Monday, April 15, 2013

15th April 2013 - Who's made a mark this week?

For any of you who missed this post in the first week of April - Making A Mark notches up 2 million visits !  This blog has also had well over 3 million page views.

Thank you all for reading my blog! :)

[Note: this was supposed to be yesterday's blog post and then I heard the awful news about the bombs in Boston and couldn't settle to finishing this - so there will be two posts today!]

On to the feature item this week..........

Those who enjoy Maggie Smith in her roles over the years - and latterly in Downton Abbey - might like to know that she has now been painted for the nation by one of my ex-tutors James Lloyd.  You can now see a contemporary portrait of her in everyday dress - out of character - in Room 35 in the Ground floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Admission free.
Dame Margaret Natalie ('Maggie') Smith by James Lloyd
© National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 6955)
Oil on canvas, 1902 x 1202mm (74 7/8 x 47 3/8 inches)
commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery
with the support of J.P. Morgan
through the Fund for New Commissions, 2012
It is a large canvas but I don’t think it’s flashy. I was after a certain understated grandeur. The background is quite stark, and apart from the patterned floor there is little colour bar the neutral greys and browns. This directs the concentration on to the warm flesh tones of the face. And with a face and character like Dame Maggie Smith’s that’s definitely more than enough
I learnt that Dame Maggie had been reluctant to have her portrait painted in the past, and at my first meeting with her, her opening words were, “Poor you”. This was quite the opposite from my own feelings, and everyone to whom I mentioned the commission was extremely envious (I lost count of the number of people who offered to make tea during the sittings!)’.

James Lloyd

Artists and Art Blogs

Art on Television

Here in the UK we've recently had insights into two diverse artists - and I can't quite believe I'm writing about the two of them in the same sentence!

Botanical Art

Last week was a major week for one of my passions - botanical art - so please excuse the excess of botanical art at the moment!  On Friday and Saturday we had the two major annual exhibitions in the UK open at the same time within a short walk of one another.
  • the RHS Annual Exhibition of Botanical Art - was in the Horticultural Halls in Victoria - and saw eight botanical artists from all over the world (Australia, South Korea, Netherlands, South Africa and Turkey as well as the UK) go home this weekend with Gold Medals
  • meanwhile the largest botanical art exhibition in the world - aka the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists opened at Central Hall, Westminster - opposite Westminster Abbey.
RHS Botanical Art Exhibition in the Lindley Hall
Displays by 29 Botanical Artists from all over the world
in the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition
in the Lindley Hall
London saw a major influx of botanical artists who visited one in the morning and the other in the afternoon and then went home inspired to improve their submissions next year!

The Language of Flowers
One corner of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists 2013

Central Hall Westminster
To date I've only done a couple of posts as I was "running on empty" by Saturday afternoon.  A third bout of the nasty bug has laid me low again and given my upcoming surgery I'm wanting to get free of respiratory problems before having an anaesthetic.

So more to come - but here's the ones so far:<
Jarnie Godwin
In the meantime, here are some blogs and blog posts by and about artists who paint plants and flowers
  • Jarnie Godwin of Sketchbook Squirrel - who last week graduated from her SBA Distance Learning Diploma in Botanical Art with a Dith a distinction.  You can see her with her work in the Diploma section of the show on the right. She doesn't normally look like this - however she's looking up at my camera which was held high above my head so we could get the photo without the shine from its covering!
  • Susan Frie Nathan wrote recently about Beverly Duncan and Lara Call Gastinger and an unusual commission opportunity for botanical artists.  Ever fancied documenting and recording the plants throughout the year at a person's home?  If so read on - Drawing Nature 
  • Here's Jan Harbon writing about demonstrating at the SBA Annual Exhibition.  Apparently Jan is getting a new blog very soon...... 
  • For those who'd like further stimulation as to ideas for a portfolio for an RHS Gold Medal - I highly recommend you take a look at Lara Call Gastinger's Ten Walks in Virginia which is now on her website - and which I saw in the original exhibition in London in 2007 (see RHS Gold Medal Botanical Art 23 Feb 2007).
  • Lara is also the chief illustrator of Flora of Virginia which was published to great acclaim at the end of 2012.  This is the first Flora (of plans and flowers growing naturally) of Virginia since the very first one which was published in 1762!  It's collected 5 reviews which rated it as a 5* book so far!  Apparently it's also going digital!  Does this mean all florilegia will end up going digital?
  • The Society of Floral Painters has an art blog which I don't think I've highlighted before.  They had an Open Day at which artists can have their work assessed last week
  • Jessica Shepherd (Inky Leaves) writes about The Botanical Imagination - and specifically about a new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery and how his photographic plant portraits by Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932) influenced Rory McEwen - who's got an exhibition opening at Kew Gardens next month!


Plein Air

  • I've been following The Plein Air Convention on its Facebook Page. It ran from 10-14 April in Monterey in California - but people turned up early and I guess they stayed late too!  It looks as if it's been sunny but very windy and a tad chilly.  
    • I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more coverage of what was happening - as it happened - and the paintings people were producing eg the website didn't update for the duration of the Conference and I couldn't tell the difference between the paintings which 'marketed' who was there and the actual paintings being produced on location.  I think maybe the organisers might want to review their reportage arrangements - mainly from the perspective of not every likes Facebook or is a member!  How about a blog next time? :)  (I guess I'm using Urban Sketchers as the model here!)
    • However I am enjoying looking at the album of photos of the Monterey Plein Air Conference 2013  on Mark Fehlman's Facebook account.

