Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lynn Painter Stainer Exhibition 2013: Review

Ruth Stage NEAC's egg tempera painting  The Isabella Plantation has won this year's Lynn Painter Stainer Prize (2013).  Ruth won the £15,000 cash prize and an engraved gold medal. This also makes it a win for egg tempera two years on the trot! (see Antony Williams wins Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2012)

Lynn Painter-Stainer Prize 2013
The Isabella Plantation by Ruth Stage NEAC
100x120, Egg Tempera £7,000
You'd think the BBC would have grown up by now, become educated in painting media and no longer felt the need to identify her by the descriptive term of "egg artist" - but alas it hasn't happened!

Ruth studied at Cleveland, Newcasle and the Royal Academy Schools and has been a professional artist for nearly 20 years. You can see more of Ruth Stage's work on the website of her gallery and in the NEAC website store.  I've been salivating over her work for years and am particularly fond of her treatment of light and water.

The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2013 is a competition designed to encourage creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship. The exhibition features the very best in British figurative painting, showcasing the work of both established and young contemporary artists from across the UK.
83 works by 71 artists were chosen from over 1000 entries.  The catalogue has a complete listing and thumbnails of all the selected works.

Lynn Painter Stainer Prize - 2013 Exhibition
The West Wall of the West Gallery, Mall Galleries
I'm only sorry that due to my dreadful flu bug/coughing fits etc I missed the Preview and Awards Ceremony and only finally got to see the Annual Exhibition of artwork selected for display yesterday.    The exhibition for the Lynn Painter Stainer Prize 2013 continues at the Mall Galleries in central London until Saturday 2 March 2013, 10am to 5pm and is well worth seeing.

You can also see all the artwork online on the website.  Unfortunately these images do not have any dimensions and hence it's not possible to get a sense of relative size.

However this is a wall of some of the smaller artworks.

Lynn Painter Stainer Prize - 2013 Exhibition
Small Paintings, East Wall of the West Gallery, Mall Galleries

Other Prizewinners

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Society Blog #3 - Recruit a Blog Editor

This is the third in a SERIES of posts about art blogs for Art Societies and Art Groups.  

Today we're going to look at the person in charge of the Art Society Blog - the "Blogmaster" - or "Blog Editor" as I prefer to call the role.

If you've read Art Society Blogs #1 - Why blog?  and Art Society Blog #2 - Getting started, here are some suggestions for what an Art Society needs to do next if it wants to have an Art Society Blog.

A blog is not something which can be run by Committee. What it needs is
  • a clear set of guidelines as to what it's about and what sort of content it should contain.  This can be outlined by the Committee.
  • the right person to run it - who needs to be recruited and then left to get on with it.  It's called 'the art of delegation'! (See notes and links at the end if your Committee needs a reminder!)
The ROI Art Event Evening run by the ROI at their Annual Exhibition
was the subject of a blog post on the ROI Blog - the Making A Mark Art Blog of the Year 2012
What sort of "blog content" are we talking about?

This is the scope of the content which the person who develops and controls the blog will, as a rule, look after:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Artists overcoming disabilities

Today is Renoir's birthday and this video shows Renoir painting.  While it's great to see Renoir painting - it's even more significant to see how this great painter was still able to paint despite the very severe ulnar deviation associated with the profound Rheumatoid Arthritis he experienced in later life.
One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity. 
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
His hands are exactly the same as those of my Great Aunt - which is what I noticed straight away.  Note how he never opens his hands properly, how his fingers are twisted at an angle and how a brush has to be placed in his hand but is not strapped to his hand.

Unique Film of Pierre-Auguste Renoir Painting (1915)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919) suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis for the last 25 years of his life. He became afflicted by Rheumatoid Arthritis around the age of 50.  It then became very aggressive around about 1903 when he was 60 and by 70 and for the last seven years of his life he was severely disabled.  The above video was made in 1915 - three years after he lost the ability to walk and started using a wheelchair to get about.  The bandages on his hands were to absorb sweat to avoid skin irritation of the soft tissues of his hands and any deterioration due to maceration.  He lost weight because of rheumatoid cachexia and nodules developed with the ones on his back being particularly troublesome.

He believed in physical exercise to remain in good condition and retain mobility - but walking failed to deliver the sort of mobility he needed to be an artist.
He had no great faith in the benefit of walking which brought into play only certain muscles. He believed much more in ball-games and began juggling every morning 10 minutes before going to his studio. 
Jean Renoir (film Director and Renoir's son)
He also adapted his approach to painting to his progressive deformities and inability to hold items
When it became difficult to hold his palette in his hand he first let it balance on his knees and the edge of the easel. Later, he asked for it to be fixed, like a rotating table on the arm of his wheelchair
How Renoir coped with rheumatoid arthritis
Annelies Boonen, Jan van de Rest, Jan Dequeker, Sjef van der Linden
It's worth noting that he completed 400 works of art with deformed hands and all the other ills associated with this severe form of arthritis.  The article cited above is enormously inforative about the various ways Renoir managed to continue to paint despite very severe disability and pain.

