Friday, May 31, 2013

Who painted this? #29

I think the artist who painted this had a really enjoyable time!  It's very 'painterly'.

Who painted this? #29
(minus signature)
You know the drill - and for those who don't read the notes below and those on the page at the top of this blog.

How to participate in "Who painted this? #29"

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bulldog Bursary 2013: Shortlisted artists

Would you like to train as a portrait painter?
...asks the Royal Society of Portrait Painterswebpage about their Bulldog Bursary.
This bursary aims to develop the talent of an artist at an early stage in their career.
The bursary is worth £5,000, plus an extra donation of £2,500 from the de Laszlo Foundation. The aim is to provide an opportunity for an artist, regardless of location, to be mentored by Members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Other benefits include access to facilities at the Heatherley School of Fine Art .

Bulldog Bursary 2012 - 13

Last year's winner of the Bulldog Bursary was my friend Olha Pryymak.  She writes on her blog about the process of winning the award - see Bulldog Bursary report – How did you get it?

She's also done a number of interviews with artist members of the RP - including a number of the women artist members - and written these up on her journal. See:
Paintings at the Annual Exhibition of the
Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Top - Reflection by Flora Watson (Self portrait)
oil 90cm x 90cm
Bottom - Love Story #8 - Character Study
by Olha Pryymak - Bulldog Bursary recipient 2012-13
oil 90 x 70cm

Bulldog Bursary 2013 - 14

Yesterday the RP blog announced the artists shortlisted for the Bulldog Bursary for 2013.  They have been invited to bring their portfolios and supporting statement of how they would use the bursary as shortlisted artists for 2013 to an interview. The artists are listed below:
  • Flora Watson Flora did a Diploma in Portraiture at The Heatherley School of Fine Art 2010-2012.  See her self portrait that was selected for the Annual Exhibition of the RP above.
  • Naomi Grant In March 2012, Naomi won the Lynn Painter Stainer Young Artist Award of £2,500 for a Self Portrait
  • Lewis McKenzie His blog is lady d' abernon's hand - Sketches & Drawings by Lewis MacKenzie
  • Hero Johnson As well as being a figurative artist, Hero is also the PR and Marketing Manager at The Heatherley School of Fine Art
  • Sarah Jane Moon - Sarah Jane comes from New Zealand and is a painter and printmaker who specialises in portraiture.
The award will be announced later in the year.

You can see the portraits submitted by the candidates/shortlisted artists in a blog post.

Back in 2008, I wrote a review of the purpose of the bursary and the winners that year - see The Bulldog Bursary - an apprenticeship in portraiture.

PS The Royal Society of Portrait Painters now has a Twitter account

  • Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) -
  • The RP on Twitter - @RP_portraits
  • The RP on Facebook -
  • Bulldog Bursary -

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Picasso the businessman - branding and the value of art

An article What Picasso Knew: Branding Tips For Artists From An Art Basel Insider by Allen Adamson, a Contributor to Forbes Magazine provides some useful tips for artists who need to learn about the relationship between branding and the value of art.

Pablo Picasso (1962)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
It highlights Pablo Picasso as an artist who was not only a smart artist but an astute businessman.  His fame and his wealth came from both.  Being an excellent artist alone would not have allowed him to achieve the success he did.

I've added a section on Picasso and the art business into my website About Pablo Picasso - Famous Artist.  This includes links to other information on the internet about Picasso and his dealings with the art business.

Picasso and his mastery of branding and the art business

Here's a summary in my own words of Picasso's mastery of branding and the art business.

Art has value / Art is a business

  • Art is a business - always
  • An artist needs to know the value of their work
  • sell when you need to not because you have art to sell - control the artwork in circulation and you have more influence over the value and the price

Branding and art

Thinking about art as a brand is helpful to understanding why some art sells - and other art does not
  • brands which succeed are superior in some way
  • art needs to intrigue and communicate in a way which adds value
  • brands which succeed connect with collectors
  • brands with single names are easy to remember
  • brands with clear identities are easy to recognise
  • manage the perception of your brand by the market

What an artist needs to know in order to be successful:

Being a good painter is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a successful artist
  • art needs to be different and distinctive
  • art needs to be high quality and capable of standing the test of time
  • the artist needs to have a clear sense of self and what he or she stands for
  • an artist who is prolific in his production of art does not have to sell everything he makes when he makes it
  • always keep the collectors wanting more

What Collectors want to know about

Collectors want to know about "who" produced the art i.e. they want to know about the brand's "persona"
  • What is the back story?  Is it an interesting and authentic narrative?  
  • Is this artist different?
  • They need to know your latest news - it's another chapter in the story
Collectors are also impressed by artists who are famous enough to be known by one name only.

Other Factors critical to an artist's success

These include:
  • brand placement (ie where you show your art and for how long) is critical to success.  
  • who art is sold to (ie do they have status - will people copy them?) Finding the right collectors is critical and having 
  • where art hangs (irrespective of whether people can see it)
  • knowing the right people - an art dealer who can help with both placement and clients can be critical to an artist's success.
  • how the artist's story is told - and by who
  • keeping control over how art is released to the market and the value/price is managed

Isn't it interesting that Picasso was one of the earliest artists to be filmed painting?

and finally......

