Monday, September 30, 2013

The Big Draw 2013 in 15 countries

More than 200,000 people in 15 different countries are expected to get involved in The 2013 Big Draw which this year runs from 1 October to 3 November.

You too can be part of the world's biggest drawing festival!

These events are for those who love to draw, and those who think they can't.

This is the 14th year of the Big Draw. Since it started in 2000, The Big Draw has:
  • encouraged over 1,000,000 people to get back to drawing
  • created the longest drawing in the world (the world record was set at 1 kilometre)
  • organised the greatest number of people drawing simultaneously (c.7,000)
  • created enjoyable drawing spaces in national museums, Trafalgar Square, Somerset House - and the underground tunnel which runs between the museums in South Kensington!
  • created hundreds of new and enjoyable drawing activities that connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists - and each other.
There's lots of kids involved - but it's NOT just about children. This post is going to be about what's happening this year for you, your children and your grandchildren OR your Mum and Dad and grandparents!

Drawing faces at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012
Image courtesy of The Big Draw

What is The Big Draw?

The Big Draw is run by the Campaign for Drawing - set up by Quentin Blake.  The original inspiration came from visionary Victorian artist and writer John Ruskin, whose mission was to teach people how to see through drawing.
The Campaign for Drawing aims to get everyone drawing. It raises drawing’s profile as a powerful tool for thinking, creating and communicating. Its long-term ambition is to change the way drawing is perceived and used by the public and professionals. 
The Campaign’s annual flagship, The Big Draw, proves that drawing can be a public activity as well as a private passion.

The Campaign also demonstrates that drawing can also connect communities. Over 1000 organisations in the UK and fifteen other countries participate - including India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Brazil.  They all offer events for all ages and abilities.
Drawing is important for happiness and a sense of complete humanity.Andrew Marr, Campaign Patron
This is the 14th Big Draw and there will be events in over 750 venues across the UK in October.
With the Big Draw we seem to have struck something in the national consciousness - it's as though everybody had just been waiting to be told that they are allowed to draw. Perhaps it isn't surprising - we live under a bombardment of manufactured images, and in the face of that we need to be able to draw as a way of discovering the reality of the world about us, as well as the life in ourselves. Sir Quentin Blake, Campaign Patron

Sunday, September 29, 2013

29th September 2013 - Who's made a mark this week?

Who knew that going to exhibitions can impair your health?

I had a really lovely time at the Mall Galleries this week.  First at the The Threadeedle Prize Awards Dinner on Tuesday night and then again at the press preview next morning.

At the Threadneedle Prize Awards Dinner on Tuesday evening
Unfortunately it meant I was on my feet for rather a long time in the space of 24 hours.  Now various reasons (to do with foot and disc problems) mean that normally "I don't do standing" for any length of time. I'm now really regretting not sitting down more.  Especially since it's entirely my own fault and I ought to have known better! In other words I am suffering from a major attack of sciatica and am writing this dosed up with ibuprofen and co-codamol!  If I could be lying down I would!

Any suggestions as to effective ways of tackling sciatica gratefully received. (For those not familiar with the condition getting up in the morning goes something like this Roll over OUCH! Sit up OUCH! Swing legs out of bed OUCH! Stand up OUCH! Walk OUUUUCH!)

On a rather better note, I've got some sketches in a book called Playing with Sketches which covers 50 creative exercises for designers and artists.  Mine relate to drawing and sketching in museums and art galleries. The book publishes in the USA in mid-November.  There's a second book which comes out a bit later and I'll be telling you more about that in due course.  I'm really looking forward to seeing copies of both of them.

Playing with Sketches - includes my sketches done while drawing in museums and art galleries
to be published in the USA in November 2013

To see my sketches check out my blog "Travels with a Sketchbook"

Artists and art blogs

Famous Artists

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who Painted This? #46

I've got a twist on "who painted this", this week.  Whose eyes are these and which artist painted them - plus all the other usual detail required.  Don't forget to tell me how you got to the answer.

Who painted this? #46
For those who've not risen to the challenge before please take a minute to read the rules - see below.  The questions which need answering don't stop at "Who painted this?"