This landscape was painted by Renoir in 1915 - the same year as the film of him painting.

Landscape with cabin (1915) by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Chuck Close

Sunday, February 24, 2013

24th February 2013 - Who's made a mark this week?

A little while ago, an artist called Aine Divine (Aine Divine Paintings) wrote to thank me....
Thank you for the great information you pass on, you always end up answering those annoying questions about open submission competitions and so on.
having been prompted to write by my post about the cost of getting artwork to open exhibitions and competitions.

Mathew by Aine Divine
Runner Up in the Royal Watercolour Society Open Competition 2013
She'd also written to tell me two of her works had been accepted for the Royal Watercolour Society Open Competition 2013 (and has now posted on her blog about this)

It now turns out that one of them has been selected as one of the three runners up for the main prize (see above).  See:
The exhibition for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition opened on Friday and runs until 3 March at the Bankside Gallery.

She's got links to three magazine articles on her website.
Plus an exhibition next month - Greywalls – A Work of Art at which her portraits of golfers who have played at Muirfield will be on display. She also has a blog with precisely one blog post and she obviously needs to be encouraged to do more as her articles indicate she's articulate and writes well about process.

Artists and Art Blogs

This is a very video oriented post this week.

If you're wondering why no exhibition reviews it's because I've been stuck inside with the interminable cough which has been letting me know it doesn't like cold air or too much exertion.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Who painted this? #17

I spent a long time looking for a painting for this week. One of my basic premises for the paintings chosen is that they must be by painters that are of interest and don't in general produce a one-off wonder.

Who painted this? #18

I was surprised by this painter as I'd never heard of him before and yet feel as if I should have. The next was that this wasn't what this view looked like last time I looked at it!

That's as much as a clue as you're getting!

"Who painted this? #17"?

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.

Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer
  • search using words only on a database of images
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog  (This week you can post correct answers one by one if you like.  However you must have ONE comment which summarises ALL the correct answers you have supplied BEFORE next Friday)
  • correct and partially correct answers will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer
  • if wrong it will be published
  • do not leave the answer on Facebook!
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know
Who Painted These 10 Popes? - The Answer

The answers are below. I've included links to the painting, the artist and the place where it is now located.  I'm not reproducing the images this week - but you can find them here - Who painted these 10 Popes?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Art Society Blog #2 - Getting started

This is the second in a SERIES of posts about art blogs for Art Societies and Art Groups. This post covers what to think about when getting started with blogging and before you start to set up a blog.

The first post Art Society Blogs #1 - Why blog? looked at why an art blog can be both suitable and useful to an art society and its members

The next posts are going to look at the process of setting up a blog for an art society and how to make it very effective.  I've decided to break this out into topics so bear with me!

The last blog post considers what's involved in setting up a Group Blog for an Art Society - which allows society members to write their own blog posts.

How to set up an art society blog - first things first

First things first - this is what I always ask people to think about first.
  • Understand the difference between a website and a blog
  • Name the blog
  • Agree a blog URL
I've created an art blog, using Blogger, for this series of blog posts about art society blogging.  More of this later!  What this means is that I can demonstrate different aspects of blogging and show you screen dumps of what things look like without messing about with my own blogs!  

Bear in mind I'm a Blogger person - because it's all completely free and I don't need a host and I don't have to pay any bills!

Understand how blogs are different from websites

Key people in the art society need to understand the difference between a website and a blog.

It's the first thing I have to explain when people ask me what they would need to do to set up a blog.  It's particularly important if the Chair or Committee are not techie or familiar with blogging.

Here's my explanation.

 A WEBSITE is usually a relatively static site - and can remain unchanged for long periods.

In addition, very many of them are old and set up on antiquated software with poor design features.

Others can be hugely dependent on one person.  Many is the story I have heard of art societies being held to ransom by website designers / support people!  Frankly I think it is highly unprofessional.  However it happens - and far too often for my liking!

Typically a website comes with a Home Page and then a navigation menu which leads you through different sections of the site.  Typically you start at the top and follow the navigation menu through the site.

The website content relates to the main functions of the society - explaining what it is, what they do, who runs it, who its members are and what their art is like.  The exhibition page will generally up date once a year.  Old exhibitions may need to come down depending on available space. New members galleries will be added from time to time.  The names of the office holders may change - once a year.

The news page may update more often - however, for most societies, the news in future will be delivered via the blog.  Which means the website will become even more static

Interestingly, I've found it's the art societies which have had more active news pages and events schedules which have seen the sense in developing an art blog which can then deliver the news to people - as it happens!

A BLOG is a dynamic site - its content and 'home page' change on a regular basis.

Instead of a focus on the home page, the focus is on the latest blog post.