Here's my latest find in terms of Picasso videos.  I suggest you mute the Cat Stevens soundtrack!

Monday, May 27, 2013

California Art Club - 102nd Annual Gold Medal Exhibition

Flyer for the 102nd Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition
of the California Art Club
I love it when art societies put their exhibitions online!  That's not to say there's no scope for improvement.

This is the virtual exhibition of the 102nd Annual Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club.  This can be seen in person at the USC Fisher Museum of Art at the University of Southern California 823 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA between 2nd and 23rd June 2013.

The Club’s Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibitions are considered to be one of the country’s premier exhibitions of contemporary-traditional fine art.  They include both paintings and sculpture.

To start with I thought there was no slideshow - you have to open and close each painting individually - which means thumbnails rule when it comes to which ones get opened!

Then I realised that to view the slideshow, I needed to click this link and then right click the > at the top right of every image

Artwork which I particularly liked included:
Some of the paintings in the
102nd Annual Gold Medal Exhibition
 of the
California Art Club
You can also view previous annual gold medal exhibitions online

Note:  I'm going to be doing shorter posts for a while. I'm finding 19 drops per day post cataract surgery a bit of a challenge!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hilliard Society of Miniaturists - Annual Exhibition 2013

The Hilliard Society of Miniaturists kindly provided me with all I needed to write a review of the the 30th Annual Exhibition in advance of my surgery on Thursday.

Annual Exhibition 2013

The exhibition - which opened to the public today - is being held at the Town Hall, in Wells Somerset and is open from 10 am until last entry at 4pm each day and closing on Sunday 2nd June at 5pm.  Entrance is free.  This is a map of how to find the exhibition.  Being held in a public building there is good access for people with disabilities.  There is wheelchair access and a lift to the ballroom where the exhibition is held.

I'm unable to travel at the moment so won't be able to get to see the show.  However this doesn't stop me seeing the work that was selected for the exhibition.  That's because they have got a brilliant virtual exhibition online.

You can link the numbers in the photos to the catalogue of who is exhibiting - see Hilliard Society Exhibition Catalogue 2013

Hilliard Society - 2013 Award Winners

You can see all the awards from the 2013 and previous exhibitions on the website.

Winner of Sue Burton Memorial Best in Show Award
Sepia Series
 ( Acrylic) by Peter Sheppard
£375 each

SUE BURTON MEMORIAL AWARD FOR BEST IN SHOW - Sepia Series ( Acrylic) by Peter Sheppard (Peter Sheppard Art & Design - on Facebook)  Peter is a professional artist and the 1st Vice President of the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.

I thought all three sepia paintings of the landscape of Trinidad and Tobago were very impressive and an absolute bargain!

Winner of President's Choice Award
Bocca Baciata ( Oil) by David Lawton

THE PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AWARD Bocca Baciata ( Oil) by David Lawton.  David Lawton paints immaculate portraits and has featured a number of times on this blog.  In 2007 he was the runner up and second prize winner in the BP Portrait Award.  As always, his portraits speak to me in a way quite unlike other portraits - there's something almost spiritual about them.

Winner of the Bell Award
Marjory (Oil on Polymin) by Rosemary Bentley
£NFS (similar size £800)

THE BELL AWARD Marjory (Oil on Polymin) by Rosemary Bentley.  This one had a pretty frame - but personally I would have preferred something a little less shiny as I thought it drew attention away from the fine portrait.

Winner of the Mary Scott-Kestin Award Animals and Wildlife
Two Lambs (Pencil) by Kathleen Nelson

Kathleen Nelson HSF RMS won two awards

  • THE MARY SCOTT-KESTIN AWARD ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE Two Lambs (Pencil) - a very fine, sensitive drawing
  • THE LLEWELLYN ALEXANDER GALLERY AWARD by Poultry in Winter (Watercolour on Lumitex) - which comes across as natural and unforced in terms of composition

Winner of the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery Award
Poultry in Winter (Watercolour on Lumitex) by Kathleen Nelson
Winner of the Sue Lee awardI've Got my Eye on You (Watercolour) by Claudia Haesen

SUE LEE AWARD  I've Got my Eye on You (Watercolour) by Claudia Haesen

Two more awards are to be announced later.

My personal favourites

For the essence of a good miniature painting or sculpture is one which would be great whatever size it was - but is all the more impressive when created in miniature.

