremony gets underway
      all art copyright the artists / all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        Art Galleries and Museums

        Art History

        A plant being held by a mischievous-looking satyr in the bottom right corner of the painting has been recognised as a specimen of Datura stramonium, a plant which causes madness and the urge to take one's clothes off.

        Art Holidays

        Art Supplies

        Book reviews

        I don't know quite why I'm so absorbed with understanding the real rankings behind the Amazon listings of art books.  I guess it's because I keep finding really good books that I'd have never known about without travelling around the categories in a bit more detail (ie doing more than just looking for more of the same of what I already own).  Two blog posts and two new websites have resulted this week as I've continued my quest to understand how the categories and rankings work



        • Shepard Fairey's American Graffiti is an 'Atlantic' interview with the artist who raised issues about copyright with his portrait of Obama where he borrowed an image without permission
        Q. how many of your projects are sanctioned these days--and how many are, shall we say, extra-legal?

        Opinion Poll

        • Tomorrow is the round-up from this month's Making A Mark Opinion Poll about buying Art DVDs
        • On Tuesday, I'm launching the Making A Mark Opinion Poll for June.  I had a brilliant idea for this one - let's just hope I wrote it down somewhere as I can't remember what it is right now!

        Websites, webware and blogging

        Social media (including Facebook)
        • Facebook announced its new privacy settings yesterday - this is the official explanation Making Control Simple on the OFFICIAL Facebook blog.  That just left me thinking that Mark Zuckerburg (age 26 and a few days) needs to grow up and learn how to say "Sorry - we got it wrong!" 
        • You also need to read the tips at 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know on the UNOFFICIAL Facebook Blog All Facebook
        • Plus you can also download the much more detailed "holy grail" 24 page Privacy Guide
        • Is anybody else experiencing huge fluctuations in their Feedburner numbers?  I'm gaining and losing c.1,000 subscribers on a regular basis for the last week or and can't track down what the problem is.  It appears to be Google Reader which is causing the problem.

        and finally........

        My cyber chum and popular ex artist Maggie Stiefvater (Words on Words) is still finding time to make art inbetween morphing into a New York Times best selling YA author with her books now sold in 30 countries.  Her giveaway to mark the imminent launch of her 4th book Linger is a guitar decorated with celtic artwork based on the themes of "Linger" and done with Sharpies (some 12 to be precise).  The guitar will be raffled at the launch party at Barnes & Noble in Williamsburg Virginia on July 20th at 5pm.

        Saturday, May 29, 2010

        The Top Ten Best Art Books in May

        If you want to know how to find out which are the top rated and/or best selling art books in May - read on!

        I'm still intrigued by the listings in the categories used by Amazon and how difficult it can be to see which are the top rated and best selling art books.

        So I've created my own listing Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art BooksThis is going to focus on my interests of drawing, painting, artists, art business and what's new - as detailed below.

        I'd also add that, yet again, I've learned something about the art books available on Amazon while creating this listing!

        What's different about this list

        There are two things which make this list distinctive

        FIRST is that the listing will be UPDATED EVERY MONTH. 

        I'll be identifying the fine art books which are the top rated and best selling books across various Amazon Art Books categories - including books yet to be published.   As I update, I'm expecting some books to change while perennial best sellers are likely to stay the same.

        SECOND relates to how this list is compiled.                   

        This listing in no way repeats the listings for different categories for arts and photography on That's because I find that the Amazon categories can be very confusing and books are often listed in multiple and incorrect categories.

        Therefore the books listed on my new information site Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books are a personal interpretation of these listings and are compiled by:
        • focusing on fine art books only (ie excluding all books for children, commercial artists and photographers)
        • reviewing the category lists at Amazon - and which books are included in the category
        • ignoring all books which in my view are inappropriately categorised / do not relate to fine art
        • identifying the best selling book in the chosen categories
        • identifying the top rated book in the chosen categories
        • only listing a book once - in whichever category they rank highest
        • reviewing the listings monthly and updating in each category as appropriate
        Just click a link and go straight to that topic - and find out which are the top 10 art books in May!

