Saturday, December 29, 2012

Generating Art - The Making A Mark Awards 2012

Today I start to review the rest of the Making A Mark awards for 2012.

The awards grouped under the title "Generating Art" relate to generating art either as an individual artist or as an art group - formal or informal.

Generating Art in 2012
  • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
  • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
  • The Best Art Society Blog

The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
"What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way."Winslow Homer
The Painting A Day Stickability Shield for daily painters who maintain a consistently high output of consistently good quality paintings over the course of the year and set a good example to others.

    Previous winners of this award include:
    When I first started blogging, at the end of 2005, the painting a day phenomenon was just getting underway.  Its star exponents won this award in the very first year.  Since them many have sought to imitate but few have met the frequency achieved by those who have won this award in the past.

    In 2012 I'm getting a sense that "painting a day" has had its day.  There are still a lot of blogs around which imply daily painting but the reality of their posts suggest something else.

    That's not to say that there aren't people out there who are painting a lot - and on a daily basis!

    This is not a prize for good painting alone.  That's what the best picture award is intended to be.  However I do expect the overall quality of artwork on the blog to be both interesting, consistent and good.  There are no prizes for boring paintings!  This prize is for somebody who goes the extra mile and has achieved a unique 'look' to their blog - one of the benefits from putting in a lot of work.

    This is a prize which rewards consistent output.  It's about the notion that people get better the more they do, that succeeding is won through putting in the hours and some hard graft rather than hitting on a trend and spinning off from it - or even getting pinned lots of times!

    It's no longer about posting every day - but it is about posting a lot of paintings and it is also a about a lot of blogging.  If you do post every day, it is noticed.  I should note that this award is never awarded to people with new blogs - because the capacity to continue posting wears off after time for a lot of people.  I'm looking in general for some evidence of about 20+ paintings per month.

    As an aside, I would really like to recommend people to have a long hard think about a name which suggests a practice of painting everyday or producing a painting every day and a practice which clearly does neither - in terms of what appears on the blog.


    Here are some of the painters I looked at who have not made the shortlist for this award before.
    • Celeste Bergin, Celeste Bergin Painter (Nominated by Jeanette Jobson) 343 posts in 2012 to date.  She has a phenomenal posting record. I noted from her blog that Celeste does not confine herself to postcard size small paintings.  Plus she's looking around at artand posting photos of it even when she's not creating it herself.
    Located in Portland, Oregon, she posts everyday and paints every day reliably. She is one of the most art immersed artists that I have the pleasure to know and always an inspiration.
    • Kathleen Coy  My Daily Painting Challenge does actually create a painting virtually every day (taking weekends off) and what she produces is really rather good.  However she only started in April and for this prize I like to see a blog which has made it past the first birthday. She's a strong contender for next year if she keeps going!
    • Tom Brown has had a blog Tom Brown Fine Art since 2006 and seems to paint pretty much every day (although I can't check this as he doesn't have the numbers switched on in his archives!).  I did however do a random check and every month I looked at he was painting virtually every day.
    However, the person who repeatedly impresses me with her appetite for painting and production and delivering workshops and creating tutorials and ebooks and generally creating a robust business portfolio based on her painting is Carol Marine (Carol Marine's Painting A Day).

    Carol sticks to her painting in everything she does.  It's the springboard for all her other activities - and throughout she creates 20+ paintings a month and what's more she sells them all!  For me she's a very relevant role model for younger painters of what can be achieved if you have the right mindset,  the talent and skill to paint well and the determination and dedication to get on and "do".

    So the first individual artist to receive a prize twice and......

    The 2012 Winner of 
    The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
    is Carol Marine

    The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup

    Art can be quite a lonely activity and it's noticeable that people often like to have some sort of involvement in groups and projects related to art!

    This award is designed to provide some recognition to those who set and keep such projects going.

    The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
    This award is for

    • EITHER a major and reputable new project which adds value and involves a large number of bloggers  
    • OR or a project which has grown over the course of the year in question or otherwise had some significant impact during the course of the year

    Previous winners are:
    First off a special mention must go to last year's prizewinners.  The Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser by the artists participating on The Daily Paintworks Site has to date raised $10,509 for aid organisations supporting those in need post Sandy. See the 100+ paintings painted to date for this cause.

    I had a couple of art blogs in mind relating to projects which I found both interesting and of value to others.  These were:
    • Women painting women  - this project has explored online how contemporary women painters are handling women as subjects. The blog was founded by Sadie ValeriAlia El-Bermani and Diane Feissel and has featured many paintings by women of women.  It's a small scale project and there aren't a lot of posts however it had a very clear focus and it's always a pleasure to look at.   Thing is they had an exhibition in April and the whole project seems to have fallen by the wayside so far as the blog is concerned ever since.  This is a project which should have won the prize in previous years - but met stiff competition!
    • The Art of the Real blog documented the project to take watercolour paintings by four leading watercolour artists resident in the UK (Angus McEwan RSW ARWS, David Poxon RI, Denis Ryan ARWS, Sandra Walker RI) to a series of exhibitions around the world.  Well the exhibitions have taken place but the blog has similarly rather died the death as the exhibitions got underway - and stopped in March.
    So - both worth a mention - but not quite what I'm looking for in terms of a project which relates clearly to 2012.