My personal favourites included
  • the netsuke boxwood figures (11 - 13) by Pamela Stewart-Pearson HS RMS.  Netsuke is a form of miniature sculpture which developed in Japan over a period of more than three hundred years.
  • Bow Practice (watercolour on vellum) (47) by Michael W. Coe HS RMS.  Michael is a self-taught, full-time artist who started painting watercolor miniatures in 1991. He became a member of the Hilliard Society of Miniaturists in 1992, was elected a full member of the RMS in 1996 and is an invited member of the Miniature Artists of America, the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington D.C., and a member of the Miniature Arts Society of Florida.  He exhibits internationally and has won numerous top awards for his portraiture.
  • Robin (58) by Sara C. Lee HS NAPA 
  • the very sensitive portraits of children on enamel and silver (77 - 80) by Polish artist Ewa Buksa-Klinowska 
  • the landscape paintings (84, 85, 88, 89) of Rosalind Pierson PPHS RMS MAA MASF which always make my jaw drop no matter where I see them
  • You Looking at Me?  (oil) (165) by Pam Wilmot HS - I'm very fond of a decent painting of a llama!
  • the group of watercolour paintings of animals and nature (171 - 177) by Tracy Hall HS RMS Tracy is an elected signature member of the Hilliard Society, the Royal Miniature Society (RMS) and the Miniature Artists of America (MAA) 2013 and has been much followed by this blog!
  • the plumbago and graphite portrait drawings (179 - 183) of Jenny Brooks HS RMS Dip SBA(Dist). See MAKING A MARK: How to paint miniature portraits
  • the technique of miniature portrait painter Bill Mundy HS RMS MAA MASF SLm always impresses (188 - 191).  I particularly liked the portrait of Michael Eavis (188) - the founder and host of the Glastonbury Festival.  Fans of Bill's work should read the latest post on his blog - The ups and downs of life!
  • I love the gouache on calfskin vellum paintings (259 - 264) of Debby Faulkner-Stevens HS RMS SWA
  • the animal paintings (265-271) of Gina Morton HS RMS SLm exhibit a standard for naturalness which is worth studying if you like painting animals
Note: For those who'd like to know, my personal aversions are anything I regard as "twee" or contrived.

Sales of miniature artwork

In my experience miniature art sells really well.  There are a lot of collectors - and they're very keen on high quality artwork and excellent presentation.

You can buy art from the website from Tuesday 4th June 2013 until Tuesday 18th June 2013.  If you want to make a purchase you just have to contact the Hilliard Office - either telephone 01749 674472 or email hilliardsociety [at]

More about Miniature Art

If this has wetted your appetite or you are intrigued by some of the surfaces being used as supports for the miniature paintings you might like to visit my website Miniature Art - Resources for ArtistsThis site has resources covering:
  • the definition of miniature art - including mughal miniatures and netsuke
  • museum and private collections of miniature art - and tips for collectors
  • information about miniature art socities, exhibitions and competitions
  • information about contemporary miniature artists
  • resources for those wanting to learn how to paint miniature and/or needing speciliast art supplies

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Phacoemulsification of cataract with intraocular lens implantation #2

I've been posting on an irregular basis recently due to the need to keep giving my eyes a lengthy rest because I'm at the "inbetween stage" with respect to my surgery for cataracts.

My new lens in my left eye
My left eye was operated on three weeks ago and at present I've not got any glasses which work properly for both eyes - hence the need to remove them for long periods and NOT stare at a screen - even with enlarged text!

My second "phacoemulsification of cataract with intraocular lens implantation" - this time on my right eye - takes place at Moorfields Eye Hospital this afternoon (fingers crossed and touching wood!).  Happily I will be 'asleep' at the time.

This means blogging will continue to be patchy until I'm back to 'normal vision'.

I have to wait six weeks for both new lenses to "bed in" before I can get new prescription glasses for reading and computer work in early July.  Until then I'm hoping my existing glasses will work better once both eyes have the same sort of lens - but I may find I still can't stare at the screen for long.

The huge plus point so far is it has been absolutely brilliant to be able to see artwork properly again with my left eye. I'm really looking forward to going to exhibitions and having two new bionic eyes which see proper colour and tone!

PS The good news is I'm getting much better at the eye drops routine - so long as I can lie down!

PPS I'm off to hospital in less than an hour so the review of the Rory McEwen exhibition will have to wait until I get back.

PPPS  Don't look up phacoemulsification of cataract unless you have a strong stomach!  I try not think about it.....

UPDATE:  See Day surgery sketching at Moorfields Eye Hospital

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A day in the life of botanical artist Rory McEwen

Rory McEwan The Colours of Reality
cover of the exhibition catalogue
Today I found out why people rave about the botanical art of Rory McEwen.  I went to The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens to visit two new exhibitions:
and also to hear a talk by Dr Shirley Sherwood about the two exhibitions.

More of this tomorrow after I've sorted through my notes - including those of an interview with Dr Sherwood

Today I'm going to post the details of a say in the painting life of Rory McEwen.  After his death in 1982, his family found a log of his the days spent painting botanical art.  It's in the exhibition and it's a real education to review.

Here's his timeline for Friday 6th February 1981
  • 9.45 - 12.30 Central Park Leaf
  • 12.30 - 1.20 Started F Melagris 12" x 9.5" (this is a fritallary)
  • 2 - 4 Central Park Leaf
  • 4 - 5.30 F. Meleagris
  • 5.30 - 6.30 Started William Lobb Rose
  • 6.30 - 8 Grayling Butterfly

A little further along in his journal he records the total time taken to complete Central Park Leaf as being 47 hours 30 minutes.