How to participate in "Who painted this? #46"

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Threadneedle Prize 2013 Exhibition - Review

One thing about the Threadneedle Prize 2013 Exhibition prompts a question which won't be answered by this post - but does need to be addressed by others.

Joint Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2013
Lisa Wright
Lisa sold both her works as well as winning half the prize.
If a major art competition, based on totally anonymous entries - all the way through to the end - can produce so many women artists as winners, what on earth is going on in some of the other major juried art competitions?

(Note: Up until this year 4 of the first 5 winners of the Threadneedle Prize were women and this year we again have two female winners)

It makes you think.  It also makes me think maybe I'll crunch some numbers and do some comparisons..........

Anyway back to my review of the Threadneedle Exhibition 2013. Here's my views about the exhibition interspersed by some images of parts of the exhibition. Finally I'm hazarding a guess at some of the entries which will be shortlisting themselves for the Public Choice Award - valued at £10,000.  The public get to vote for this - but only if they visit the exhibition!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Clare McCormack and Lisa Wright win Threadneedle Prize 2013

The Threadneedle Prize 2013: Joint Prizewinners
Clare McCormack and Lisa Wright
The women do it again in relation to winning the Threadneedle Prize 2013.

Plus several "firsts" this evening at the Awards Dinner for the Threadneedle Prize 2013 for painting and sculpture.
  1. The first Joint Prize
  2. The first time two women won first prize - although there's plenty of precedent for women winning it on their own
  3. The first "First Impressions" Award
My prediction was 50% correct - however it was interesting that I thought there were two strong contenders - and in the end there were two joint winners.

    The Threadneedle Prize 2013

    The Threadneedle Prize of £30,000 was awarded to two women - Clare McCormack and Lisa Wright who will each receive £15,000.

    Lisa Wright and Clare McCormack being interviewed by Victoria Coren Mitchell
    Joint Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2013
    Clare MCormack with Dead Labour / Dead Labourer

    Saffolding Plank Wooblock 185cm x 100cm
    Woodblock £2,500 Woodcut Print £720 (Edition of 6)
    Dead Labour/Dead Labourer is a large-scale woodcut portrait of the artist’s grandfather, who died of Asbestosis after a life working on building sites. It is cut from four used scaffolding planks, the rough, functional materials mirroring the subject.

    Joint Winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2013
    Lisa Wright with 'The Guilty's Gaze on the Innocent'
    Oil on Canvas 100 x 100cm
    £9,400 (sold)
    The Guilty’s Gaze on the Innocent explores the embarrassment, confusion and awkwardness of adolescence and makes reference to 16th century portrait painting, likely to have been influenced by her two year residency with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

    The First Impressions Award

    This is a new award and was given to the artist whose work had most impressed those attending the dinner this evening.  It's a good way of reminding the selectors that the rest of us also have our favourites! ;)

    The winner of the First Impressions Award for 2013 (£500) is Plague Season by Nicola Bealing

    Plague Season by Nicola Bayley

    The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow 25 Septenber at the Mall Galleries and continues until 18 October.

    All visitors to the exhibition have a chance to cast their vote for the winner of the £10,000 Visitors' Choice Award.

    More about the Threadneedle Prize 2013

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013 - Prizewinners and Selected artists

    The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is held every three years.  Its aim is to encourage artists to explore the art of portraiture.  The competition invites figurative artists to submit entries in all media to be considered for prizes and display at the National Portrait Gallery.

    It's been over two years since I last wrote about The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013.  In part that's because I omitted to highlight it when the 2013 exhibition started in March. The exhibition runs until February 2014.

    Below are listings of the prizewinners and the selected artists - plus links to:
    • their websites (link is in the name of the artist). These are impressive websites - I recommend you click on a few links!
    • their artwork (link is in the title of the work)
    • any interviews done by the Smithsonian blog Face to Face for the purposes of the competition
    That way other aspiring and competing portrait artists can check out the opposition! :)

    I've also highlighted the medium used where this is unusual.  One of the unusual aspects of the competition is that it is not just limited to paintings - or even paintings in very specific media as applies to the BP Portrait Award.  Rather the artist is allowed to choose the media they want to work in - and the exhibition celebrates the exploration of the nature of portraiture that ensures.   Having been through all the entries - and the artiosts websites - to construct this post it seems to me as if the multi-media approach makes for a much richer experience of the act of making a portrait.