In addition its content can be accessed in a variety of ways.  It's not hierarchical like a website.  Instead it works according to how you structure and label the content and how you choose to make it accessible.  The content on my blog can be accessed via:
  • labels / categories (Blogger widget - see the side column)
  • date: year | month | day (Blogger widget - see the Archive near the bottom of the side column)
  • LinkWithin shortcuts (at the end of every post) These generally prompt posts similar to the topic of the one just read.  So if you wrote about one artist - they would generally prompt other posts about the same artist.
  • search (Blogger widget - see the Google Search near the top of the side column) 
  • Put the search term "rotring art pen" into Google search which is near the top of the right hand column and you can find this blog post - typically in microseconds
The focus of a blog is typically on the POSTS (think "articles").  In general these deal with one topic at a time.  The content of the post is (or should be) always of some relevance to the art society.
  • This blog is hosted by Blogger
  • I've posted over 3,000 posts in the last seven years
  • Those posts have been visited by nearly two million people
  • Most have at least one image and sometimes a lot more
  • Most tend to be on one topic - but are long rather than short or snappy
  • All the posts are archived in a systematic way and are accessible at any time
  • All the content is categorised and can be accessed via subject matter
  • I haven't paid Blogger a single penny to host this blog
  • I cannot even begin to think how much it would cost to get it hosted independently - even if I could find somebody to do it for me!
The webware which makes a blog work is typically found on the Internet and accessed via the Internet.  It's certainly possible to have a blog without needing to find a host or paying for any services from web designers.  In other words somebody else looks after all the really techie headache inducing bits - and, for the most part, you just supply the look and the content using the easy to use templates and widgets supplied by Blogger et al.

Webware also means that a blog can be updated and maintained anywhere where you can get an Internet connection.  I've written blog posts - complete with images - while sat having breakfast in a French hotel!
A blog is very accessible and can generate followers (subscribers) who want to keep up with what's published.

Its dynamic content can be published - as and when it happens - via feedreaders and despatched to email subscribers.  That means something VERY important - people do NOT need to come to the site to hear about what's happening.  They can catch up while reading other blogs on a feedreader (on a computer / tablet or phone) or have the news delivered via email to their inbox (or both as I do!).  This is one of the main reasons why a blog can get a lot more visitors than websites.

In a recent development, art societies are now using blogging software to deliver a combined website and blog.  Such a move of course helps an art society to keep its website costs to a minimum - and can eliminate hosting costs and technical headaches in the process.

To do this, the blog/website uses the scope offered by blogging software to install Pages (you can see examples at the top of this blog) to deliver static content about the art society.  This in turn can eliminate the need for a separate website - and the associated costs.

Key Question 1:  List the ways a blog might improve the profile and marketing of an art society, its member artists and their artwork - when compared to the existing website

Key Question 2: What are your priorities for what you want your new art society blog to do:
  • right now?
  • in the future?
Create an Identity
Once you've agreed your art society will have a blog you need to stop and THINK about branding and identity.

You need to do two things:

  • decide on a name for the blog - remember you are deciding on a BRAND name for the art society blog which reflects well on the art society
  • decide how that is represented in terms of the Blog's URL

Also think about what you want the name to be if in future you wanted the one site to be both website and blog.

If you want to keep it simple use the art society's name - and then add "News" for a simple blog.  However do please recognise that people get very bored if they need to type out long URLs and remember how they are spelt.

My advice would be to have a short name and a short URL which is compatible with the name of the society and identifiable as belonging to it.  Nobody wants a long URL!  Even more importantly, nobody wants a blog to be hosted on sites which generate URLs which are a mile long and complete gobbledygook!

Key Question 3:  What's the simplest and best name for a blog for (name) art society?

Key Question 4:  How is that expressed simply and easily as a URL?

Art Society News #1 - A blog title, a URL and the first page (for members websites)
Expenses to date = NIL
If you want Google to recognise separate words in your URL then you need to hyphenate your URL.   That then means it might be found more easily via browser searches.

Hence my new exemplar blog is:

You'll note that its sum content to date is a new page for Members Websites

Please note subscriptions only become live after you have verified the link in the email you will receive

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Art Society Blogs #1 - Why blog?

This is the first in a SERIES of posts about art blogs for Art Societies and Art Groups.  It considers:

  • why an art blog can be useful to members of an art society - and the society
  • the suitability of art blogs for art groups and art societies
  • how to set up an art blog
  • how to set up a Group Blogs for an art society

Plus at the end it announces a new website which provides a directory for the art blogs of art societies.

The images come from the art blogs for art societies which I've found on the Internet.
This is the blog of The Wellington Art Society - an organization for artists and art lovers
in the western communities of Palm Beach County, Florida.
What do we need to do to set up an art blog for an art society?

It all started with a query via email
Hi Katherine
Knowing you to be an expert on blogs I wondered if I could ask a few questions. I am a member of a new art club and they are wanting a team blog where everyone can comment. I was planning to use google blogger as I'm familiar with it but just realised that I would probably need to create a new google account as in the future I will pass it on to someone else to administer. However I don't really want to keep signing in out of google do you know if there is a way to combine the accounts? Or perhaps you can suggest an alternative. I don't need anything fancy as long as I can set up pages for a gallery and have a calendar for events. There would be 3 administrators, members only to post and comment but visible to the world.
I has halfway through writing the response when I realised it would probably make rather a good blog post.  So I sent the response off - and this is the follow-up!