His work is absolutely amazing.  He has also been a very influential artist in terms of his impact on contemporary botanical artists.

Here's a video about his work

I highly recommend this exhibition to all botanical art lovers and all professional botanical artists through to students of botanical art. This is a really important retrospective - of which more tomorrow

Note:  the image at the top is the cover of the exhibition catalogue - also highly recommended.  the colour reproduction is superb.  You can buy it via Amazon
USA - Rory McEwen Colour of Reality
UK - Rory McEwen: Colours of Reality

My copy is now signed by Shirley Sherwood!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Who painted this? #28

I was merrily starting this blog post when I noticed that the bottom right hand corner of the picture contained the artist's signature.  Whoops!  It doesn't any more!  Isn't Photoshop wonderful?

Who painted this? #28
How many times have artists painted peppers?  Is there a new way of painting peppers?  I'll be very interested to know how you get to this one.......

The answers will be posted in next week's Who painted this? #29

How to participate in "Who painted this? #27"

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

POLL: Artists - Have you made provision for a pension?

The topic most people seem least keen to talk about apart from death is pensions.  Artists are no exception.

In fact if anything they seem less likely to talk about it because, unless they are prompted to do something, they get few reminders.  At least when in employment you see a deduction going into a pension pot each month!
The vast majority of artists have no private pension plans
Katsushika Hokusai, in an 1839 self-portrait
age 79
I suspect that reasons why artists don't get to grips with pensions are various:
  • the gobblydygook which masquerades as advice about pensions is a big reason for a lot of people
  • Another reason is affordability - when artists don't make a lot of money from their art and hence have few resources with which to create a pension.  
  • a belief, erroneous or otherwise, that artists never retire and can continue to make good art into their old age - hence no need for a pencion (Hokusai created his great works and became famous after the age of 60)
  • a total disinclination to even think about pensions!
I'm guessing that one of the reasons that a lot of UK artists teach within state funded education is so that they can earn themselves a pension pot as most other people in employment do.

Artists Interaction and Representation (AIR) provided an update on their work re artists' pensions in December 2012.  They concluded thus
Key findings so far include:
  • The Pensions for Artists research commissioned by Arts Council England in 2007 showed that 70% of artists (across all artforms) didn’t have a private pension.
  • In the UK working population as a whole, 44% don’t have a private pension. It also showed that affordability is the key factor in whether artists save for their pensions, and that artists are twice as likely as the working population as a whole to earn under £10,000 a year.
  • It is common within performing arts unions to offer pension schemes. The combination of the employer contribution and tax relief are powerful incentives for these members to opt in.
  • However, given that 50% of artists nowadays are self-employed they would be the sole contributor to their own savings. This presents a significant challenge in creating an affordable, well-adopted scheme for visual and applied artists.

Making A Mark Poll - Pension provision for Artists

The Making A Mark Poll for May is about pension provision for artists.

It aims to provide a guideline as to what proportion of artists make provision for a pension.  The question and options are as below.

Artists - Have you made provision for a pension?

  • Yes - I make regular payments into an artists pension plan
  • Yes - I make contributions when "in funds"
  • Yes - I'm an art teacher with a pension
  • Yes - I have a regular job with a pension (use this one if already retired with a pension)
  • Yes - I'm relying on a state pension 
  • No - no spare cash for pension contributions
  • No - I shall keep selling paintings until I drop
  • No - I've no idea where to start or what to do
  • No - I'd rather not think about it

You can find the poll in the right hand column.  The deadline for voting is 00:10 on 31st May and I'll try and report the poll results as soon as possible after that.

Pensions for Artists

Here's one useful link - the UK Government's State Pension Calculator for those who are paying National Insurance in the UK.  This tells you how much pension you can get from the State when you become eligible.  The full State Pension is £110.15 a week (£5,727 p.a.)

One of the things I'm also going to do this month is research what information is available online in connection with pensions and will produce a website so I can share that with you
UPDATE 2016: You can now find that page at Retirement and Pensions for Artists

(a bit like my Art after death - Resources for Artists & Art Collectors website) UPDATE 2016: The Art Legacy webpage

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters - Annual Exhibition 2013

This is a belated posting of the rest of my review of the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  It's essentially going to be a picture post as I'm having a few problems with vision and writing long posts right now. (I think I maybe overdid it a bit last week. I'm also beginning to wonder what it's going to be like after the second eye is done next Thursday!  Hopefully fewer headaches when using my eyes for close work!)

The key points I made a note of were:
  • there seemed to be more of a mix this year between where the work by the RP members was located and where the work by artists from the open entry were hung
Private View of the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Main (West) Gallery
  • I really liked the North Gallery.  It seemed to me to be very contemporary and where some of the more exciting and unusual portraits were hung.  It seemed to be very popular and very crowded - at least at the PV!  (I should add the exhibition in the Threadneedle Space was also decidedly very contemporary - you can see images of this in Jan Mikulka wins £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize
Portraits in the North Gallery
    South Wall, Main Gallery
    • By way of contrast, there were a few too many dull corporate portraits by RP members in the main West Gallery .  Maybe it was just that the subjects were a bit more of the grey suit brigade compared to some of the subjects in the North Galley.  (By its nature a lot of work done by portrait artists relates to commissions - find out more)

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Which are the best books about Portraiture?

