Monday, October 29, 2012

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2013 - Call for Entries

This post is for ALL watercolour painters - wherever you live - who are interested in submitting their watercolour paintings to the Annual Open Competition of the Royal Watercolour Society.

The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2013 has issued its Call for Entries and the details are summarised below.

This post summarises the details of who can enter what and how which can be found in the 8 page application pack!

A post later this week will also indicate how people can apply for membership of the RWS

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2012 - Exhibition
Bankside Gallery, London (home of the RWS)
(you can see more images in 
RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2012 Review )
    The aim of the Open Competition

    The definition of the aim of the competition has changed since last year.  This year there is more emphasis on practising artists and international entries.
    The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition aims to encourage innovation and experimentation in water-based mediums and seeks practising artists at the forefront of watercolour painting.  Any artist (providing they are not a member of the RWS) working with water-based media can apply. We welcome international applications
    Note in particular that although the RWS is very flexible about the nature of the watercolour media that can be used in artwork submitted to the exhibition, it is insistent that:
    • all works must be on paper.  This year they are explicit that impasto acrylic works are not eligible
    • all works must initially be submitted online using a digital image and an online form. 
    • artists submitting work will need access to an email address to be able to enter - but it can, with their permission, be one belonging to a family member or friend! 

    Prizes will include Art materials, Purchase prizes, Cash awards from the RWS from £500 to £1000 and the opportunity to exhibit in the Royal Watercolour Society’s Spring and Autumn Exhibitions during 2013.

    Who can enter the competition?

    The RWS's guide proceeds straight to "how to enter' without starting with "who can enter".  I prefer to start with "who" as it avoids wasting people's time!

    However the covering letter indicates that this is a truly OPEN art competition. 
    Any artist (providing they are not a member of the RWS) working with water-based media can apply. We welcome international applications, but applicants must be aware that if their work is chosen for exhibition they will need to arrange a courier, as works will not be accepted by post.
    Thus it is OPEN to:
    • people who are NOT members of the Royal Watercolour Society - as indicated in the letter
    • people who do NOT live or work in the UK  - as indicated in the letter
    • artists of any age (not indicated - but no limit indicated either) 
    That means all the Americans and Europeans and Russians and Chinese and Japanese and whoever else can ALL APPLY to this competition.  I know I've seen entries by international artists in the exhibition for the open competition in the past and I believe the RWS is keen to expand the number of entries coming from artists from other countries.  There's certainly quite a few RWS members who are currently taking their art to other countries!

    What to submit

    Details are available in the Application Pack - which can be downloaded from the website
    • All paintings in water-based media on paper are eligible, including acrylic (but NOT impasto), gouache, watercolour and pen and ink. (note the emphasis "on paper") 
    • There is no restriction on style or subject matter. 
    • The works should have been painted within four years of submission 
    • Paintings must not exceed 100cm x 100cm when framed. 
    • A maximum of three works may be submitted at a cost of £14 per piece. 
    • All work must be for sale. 
    • The works must be the original work of the artist and copyright must be vested in the named artist. [I recommend that any artist who is unclear about the meaning of "original work" and copyright see Art competitions and copyright - the AWS Gold Medal debate 08.09.08. and AWS gold medal controversy - the final word 17.08.10]
    • All work must be for sale
    You can review my blog posts below about some of the previous exhibitions below. These include gallery shots of works in the exhibition and links to the websites of prizewinning artists.
      RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2012 - Exhibition

      How to enter

      Produce a digital image of the artwork
      • Advice is given in the instructions on how to create a digital photograph eg 
        • works should NOT be photographed through glass 
        • crop the work to remove all background which is not the artwork 
      • If the work is small you can of course scan it
      • Crop the image to the edge of the painting 
      • Poor quality and uncropped images will NOT be considered for the exhibition
      • RWS advice about how to resize your image to comply with the guideline requirements is MISSING. I'm wondering whether the RSW realises what it's asking when it states Image files should NOT exceed 1MB and the resolution needs to be 300 dpi. 
        • 300 dpi is the resolution required for print images NOT images viewed on a screen
        • images intended for high resolution printing always have a large file size - way in excess of 1MB
      As somebody who resizes images day in and day out I personally find the RWS's size guidance to be very puzzling. A file size of no more than 1MB when matched with 300 dpi gives an incredibly small image.  I tried with one of mine and it gave an image of 2.5" x 1" on my screen or when printed out.  I thought the whole point of digital entry is that it then allows judges to view images on screen with no need to print out images.  This is Adobe Photoshop on the topic of resizing an image and I RECOMMEND that you give this a good read before you try and resize your image.  Also make sure you keep the original image safe and make a copy and try resizing that to the correct dpi and file size.  You might also just want to give the organisers a ring and ask them do they really want a very, very small image.  I shall be dropping them a line to ask what size of picture they expect to get from an image which is 300 dpi and no more than 1MB.