My response will be in three parts
  • Part 1 - Why it's a good idea for an art society to have a blog
  • Part 2 - What you need to do to set up an art blog for an art society
  • Part 3 - What you need to do to set up a Group Art Blog for an art society (ie where members can post content and upload their own images)
In addition I'm creating a directory of art blogs by art societies - and if your art society has an art blog I'd love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment and/or send me its URL.

I'll be using examples from different art society blogs to Illustrate what is possible

This is the blog of the Lincolnshire Artists. It's an example of an art society
which is using blogging software to provide both a website and a news site
and makes great use of the Pages function to provide access to its archives and business
Why it's a good idea for an art society to have a blog
A blog for an art society is a good thing - period.

Why so?  Here's why.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What it's like for an Artist's Trustee

One of the topics which many artists are good at ducking is what on earth should be done with their artistic legacy.

A while back I created a website - Art after death - Resources for Artists.  It was intended to create a resource both for artists and/or art collectors wishing to get their affairs in order prior to their death and by those seeking advice on "what to do for the best" after the death of an artist and/or art collector where are no specific instructions - and the Executor or Trustee has no expertise in art.
Things you need to know about what happens to art after the death of an artist or art collector.
  • What do you need to know and do if you are an Executor who knows nothing about art?
  • How do you minimise challenges for those who have to deal with the Estate of an Artist or Art Collector?
  • What's the best way of avoiding financial squabbles?
One Trustee's Journey

Last week I came across a blog which tracks the experience of one Trustee as he gets to grips with the Estate and what needs to happen next.  It's written by Bob Frith who used to be a student of the artist Dave Pearson and is now one of the Trustees of the Trust set up to deal with the artistic legacy part of his Estate.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The 100th anniversary of the 1913 Armory Show

1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art
(The Armory Show)
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (The Armory Show) by the Association of American Artists and Sculptors in New York.
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of arguably the most famous art exhibition of the 20th century
This was the first large exhibition of Modern Art in North America - and much of it was by European artists who'd not previously been seen by art collectors in the USA.
Four thousand guests visited the rooms on the opening night.
It's important to realise that up until this show, Americans who had not travelled were typically only familiar with Realism - artwork which attempted to represent what was real in an objective reality.  In addition the powerful National Academy of Design was attempting to ignore it.

So what we have in New York in 1913, in effect, is a replay of the situation nearly 40 years earlier in Paris in 1874.  The French Salon, like the National Academy, was the arbiter of national taste and was having no truck with the young upstarts who were painting in a new way.  Thus  the impact of the exhibition in New York is very much like to the impact of the First Impressionist Exhibition held in Paris between 15 April- 15 May 1874.

Which is why it's worth remembering!

After The Armory Show of 1913, artists working in the USA were influenced by the modern artwork by major European artists which was exhibited in this show - for the rest of the 20th century.

[Note" This started off as the feature for "Who's made a mark this week?" - but I got too interested in it and it began to take over the post - so WMAMTW will now publish tomorrow]

Why's it called The Armory Show?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who painted these 10 Popes?

Last week was a bit more of a challenge - and a lot of you still got the correct answer (see Who Painted This #15 - The Answer below).

However one person was so miffed by the challenge that they decided to award last week's post a "one star" because they hated it!  I think they must have been a tad frustrated.......

You can find out the names of all the people who got the correct answer at the end.

Call me perverse if you like but I guess I'll be frustrating a few more people this week.  That's because this week - in honour of a momentous event - I have a challenge which should keep all "who painted this?" fans occupied for most of the week!

The winner will be the person who comes up with the MOST correct answers - so do not despair if you can't get them all!

"Who painted this? #16" - Who painted these 10 Popes?

In honour of a very courageous decision - one which had me spouting "Popes can't resign!" when I found out.  I reflected on it and decided he is probably a very wise man.

Clue:  No artist is repeated but one Pope is repeated.  There's the odd clue lying around....

Who Painted This Pope? #1
PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.

Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer
  • search using words only on a database of images
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog  (This week you can post correct answers one by one if you like.  However you must have ONE comment which summarises ALL the correct answers you have supplied BEFORE next Friday)
  • correct and partially correct answers will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer
  • if wrong it will be published
  • do not leave the answer on Facebook!
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know
These are the things I want to know - for EACH of the 10 paintings of 10 Popes(!)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vote for your favourite coloured pencils in 2013

Every year I run a poll to detect the trends in popularity of both artist grade coloured pencils and watercolour pencils.  Tomorrow, on Making A Mark Reviews, I'll be publishing the results of the 2012 Polls and comparing these results to previous years.