        So if you want to keep up to date with which art books are coming up the charts and are highly rated or selling well, why not bookmark this new 'resources for artists' site.  

        I'll be updating it next at the end of June/beginning of July.

        Feel free to share this link via Twitter or Facebook or any other way in which you share sites.

        Comments on the listing and new information site are also welcome

        Friday, May 28, 2010

        Modern Masters - Art Walks in UK Cities

        The current BBC series "Modern Masters" about four artists who changed the world has generated a unique resource.  The website includes a set of art walks in different UK cities.
        Choose a city:

        If you click the link what you then access is:
        • a summary of what you will see on the art walk
        • a map
        • images of what you will see
        • a pdf guide
        • an MP3 audio guide 
        • the art walk on your phone
        • links to helpful details: transport and weather
        Here's the page for London's South Bank

        I think it's a totally brilliant idea - and one which should be adopted by many more cities and media websites.

        Wednesday, May 26, 2010

        What's your favourite Art Business Book?

        Today I published a new "resources for artists information site called "The Best Art Business Books". You can read the reasons why in this post in Making A Mark Reviews - but some of you will recall my recent rant about Amazon assigns ludicrous categories to Art Books (11 May 2010)!

        I'm still developing this very new site. One of the main things I want to do is include an opinion poll on it to find out which art business books which are regarded as the most useful books for both emerging and professional artists today.

        That means I need to have a pool of books to list. So to do that I need to know which books have helped you the most!

        What I'm talking about here are those art business books that:
        • you'd be happy to recommend
        • you won't be loaning out any time soon - just in case you didn't get it back
        • you still find to be a constant and useful source of reference
        • prompted you to do things and make changes before you'd finished reading it
        • provided you with the best all round advice
        • helped you make the best choices
        • helped you to be an artist!
        So what are they?
        • Which are the art business books which make a difference?
        • Which books deserve to get listed in my opinion poll on my new site?
        If you've written a book review of your favourite art business book (or books) I'd love to have the link as I'm including links to reviews in the new site.

        Thanks to all those who are busy tweeting and 'liking' the new site on Facebook. It's much appreciated. :)

        1. See also Making A Mark Reviews - The Best Art Business Books
        2. The image at the top of this post is a view of the book covers of the book which Google services up when you put in the query "art business" into Google Books

        Tuesday, May 25, 2010

        Adam Binder wins Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010

        Yesterday evening, at the Mall Galleries, Adam Binder's stunningly simple bronze sculpture of a polar bear on an iceberg - "Sinking Feeling" - won him the title of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010.

        (left to right) David Shepherd CBE, Adam Binder, David Gower and Robert Lindsay
        at the
        Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 Awards, Mall Galleries, London
        photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        The title, supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), comes with a cash prize of £10,000 generously donated by the exhibition sponsors. Binder received his prize from actor Robert Lindsay who is a friend of DSWF, at last night's reception at the Mall Galleries in London.

        The exhibition includes over 100 works of art short-listed for the competition are on display and for sale, to benefit endangered wildlife. The Exhibition runs until Saturday 29th May.

        You can see the works on display on the exhibition website. You can also download the exhibition catalogue. I'm also going to be doing another post later in the week to give you a sense of what the works look like in the show.

        Meanwhile this post is going to focus on the five prizewinners.


        There are five categories in the exhibition and below are the winners together with photos and comments about their work

        Click the link in the artists' names to visit their websites and see more of their work and where it is exhibited.