    You can see images of all the portraits selected for the exhibition on the competition website - seee Exhibition Finalists.


    The prizewinners were announced in March - at the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition awards celebration.

    Note that none of the prizewinners selected by the jurors were painters.

    Outwin Bouchever Portrait Competition 2013 - Prizewinners (thumbnails)

    First Prize ($25,000)

    Bo Gehring (Beacon, New York) won first prize with a large scale video croc to top portrait of Jessica Wickham accompanied by Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten”. It's hyper-realism with breathing.  Read an interview with the artist Portrait of an Artist: Bo Gehring - it has an image of how big the video is when playing in the gallery.  This is LARGE!

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    22nd September 2013 - Who's made a mark this week?

    Grayson Perry is notably the very first visual artist chosen to deliver the annual Reith Lectures for the BBC.  These aim to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest. 

    I do like reading what the Turner Prize winning "Essex transvestite potter" has to say about art - he's both articulate, accessible and cuts through the proverbial!  This is Grayson Perry on contemporary art - following the delivery of the first of his four Reith Lectures titled "Playing to the Gallery" at the Tate last week (I'd be booking a ticket right now but unfortunately they're fully booked)

    Newspapers commented on the delivery of the first lecture as follows
    I also look forward to hearing Grayson Perry's Reith Lectures for myself.  They are due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, beginning on 15 October at 9am.

    "The Vanity of Small Differences" - tapestries on display in the RA Summer Exhibition 2013
    by Grayson Perry RA

    I can't think of anybody else who has attempted such a successful and
    over-arching commentary on contemporary society in the UK today
    which at the same time connects with iconic British art of the past
    In a poll in 2011, Grayson Perry was named as one of the most influential artists in the UK. David Hockney came out top  and the Young Brits were nowhere - which surprises me not. I rather see Grayson Perry taking on Hockney's mantle when the cigarettes finally claim Hockney.  Which hopefully won't be for a long time - but I do like to indulge in a bit of succession planning from time to time.  Grayson Perry fulfils the criteria of being a man with a colourful identity and an ability to speak his mind and, most importantly, he's a talented and skilled artist who makes interesting artworks which connect with people.

    Top Ten most influential British artists (2011)
    1. David Hockney
    2. J.M.W. Turner
    3. Grayson Perry
    4. Francis Bacon
    5. Jack Vettriano
    6. Lucian Freud
    7. Thomas Gainsborough
    8. Sir Peter Blake
    9. Banksy
    10. Stanley Spencer
    The Other Art Fair: 2011 poll of 1,000 British painters and sculptors

    Watch out for other mentions of these artists in this blog post!

    Artists and Art Blogs

    Dry Media - Pastels and Pencils

    • I've long been a fan of UK pastel artist Patrick Cullen and his use of colour and have featured his work a number of times on this blog (eg see this link and this link).  He's now being featured by the Pastel Journal in their October edition - see Southern Europe Pastel Landscape Painting | Patrick Cullen
    • Richard McKinley (Pastel Pointers) has a post about The Pastelist Grip | A Tactile Relationship.  Now I reckon all pastel artists get a buzz from the very direct tactile relationship between hand and surface.  Just how you get your buzz is reflected in how you use your pastel.
    • Ester Roi (Ester Roiis at it again - but even bigger - see Go big or go home on her blog.  She's now working 24" x 48" in coloured pencils. Has she made a super big Icarus and not told us? ;)  Note that Ester's large colourful artwork results in strong sales for Ester. What does that tell you?
    • CPSA is introducing a new online competition called ArtSpectations - which is an online, viewable competition for CPSA members only. The show will have separate categories for signature and non-signature members. To enter, go to and check out the eligibility rules and how the entry system works
    • See Art Competitions for my review of the Derwent Art Prize.