    In the end I decided that the art blog project which was worthy of note is a project led by Cathy Johnson which received Making A Mark's Going Greener Gong in 2009.

    Group blog projects often 'fall over' after a time.  People get interested in other things, participation drops off and then before you know it very few people are posting.

    Sketching in Nature  started in 2009, has developed a linked site on Flickr (with 748 members) where they often identify future blog correspondents, has grown its correspondent base as a result (by invitation only) and every week it generates between 5 and 10 posts.  So lots for people to read making a blog worth subscribing too, if you have a similar interest, but not a huge commitment for an individual correspondent.  It's also a correspondent recruitment model which tends to raise the calibre of the post. Plus the posts stay on topic and do not drift away from the reason for its existence i.e. sketching nature from observation and at first hand.  Moderation also seems to be pretty effective in  reviewing output and keeping the comments on topic as well!  Bottom line this is a blog which has made a commitment to being both on topic and sustainable!

    The 2012 winner of
    The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is
    "Sketching in Nature"

    Sketching on the spot, outdoors; field sketches; 
    learning from our sketches; nature observation; exploring with a sketchbook.
    The Sketching in Nature Blog Banner

    The Best Art Society Blog Prize

    Last year I set out my criteria for a good art blog by an art society. I've set out a revised version below.

    The characteristics of a good Art Society Blog:
    Art Society Blog posts will:
    1. Be Useful 
      • Basic data about how become a member is always included (i.e. assumes a readership beyond existing members). 
      • Information about events and activities include enough information for people to be able to locate the society's activities (e.g. does not assume "everybody knows").  
    2. Be Timely - announcements about events and exhibitions will allow time for people to plan and arrange to visit! 
    3. Emphasise the Visual - Art rather than words dominate the blog.  Images of artwork or event posters should always be included whenever possible and relevant. An art society blog without images says something about how important visual images and the artists' artwork really are! (This factor is the main reason why some art society blogs are NOT shortlisted.  A little bit of persistence is all that is required). 
    4. Highlight what the Art Society does - blog posts can show people what the society does and what it has to offer through the use of photographs of activities and artwork 
    5. Supports Artists through highlighting their exhibitions and websites.  Blog posts profile members, their artwork and their exhibitions - regular updates throughout the year generate extra marketing for artist members, extra traffic for the websites of the artist, art society and gallery associated with members.
      There's just one previous winner - in 2011 this prize was won by The Denver Art Society.


      2012 has seen a lot of progress in the use of blogs by art societies.  One of the points I would highlight to those wanting to increase traffic to their website/blog is the necessity of having a live RSS feed so that news can be syndicated via emails or feedreaders.  I'm seeing what appear to be some nice news/blogging elements to new websites which are missing and RSS feed - and I imagine their traffic will be very light as a result.

      The Art Society blogs which I want to highlight in the 2012 shortlist are:
      • The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Blog - the ROI blog is loaded with images from exhibitions and art events.  Plus it makes a point of highlighting individual members and their exhibitions, galleries and websites - in turn.  It also highlights awards made to members by other art societies.  The blog post about the Annual Exhibition was notified a month in advance on the blog.  This also emphasised the opportunities for people to watch demonstratestions for free.
      • Artists of the RI is the blog of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI).  This blog provides a lot of profiles of individual members with a nice balance between words and paintings by the artist.  At present they're averaging one a month.  To date they've not yet covered their own Annual Exhibition or any other art events associated with the RI
      I'd also like to mention the American Society of Botanical Artists who have used a Blogger blog to provide a site specific way of presenting the art being exhibited in their Annual Exhibition - see
      13th Annual International Juried Botanical Art Exhibition 2010 and 14th Annual International Juried Botanical Art Exhibition 2011.  I had hoped there was going to be one for the 15th Annual Exhibition - but sadly not.  It would have been on the shortlist if the 2010 and 2011 exhibitions blogs has been anything to go by.

      On balance I feel that the ROI blog at present embraces more of the criteria I think makes a good art society blog.  It's got scope to develop and I'm sure it will improve over time.  However it's already doing a very good job.  I particularly like the quantity of images it uses for major events and exhibitions.  If you paint in oils I recommend you subscribe to it and find out about some of its member artists and what the ROI gets up to in the UK.

      The 2012 winner of
      The Best Art Society Blog Prize is
      The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Blog 


      1. Thank you so much, Katherine, I and my fellow co-authors are Sketching in Nature are honored to have won this award!

      2. I am in complete agreement with the awards to the ones I am familiar with. Carol Marine especially is a total inspiration. Celeste and Kathleen are both deserving. Tom Brown I was not familiar with so good to hear about him.
        I appreciate the time it takes to present this type of information


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