Tuesday, October 19, 2010

REVIEW: Miniature Art Society - Annual Exhibition

Reflection 4 by Iain Gardiner - Winner of the Gold Memorial Bowl 2010
Last Friday I went to see the 2010 Annual Exhibition of the The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers.  This continues to be a very popular exhibition with lots of evidence of both visitors and sales - particularly for those with an established reputation and following.

You can see images of some of the very many works in the show on the artists page of the RMS website

Miniature paintings by Rob Ritchie - winner of two awards (2010)

Award winners this year are:
Bronze Sculptures of birds by Patricia Northcroft ARM
  • Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award - Michael W Coe
  • The Bonhams Portrait Award - Bill Mundy - this was a masterly example of portrait miniatures ar their best.  It was watercolour on vellum.
  • Country Club Illustrated award - Roy Cooney
Iain Gardiner has also recently been in October 2010 edition of The Artist magazine having featured on the front cover and had an article about modern paintings in miniature.  This includes a step by step of the painting - Reflection 4 - which won the Gold Bowl.

Dutch street and canal scenes by Erica Youngman ARMS HS
Other paintings I liked included:
  • Erica Youngman's group of watercolour paintings of Dutch scenes (see above) - one of which got an honourable mention for the Gold Memorial Bowl
  • another painting of Iain Gardiner's - this one was called Summer Beat and was very funny in an ironic way.  It was nice to see miniature art proving it can be more than just a demonstration of excellent technique.
  • Suzanne Bradley's Lurcher which was excellent
  • The Clockmaker by Geoffrey Herickx RMS HS
  • a larger watercolour painting (Snow and Sunshine) by Bill Mundy which was very impressive
General Impressions

I thought I saw a lot more townscapes and figurative work this year - in the sense of the word which means 'including figures in the painting'.  More people and fewer animals.  I could be wrong.

I'm certainly seeing more eastern European names on the list of artists exhibiting.  I guess that with every passing year this exhibition is becoming attractive to more and more international artists who want the prestige of saying they've exhibited with the RMS.  

Those who are the best at miniature art are - without exception - masters of design, values and colour.  Those attempting to demonstrate what they can do manage to create incredibly complicated scenes which still read true and believable.  The Gold Memorial Bowl winners has an absolutely staggering control over values and tremendous control over brushwork.

This year I spotted the first pastel miniatures I'd ever seen in the exhibition by Vicki Coppard ARMS

Some of the miniature art leans towards a colour range which is less than natural.  A few begin to nudge Kinkade.   While personal painting style and colours are, of course, always a question of personal choice, I have to say that there were artists who I knew I'd like more if they just toned down the colour a bit.  The artwork work which impressed me the most was that which managed to paint in faithful colours without over-egging it.

Tips for aspiring artists

As always the work which looked best was in frames which were not competing with the image.  Over fussy and ornate frames to my mind don't work well with miniature art - unless the decoration is also extremely fine.  I saw some frames which I thought were absolutely excellent in a dull gilt with very sharp geometry.

I noticed many artists double mat and the mat cutting is incredibly precise.  As you can imagine at this size anything which is not done to a professional standard looks "off".


I'd like to say "Thanks" to the lovely lady members of the RMS who, as always, made me feel very welcome and helped me with my queries.  I was also introduced to Carmela and Roger Arturi Phillips who are miniature art collectors and authors of a book about their very interesting collection - about which I shall write later this week.
Other paintings I liked included 

I have to say one of the things I do like about the RMS (and probably it's something only they can do) is that the awards are decided at the time of selection and consequently their exhibition catalogue each year contains images of all the prize-winning paintings as well as images of other paintings by the members.

It also records the names of those who have won an award - not just in 2010 but also in previoous years so people can see what track record of an award-winning artist looks like.  A small point but one which I cannot help but help but think helps enormously with helping to sell work to collectors.

You can find out more about miniature art on the RMS websiye and in my resource site Miniature Art - Resources for Artists.



  1. What a great resource! Thanks

  2. Did you know it's pointless leaving links in blogger comments as they are always "no follow"

    I can always look up who you are via your account name.

  3. Fantastic! this article is almost like going to the exhibition. I've been interested in having a go at miniatues for a while, and this gees me up seeing what kind of subjects miniaturists are currently doing. Surprisingly modern!

  4. Good point Debra. This exhibition was probably the least 'traditional' of any I've seen to date


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