    • The Women Painting Women blog have been amazingly successful since the blog was started by Sadie Valeri, Alia El-Bermani and Diane Feissel in 2008.  The Women Painting Women Facebook Page now has 7.5k likes. 
      • Having had exhibitions in 2010 and 2012, they are now staging their third exhibition and were overwhelmed with entries from all over the world - see the Art Exhibitions in the USA section.  It's very sensibly timed so that everybody can also go see the Outwin Bouchever Portrait Competition Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington!
      • In addition they are also having exhibitions in six other galleries in the USA and in Glasgow!
      • Read Ilaria Rosselli del Turco for an account of the story so far in Sisters are doin' it for themselves
    • Charley Parker (Lines and Colors) has also written about Women in the Act of Painting - covering the Women in the Act of Painting blog Philadelphia painterNancy Bea Miller.  This blog has an ever-growing collection of fine art images that depict women in the act of making visual art: painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking etc. I like it.
    • Alvaro Castagnet has topped 10,000 followers for his Alvaro Castagnet Facebook Page - I'm not surprised it looks fun. Would that more painters and tutors made their Facebook Pages a bit more fun and accessible!
    • This is a Friends of the ROI Painting Day - go to the Workshop section of Art Education to find out about the next Masterclass run by the Royal Institure of Oil Painters.

    Who painted this? 

    Art Business & Marketing

    Art Trends

    There is no easy answer to whether a particular artist should pay attention and incorporate art trends into their work. Some artists will look down their nose at anyone who would consider art trends for aesthetic or business reasons. They embrace creativity as something sacred.

    Marketing online

    My advice for someone that wants to make art a full-time career is to ‘make art that matters every day’ and then make sure it gets seen. Meaning....

    Marketing in a locality

    • Thomas Thorspecken (Analog Artist Digital World) provides an account of The Artist's Survival Guide - which aims to provide artists and the artistically curious with the building blocks needed for professional creative careers in Central Florida. The intention is that it will culminate in a printed Artist’s Survival Guidebook after 12 months of programming.  Why don't more localities do this?


    • Jackie Simmonds (Jackie Simmonds Artyfacts) offers an OPEN STUDIO - and a few rebellious thoughts... about pricing for open studios compared to a gallery.  The argument about the unfairness of galleries expecting a commission AND to take paintings as stock on a sale and return basis has some appeal.  All other retailers have to buy in stock for sale at wholesale prices (i.e not retail prices) - and they can then set retail prices according to their own predetermined profit margin - and then write off the stock if it doesn't sell.  I guess that's the other side of the coin - would one really want one's work in the "bargain bin"?

      Art Competitions

      Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 - Day 1 of the Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries

      Derwent Art Prize: Waiting to hear who won which prize 
      at the Mall Galleries on Wednesday evening's Private View
      (the exhibition in background of the Main Gallery is the Sunday Times Watercolour exhibition)

      Upcoming Exhibitions for Art Competitions in the UK

      • The exhibition for the Threadneedle Prize opens on 25 September and runs until Saturday 12 October 2013 (10am to 5pm).  I'm going to be at the Awards Dinner on Tuesday night with my Twitter account at the ready......

      Art Competitions in the USA

      Art Exhibitions

      This is the Press Scrum at the RA on Tuesday morning
      - just before the start of the tour of the Australia exhibition by the curators

      This is an exhibition with some very BIG paintings

      Art Museums and Galleries in the UK

      • Australia opened to the public at the Royal Academy of Arts yesterday. It is the largest survey of Australian art which has ever been mounted outside Australia. I saw it earlier in the week and this is my review - 'Australia' Exhibition at the Royal Academy - review.  It's a splendid exhibition - if you like landscape and paintings about the land.
      • Flyer for Ashmolean Exhibition
        Francis Bacon Henry Moore
        Flesh and Bone
        Francis Bacon Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone
        opened this month at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  It runs until 19 January 2014 (Open 10am–5pm Tuesday - Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday. It's had some excellent reviews.  It brings together over 60 works 
      •  some of them rarely seen in public – this show will present Bacon’s paintings alongside Moore’s sculptures and drawings to reveal surprising parallels in the work of these two great artists.  Not least that they both made art about people.
      • Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective opened yesterday at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and continues until 23 February 2014. It includes over 100 paintings between 1992 and 2012 and is an opportunity to review the quality of his painting. The Scottish artist Jack Vettriano is self-taught and popular but not critically acclaimed .  He's been accused of colouring in - which based on a recent programme about him I'd be inclined to agree. To my mind he's a graphic artist, in more ways than one, which explains why they reproduce and sell well in prints.
      Vettriano is no modern Van Gogh. To me, he's more like the Welsh singer: bold, brassy and devoid of inner truth
      Still Alive - in the Threadneedle Space, Mall Galleries