      [UPDATE: The Application Pack has now been amended and reads as follows ie there is no requirement as to dpi.  I've asked what is the preferred size.]
      Image files must be jpgs and should not exceed 1MB.   
      Submit the work digitally
      • All entries are to be submitted digitally through the RWS website - see (the digital upload facility is not yet present on the website as at the end of October)
      • The website has not yet been updated to include access to:
        • either the online form (There will be a page with the online form - and you will require an email address to proceed.)
        • or the secure online payment service used for paying fees - however you will need to do this
      • Full-time students of recognised art schools and Watercolour Artist Friends are entitled to free entry 
      • Follow the guide in detail re what you have to do to upload an entry
      • The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 9th January 2013. 
      • Successful entrants will be notified on Friday 25th January 2013 via email and notification via the RWS website
      How to present framed artwork

      The worst thing that can possibly happen is to have your work selected for the exhibition - and then rejected because of poor presentation - so do make sure you read the requirements in the application pack carefully
      • All artwork must be properly framed, glazed and labelled (front and back).  Requirements are for:
        • professional quality frame (ie no metal, plastic or clip frames)
        • a simple monochrome wood frame (black, white or natural) with a white or cream coloured mount.  
        • non-reflective or tinted glass is not permitted.  
      • Mirror plates should be fixed either side using screws
      • Bubble wrap or tape around the mirror plates to prevent them damaging other work in transit or in the gallery
      • Works exceeding 100cm x 100cm when framed will be rejected.
      • All original framed paintings must be delivered to the Bankside Gallery on Sunday 17th 12 noon – 6pm or Monday 18th February between 11am - 7pm for hanging in the exhibition which opens on 22nd February 2013 (with a PV on the 21st)
      • Regional collections prior to this date are also available - details are in the Application Guide
      • Note artwork must NOT be posted - although couriered artwork is acceptable so long as it arrives on the designated dates.

      I wish the RWS luck with the number of artists who will not carefully read the instructions about how to label the front of the work.  There is a better and less frustrating way of labelling work so it can be identified from the front.

      Important dates
      • SUBMIT: Wednesday 9th January Upload your digital submission to the RWS website before Midnight 
      • GET THE RESULT:  Friday 25th January - Find out your result on the RWS website
      • DELIVERY: Sunday 17th / Monday 18th February, 11am-6pm - Deliver selected work to Bankside Gallery - either direct or via regional collections at an earlier date or via courier if an international entry
      • PRIVATE VIEW: Thursday 21st February, 6-8pm 
      • COLLECT:  Thursday 4th March, 1-7pm - Collect any unsold work at the end of the exhibition.  (I will continue to reiterate that this is very anti-social for people who don't live in London and who work normal working hours!  It's also bound to be a deterrent for those submitting work from the Regions who will incur additional costs to retrieve their work from Art Moves of Chelsea.)

      The Judges

      The 2013 judges are:
      • Andrew Kalman, Director of Crane Kalman Gallery 
      • Huon Mallalieu Hon RWS, Art Market Correspondent for Country Life 
      • Leonard McComb RA RWS Hon RP RE Artist  He won the 2nd prize in the second prize Singer and Friedlander / Sunday Times watercolour competition in 1993 and 1994 and The Turner Medal for Watercolour in 2007
      • Paul Newland RWS, Vice President and Honorary Curator 
      • Alison Smith, Lead Curator, British Art to 1900 at Tate Britain - she curated the recent "Watercolour' exhibition at the Tate
      Selected works

      A list of selected paintings will be published on the RWS website on Friday 27th January 2012.   Successful entrants will receive an email:
      • notifying them that their work has been selected for exhibition 
      • requirements in respect of framing and delivery to the gallery
      The RWS promise that the notification will be prompt straight after judging and hence there should be time to get a work framed before it needs to be submitted.

      The exhibition

      The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2013 Exhibition will take place at the Bankside Gallery between 22nd February and 3rd March 2013.

      The Bankside Gallery
      48 Hopton Street, London, SE1 9JH

      The gallery is very easy to access via Blackfriars Station / Tube Station or St Paul's Tube Station.  Walk south of St Pauls, across the Millennium Bridge over the Thames and then past Tate Modern and the Bankside is immediately on the left after the Tate


      1. What a great idea. I never knew of this competition.

      2. Hi Katherine,
        I am by no means an expert on many things digital and although I probably do not fully understand the size/resolution/MB thing I can say I have had no trouble getting a large image that fits the 300dpi 1MB requirement.
        Maybe I am missing something here?

        I sent an entry (NWS) via email to their nearly the same requirements (300dpi, 1200 pixels longest side) and had an image that measured 8.5" x 12.75" on my screen (iMac 24" screen) and was only 231KB.

        I exported from iphoto to desktop at full size then resized it in preview since I don't have Adobe Photoshop.

        It seems to work pretty good for online entries.

        Have I missed something?


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