    This is a post for all portrait artists and those who aspire to become one.

    The idea is to crowdsource a perspective on which are the best art instruction books which cover portraiture:
    • drawing and/or painting portraits 
    • and/or portrait artists 
    • and/or portraiture in general
    In recent years round about this time I ask you about your views on your best art books
    I decided the next crowd sourcing enquiry one should be about drawing and painting people - and portraiture.  However ran into one or two problems.....

    I personally arrived at portraiture via drawing people with no clothes on! I got back into art via a life class at Central St. Martins School of Art.  A lot of the first art books I bought were about drawing people - here's part of my portraiture (art instruction) shelf - except I look at it and can spot the ones which are missing!

    Some of my books about drawing and painting figures and portraits

    From there I then later did a class about Drawing the Head at the Princes Drawing School - and you can see my efforts on my website - Drawing A Head and Drawing Artists
    The thing is when I first came to tackle the topic of portraiture for this Enquiry I got well and truly entangled.

    There are just so many sub-topics and so many books!  So I started trying to sort them out and ended up creating two websites (which I've almost finished)

    The first one I decided should be about art instruction relating to:
    • drawing the figure / anatomy for artists
    • drawing key features - the head, face and hands
    • painting portraits (in different media)
    My second website is about the history of portraiture and individual portrait artists.  It focuses more on books which show you the artwork produced by individual portrait artists and those who liked drawing figures.

    This is my Lucian Freud stash!
    Which books about portraiture do you recommend?

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Portraits are the most difficult subjects to paint

    45% of you think that people and portraits are the most difficult subjects to paint while a further 15% think painting groups of people is really difficult.

    That makes 60% who agree painting people is the most difficult thing ever!

    Unfortunately that's 60% of only 20 votes as not a lot of people wanted to 'fess up about what they found difficult to paint!  Not quite sure why this happened - it's a very low turnout for my regular monthly poll.

    The Tarporley Hunt Club by Andrew Festing MBE PPRP
    oil; 127 x 178cm (50" x 70")
    (see note at end)
    What is the most difficult subject to paint?
    people - portraits 45%
    people - groups of figures 15%
    anything and everything 10%
    abstract (no recognisable subject) 5%
    metaphorical / symbolic 5%
    narrative - story is main focus 5%
    landscape / cityscape 5%
    botanical / floral 5%
    animals / wildlife 5%
    still life 0%
    What evidence do we have for this conclusion from other sources?
    • Portrait painting was historically second after history painting in the hierarchy of the genres.  One might be tempted to describe this another way e.g. painting big groups of figures is more difficult than painting a single person and both are infinitely more difficult than painting anything else.  However the theory behind the hierarchy was slightly different - see quote below. (Interestingly still life which nobody seemed to have a problem in my poll has historically come bottom of the genre hierarchy - must be something to do with the few problems presented by things which don't move or answer back!)
    The hierarchy was based on a distinction between art that made an intellectual effort to "render visible the universal essence of things" (imitare in Italian) and that which merely consisted of "mechanical copying of particular appearances" (ritrarre).Wikipedia - Hierarchy of genres
    • People tend to have a view about what they want their portrait to look like - and how well you're doing! Small wonder many portrait artists won't allow a sitter to view the portrait until it's nearly finished or finished.  The Wall Street Journal comments on the type of challenges presented by painting people in Picture, Picture on the Wall - For people who want their portrait painted, they often want to be seen as the fairest of all
    • It's particularly difficult on those who are painting well known figures.  The Telegraph this week highlighted Why is it so hard to paint a portrait fit for a Queen?
    He has become the 133rd person to paint the Queen for an official portrait. And Dan Llywelyn Hall has become about the 132nd to be met with a bucket of slop from both professional critics and the public.
    I think my conclusion is that portraiture involves the technical aspects of drawing and painting - but it is also about rendering a person and something of the character and sometimes the status of that individual - and that can be very difficult.  

    For me successful portraiture is something which goes way beyond a successful rendering of a likeness - and yet for so many, they would be delighted if they could do just that!

    My personal mission at the moment is to persuade somebody that it's about time we had a prestigious prize for Group Portraiture.  

    Think about how many paintings we see in art galleries and museums involve large groups of people - and then think how many we see today in exhibitions by contemporary artists.  It's not a lot.

    I'm beginning to think group portraiture is in danger of rapidly becoming a lost art.  It's nice to see it when it's done well - and I recommend anybody who can to go and visit the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters to see the group painting featured in this - I regard it as an education in group portraiture in one painting!

