Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's your FAVOURITE magazine for artists? (results)

A third of artists have subscribed to art magazines in the past but no longer do so,  while many artists now find the content they want online.  International Artist emerged as the favourite art magazine of most artists in the June Making A Mark poll. 

Subscribing to art magazines

The Poll had two parts.  In the first part I asked Do you have a subscription to a magazine for artists? and 68 people responded.  For me, this part of the poll provided the more startling result.

Interestingly it emerged that I am far from alone in my recent decision to let my journal subscriptions lapse.
  • 61% have a subscription at present to an art magazine
  • while 32% no longer have a subscription but have had one in the past
  • only 5% of those responding had never had a subscription to an art magazine
I was quite amazed by these figures.  I'd always assumed that people tend to fall into two groups - those who subscribe and those who don't - and that if you have a tendency to subscribe (as I do) then it would be a big deal to give up a subscription.

I never expected that the figure of those who have "lapsed" would be so high or that it would be about half the figure of those who continued to subscribe.  What I expected was that there would be far more artists who had never ever subscribed.

I'm wondering whether the figures are in any way connected to the rise of the Internet and our access to information online.
  • Ten years ago I would not have imagined that I could access the material online for free that I can do today. 
  • Five years ago when I started blogging I never imagined that I'd ever give up my subscriptions to art magazines (and I used to subscribe to three). 
I gave up my subscriptions because frankly the content while good was no longer looking good value for money - there was neither enough of it and it wasn't pitched at the right level.  To a certain extent it reflected my feelings about the way that art book publishing has been going - too much dumbed down and too little which told me something new.

At a time when newpapers are having to get digitally switched on in order to survive and the once mighty Times Newspapers have disappeared behind a paywall in order to try and stem their losses one can only wonder what the future holds for art magazines if they can't keep traditional subscribers!

The favourite art magazine
    right click to see a larger image

    The second part of the poll asked What's your FAVOURITE magazine for artists?  The results are as follows:
    • The most popular mazagine for artists is International Artist(18%)
    • a significant number of artists now prefer online content to art magazines (13%)
    • The top USA based magazine is The Artist's Magazine (15%)
    • The top UK based magazine is The Artist (9%)
    • Pastel Journal has a very respectable following for a niche interest (11%)
    What I find surprising is that there are so many titles and I guess the spread of votes across the different titles provides one of the answers to that.  Whether all are viable in the longer term - within the context of my comments to the first part of the poll - is anybody's guess.  

    What was particularly interesting was the percentage of artsist who said they were very happy with the content they found online.

    Maybe that's where the two polls connect?  There's fewer artists subscribing to magazines because they're finding what they want online?

    It'll be interesting to repeat this poll at some point in the future to see whether this is a trend......

    The Top 10 Art Books in June

    Who's been making a mark in the world of art books in June?  Read this post if you want to know which are the top rated and/or best selling art books in June!

    Regular readers of this blog will recall I've been greatly 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.

    As a result I've created my own listing Makingamark's Top 10 Fine Art Books which focuses on my interests of drawing, painting, artists, art business and what's new - as detailed below.

    Amazon has crashed! explains why I had a terrible time yesterday trying to produce the updated list!!!  However it's now ready.

    Just click a link and go straight to the catrgory of your choice and find out which I think are the top 10 art books in June!

    Just a quick reminder the list that 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
    Remember this site changes every month!

    Amazon has crashed!

    I'm trying to produce my post about the top 10 art books in June - and has crashed!

    Since the post is pretty much dependent on having access to Amazon I'm twiddling my thumbs and half heartedly trying to get started on tomorrow's post in advance of the poll ending - while of course rushing back every five minutes to see if Amazon is now working

    I can't ever remember Amazon having crashed before.  It turns out that it has an amazing record for not crashing.

    Apparently it's been having a bad time all day - oscillating between "sort of" OK, then the book titles disappear, then the books disappear and then I get what seems like an infinite variety of error screens.  In fact I've seen more error screens while trying to access it than I knew existed.  Even the screen for their outsage page disappeared at one point.

    Amazon have also been very quiet about what's going on.

    There is speculation about how many millions of dollars they are losing every hour.  On the basis of their turnover, the current estimate is that they lose $1.75million for every hour they're offline

    It's supposedly now fixed - but if that's the case I'd like to know where are all the books on my information sites!

    There was an error connecting to the Amazon web service. Please try again.Sorry, there are no results available from Amazon.