      Art Galleries and Museums in Europe

      Art Societies - UK - Annual and Other Exhibitions

      Art Societies and Groups - USA- Annual Exhibitions

      Art Bloggers' Exhibitions

      • Coloured pencil artist Tiffany Budd (Tiffany Budd at work) has an exhibition of her drawings 'To the Point' - Art of the Coloured Pencil Exhibition at The Atrium Gallery, Dittons Library, Mercer Close, Thames Ditton, KT7 0BS until 18th October 2013 (The link is to a Facebook album of photographs of the exhibition).  Congrats to Tiffany who gave birth to a baby boy in June.
      • Paintings by Laura Murphy Frankstone (Laurelines) and ceramics by Sasha Bakaric can be seen in an exhibition at Horace Hill House at Chapel Hill until 21st October.  Laura has been a tad busy recently welcoming a new grandchild into the world so there's nothing on her blog about it - but see Facebook for more.

      Art Education

      Do you produce tutorials - whatever the form of delivery?

      If you're an artist who is producing educational material - either in terms of blog posts or paid tutorials, workshops or DVDs, do make sure you let me know (see the side column for how to contact me).  If you are a regular art blogger of quality who I have known for some time (like Gayle and Karen below) then I'll be happy to pass the information along. If you're new to me I may just watch a while first.

      Art Tutorials - Drawing Animals

      Here's a round-up of some tutorials about drawing and painting animals.

      Drawing and Painting Workshops

      Let me know if you are doing a workshop.

      Instructional DVDs

      Art History

      Techies - websites, blogging and webware

      • Alyson Stanfield (ArtBizBlog)has 9 Artist Resources for Better Performing Websites and Blogs
      • Karen Margulis (Daily Pastel Paintings by Karen Margulis) has Two Options for Blogging on the Road - and reviews the apps she has used for blogging while travelling
      • Reading blogs in feedreaders
        • When Google Reader folded I transferred the file of my feeds to Newsblur - on the basis that I read on my iMac and I needed to know for sure I had a deskbound web version ready to go.  I like NewsBlur - I like the fact you can train it, I like the presentation of the posts - I just wish I could do a search!
        • Now that Feedly has got its act together for iMacs I've fired that up and am now very much liking the magazine format.  also like the search facility
        • Neither quite do what I want them to do - but hopefully they're getting there.
      • I'm loving the new format for the gmail inbox - so much easier to keep track of traffic in different categories.  It's going to make a big difference to the emails hurtling across my screen.

      and finally......

      Everybody can now be Banksy. Tate Modern has a new digital drawing bar on Level 3 of the museum.  Sponsored by Bloomberg, you can draw on a digital sketchpad and then see your drawing projected on the wall.  (I am trying very hard not to imagine what the pubescent teenage boy will draw!)

      In addition, they have installed new interactive touchscreens inviting visitors to join art-related conversations, and screens showcasing visitors’ ideas and drawings running down the spine of Tate Modern

      They're called MAKE YOUR MARK. That should keep the 7.7 million annual visitors occupied!

      Saturday, September 21, 2013

      Introducing Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

      Regular readers will remember that Who Painted This? #42 was about the painting of the Torre de los Picos / Los Picos Tower La Alhambra, Granada - by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida.

      The Gardens at the Sorolla Family House (1920)
      Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida
      Museo Sorolla
      I looked at a lot of Sorolla paintings while doing that post and decided to make a website about him - which you can find at About Joaquin Sorolla.

      This includes:
      He was an extraordinarily prolific painter - I understand there are about 2,200 paintings in total.  The video below is a tour of his house - which is now a museum - and it gives you a sense of both the impact of the paintings and their size.  I was amazed at how big some of them are.