However I'd like to invite you to VOTE for the brand you think is the BEST and your preferred brand in 2013 in two Opinion Polls covering artist grade coloured pencils and watercolour pencils (click the links below to go straight to the polls)
You can find these polls on my website Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists

A selection of the various brands of coloured pencils I use while sketching
They include: Caran d'Ache Pablo, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Derwent Artists, Derwent Coloursoft,
Derwent Signature, Faber Castell Polychromos, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolour, Karisma
Artist Grade Coloured Pencils

Not every brand is included.  The brands included this year are
  • Blick Studio Artists
  • Bruynzeel Sakura
  • Caran d'Ache - Luminance (6901)
  • Caran d'Ache - Neocolor II
  • Caran d'Ache - Pablo
  • Cretacolor Karmina
  • Derwent Artist
  • Derwent Coloursoft
  • Derwent Drawing
  • Derwent Studio
  • Faber Castell Polychromos
  • Holbein Artists
  • Koh I Noor Polycolor
  • Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
  • Mitsubishi Uni
  • Prismacolor Art Stix
  • Prismacolor Premier
  • Prismacolor Verithin
  • Soho Urban Artists
  • Talens Van Gogh (6901)
  • Tombow Irojiten
  • Utrecht Premium
To vote click Which is the best brand of artist grade coloured pencil?

Watercolour Pencils

The brands of watercolour pencils identified for the 2013 Poll are:
  • Caran d'Ache Supracolor Aquarelle
  • Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle
  • Caran d'Ache Museum
  • Cretacolor Aqua Monolith (Woodless)
  • Cretacolor Aquarell
  • Daler-Rowney Artists' Watercolour
  • Derwent Aquatone (Woodless)
  • Derwent Graphitint
  • Derwent Inktense
  • Derwent Watercolour
  • Faber Castell Albrecht Durer
  • General's Kimberley Thin Lead Watercolor
  • Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell
  • Sanford Prismacolor Watercolor
  • Staedtler Karat Aquarell
  • Talens Van Gogh Watercolour
To vote click What's your favourite watercolour pencil?

Watch out for the results of the 2012 Polls - due to be published on Making A Mark Reviews tomorrow

Please note subscriptions only become live after you have verified the link in the email you will receive

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday, Lent and Art Supplies

Today is Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent - the period of 40 days until Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

It's traditional to fast on Ash Wednesday and then to give up a luxury or something you value as a penitence for Lent.  However that's easier said than done.......

The Battle Between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Bruegel the Elder - 1559
Painting - oil on panel Height: 118 cm (46.46 in.), Width: 164.5 cm (64.76 in.) 
The Fight between Carnival and Lent depicts a common festival held in the Southern Netherlands. On the left side of the painting there is an inn, and in the right side of the painting there is a church. The juxtaposition is meant to illustrate the two sides of human nature: pleasure and religious chastity, and the contrast between the two. Near the church sit well-behaved children. Near the inn are rambunctious drunkards. The fat man in the middle of the painting, with the pie on his head, is a representation of “carnival.” The painting represents a common theme in 16th century Europe, the battle between Carnival and Lent, and with its humor and witticism, is a satirical critique on the conflicts of the Reformation. Wikipaintings
I'm not asking you to become religious - however I am interested in what you value which you might choose to give up if you were so minded

If you had to give up one item from your art supplies.....

What item of art supplies would YOU find the MOST difficult to give up for Lent?  

In terms of:

  • art materials?
  • or essential tool?
  • or bit of kit you find absolutely indispensable?
  • or luxury item of art materials?

I'd be lost without.....

I think for me it would be the pen I use for drawing as nothing else works as well. The Pilot G-Tec-C4 Gel Rollerball produces an ultra fine line of 0.2mm - in sepia ink!

Plus I have them absolutely everywhere - pockets, handbags, backpacks, pencil cases - so the chances of actually being able to find and remove them all from temptation is pretty remote!

...and whenever I find them in a shop I usually have to remove them all to my safekeeping after flashing my plastic!

Pilot G-Tec-C4 Gel Rollerball - sepia ink
All they had in the shop!
Over to you - what would you struggle to live without for 40 days.....?

Do please comments below - or on Facebook - and share with your friends.

Please note subscriptions only become live after you have verified the link in the email you will receive

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How can you tell when it's a vanity gallery?

I'm been drafting an article about Vanity Galleries and got to the bit about "how can you tell when it's a vanity gallery?"

I know how I tell but decided it would be a good idea to check out with my readers:
  • what you think are the main indicators of a vanity gallery
  • what questions you ask to check them out
First - here's some information (ie what I know!) and a checklist of questions about vanity galleries.  Plus some resources at the end - which are good articles about vanity galleries.

Please take a look through and see if there are 
  • any refinements you'd like to suggest 
  • or any omissions of aspects which you think are indicative of a vanity gallery or similar exercise.
What's a Vanity Gallery?

A Vanity Gallery is one which requires you to pay to show your art.  This may involve a fee for each item of art shown or a fee to be shown in their gallery and/or have an exhibition.

The business model of a Vanity Gallery revolves around extracting money from artists rather than selling artwork to art lovers.