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Threadneedle Prize: selected artists

    The artists selected for The Threadneedle Prize Exhibition have been announced.  The shortlist of those eligible to win the prizes on offer will be announced in July.

    I wrote about this prize back in April this year - see Threadneedle - just another art prize in 2010?

    Prizes:  The following prizes will be awarded

    • The Threadneedle Prize: £25,000
    • The Visitors’ Choice: £10,000
    • Finalists (6 awarded): each £1,000
    If the public vote coincides with the selectors’ vote, one artist wins a total of £35,000, making The Threadneedle Prize potentially the most valuable art competition for a single work of art in the UK.

    Exhibition:  The Mall Galleries in London will be hosting the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition between 18 September 2010 - 3 January 2011.

    Eligible artists/artwork: The competition is open to artists of all nationalities, aged 18 or over on 1 January 2010, presently living or working in the UK.  Artists could submit a maximum of three works which must have been completed after 1 January 2009.  Works must not have been exhibited in any other prize or competition in the UK or elsewhere.  Acceptable media includes oil, tempera, acrylic, ink, vinyl, watercolour and other dry media and can be on any form of support (canvas, paper, wood, plastic etc).
    Works should be based on observation and experience, not on a conceptual or abstract world.  Artists are encouraged to engage, excite and challenge the public on subjects of contemporary and topical significance. Submissions based on the human figure and other major themes are also welcome. 
    The following artists have been selected for the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition:

    Anna Adamkiewics
    Jemma Appleby
    Boyd and Evans
    Janet Buckle
    Patricia Cain
    Simon Carter
    Darren Coffield
    Paul Cummings
    Thomas Doran
    Wendy Elia
    Mark Entwisle
    Karl Farrer
    Fiona Finnegan
    Louise Folliot
    Howard Gardener
    Ursula Haug
    Roland Hicks
    Marguerite Horner
    James Jessop
    Valerie Jolly
    Oliver Jones
    Jarik Jongman
    Peter Kelly
    Aleksandra Jarosz Laszlo
    Angela Lizon
    Enzo Marra
    Gary Martin
    Stuart McCaffer
    Yuki Otake
    Ethan Pollock
    Martin Roberts
    Geoff Routh
    Anthony Ruby
    Timothy Sandys
    Margaret Sellars
    Tim Shaw
    Jayne Anita Smith
    Jung I Song
    David Sullivan
    A Lincoln Taber
    Caroline Walker
    Neville Weston
    David William-Bulkeley

    Artists who have exhibited in The Threadneedle Prize before include:
    • Thomas Doran
    • Oliver Jones
    • Peter Kelly
    • Tim Shaw
    • David Sullivan
    You can follow The Threadneedle Prize on Facebook. You can see photos from submission days at Three Mills here - that's just up the road from where I live in East London!

    Note: If I've got a link to anybody's website wrong please let me know (comment below) and I'll change it

    Links to former posts on this blog about the Threadneedle Prize


    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    27th June 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

    Every year I really look forward to finding out who has won the most prestigious portrait prize in the world.  This year the BP Portrait Award 2010 attracted 2,177 registered entries - an increase of 276 compared to last year.  681 (30%) of these were international entries and 2 of the five prizewinners artists who come from the USA. Of these 58 portraits were selected for the exhibition which is now running at the National Portrait Gallery until September.

    I visited on Tuesday evening and Wednesday prior to its opening to the publicand these are my posts this week as a result - more talk about approach and art materials this year.
    Articles from the national news tended to place a heavy emphasis on the deathbed aspect rather than who won.  Examples included the BBC - Deathbed portrait wins BP award while I preferred Jonathan Jones who commented on The deathbed portrait's unique tribute.

     Daphne Todd on Wednesday morning at the NPG
      The BP connection:  For those who are very concerned, as I am, about what's going on along the Gulf coast right now and the connection with BP, I felt that Daphne Todd who won the Award this year made a very salient point at the Awards ceremony on Tiesday night.  She very rightly pointed out that art has always depended to a very large extent on patronage and art insitutions are always very appreciative of the support they get.  Art competitions are a prime example.  They are very important feature of the art scene as they have incredible potential to make very positive contributions to artists' careers.  However the major awards absolutely will not happen without patronage and sponsorship and that inevitably means going where the money is - and if it's not BP then it's the Banks!

      At the moment, BP is danger of going bust having had £67 billion wiped off its share values.  If it does then there will be a lot of very major art institutions which will lose massive sums by way of patronage/sponsorship as well as very many pensions funds both here and in the USA and all those people, animals and environment affected by the oil spill disaster.  I don't quite see how anybody benefits by that.

