Sunday, March 17, 2013

10 things about art this week #1

1. A change for my Sunday posts

"10 things about art" is a bit of an experiment - to see if I can write a briefer post about art on alternate Sundays.  The idea is to write about fewer things but maybe say a bit more.  It's looking pretty lengthy at the moment but I'm enjoying focusing in more depth on fewer subjects.

There are no posts from art blogs identified this week - see item 2 as to why!

Thanks for all your comments which have been reaching me via a number of channels.  I've loved everything you said about what you liked the best.

2. It's going to be more difficult to follow Art Blogs via a Feed Reader from July (or is it?)

Google announced this week that it is closing down Google Reader - which is something of a concern for me as a very large number of my subscribers use Google Reader to follow this blog.

Here's the facts
  • Google Reader will be retired on 1st July 2013
  • You can export existing data and subscriptions via Google Takeout
  • a petition has been started - and has collected 10,000 signatures - to keep Google Reader.  To say that a lot of people are furious is probably an understatement!
  • there are LOTS of articles examining the alternatives eg Lifehacker
  • plus others are looking at the implications for life without Google Reader and how it alters the landscape of social media - see, for example What the Death of Google Reader Means for Your Feeds by Jonathan Bailey (Plagiarism Today)
I'm currently experimenting with alternative feedreaders for 
  • broadcasting the publication of a post on my blog(s)
  • reading art blogs without having to visit each blog individually
I'm very much biased towards webware accessible via different platforms in different places.
  • I'm continuing to manually post blog posts to my Facebook page - with a brief comment.  (Don't use Networked Blogs for automated posting - Facebook will bury the post)
  • I tried Bloglines (which is what I originally used) - however it's a complete waste of time.  I do NOT recommend switching to Bloglines
  • I'm currently trying Newsblur - for which I had to fork out $24p.a. for the premium service because I needed to transfer 554 feeds (!) most of which are to do with art.  
Screenshot of what Newsblur looks like
Left pane: List of feeds in a folder
Middle pane: List of blog posts on one blog
Right pane: Text and images from the blog (with different options for what it looks like)
  • So far, I've discovered:
    • they have an incredibly easy method for transferring feeds from Google Reader - whizzbangwhallop - mine took about 2 minutes!
    • it tells me which feeds are dead or dying on their feet.  I'm afraid I've got a cull going on at the moment - I had no idea I had 554 feeds!
    • I can organise the feeds into folders - which was the big attraction of newsblur over feedly as I already had very well developed folder system for feeds - and this was transferred across without problem.  Feedly crosses platforms easily but doesn't seem to have the structure to cope with heavyweight feed usage and the need for a folder structure.
    • I can look at folders, a list of posts and the actual content of an individual post all at the same time (see image).  Heady stuff!  This alone means I'm not going back to Google Reader even if I could.  It also means I'm going to be expecting a lot from blog post titles to tell me what a post is about but twas ever thus!
    • Plus I can tell which of my feeds are good at producing content (a number shows up to tell me how much unread material it has)
    • The downside - I'm still looking for the search facility - which I used to use a lot in Google Reader and I haven't found it as yet.  (I now have confirmation - there is no search facility - which is sad!)
    • I get an associated blog of my own - !  It's a bit like posting posts to Facebook - with a comment.  Not sure whether I'm going to do it for every one - but so far I've shared two.  Plus I can also share posts from other people as I come across them - much as I do on Facebook.  So maybe this is like a Facebook page for non-Facebook people or an expanded Twitter?
  • The message today from Newsblur was as follows
Welcome to all of you wonderful Google Reader expats! Please be patient while servers stabilize. Many new servers have been added and now the backend is being rewritten to support 10X growth in a single week.
Do please leave comments about your experience with new alternative feedreaders this week

3.  Australia loves art and art competitions

Why does Australia do such good art competitions?

I remember when I first went to Australia in 1997 my sister told me that art is taken seriously by the Aussies and the art competitions run by the Art Gallery of New South wales are taken VERY seriously.  I went to see the Archibald while I was there and came away very impressed.

I've been noticing in the past few years that Australia has very good art competitions with some hefty prizes and excellent media coverage.  Most impressive is the very strong cultural heritage and contemporary issues which come through in the art which is submitted.  They really put the art competitions in this country to shame!