    Note:  The image in this post is an absolutely splendid painting of The Tarporley Hunt Club by Andrew Festing - a Past President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  It can currently be seen (in truth it can hardly be missed!) in the North Gallery of their Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries until Friday 24 May.  My first reaction when I saw it was that he was going to earn an awful lot of commissions from that one painting.  Every individual in it is just that - a clear individual.  The painting is well composed and yet very animated and it makes you want to study it.  Festing's portraits can be found in the Royal Collections, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, The Palace of Westminster and many of the major private and public collections in Britain.  He's one of the most popular portrait painters working today - and this is a 'Telegraph' article about him - Andrew Festing.  

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Who painted this? #27

    Apologies for the lack of a Who Painted this? last week - but last Friday was the day after my eye surgery and I needed a break (see Normal vision will be resumed as soon as possible) because it wasn't very to look at the screen.  This post takes quite a long time to set up as I seem to look at an awful lot of images before settling on one - so I decided to skip a week - and a few days of posting!

    Anyway, I have a very nice image for you this week.  Not your usual sort of painting - but then you wouldn't expect anything too easy would you?

    I suspect this will be either a "get it straight away" or "lots of searches and blind allies - and lots of learning about art history" - which is of course why I do this!  You might also learn a bit about dogs on the way! ;)
    Who painted this? #27

    How to participate in "Who painted this? #27"

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

    Thursday, May 09, 2013

    Royal Society of Portrait Painters - 2013 Prizewinners

    Something has happened to change the look of the 122nd Annual Open Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
    • First - it has an exhibition within an exhibition - with the exhibition of work selected for the SELF Portrait Prize exhibition (see yesterday's post - Jan Mikulka wins £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize)
    • Next, when I walked into the North Gallery I thought I'd gained an early admission to the BP Portrait Award.  What I saw was an awful lot of very high quality work in a diverse range of styles
    • Finally, two portraits of women with facial disfigurements won major prizes.  The RSPP, along with the charity Changing faces, is to be congratulated for the way in which it celebrates portraits of people with a disfigurement.
    Below you can read about the prizewinners in this major open exhibition of portraiture.  I'll be posting more about the selected artists from the open entry and the exhibition on Saturday.

    One quick comment before I start.  Four of the prizes this year went to artists who submitted via the open entry. This art society more than any other always manages to persuade me that artwork from the open entry which wins prizes has been executed by painters who are being seriously considered as prospective future members of the RP.  I don't know if it's true - but it's certainly the case that this year all the artists chosen for prizes from the open entry are serious professional artists.

    The Ondaatje Prize for the most distinguished portrait of the year (£10,000)

    Mark Roscoe won the 2013 Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture with his portrait of Olivia Roberts. This portrait was a commission from the Changing Faces Charity which he got after last year winning the Changing Faces Prize at this exhibition.

    Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture (2013)
    Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture (2013)
    Olivia Roberts
    oil, 120 x76cm (47" x 30") NFS
    © Mark Roscoe
    This prize is awarded to the most distinguished portrait of the year and this is a prize which comes with a significant cash award as well as a gold medal and the prestige!

    Having a T shirt with its message backwards is a neat attention getter - and makes us realise this image is the way Olivia sees herself in a mirror.  Her steady gaze is very engaging.  Plus I loved the fact the portrait is of a girl who obviously loves horses and painting portraits of horses!

    Mark Roscoe’s portrait of 18 year old Olivia was commissioned by "Changing Faces" as part of its strategy to ensure that people with facial disfigurements are represented throughout the arts.
    When the commission prize was placed kindly in my hands I began thinking of a way to challenge people's ‘first impression’ as it can so often be highly superficial and therefore very wrong. I painted Olivia in the manner of a self-portrait to encourage the viewer to see life through her eyes. The image is a mirror reflection of Olivia in her bedroom wearing her favourite T-Shirt with the slogan "Love is the only solution, Love is the only way."

    Our reflection in a mirror is most familiar to us however as everything has been reversed it is the opposite view to a camera and that of everyone we meet including our friends and family. This raises the question, what is more important, how we view our self or how we appear to others?

    Mark Roscoe
    His prize was presented to him by BBC News art Editor Will Gompertz who opened the exhibition and Alastair Adams, the President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

    Visit Mark Roscoe's website to see more of his portraits.  I also have a feeling it can't be long before Mark is invited to join the RP and have a page on its website.

    Mark Roscoe - Winner of the Ondaatje Prize
    with (left) Will Gompertz and (right) Alastair Adams PRSPP

    The De Lazlo Foundation Award (Silver Medal + £3,000)

    This prize is for the artist, aged 35 or under, who is judged to have submitted the best portrait.
    This award went to Kelvin Okafor for his drawing of Melvin in graphite, charcoal and black coloured pencil of Melvin.

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Jan Mikulka wins £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize

    I had the great pleasure today of meeting the Czech artist Jan Mikulka who is the very first winner of the SELF Portrait Prize (see Self - a new £20,000 prize for self portraiture).

    Winner of the £20,000 SELF Portrait Prize
    Jan Mikulka with his self portrait (oil on canvas, 100x70cm, 2012)
    and Alastair Adams, President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
    Jan Mikulka is a Czech artist who lives and works in Prague.  In 2011, he won the Visitors Choice award at the BP exhibition in 2011 for his portrait of his friend Jakub. Jan gained a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague and now works full time as a professional painter. He has exhibited his art in exhibitions in the Czech and Slovak Republics and completed a number of portrait commissions.