      This is the link to enter next year's award.  If it's still being sponsored by BP, I'd venture to suggest portraits of those who have dedicated their lives to wildlife might be very acceptable.


      Art Blogs

      Drawing and Sketching
      So, this feels very weird. I feel like this is the first time I've ever blogged. In my whole life. What do I do? What should I say? Firstly, big thanks for all the messages, orders and concerns for my computer.
      Coloured Pencils and Pastels
      Painters and Painting
      • Sarah Wimperis is, in my opinion, on a roll with her garden watercolours- see Shade House on her sketchbook blog Muddy Red Sketchbook
      • Small Works is a blog about small scale paintings and prints by Scott Bennett
      Wildlife art
      • Artists and Ripple have raised over $5,500 to help clean the animals and birds caught by the oil spill

      Art Business and Marketing

      • Tracy Helgeson (Works by Tracy Helgeson) outlines her policy on donating paintings to charity - and has a few tips for what to watch out for for those who've not done so before. (I also like the idea of copying a painting by a master in your own style)
      • The Independent commented on how art can help the regeneration of the economies of seaside communities in New wave art: Britain's coast revitalised (Can't you just see the smile on the face of whoever came up with that headline?)
      • The Huffington Post reminds us that Artists Are Not Above the Law

      Art Competitions and Art Societies

      Summer Exhibition:  I visited the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy this week - nice and quiet as England was playing a World Cup Match!  I have to say I found it very disappointing and will be writing more about this next week.

      Threadneedle Prize:  The numbers of the artwork selected for the Threadneedle Prize exhibition are now public on the website. I'm trying to find out the names of the artists

        Art Exhibitions, Galleries and Museums

        Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

        workshops - going greener

        One option for my Going Greener Gong this year is an environmentally conscious workshop for artists

        tips and techniques
        • I shouldn't really be telling you this - on the other hand it's interesting to see how photoshop can mimic artwork.  So here's Photo to Pencil Sketch

        Art Festivals

        Please do not allow your jaw to drop or your eyeballs to bug out when you inquire about prices.  Spitting out your lemonade is also unnecessary.  Simply take a slow, deep breath and back away from the booth without bumping into anything with a price tag on it.

        Art Supplies

        Opinion Poll

        • This month's opinion poll about art magazines (see right hand column) closes very early on 30th June and results will be posted later the same day. There will be a new poll on Thursday 1st July 2010

        Websites, webware and blogging

        Slow page rendering today is typically caused by server delays or overly fancy page widgets, not by big images. Users still hate slow sites and don't hesitate telling us.

        and finally........

        The Times and Sunday Times are now behind a pay wall. It's £1 for a day or £2 for a week's access - so there will be no more references to those newspapers on this blog.

        There's a lot of people commenting - for example:
        Google searches will no longer turn up Times stories, and links posted on social networks will only take you to the papers' sign-in page. News International has opted for the most extreme form of paywall - others let search engines crawl their sites, or offer non-paying visitors a few free articles to entice them in..........This is more than just an experiment in whether people will pay for news, it's a strike against the prevailing philosophy of online journalism, which says that the most important thing is to make your material shareable to the widest possible audience.
        According to his biographer Michael Wolff, Murdoch has not used the internet, let alone Google (he only recently discovered email) and so he cannot possibly understand the dynamics, demands and opportunities of our post-industrial, now-digital media economy.
        Speaking personally, I've never understood what the point is of having paywalls for news.  It's not as if you have an exclusive good or service - unless your output is way better than everybody else's (eg Wall Street Journal and financial news) - so why would people pay?

        As you might be able to guess from the tenor of this post, I'm all for promoting sites which are happy to participate in the global community and share online for free.

        While it may not have a significant impact on the conglomerate which is the Murdoch empire,  I suspect this development might have the potential to decimate  Times Newspapers Ltd. especially as the two newspapers last year made a loss of £87million.  Others will be watching with interest.

        In the meantime, never a slouch, the Huffington Post announced its Welcome  to the New Huffington Post Arts Page.  which is at It's not actually new so much as revamped - and, of course, it might well be trying to fill a new gap in the market!