Characteristics of a Vanity Gallery

Monday, February 11, 2013

'Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape' at the RA

Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape is in its final week at the Royal Academy of Arts.  It closes on 17th February.
The exhibition draws on the Royal Academy’s Collection to underpin the shift in landscape painting during the 18th and 19th centuries. From Founder Member Thomas Gainsborough and his contemporaries Richard Wilson and Paul Sandby, to JMW Turner and John Constable, these landscape painters addressed the changing meaning of ‘truth to nature’ and the discourses surrounding the Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque.
I was suffering from flu when it opened and then heard that it was disappointing so I'd not rushed to see it. I also avoid all exhibitions over the Christmas break as they are invariably impossibly crowded and hence a waste of time. However my other half was keen to see it and having got over the worst of my second bout of the nasty flu bug(!), we visited the exhibition this morning.

Now visiting an exhibition with the other half means I typically spend a lot less time looking at it which means I often go first and then again with him.  He has very clear ideas of what he likes and what he doesn't like.  Today I learned that what he does like is proper painting and colour and what he doesn't like is an awful lot of fairly dark engravings - even if they are of paintings by Turner!

J.M.W. Turner, R.A.
Norham Castle on the Tweed
1 January 1816
Etching and mezzotint, 17.80 x 26.0 cm
Photo credit: © Royal Academy of Arts, London
My own feeling is that the exhibition title created high expectations - and yet the delivery fell well short of what I would have hoped to see.  For one thing rather a lot of the artwork is actually created by other artists which was a bit of a surprise.  I gather all the works in the show have been drawn from the archives and Diploma Collections of the RA.  That perhaps explains the overwhelming number of prints and the small number of paintings which largely comprised donations by the artists to the RA's Diploma Collection.

Many of the artworks in the exhibitions are engravings, etchings and mezzotints of works "after" paintings by artists other than those in the exhibition title.  Important European artists such as Claude Lorrain, Salavator Rosa, and Poussin are represented - as are British landscape artists some of whome are better known - such as Richard wilson and Paul Sandby while others are much less well known - such as Michael Angelo Rooker.

If they'd called the exhibition just "The Making of the Landscape" I guess I might feel differently about the exhibition.  As it was I found Gainsborough's contribution to be fairly negligible and I missed Turner's paintings of later years.

The star of the show for me was

Sunday, February 10, 2013

10th February 2013: Who's made a mark this week?

I love it when I see an artist producing a painting which has a special meaning for me.

The Fountain at Gordes by Sarah Wimperis
580mm x 740mm, watercolour on paper £875
This Provencal fountain painted by Sarah Wimperis (The Red Shoes) is special to me.

When in Provence in 2011, I wanted to go back to Gordes - one of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" as it was there that I had one of those "I'll remember this" moments when on my first ever painting holiday - with the BBC Holiday programme in tow!  It wasn't so much being filmed painting sat more or less in the seat from which Sarah did her study for this painting.  It was more to do with that moment when you stop focusing on "how to paint" and move on to "how to make a picture". More than 20 years later I still wanted to be able to make a picture of that contrajour image of the fountain against the roofline and was really pleased to be able to go back there - and introduce a great painting spot to a fellow artist.

It's also fascinating for me to see somebody else's perspective on "my view".  I was sat about three feet to her right - and still haven't got round to posting that particular sketch! (memo to self - finish France!)

Anyway - this is by way of introduction to the fact that you can see this painting and others by Sarah  in one of two ways:
  • her solo show - Sarah Wimperis - Simple Things, Still Life - opens at the Beside the Wave Gallery in Falmouth, Cornwall on Friday 15th February with an Evening Viewing from 6.00 to 8.00. Her exhibition is then on show until 27th February.  Paintings can also be previewed and bought online via the gallery. More new exhibition paintings will be online from 15th February
  • the Gallery is also publishing a book of her recent work to coincide with the opening of the show. The book of studies and paintings for 2013 retails at £20.00. Click here to see a PDF of the book along with a price list. You can win a free copy of the book if you like and share the promotional image (see below) of Sarah's exhibition on the Gallery's facebook page before 6pm on 15th February when the winners will be announced.  Those of you thinking about marketing your exhibitions in future might like to tuck this idea away in a "good idea" folder!
Let's not forget the the other reality of a solo show for an artist is the Organised Chaos which occurs as you do all the last minute jobs which get paintings ready for the Solo Show!

It's great to see that some paintings have already sold.  A lot of Sarah's recent paintings are of interiors - a major theme which Sarah has been developing in the last couple of years or so.  Others focus on different aspects of gardens. Below is my favourite - again for personal reasons.  

Afternoon Sieste by Sarah Wimperis
800mm x 610mm, oil on board £1,250
If you have a solo exhibition coming up or a group exhibition AND you are an art blogger (this last bit is very important) do let me know when you're having your show and I'll mention it in this weekly post.  See  How to highlight your exhibition - for artist bloggers ONLY for information about what you need to do.  Please note, as stated, this is an art blogger ONLY deal!  If you don't have an art blog please do NOT send me your press release!