    In the photo above, Alastair is actually holding the cheque for £20,000 in his hand! I had an interesting discussion with both Jan and Alastair concerning how to get a cheque for £20,000 into a bank account in Prague without setting off the money laundering controls which are so prevalent these days!  Not the sort of problem which art societies are faced with every day - but I guess one which will occur more and more as open exhibitions become more and more international.

    The SELF Prize attracted 946 entries from 635 artists.  Of these, almost 30% were based in London while 63 artists - including the winner - were based outside the UK.  I gather some 8 members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters submitted work but only two were selected.

    The SELF Prize has an exhibition in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries - within the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  Both exhibitions open to the public tomorrow and continue until Friday 24 May.

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Normal vision will be resumed as soon as possible

    Self portrait sketch 3 May 2013
    The day after left phacoelmulsification of cataract with intraocular lens implantation

    to illustrate what I look like on the other side of your computer screen!
    I'm going to be pacing myself re use of the computer over the next few days following successful eye surgery yesterday.

    The surgery yesterday at Moorfields Hospital was to give me a new lens in my left eye.  This is the first half of a plan to resolve two problems with my eyes - cataracts and near acute narrow angle glaucoma.  The good news is my optic nerve is OK and has not been damaged by the latter.

    For those who aren't squeamish this is what phacoelmulsification involves!

    Thing is - I have to wear an eye shield for 24 hours (and then every night for two weeks) and the glasses for seeing the screen don't fit over the eye shield unless worn at a jaunty angle of about 45%.  Plus I have to point my nose in the air and look down!  It seemed a good idea to record this for posterity!

    So I now have four weeks of regular eye drops - and today is when I learn how to do them for myself.  Thank you so much for all those who wrote with tips following my Facebook appeal.  The "closed eyes, plop the drop in the corner and let it roll in when I open my eye" technique works fine!

    For the next three weeks I have one eye which matches the prescription lenses in my glasses and one which doesn't - which is going to take some working out!  I hear some people have a lens removed from their glasses.  Any tips for how other artists / computer users have coped with this would be appreciated.

    However in three weeks time on 23 May the right eye will be operated on as well.  Then I'll have two eyes which don't match my reading / computer glasses for six weeks!

    Finally, at the beginning of July I can go and get prescriptions for new lenses for glasses for reading.  My distance vision should be absolutely fine and not require lenses

    I am so looking forward to being able to:
    • read exhibition labels without having to zero in close to the label!
    • see tone and colour properly again
    • read small print without magnifying glasses
    • not have double vision any more without glasses
    • drive at night and in poor visibility again  - and without the starburst effect from all the headlights
    For more about artists with eye problems and other disabilities - and how this all came about for me see MAKING A MARK: Artists overcoming disabilities 25 Feb 2013


    The Good News:
    Eye shield now off and it's as if a film or veil has been lifted. Colours are better and everything is crystal clear and sharp.  The contrast is back and I can now read the titles of books which are across the room, whereas if I close the eye that's been done and look just with my right I can't even make out where the title is on the spine. Plus  I can read a book with my current reading glasses.

    The Bad News:
    I can't see the screen with either reading glasses or distance glasses and I recently broke my computer glasses.  Which means in order to work on the computer I have to put a patch over my left eye.  So I now need a proper eye patch so that I don't have to keep using dressings and difficult to get hold of tape for my hypoallergenic needs (Blenderm Surgical Tape if you're interested).  Maybe an eye patch and an inflatable parrot......

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    Kaspar's at the Savoy and Jonty Hurwitz's Anamorphic Art

    Jonty Hurwitz with Kaspar (and bib) and his anamorphic sculpted version of Kaspar
    for Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill at the Savoy Hotel
    all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell 
    Yesterday I was introduced to the anamorphic art of Jonty Hurwitz and the art collection of the Savoy Hotel which I'm going to write about in two parts:
    • today - artistic contributions by Jonty Hurwitz and Robert Angell to Kaspar's - the new revamped restaurant at the Savoy Hotel
    • tomorrow - the art collection of the Savoy Hotel.  Plus an insight into what Monet was looking at when painting those bridges on the River Thames! (This will now be next week due to eye surgery - see Normal vision will be resumed as soon as possible)
    The reason I'd been invited to the Savoy was to hear about newly commissioned art - for both the hotel and the relaunch of the restaurant.  The Savoy has had long associations with Arts and Music.  It was built by the D'Oyly Carte family and was financed by the profits from the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership.  It's also been very popular with artists from the days when both Monet and Whistler stayed at and drew and painted from the hotel - and it has entertained many entertainers over the years - but more of that tomorrow!