        Sinking Feeling
        by Adam Binder Bronze 23 x 16 x 14cm
        £5,450 Edition of 12
        copyright Adam Binder / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        OVERALL WINNER and Winner of Wildlife in 3D: Any sculpture in any medium (£10,000): Adam Binder
        I was absolutely amazed when my name was called out. Looking around at the talent I was competing against I really didn’t think I had a chance. I feel honoured to be chosen from among so many wonderful artists
        Adam Binder
        I had an opportunity to talk to Adam after the presentation. His main field of artistic endeavour until now has been in art collectibles including netsuke marble resin sculptures and medium and small bronzes - unless commissioned. The bronze sculpture is an off white due a process of patination using a special chemical recipe.

        Based in Meysey Hampton near Cirencester, his studio is open to visit plus he's got a number of galleries around the UK which display his work but no gallery in London as yet. I'm sure a very sensible gallery will be making him an offer very soon!

        and winner of Endangered Wildlife: Any wild animal or plant that is threatened or endangered nationally or internationally (£1,000 and master class with David Shepherd) - Last of Many by Paul Bartlett

        Last of Many by Paul Bartlett
        Collage 94 x 61cm
        copyright Paul Bartlett / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        Paul Barlett is a self-taught artist with a PhD in Animal Behaviour. He is an Associate Member of the Society of Wildlife Artists and wib the Birdwatch Artist of the Year in 2006 at their annual exhibition. This year he will be holding his first exhibition of new works in the USA.

        Winner of Wild Places: Any scene or landscape showing the natural environment at its wildest, most beautiful or dramatic (£500) - Ice, Kittiwakes and Belugas by Darren Rees SWA

        Ice, Kittiwakes & Belugas by Darren Rees
        Acrylic 100x65cm
        copyright Darren Rees / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        Darren is a mathematician turned selftaught artist. His first solo book Bird Impressions was runner up for the Natural history Book of the Year Award and received much critical acclaim. He's a full member of the Society of Wildlife Artists

        You can see more of his Artic Portfolio on his website.

        He has also just started a blog called Darren Rees. How about giving him some encouragement with a comment? :)

        Winner of Wildlife in Action
        : Any wild animal jumping, fighting, flying or showing any other interesting behaviour (£500) - Buffalo in Motion by Davina Bosanquet

        Davina Bosanquet and her painting Buffalo in Motion
        Winner of Wildlife in Action category
        Oil on Linen 60x200cm

        copyright David Baosanquet / photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        David Shepherd's commented about this painting of buffalos running as follows
        A very well excecuted painting. You can almost hear the thunder of hooves and feel the heat and dust being kicked up. I love the modernistic approach of this painting. A very worthy category winner.
        I spoke to Davina about how she got into wildlife art. It started for her with a visit to Africa when she was 13 and has continued ever since. She has been the artist in residence at a Gorilla project in Gabon and produced a painting which won her a Highly Commended at last year's show.

        Winner of the Open category (£500): Bad Hair Day by Nick Mackman

        Judge and artist Hazel Soan commented...
        It's as if the artist grasped the nud beneath her feet and conjured up the magic of Africa - here is humour, pathos and personality.
        Nick Mackman and her sculpture Bad Hair Day
        Winner of the Open Category
        Ceramic & mixed media 40x45cm
        £1,600 (Sold)
        photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        I asked Nick what was her inspiration behind her clay warthog sculpture having a 'bad hair day' and she commented that what she looked like in the mirror in the morning had been one factor! ;)

        The sculture is ceramic and mixed media - the latter including horse hair and bristles from her sweeping brush. It took her about a week to make.

        I'm guessing that one of the things she is most pleased about is that her sculpture has been bought by David Shepherd! Her work can be seen in these art galleries.

        Commenting on his involvement, Robert Lindsay said:
        David Shepherd's idea to use his passion as an artist and conservationist to engage fellow artists in raising awareness and funds for wildlife is inspired. The result, the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, has produced three successive and wonderful exhibitions of wildlife art contributing thousands of the pounds to the protection of critically endangered mammals and their wild habitats. I feel honoured to be associated with David, this competition and his wildlife foundation.
        For those who are interested in animal and wildlife art and who can get to the exhibition I suggest you make sure you pay it a visit at the Mall Galleries before it closes on Saturday 29th May.