4.  A change of status within the art market

The USA has the largest art market again - in terms of value of sales at auction - regaining the accolade from China.  See The Art Market: Top of the charts (Financial Times) and The TEFAF Art Market Report 2013 - The Global Art Market In 2012:
  • the USA had 3% of the art market  (up 4% on 2011)
  • China dropped to 25% (from 30% in 2011) due to a major slowdown in the Chinese market
  • and the UK had 23%
  • however global sales contracted by 7% and the volume of transactions decreased by 4%
  • the lower end of the art market demonstrated the weakest performance
Within the fine art market
  • Post-War and Contemporary Art has a 43% share by value.
  • Modern Art has 30%
  • investors in art stuck to well known names who already had a presence in the top end of the market.
5. Art Education:  Top and tail the art workshop with freebies

Kevin McPherson (who wrote Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color affiliate link included) has developed a new approach to marketing his workshops which I think is rather neat.  He's doing
  • a free paintout  on June 22nd
  • a free critique on June 29th
  • both events top and tail a week long workshop in New Mexico with Kevin which is not free and is also aimed at those who would prefer to paint independently with demonstrations and critique available.
What do you think?  It strikes me that if the freebies are available to people who don't sign-up for the courses then people get a chance to try out whether they like the tutor and way of teaching without having to lay out a whole load of money.

I think anything which converts interest into a purchase of a class or workshop or painting holiday (or art book or video!) is an idea worth thinking about for all artist tutors.  I do know that for a lot of art tutors the major part of profit that they make on their educational activities comes from their product sales to students (ie artwork, fine art prints, instruction books, 'how to' videos etc)

6.  Art Exhibitions in the UK

Opened last week:
Closing this week:
Upcoming exhibitions include:
7. Women in Art

International Womens Day is in March and includes celebrating achievements and successes.  March is also  Women’s History Month in the United States. 

I had a look round to see who picked up on it on their blogs - and began to get the distinct impression that maybe this wasn't a big deal any more.
This is a fascinating audio talk about and with the legendary artist Judy Chicago (on The Art Newspaper) which took place at the Whitechapel Auditorium.  Judy Chicago produced The Dinner Party which represents 1,038 women in history and is now in the Brooklyn Museum.

I also produced a website - All About Women Artists - which is very much in its infancy -  but aims to be a decent resource about women in art history.  It'll take some time to develop!

8. How taste in art changes

The most read article on The Art Newspaper last week was How and why taste changes.  

David Ekserdjian, the professor of history of art and film at the University of Leicester explains why history demonstrates that the pecking order of artists stays pretty much the same over time - notwithstanding some hiccups.

The aspect I was less clear about from the article is how long does it take an artist to become 'rated' and part of current taste and thus part of the pantheon of artists who have "made it".

For example, does his thesis mean that your status as an artist is fixed pretty early on?  Or can you become more popular when you start creating art which people like?

9.  Who painted this?

Congratulations to Sandra Harris (The Colour of Ideaswho submitted the first completely correct answer for Who painted this? #19

Here's the link to Who painted this? #20 - and it's not a painting! You're struggling so I think it's going to have to be daily clues (via the comments) throughout this week - but you've identified the topics for the first two clues already!

10.  The remaining post  last week.....

Oil Paints - by Schminke, Charvin and Blockx
in Green & Stone in Chelsea, London
POLL: Which are the best artist-quality oil paints? which follows on from the poll I did last year about watercolour paints which has proved very popular.

I shall be developing a site with information about and linkages to more about the different brands - whether that's the company website., the colour chart or artist's reviews.

If you've reviewed the oil paint you've used do let me know!

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


  1. On the question of readers, the one I have tried which is for Mac users, is Reeder. It's available for laptop and for iPad (although as two different apps so you do pay twice - all of £2.99 for each)

    I have downloaded the laptop version to try out first, and so far I really like it. Pulling the feeds from Google took but a minute, and it also gives the ability to drag feeds into folders. It has a nice way of easily allowing you to change the amount of data that comes down too. I like full readability because a high proportion of what I read includes images of artwork.

    I actually prefer this one to Google Reader.

  2. Bit surprised you did not include this year's SBA exhibition in the upcoming :)

  3. Good point - I was focused on the end of March rather than April

  4. Plus I did mention them BOTH last week when i highlighted the RGS Gold Medal Show at the Lindley! :)

  5. Ah, I didn't have time last week, got to check it now :)

  6. I had a post about the RHS exhibition and mentioned it was the first time that the RHS and the SBA had been exhibiting at the same time - see RHS Botanical Art Show 2013 - Selected Artists

  7. Katherine -- not sure whether you can read this as I'm not that clever yet with computery things. I've just come back from seeing the Royal Scottish Watercolour Society at the RSA in Edinburgh and thought you might be interested. Here's a link to the gallery of paintings:
    It really is an excellent exhibition.
    David Hawson.

    from David Hawson

  9. The Old Reader is a RSS alternative pretty much like Google's. There's a backlog for imported feeds to appear, but you can manually add feeds in the meantime.


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