        Saturday, June 26, 2010

        BP Portrait Award: Michael Gaskell's unparalled record

        In the last 11 years, Michael Gaskell has entered the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery five times and his record is as follows:
        • 2010 - 2nd prize
        • 2009 - 2nd prize
        • 2003 - 2nd prize
        • 2001 - commended
        • 1999 - commended
        That means every time he's entered he's achieved some form of recognition.  That's a record unparalled to my knowledge in the history of the competition.  I also can't think of anybody else who has won 2nd prize three times.  Normally, with that sort of track record, if any artist is shortlisted for a third time then they normally win.

         2nd prize winner (for the 3rd time) - Michael Gaskell (b.1963)
        Egg tempera on wooden board, 290 x 205 x 11 mm
        photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

        (he) only got to know his sitter, Harry, when he agreed to sit for him. Having seen the sitter whilst he was out shopping with his family, Michael was persuaded to approach him by his wife.
        We talked about the art materials he uses and what sort of portrait he aims to produce.

        Michael started painting in egg tempera in the mid 90s for very practical reasons.  He had his studio in the house and needed a paint which was clean and relatively odorless (compared to the alternatives).

        He's taught himself how to paint with egg tempera and used to read every manual he could find about how to create and use the approprate sort of gesso for egg tempera.  He recollected that it took him about 3-4 years to get the hang of how egg tempera works best and how to get the best out of it.  He loves the fact that he can paint in layers and paint over anything

        His paintings are meticulous (like large miniatures), very smooth and remind me very much of the golden age of Dutch painting.  He also maintains an amazingly consistent high quality in his painting.  Below is his portrait from the BP Portrait Award 2009 exhibition

        Second prize - Michael Gaskell (b.1963) for Tom (egg tempera on board, 270 x 210 mm)

        Egg tempera requires a rigid surface so I wondered what sort of what sort of support and preperation he uses.  It turns out that his boards are made of mdf (but he makes sure that it's the type of mdf without the formaldehyde).  He then applies the gesso himself and he makes his paints from pigment from Cornelissen,  However he joked that the shop would never count him as a great customer as apparently he has still got a lot left from his first ever purchases!  He also uses very small brushes - sizes 0000 and 00000 - which are ones typically used by miniaturists.

        His paintings take him about three months to produce - however the elapsed time will often be longer as he often allows the paint to rest to allow the paint to settle on the board.

        In my view, his paintings glow and demonstrate that he truly has mastered the unique properties of egg tempera which makes it a medium which can look as fresh today and in hundreds of years time.

        I like them a lot and I'm very sure that he will one day win the BP Portrait Award.

        Michael Gaskell comes from Sheffield but now lives in Leicester.  His website is  His work is represented in private collections in the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA.

        If you'd like to know more egg tempera, can I suggest you take a look at my information site Egg Tempera - Resources for Artists - which includes a link to Michael's website.

        See the exhibition:  The exhibition of portraits by the winners and selected entries will be at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 19 September 2010 after which it goes on tour to:

        You can also see a video of the entire exhibition

        Making A Mark Archive of BP Portrait Award posts

        BP Portrait Award 2010

          BP Portrait Award 2009 
          BP Portrait Award 2008   
          BP Portrait Award 2007    
           Links:  Resources for Artists - Portrait Competitions

          Friday, June 25, 2010

          Two American Artists win BP Portrait Prizes

          This year two American Artists have won BP Portrait Award prizes:

          3rd prizewinner David Eichenberg with Tim II 
          "Tim II" (2009)
          Oil on Panel, 13.25" x 12.75"(without frame) / 21.25" x 20.75" (with frame)
          photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

          This is the first time David Eichenberg has exhibited work in the BP Portrait Award.  Yet again we have an internet connection to the entry: David found out about the award via Facebook, looked it up on the Internet and then talked it over with Mary Jane Ansell who encouraged him to submit his work.  (Mary Jane also has work in the exhibition this year)

          The portrait of Timothy A Stover, a sculptor who has a studio below David's,  represents a point in time.  Every day, on the way to his studio, David passes Tim and every day, Tim looks up at him with exactly the same expression on his face - as he has in the portrait. 

          We discussed his approach to the physical creation of portraits.  He enjoys studying portraits by artists from the past and is a big fan of Holbein's portraits.  Thus, as with Holbein portraits, the portrait of Tim includes various symbolic motifs - such as the shape on the wall which is the outline of the state of Ohio.  There's also a connection to GI Joe and the USA's response to terrorism in the cobra logo on Tim's T shirt which I didn't quite understand.  I'm guessing this might relate to his welding mask and the mask of the Cobra Copmmander!

          David paints using a photograph as a reference - but the photograph he uses is one which has been manipulated and worked on a lot using a digital graphics program - until it provides the image he wants.  He then copies it to the support using carbon transfer.