        For those of you can't get there, I'll be posting more pictures from the exhibition later this week including photos of paintings of two gorillas which have both been awarded a Highly Commended by

        Monday, May 24, 2010

        24th May 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

        This is the sketch which I did yesterday because I went out in the sunshine rather than write this post!

        Yellow Irises at the Lily Pad Pond
        11" x 16", coloured pencils in Large Molsekine Sketchbook

        copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        It was very 'Spring' green although maybe not quite as green as this sketch would suggest!

        I've got to go and have another go at drawing that water. Every time I do I begin to understand why Monet painted 240 odd paintings of his waterlilies on the pond he built at Giverny! (see Gardens in Art: Monet and the water garden at Giverny)

        This is going to be a briefer post than usual - the weather continues to be good and I've got an exhibition to go to.....

        Art Blogs

        Drawing and sketching
        Coloured Pencils and Pastels
        Landscape art

        Art Competitions

        Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

        art education
        I read an interesting piece tonight about an artist, perhaps intermediate level, who was wondering if she should give lessons in oil painting to people who asked. Her dilemma wasn't whether she was experienced enough in technique and teaching to do, but that if she taught people, they would become her competition.
        tips and techniques
        Casey Klahn (Pastel) tells us all how to go about Reclaiming La Carte

        Art Exhibitions and Open Studios

        major museums

        This display features prints by four of the 20th century's greatest artists: Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Over 50 works drawn from the V&A Museum's collections have been selected to illustrate these modern masters' engagement with the printed medium. Both celebrated and less familiar prints in a range of techniques are included, spanning a period of 75 years and representing one of the most creative and diverse artistic periods in the history of western art.

        Regional venues

        Art societies

        This is my Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2010
        • Felicity House has sent me an invite to come down to her Open Studio held during Dorset Art Weeks. It's an absolute model of what an invite to an Open Studios should be: good-looking art which is representative of the artist, dates and times and all the information I need to get there including a map! Plus she's got it on her website too!
        • Felicity is venue 302 in Dorset Art Weeks schedule of over 600 artists in its 10th biennial event. I'm afraid I'm not a fan of their website. Its map mode is not at all obvious. See if you can spot the link in the main menu! However, once you've found it, if you click on a pin it tells you what the studio is about. Dorset Art Weeks last from the 29th May to 13th June.

        Art History

        There's a lot of memorial events and items on the Internet at present commemorating 65 years since the end of the second world war in Europe
        • The Imperial War Museum will host a one day Conference on 9th June which confronts a difficult issue - the making, exploitation and re-appropriation of public memory surrounding memorials. The immediate context is the display at Tate Britain concerning Moore and Auschwitz. Henry Moore chaired the Jury of an international competition (1958-9) to design a public memorial to the ‘Victims of Fascism’ at Auschwitz-Birkenau, although a commission was never realised. The conference explores the dilemma that faced that jury - how to mark a political event with a public memorial.
        • the Imperial War Museum also has a pdf file about Despatches Winter 2008: Unspeakable: The Artist as Witness to the Holocaust
          Ulrike Smalley takes a closer look at art produced in response to the Holocaust.

        Art Supplies

        Three posts on Making A Mark Reviews for pencil artists


        what happens when you suspect a Big Brand has actually ripped off your original designs? Is there anything you can do about it or is it unrealistic to expect a large corporation to take any notice whatsoever?