Artists and Art Blogs

I'm still struggling with my second bout of the flu bug which keeps trying to knock me out - so this is a short post this week

Friday, February 08, 2013

Who painted this? #15

Who painted #15
You're all getting far too good at this.  I give you a painting by an artist I'd never heard of and a culture which few of us have studied much - and you get it straight away (see Who Painted This #14 - The Answer below) .

Maybe the answer is to reduce the detail........?

So who painted this?

How to participate in "Who painted this? #15"

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.

Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer
  • search using words only on a database of images
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog
  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer
  • if wrong it will be published
  • do not leave the answer on Facebook!
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know

Painting by Ustud Mansur
Who Painted This #14 - The Answer
  • Title of the artwork: not applicable this week
  • Name of the artist who created this artwork: attributed to Ustad Mansur - the leading nature painter at the court of the Mughal emperor Jahangir.
  • Date it was created: no later than middle 17th century - probably c.1625
  • Media used: I was only expecting a few answers... however guesses ranged between opaque watercolour, gouache and egg tempera
  • Where it lives now: Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg (but since the records are confusing I'm also accepting the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)
At the very end of 1955 it occurred to me to visit an exhibition of old Indian and Persian miniatures organised in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. These miniatures, belonging to the Hermitage and the Institute of Orientalistics of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. were very diverse. There were miniatures on historical, zoological, botanical subjects and so on. It was natural that first of all my attention was attracted by wonderful pictures of birds, exhibited among other miniatures. There were falcon, a guinea-fowl, a bustard, stone chats, finches, tragopans and so on. And amongst others an excellent picture of the dodo
An Indian picture of the Dodo by A. Iwanow - Leningrad 1958
  • Which ruler the painter worked for: Jahangir.  The point of asking this question is that this particular Moghul emperor was a passionate supporter of making records of the natural world.
  • The significance of this painting: It's the earliest known accurate painting of a dodo from life.  It's considered to be the most reliable painting of a dodo as it also fits the skeletons best.
Apparently two live specimens of the Dodo were brought to India in the 1600s according to Peter Mundy, and the specimen depicted might have been one of these.
This dodo's portrait is a part of an excellent set of Indian and Persian old miniatures very different by their origin and subjects. In the middle of the 18 th century all these pictures were provided with a broad ornamented border and united in one volume. This volume belongs now to the fine collection of Oriental manuscripts of the Institute of Orientalistics in Leningrad....... It was rediscovered in the collection of the Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and created a sensation at the XII International Ornithological Congress at Helsinki in 1958.An Indian picture of the Dodo by A. Iwanow - Leningrad 1958
For the wildlife artist, the other birds depicted are:
Articles and websites referencing this painting

The correct answers

The first person to provide the correct answer was Jane Gardiner (Glasgow Painter)

Others who got it right were:
Most people got it quickly after they included the word Dodo in their search query!

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Review: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch

Cover of the Exhibition Catalogue
All those who engage in landscape painting, particularly those who paint plein air, should beat a path to the National Gallery in London and go visit the brand new exhibition of oil sketches by American landscape painter Frederic Church which opened yesterday.

I visited it yesterday on Day 1 of the exhibition and highly recommend it. I don't think I've been quite so impressed by small plein air oil sketches in some time.

Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch is a small exhibition in Room 1 of the National Gallery.  It has some 25 oil sketches and one large oil painting by Frederic Church.

Most were done as studies for larger paintings.  They're small and yet seem to be miniature versions of the luminous landscapes so often portrayed  by Church.  His mastery of tonalism is quite exquisite.  When you get closer it's apparent that most are indeed oil sketches / studies.  However a few are much more finished works and indeed were framed and hung in his house at Olana.

To me they're a real education in how good draughtsmanship and good judgement about tonal values and colour can make even a small oil sketch an impressive work of art.

I found it fascinating that the majority are oil on paper on board or canvas. I'm not familiar with this way of working but I'm sure those that work plein air will want to take a look at the quality of the finish and the archival quality of the sketches decades later - which incidentally is excellent.

Niagara Falls, from the American Side
The large painting loaned by the National Gallery of Art in Scotland is extremely impressive.  I can imagine some oil painters could stand in front of it for quite some time absorbing the approaches he has used to pull of an absolutely stunning painting of an equally stunning scene.

The exhibition catalogue Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch is selling fast judging by the number of copies left in the adjacent shop and I'm not surprised.  It's got some excellent reproductions and costs £9.99.  You can View spreads of this book (1.7 MB PDF) 

Loans have been made to the exhibition by
  • the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York which has a collection of over 2,000 oil sketches and graphite drawings by Frederic Church
  • Olana, the estate next to the Hudson River (now a New York State Historic Site) which Church bought and developed as his home and own personal landscape.
The exhibition can be seen:

  • in Room 1 at the National Gallery (6 February – 28 April 2013)
  • Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (11 May – 8 September 2013).
I'll be writing more about Frederic Church and the exhibition on The Art of the Landscape once I've had a chance to read the book and study Frederic Church's work some more!