          He uses a support which I'd never heard of before - a synthetic pvc panel made by Sintra (you can read more about it here) which is completely inert, very rigid and does not warp.  Its commercial use if in signboards which have to withstand the extremes of weather - outside!  He then coats it with an acrylic gesso which creates a very smooth eggshell like finish.

          For paints he goes with whoever provides the colour he wants to use but mainly uses paints by Sennelier, Daniel Smith and Jack Richeson.  The T shirt was painted using Daniel Smith's lapis lazuli.

          David lives in Toldeo, Ohio and graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in sculpture and painting in 1998.  Last year he was a Finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 at the Smithsonian.

          His website is

           BP Young Artist Award winner: Elizabeth McDonald and Don't Be Too Serious 
          Don't Be Too Serious
          Oil on canvas, 635 x 432 x 50 mm
          photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

          Elizabeth McDonald comes from a small town near Dallas, Texas and was living in Austin prior to her move to the UK.  She's currently studying for a Masters degree at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland.   

          Elizabeth is primarily a figurative artist rarther than a portrait artist - and she's having a very good year in 2010.  As well as winning the BP Young Artist Award, she has also had 
          We talked on Wednesday about her approach, technique and materials.  

          Elizabeth aims to use very traditional methods for painting but to create artwork which has a more contemporary style in terms of subject matter.  Most of her paintings are a lot bigger than the one she entered for this competition.

          Her portrait is of one of her fellow students on the Masters degree course.  Camillo Paravicini  was somebody she didn't know very well and we agreed it's difficult to get tired of looking at somebody you don't know too well.  It reminded me very much of Piang Jiang from the 2008 Exhibition who also won the Young Artist Award, who had painted his new flat mate who he'd only met a few weeks earlier.  Developing an ability to paint somebody unknown to you is after all what portrait painters do all the time!

          She says she has a tendency to work a lot with warm colours.  This one started with a red/orange ground and underpainting which she progressively cooled down as she painted.  She painted the portrait over three sittings.  One sitting for the face and body position, one just for the hands and one to complete the work.  She was particularly keen to get the effect of the highly reflective black desk.  

          Elizabeth uses M Graham oil paints which use walnut oil.  This has a unique refractive index, is non-yellowing and according to Elizabeth has a really nice viscosity - very buttery.  She has no need to use thinner and if she brushes walnut oil over the paint it pulls the pigment which creates the interesting textural marks in the painting.

          Elizabeth's website is - and this is her portfolio

          See the exhibition:  The exhibition of portraits by the winners and selected entries will be at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 19 September 2010 after which it goes on tour to:
          You can also see a video of the entire exhibition (see if you can spot Elizabeth!)

          Making A Mark Archive of BP Portrait Award posts

          BP Portrait Award 2010

          BP Portrait Award 2009 
          BP Portrait Award 2008   
          BP Portrait Award 2007    
           Links:  Resources for Artists - Portrait Competitions

          Thursday, June 24, 2010

          Video - BP Portrait Exhibition 2010 opens today

           Two views of the BP Portrait Exhibition 2010

          This year I'm taking a different approach to my coverage of the BP Portrait Exhibition 2010.  During the Press View yesterday morning I shot a video of the entire exhibition.  It's very definitely handheld and shaky in parts however I hope it gives you a real sense of the type and size of work which was selected this year.  That's not to say that next year's exhibition will look like this.  Every year is always different.

          What's different in 2010?

          I think it's a very good exhibition this year.  There's much more diversity, fewer "big heads" and a greater range of ways in which subjects have been treated.  Self portraits are getting more and more interesting and the ensemble portraits also demonstrate innovation.  To my mind, creativity seems to have taken over from photorealism.  That's not to say there aren't some exquisite portraits which have captured the detail.  It's just that they don't look like photos - they're better than photos!

          See a virtual exhibition

          But don't take my word for it - see for yourself.  Below are the links to my video and the virtual version of the exhibition on the NPG website

          BP Portrait Award 2010 is the link to my VIDEO OF THE EXHIBITION on YouTube.  I've not embedded it here as it's nearly 8 minutes long and this blog takes long enough to load already!

          Many thanks to Neil and Eleanor and all at the National Portrait Gallery Press Office for their kind permission to video the exhibition.  I'm still getting to grips with processing videos on my iMac so please excuse the lack of technical wizardry with the video I shot.