Plein Air artists painting on Asilomar Beach during the Plein Air Convention
Nevertheless participants were blogging!

Now people are back home and still blogging (and let me know if you've written a blog post about the convention and I'll take a look and add it in here)
Over here in Europe Plein air painter Roos Schuring (Roos Schuring Plein Air Painter) - who does some amazing skies - was blogging about:
On other plein air blogs

Pastels and Pencils


Who painted this?

  • Who painted this? #24 is a botanical subject this week.  There's a clue if you read my posts  inbetween this post and the next 'Who painted this?' post........  I'm saying no more than that!
  • Roger Brown (Art of the Wild) was the first person to get the correct answer to Who painted this? #23

Art Supplies

The big news since I last wrote is that Utrecht is now part of Dick Blick!


Drawing - Silver Point


Art equipment

Art Exhibitions

Art exhibitions in the UK

Art Societies

John Yardley RI with his demonstration painting
John Yardley RI with his demonstration painting

Art History - and Art Galleries and Museums

It's the time of year when art museums and galleries to see how they do relative to one another

With respect to individual art  galleries and museums
the Met has never imposed a fixed admission fee. Nor do we ever charge an extra fee to visit any of our world-renowned special exhibitions.Director of the Met

Art Business & Marketing

  • Social Media Marketing for Fine Artists is a really excellent powerpoint presentation by Ed Terpening (Life Plein Air) - as delivered to the 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention. It's is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me
  • If you want to know about selling art take a look at Selling art: 17 top tips from the experts from The Guardian's Culture Professionals Network's blog.  How do you rate it as advice?
  • Last week, the Press Assistant of a Gallery in Northampton sent me a press release containing the names and email addresses of all the arts journalists (and others?) that the gallery knew in the UK.  WHEN are galleries going to learn how to send out press releases without breaching the Data Protection Act?  These are the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and they apply to all art galleries in the UK - including artists who keep a database of personal data (eg email addresses) for their art business 
  • Artsy Shark has a great summary of the sort you want to file entitled How to Ace Your Next Trade Show,  Forget the specifics of the actual show he talks about at the beginning and focus on the general principles
  • Robert Genn discussed Current art-pricing trends  on his Painters Clickbacks website - not that you'd know it as the art at the top of the page is beginning to swamp the topics under discussion!  This looked at the issue of gallery pricing versus online pricing and how to reconcile the two - and includes a response from Carol Marine which is definitely worth reading - see  Successful self-selling (which is the second response).  I've added it into my website How to Price Your Art - Resources for Artists

Art Collectors and Art Economy

Opinion Poll


  • Apparently Art is very passe and does not merit a category this year in the The Webby Awards. In which case my voting digit will remain committed to other websites.
  • Search Engine Land has an infographic which is rather good for reminding you of good practices relating to optimal SEO behaviour for both websites and blogs.  You can download the SearchEngineland Periodic Table of SEO as a pdf file.

and finally

This is a rather amusing way to mark the reopening of The Rijksmuseum - by staging one its most famous paintings

Here's a flashmob recreating the Night Watch by Rembrandt in an Amsterdam Shopping Centre!


  1. you must still be suffering from that bug -
    it's Roos Schuring and she's a woman! It's pretty incredible that you hardly ever make mistakes when you are covering so many topics in so much detail - get well soon.

  2. This is funny, if there is one person who wouldn't approve this kind of comment Maureen, it's Roos Schuring. She doesn't tolerate any critique which doesn't suits her.

  3. Now I'm lost - what's the problem. I changed the spelling and the gender attributions in line with what Maureen said.

    The spelling was my fault because I definitely read Roos to start with - and I simply did not pick up the gender at all.

  4. Thanks for the mention Katherine - can't wait for the Karl Blossfeldt, will probably pop in tomorrow. Fascinating to read Susan Frie Nathan's post about Beverly Duncan and Lara Call Gastinger. Great to read your weekly digest as always.

  5. Interesting that you didn't think much to the Vettriano program. I never thought I liked his work, but I came away from it rating him higher as an artist. Clearly to him, his paintings are not just pretty pictures, but a projection of himself, of his inner life. When looked at that way, I found them revealing and honest, almost too much so.

    And as someone also trying to self-learn, it did give me hope, especially when he said that when he started, he didn't know what to paint.

    First time commenter on your blog, I love the range of topics you cover, so thanks!

  6. Welcome to the blog Geoff!

    I didn't think his painting technique was brilliant. For example, I was absolutely amazed he wasn't using a mahl stick to steady his hand.

    For me the really disappointing bit was the photoshoot. I don't have any great problem with him painting from photos given his stylistic approach - but I would have liked to see him more in control of the photoshoot - because otherwise he's just copying somebody else's idea of what makes a good picture. Which has, in the past, been the traditional criticism of him as a painter.

  7. No no problem,
    as said Roos wouldn't approve Maureen's comment.

  8. Many thanks for the mention Katherine, and the photo!! The work of Karl Blossfeldt is new to me but I can't wait to get to the exhibition, and in such a great space too! I learn so much from your posts, thank you.



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