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Review: Man Ray Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

Man Ray Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London is recommended for all those interested in portraiture whether by painting or photography.  The exhibition is a retrospective and chronological survey 150 vin­tage prints from Man Ray’s career taken between 1916 and 1968.  It's a one-off with many of the vintage prints never previously exhibited in the UK

Those interested in the history of the modern arts world in the first half of the 20th century in Europe will also find  it very interesting.

Entrance to Man Ray Portraits
This major photographic exhibition opens to the public on Thursday 7 February 2013.

It's the first museum exhibition to focus solely on Man Ray's photographic portraiture.  Amongst the 150 prints on display are works which have never previously been exhibited in the UK including studies of Barbette, Catherine Deneuve, Ava Gardner, Lee Miller and Kiki de Montparnasse.

The prints have been drawn from private collections - including the Sir Elton John Photographic Collection and the collections of major museums including the Pompidou Centre, the J. Paul Getty Museum and New York’s The Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, and special loans from the Man Ray Trust Archive.  The majority of the prints on display have not previously been exhibited in the United Kingdom.

My impressions were that this exhibition is
  • a landmark - most of us are unlikely to see an exhibition of this size devoted to the work of Man Ray again in our lifetime
  • an essay on modern arts in the first half of the 20th century.  Everybody he photographs are either "somebody" in the arts world or one of his muses/models/lovers
  • a dance on the edge of surrealism - friends with a lot of Surrealists, some mind-bending photographs which "pun" on other classic images but not quite a Surrealist at the end of the day
  • an education in how to create a portrait
  • an education in how to make photographic portraiture iconic and/or interesting.
"I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence."
Undated interview, circa 1970s; published in Man Ray: Photographer, 1981

Some facts about Man Ray (1890-1976):
  • born in 1890 to Russian Jewish immigrants living n South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. (Interestingly a number of the loan prints come from Israeli Museums)
  • his name was Emmanuel Radnitzky ; he changed it to Man Ray later
  • he initially worked as a commercial artist and technical illustrator for design companies in Manhattan
  • age 23, he was very influenced by the European art on display at the Armory Show in 1913
  • age 31, he moved to France in July 1921
  • he considered himself a painter and took photographs to finance his painting;
  • he became a distinguished photographer and photographed significant members of the art world and was also commissioned by Vogue and Vanity Fair to produce photo portraits of other distinguished members of the arts
  • he was associated with - but on the fringes of - the Surrealist group in Paris during the 1920s and 30s (the exhibition includes a portrait of a young Salvador Dali)
  • he moved back to the USA when the Germans invaded France and lived in Hollywood; in later years he moved back to Paris
  • he was an innovator and created new ways of taking photographs
In my view the man has an unerring eye for creating a great image.  Some of the most fascinating images are those which include crop marks  and you can see how he would take a first photo and improve on it.

Left to right - Man Ray self-portrait, 1932; Barbette, 1926; Helen Tamaris, 1929;

The exhibition brings together photographic portraits of cultural figures and friends including Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. Also on show are portraits of his lovers Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and Lee Miller, who was also his assistant, Ady Fidelin and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner.

Here are some images from the exhibition.

The beginning of the exhibition
It comprises one large gallery separated by a tall wall to create two long galleries (inward and outward)
On the left is the iconic solarised photograph of Lee Miller
Solarisation occurs when a photographic print is partially developed, then exposed to white light.
separated by partitions for the different era and locations
The walls are dense with photographs - and some are very small
In the centre is the Violon d'Ingres - a photograph of Kiki de Montparnasse which puns on a work by Ingres
His portraits include a number of artists who were his peers - and who were also in Paris
This is Georges Braque (1922) and Pablo Picasso (1922)
Two Authors in 1922
Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce
Images of Kiki Montparnesse on the left.
Schoenburg and Igor Stravinsky in the middle
Solarised photographs: self portrait on the wall, images in magazines
Moving through the 1930s to the Hollywood yearsFollowing the outbreak of World War II, Man Ray left France
for the USA and took up residence in Hollywood where he painted
and photographed film stars
Exhibition Catalogue

This is one of those occasions when I definitely recommend you buy the illustrated catalogue - if for no other reason then you'll be able to see some of the images better in the book.  Many of his prints are small and the book includes larger versions.

Besides all the images, the catalogue also includes:
  • a preface by Terence Pepper, the curator of Photographs
  • an introductory essay by Marina Warner, writer, art critic and Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex; and 
  • an extensive illustrated chronology of the life and career of Man Ray by Helen Trompeteler, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery and author of Camera Portraits (her blog)
Exhibition and Tour

You can see the exhibition
I think this exhibition is going to be very popular.  There's a lot to see and the layout suggests the gallery may at times become crowded - so I'd suggest aiming to view this exhibition at quieter times of the day (and evening) and less popular days of the week if at all possible

Advanced booking at the NPG is recommended - and you can see details and the ticket website page at the end

Man Ray Portraits From 7 February until 27 May 2013
Admission: Gift Aid admission £14; Concessions £13 / £12; Standard price admission £12.70; Concessions £11.80/£10.90 

Tickets available from

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, 
opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) 
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross 
General information: 0207 306 0055 
Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 

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