        Opinion Poll

        Last chance to vote on the Making A mark opinion Poll for May - Have you bought a painting DVD? (see right hand column if you've not yet voted)

        Websites, webware and blogging

        Facebook and Privacy - is getting way beyond a joke

        Facebook continues to cause concern about security but its growth continues unabated as this post on the register bears witness. However......
        High-profile users, including developers at Google, security experts and journalists, have quit Facebook and posted instructions on how others can do the same. Nascent privacy-conscious social network Diaspora has been earning slews of favourable ink.
        • Wall Street Journal identified this Facebook, MySpace Confront Privacy Loophole - which gives rise to serious concerns about the assurances on privacy given by Facebook. The simple answer is to avoid sharing any personal data beyond what is essential on Facebook. The more rigorous answer is government regulation and big fines linked to a percentage of their total revenue stream for advertising for breaches of privacy standards. I guarantee they'll then address such issues.
        Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent.
        • According to PC Magazine - Facebook Prepping Changes to Privacy Policy to make it more understandable.
        • Meanwhile, two Toronto-based Facebook users set up, urging other Facebook users to cancel their accounts on May 31 - Quit Facebook Day. Matthew Milan and Joseph Dee wrote on the site....

          For us it comes down to two things: fair choices and best intentions. In our view, Facebook doesn't do a good job in either department


        and finally........

        Apparently, according to the Art Newspaper, Posh and Becks are the new power couple in contemporary art. Personally I didn't think they had quite accumulated the billions required to be a high status collector these days. However it is interesting that they have invested in art and, it is said, patronised the White Cube to do so. The 'announcement' looked suspiciously like indirect White Cube advertising to - aimed at the WAGs of the upcoming World Cup. Does this mean art has been 'elevated' to the status of something for the 'fashionistas' to talk about while the boys are off running round a pitch kicking a ball?

        Sunday, May 23, 2010

        I'm off to the park to draw irises!

        Who's made a mark this week will be delayed until tomorrow as we've got exceptionally good weather today and I want to be out in it!

        This is where I'm going - to Victoria Park - hopefully to draw irises near the East Lake.

        Some of you may remember this post from last year - Hokusai, Van Gogh and the iris paintings which was triggered by trying to draw irises. 

        Have any of you been drawing them this year?

        Saturday, May 22, 2010

        Techie: How to remove a CD or DVD from an iMac

        It's frightening when you've got a CD or DVD in your iMac AND the drive disappears from Finder AND the eject button on the keyboard does not work.

        It happened to me when I ejected a CD and then reinserted it too quickly - which is something I won't be doing again in a hurry - which is another way of saying I'll make sure I've got the brain engaged first next time.

        However for when I'm being totally clueless before my second cup of tea in the morning this is my reminder to myself which I thought I would share with others!

        This is how you get a stuck CD / DVD out!
        • Make sure the CD or DVD disc is not in use. Quit all applications that are using files on the disc.
        • Go to Applications
        • Go to Utilities
        • Go to Terminal
        • do not clear what is there
        • type in "drutil eject" (leaving out the quote marks) and press return
        • your iMac will whirr and the disc will eject!
        You can now breathe again!

        I'm assuming the process will probably also work with the SD card slot although that's less of a problem as part of the card is always visible.

        Other guides to "what to do" include:
        I absolutely cannot vouch for any of these methods but thought it might be helpful to make a record of them here - just in case!

        Journal of an iMac Virgin

        It's been suggested to me that I need to update my Journal of an iMac Virgin for those of you would like to know how I'm getting on with my new 27" iMac after a bit more than two months of use.

        I'm going to be doing another post next week but in the meantime, for those who are interested but have not read them, here's my earlier posts:
        In the meantime I'm now going to watch another episode of the BBC Modern Masters Series on my 27" HD screen - about Matisse

        Thursday, May 20, 2010

        Who failed to switch on the alarm?

        Often when I walk round museums I can't help speculating how many millions of pounds worth of paintings are in one room. Sometimes the sums are simply breathtaking. I've then speculated also about how much top-notch security must be involved in keeping those paintings safe. Inevitably I then marvel at the way in which, year after year, so many of the eminent museums around the world do a really excellent job of keeping our art heritage safe from thieves - and those greedy people who need to boost their self-esteem with some stolen art!

        However apparently not much is kept safe if somebody fails to turn on the alarm system!