    You can read about its history here
    Kaspar - the Savoy's lucky black cat
    Sculpture by Basil Ionides

    The River Restaurant becomes Kaspar's

    Tomorrow, 2nd May, the old River Restaurant - on the Thames side of the hotel - is being re-launched as the new Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill.  It's certainly extremely well placed for anybody visiting the theatre or Opera in this part of London

    It's been called Kaspar's after "the 14th guest:.  An art deco sculpture of a lucky black cat was created in 1926 by Basil Ionides, the original architect of the Art Deco makeover for the Savoy Hotel.  This was to create a replacement if anybody dropped out of a party of 14 and there was a prospect of 13 sitting down to dinner.  He's become quite an institution over the years - with Winston Churchill developing a particular fondness for him.

    Here's the new menu and the cheese menu for those who would like to think about a visit.

    Kaspar's Seafood Bar with Glass Smoked Fish lighting decoration

    Scales in the tiles and ripples in the carpet

    Design by Robert Angell

    I had the pleasure of sitting next to Robert Angell, the designer of the Restaurant at lunch yesterday.

    The transformation of the restaurant was achieved in six weeks - and it looks brilliant.  The sense of the river has been combined with the art deco period feel of the Savoy.  The fish are echoed in the fish scale effect on the tiling around the bar and the ripples of the Thames are in the carpet throughout.

    You can read more about it here in a Design Week article about the new restaurant

    I was particularly taken with the smoked fish art form masquerading as a glass chandelier in the centre of the bar.  It's extremely impressive and demonstrates convincingly that designs for glass chandeliers need not be conventional.

    Anamorphic Sculpture by Jonty Hurwitz

    Anamorphic Sculture of Kaspar by Jonty Hurwitz
    Kaspar by Basil Ionides in the background
    I have seen the future of art - and it's in 3D!
    "I don't think physical art is massively relevant any more"
    Jonty Hurwitz
    Yesterday I saw it in action in terms of the computer generated anamorphic sculpture of Kaspar  the black cat which Jonty Hurwitz has created as a feature artwork installation for the new Kaspar's.

    The picture of Kaspar which appears on the cylinder is a reflection of the extended curvy metalwork which appears to its right in the above photograph.  In other words you can't see the image of Kaspar unless the two pieces appear together

    The new sculpture is emphatically a talking piece and I imagine it will have restaurant guests lining up to view it just as people visit the National Gallery to see the anamorphic memento mori skull in Holbein's painting of the The Ambassadors

    Jonty Hurwitz and anamorphic sculture

    The artwork of Jonty Hurwitz has a very curious background.  Having talked to him at length yesterday, Jonty Hurwitz is very clearly a polymath in the same vein as Da Vinci.  He's one of the very few people I've met who integrates science and art in a convincing way and who also has an imperative which involves developing new ways of doing and new ways of seeing.

    He works in 3D and starts from science.  He didn't start out as an artist and has actually been working with new technology and the Internet for a very long time, was one of the original millionaires age 28, is a co-founder of and has won a considerable number of top awards for technology and the algorithms he devises.

    Round about 2008 he started to get more interested in how he could use his knowledge and skills to devise artwork and in particular 3D sculpture through using mathematics and data to inform the engineering of different forms.

    In 2010 he started to make 3D sculptures in 2010.  Back in January of this year, his website went viral after a blog post on This is Colassal.  The Skewed, Anamorphic Sculptures and Engineered Illusions of Jonty Hurwitz provides a very good illustration of the type of art he produces.

    That's viral as in some 20 million hits to the various sites about his art across the Internet.  It's at this point that it occurs that this number is way in excess of the largest number of visitors to any exhibition held in the UK last year (at which point we divert to a long conversation about art and virtual art exhibitions on the Internet!)

    Back to the commission!  Two months ago he was commissioned to be an Artist in Residence at the Savoy and to produce an anamorphic artwork for the relaunch. (His agency is Go Figurative - and I've secured an interview with the wonderful Sally to find out more about what it takes to be an artist who works with commercial clients for artwork)

    Two weeks ago his sculpture for the Savoy melted when taken out of the mold!  However yesterday, the sculpture was in place and looked superb.

    Jonty described the artistic production process to me - but it's extremely technical and he must be one of the very few artists around today who can be absolutely 100% confident nobody is going to be able to copy his artwork easily - if at all.  All I know is it involves a lot of new technology and a phenomenal number of calculations - and won't suit those who don't like numbers!
    • he starts with a 3D scanner which renders the subject into microns of detail
    • he then uses digital software to convert this into a 3D sculpture as a digital file
    • he then uses film-making software to manipulate and morph (this is where it gets very technical and the image files go off the scale)
    • it then progresses into a 3D jigsaw puzzle using resin and powder
    • the final process involves plating and coating
    In creating the curves and precision involved he also uses advanced car design technology and the cylinder was created using the type of precision and specification which normally relates to aircraft manufacture!

    He works in editions - with 5 being the normal size of an edition. As I said this is very much art of today and it seems to me to be very much the type of art which will be of great interest to major contemporary art collections.

    I think the next development in his artwork has got to relate to scale and positioning - and I'm thinking here of the nature of the 'landmark' installations produced by Antony Gormley and Henry Moore as the closest analogy.

    I know I'm going to be very much looking forward to what happens next!