      This is another video Museo Nacional del Prado: Comments on the exhibition by Jose Luis Díez and Javier Barón (video) made by the Prado Museum for the retropsective exhibition of Sorolla's work in 2009 which is in Spanish - but does have subtitles - and has some really great images of the paintings which also gives you a strong sense of the size and impact of his paintings..

      I like his paintings of boats and people at work and leisure on the beach - he has a particularly fine eye for the colours associated with the water and the marine atmosphere in a sunny climate.  His brushwork is also very seductive - it's looks very relaxed - but the approach and skill level approaches that of John Singer Sargent.

      Lime trees, Jardines de los Reales Alcazares, Seville
      (Pastel 25.5" x 19.5" )
      by Katherine Tyrrell
      Houses & Gardens - fine art drawings by Katherine Tyrrell
      However I'm also very partial to his paintings of gardens.  That's not unexpected given I'm also rather partial to sketching gardens as those who know my sketchbook blog will appreciate.

      He typically painted these later in life.  Like Monet he painted his own garden.  You don;'t have to move the easel very far!

      His style is sketchy but his use of colours is almost always impeccable.  I particularly like the way he varies his greens.  So many people paint gardens and forget how many greens there really are.

      Sorolla did some splendid views of the pools and fountains in the palace - such as this fountain and the the pool of the Alcazar.

      I've also created art in one of the gardens he used to paint in.

      My pastel drawing (above right) was done plein air while sat on the shady verandah of a building in the grounds of the Real Alcazar de Sevilla - which is a Spanish palace which started out life as a Moorish fort.  It remind me of the heat of the day and the value of the shade.  (BTW I know the pillar is leaning!  I have an awful problem with verticals... particularly when working plein air!)

      Friday, September 20, 2013

      Who Painted This? #45

      Who painted this? #45

      I delight more and more in the type of paintings which rarely get painted by contemporary artists - carefully constructed scenes recording everyday life.

      There's an interesting story behind this painting.  I wonder if you can find out what it is.

      For those who've not risen to the challenge before please take a minute to read the rules - see below.  The questions which need answering don't stop at "Who painted this?"

      How to participate in "Who painted this? #45"

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

      Thursday, September 19, 2013

      Chrys Allen wins inaugural Derwent Art Prize for pencil art

      Winner of the £5,000 Derwent Art Prize for Pencil Art 
      Chrys Allen for her pencil artwork Walk in Progress: Koli
      Last night Chrys Allen won the First Prize of £5,000 in the inaugural Derwent Art Prize competition for works created in pencil.

      The Private View and Prizegiving was very well attended. It was very good to see a lot of young faces among the artists who attended last night. Nobody knew who had won so we had a few gasps as the announcements were made!

      This post also covers a review of the exhibition in the North Gallery at the Mall Galleries.

      Derwent Art Prize 2013 - The Selector's Award - Prizewinners

      Three works were chosen by the selectors to win valuable cash prizes.  The selectors were:
      “It's been an interesting process helping to select approximately 90 works from an international entry of nearly 3600 pieces. The resulting exhibition is made up of what we considered to be the best works submitted by both professional and amateur artists. The show demonstrates a flourishing interest in drawing from a wide range of starting points. I look forward to this open competition going from strength to strength in future years.”Yvonne Crossley
      I understand that the judges were able to judge works based on larger images than those seen online by people voting for the People's Choice award

      In his preamble to the presentation last night, Professsor Stephen Farthing made some key points:
      • all the judging was done digitally.  It's the way most art competitions are moving given that it saves an extraordinary amount of expense for both the competition organisers and the entrants.  
      • all the work in the gallery looked the way it did on the computer screen.  Judges were delighted to see there was no mismatch between what they thought they had selected and the artwork in the exhibition
      • all artwork was anonymous in the judging process.  As Professor Farthing revealed, when you're having to look through 3,000+ entries it's very difficult to get interested in a name!  It's simply not relevant to the process of selection.
      • each judge had a "judge's choice".  While there was very little disagreement about what was OK and what should be selected it was also important that each Judge was able to exercise a little "eccentricity" - and hence each had one work which was their choice alone.
      "I think it's a fantastic exhibition of drawings"Professor Stephen Farthing
      • entrants should continue to submit drawings to art competitions.  He felt that the calibre of some of the drawings submitted to the competition exceeded those he sees submitted to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition!  He had a very positive feeling about the quality of a lot of the work exhibited.
      I have to say I agree - it is a very impressive exhibition of drawings - which is also well hung.  Certainly one which should be visited by all those who aspire to pursue drawing in their career as an artist - or just to get selected for an exhibition like this.