        As the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in Paris found out this morning when they discovered that a window was broken and five paintings by Picasso, Matisse and other great artists had been stolen - and the alarm had not gone off.

        I was not surprised to find out that 90% of all art theft involves somebody on the inside of the museum.  After all if the technology all works then some sort of human failing is all that is left.

        Le pigeon aux petit pois (Dove with Green Peas) (1911) by Picasso

        The paintings, stolen overnight on Wednesday, are estimated to be worth just under 100m euros (£86m; $123m).

        However, I was pleased to hear the man in charge of the Art Loss Register explaining that their real value lies in what those paintings represent in terms of explaining the development of the individual artists and of modern art in general.

        I'd not come across the Art Loss Register before as a specific entity but was vaguely aware of their existence
        The ALR is now the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables. Its range of services includes item registration, search and recovery services to collectors, the art trade, insurers and worldwide law enforcement agencies. These services are efficiently delivered by employing state of the art IT technology and a team of specially trained professional art historians.
        It was interesting to see on their website that they have been successful in aiding the recovery of items previously stolen
        Highlights of this excellent and improving record have been:
        • Paul Cezanne Still life with Fruit and a Jug Stolen 1978 Recovered 1999
        • Edouard Manet Still life with Peaches Stolen 1977 Recovered 1997
        • Pablo Picasso Woman in white reading a Book Stolen 1940 Recovered 2005
        Let's hope the art stolen last night is also recovered.

        This is a slideshow of the paintings which were stolen

        These are links to articles commenting ion the theft
        Note: The Museum is not to be confused with the Musée National d'Art Moderne which is housed in the Centre Pompidou.  This one is for the City of Paris's modern at collection - not the national modern art collection.

        Wednesday, May 19, 2010

        The amazing Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource

        The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais
        oil on canvas

        Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

        Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has an absolutely enormous collection of 2,300 PreRaphaelite paintings and drawings. Last year it launched a truly impressive Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource website which uses Microsoft Silverlight technology. This has a Deep Zoom function which allows the viewer to see the intense colours, brush strokes and pencil etchings in high quality detail.

        Once you've clicked on one of the images - particulary if you own a 27" iMac with an HD screen as I do - your mouth drops open pretty fast! The level of detail is absolutely stunning. The level of documentation is also extremely thorough. It's a research resource which sets a standard that many will find hard to beat.

        In my view, it's one of the most impressive art websites I've ever seen on the Internet in terms of the quality of the image which you can see. I'd venture to say it's even better than viewing in a gallery!

        One drawback is that you do need to install Silverlight to see it - however you get the very reward when you see the quality of the pictures which result. The website provides you with a link to do this.

        The website was launched in July 2009 and has been very well received. It was named best in the Arts and Culture class of the Interactive Media Awards in September 09 and has been shortlisted for two Drum Awards for the Digital Industries (DADI). In January this year the Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource won a BETT 2010 award in the category of Digital Collections and Resource Banks.
        Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery received funding from JISC to digitise the Pre-Raphaelite collection and make it accessible online for the education community. The resulting Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource provides full record information and allows users to examine images in great detail. You can choose to browse the online collection, make simple searches or to interrogate the collection data using filtering tools. The ability to filter the collection in this way should be particularly useful for study and research. You can also interact with the online collection by creating your own personal collections of images and by discussing the works with the online community.
        Preraphaelites - about this site
        One of the major benefits of this project is that it is accessible to everybody in the Internet. Some of the other digitisation projects have spent a lot of money digitising material only to make it accessible via higher education institutions only - which I consider to be an extremely narrow and patronising perspective on how learning takes place in a web 2.0 world. In contrast this project makes the Pre-Raphaelites accessible to all.

        – the Joint Information Systems Committee – is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology to support learning, teaching, and research.

        You can find out more about JISC and its projects on the the JISC website

        For more information or to browse the collection visit Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource website.