          These are the links to: The Exhibition
           That Sinking Feeling by Mark Jameson
          Oil on linen 1000 x 650 mm

          There are some great stories behind the images.  The Jameson family are having a real family affair with the BP Portrait Award.  Mark Jameson is last year's Young Artist of the Year for Benfica Blue his portrait of his sister Lyndsey.  This year Mark's back again with an excellent self-portrait which creates a spin on momenti mori.  Lyndsey meanwhile is on the other side of the gallery with her splendid portrait "Sentinel" of their much younger brother.

           Sentinel by Lyndsey Jameson
          Oil on linen, 1220 x 770 mm

          See the Exhibition in person

          The exhibition of portraits by the winners and selected entries will be at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 19 September 2010 after which it goes on tour to:
          Below you can find links to posts on this blog about the BP Portrait Award this year and previous years

          Making A Mark Links:

          BP Portrait Award 2010

          BP Portrait Award 2009 
          BP Portrait Award 2008   
          BP Portrait Award 2007    
           Links:  Resources for Artists - Portrait Competitions

          Tuesday, June 22, 2010

          Daphne Todd wins BP Portrait Award 2010

          Daphne Todd PPRSPP, NEAC - the Past President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - has won the £25,000 BP Portrait Award 2010 with Last Portrait of Mother - her painting of her mother Annie Mary Todd on her deathbed.  She also wins a commission worth £4,000

          Daphne Todd with her award in front of Last Portrait of Mother
          copyright: artwork - Daphne Todd / photo - Katherine Tyrrell 

          This was the third time Daphne Todd has been selected for the Portrait Award exhibition.  In 1983, she won the second prize in John Player Portrait Award (now the BP Portrait Award) and was commended in the following year.  She stopped entering when she was no longer eligible (when entry was restricted to those under the age of 40)

          In her speech on receiving the award she highlighted how her career has been a prime example of the benefit that this very prestigious award can bestow on those shortlisted for a prize as well as those who win it.  It enabled her to give up work and become a full-time artist and she subsequently became the first woman President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

          She also commented on the support given to the portrait award by BP and thanked the company for their continuing support in this the 21st year of the BP Portrait Awards.  She made the point that art competitions simply could not and would not exist without sponsorship.  Sponsorship for a prestigious art competition which helps an artist's career is always much appreciated.  As she wryly commented - with her past experience of being involved in such matters - one has to look for sponsorship whereever the money is and if not BP then one would need to look to the Banks! 

          Last Portrait of Mother

          Her mother lived with her for the last 14 years of her life and celebrated her 100th birthday prior to her death last year.  Daphne Todd had painted her mother many times over the years but her mother never liked the results - possibly because the portraits were too realistic.  Neveretheless she'd given her daughter permission to do the portrait before she died.
          Realistic painting can often be quite cruel
          Daphne Todd

          We talked about her habit of painting from life and Daphne Todd commented that this is a "painting from death".  Her mother has died and is lying on her cushion in the refrigerated room of the undertakers.  In practical terms it meant she had to work quickly while the body started to change and she managed to complete the portrait in just three days of solid work.  Her portrait reveals the distortions of a body affected by osteoporosis, the stomach is filling with gas and turning green and her skin is becoming transparent. 

          I asked her why she had painted her mother in this way.  There were two reasons.  First it was primarily about coming to terms with her mother's life ending; second, because she was simply curious about what death actually looked like.  She's previously only seen people who had died after they had been prepared for viewing by the undertaker.  She had absolutely no plans for the painting beyond actually doing it.  A friend visiting her studio had seen the painting and prompted the entry.  She'd had absolutely no expectations of being shortlisted never mind winning - she saw herself only as some sort of notional 'older artist'.

          As I talked to her about the experience, she leaned across and patted her mother on the arm - in thanks.

           Last Portrait of Mother
          650mm x 920mm, oil on wooden panels 
          copyright: artwork - Daphne Todd / photo - Katherine Tyrrell

          Other prizewinners

          I'll be doing more posts about the other prizewinners but here are the results in brief:
          The exhibition  

          The exhibition of portraits by the winners and selected entries will be at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 19 September 2010 after which it goes on tour to:
          You can also see a video of the entire exhibition

          (Note: This post has been revised and updated following the original posting on Tuesday night)

          Making A Mark Archive of BP Portrait Award posts

          BP Portrait Award 2010
          BP Portrait Award 2009 
          BP Portrait Award 2008   
          BP Portrait Award 2007    
           Links:  Resources for Artists - Portrait Competitions