      The Derwent Art Prize 2013 prizewinners are as follows. You can see the shortlist that the selectors drew up on the home page of the website.

      First Prize (£5,000) - Walk in Progress: Koli by Chrys Allen

      Chrys Allen accepting first prize 
      with Professor Stephen Farthing.
      She gave a very inspiring speech!
      This artwork is 10 metres long and has been created on a long scroll of paper.  I'm afraid I forgot to ask her how you get a scroll of paper 10m long!

      One must also not be distracted by thoughts of the stamina involved in completing work of this length as it's a very fine piece of art.  Interestingly using a scroll for artwork recording a walk is returning to a very traditional way in which a trail used to be recorded by topographical artists in times past. (I remember very vividly seeing one at the RA in 2007 - see BritArt in History - RA exhibits admirable collections of British drawings)

      This work was on my personal shortlist and I am very much of the opinion that it's a very worthy winner.  I did wonder whether it might have won when I saw how the artwork was laid out in the gallery on Monday. I'm also very pleased to see pencil art being created in ways which might seem unusual to many pencil artists who aspire to better things.  In my last post I commented about this work
      Both works use an unusual way of presenting drawings which is not unfamiliar to those who view exhibitions for Drawing Prizes. Food for thought for those art societies who put on exhibitions in pencil media!
      You can see a video of the work on YouTube (9 minutes 10 seconds) - it takes you along the "walk in progress" amongst Finnish Landscape as evidenced by the drawing in pencil.  It was done while Chrys was Artist in Residence in Koli, North Karelia. Finland.

      [Note: Walk in Progress : Towpath is a later one which the one I wrongly identified as the winning work until corrected by Chrys!  Also worth watching.]

      Personally, I would have liked to see the artwork displayed alongside the video.  The Drawing Bursary awarded by NEAC has certainly had video displays of an artwork in exhibitions at the Mall Gallery before now.  While obviously the pencil artwork needed to be given prominence, it would have been great to see the video in the gallery as well.  Maybe on an iPad on the wall? This mode of display is often used now in other galleries to display multiple images.  The question is whether the artist or the gallery supply the iPad!

      Chrys Allen is a practising professional artist and art tutor. She lives and works  in South East London.  Instead of a garden, Chrys has a converted Victorian jam factory/warehouse which is used as her studio and also as an exhibition space and venue for performances and workshops during local arts festivals. Chrys also works as a visiting tutor and workshop leader.

      Her enjoyment of and enthusiasm for drawing was very evident in her very lucid and inspiring speech which she gave last night on being presented with her first prize.  I can only surmise that those who have Chrys as their tutor are very lucky students!

      Wednesday, September 18, 2013

      Review: Still Alive - Contemporary Still Life Painting

      This is a review of Still Alive - Contemporary Still Life Painting by FBA members.  The exhibition is now on at the Mall Galleries and admission is free. It is open everyday 10am to 5pm - and closes on 21 September at 5pm.  However you can also browse the works on display and buy online.

      Still Alive at the Mall Galleries - a visitor views works by Lucy McKie
      Still Alive at the Mall Galleries - one corner
      The exhibition is described thus
      A selling exhibition of contemporary still life paintings by members of the Federation of British Artists, Still Alive showcases an eclectic selection of still lifes, ranging from the realist to the abstract, all of which utilise form and texture, colour and tone, to convey the extraordinary essence of everyday objects.
      A short essay on the still life genre by Professor Anthony Savile, King’s College London was also specially commissioned for the exhibition – click here to read it. (I must confess I got a bit lost in this - maybe it needs a second read?)

      Still Life is a curious genre.  It comes and goes in popularity and has never enjoyed the status of (say) portrait painting - and yet it endures and is ever popular with collectors. 

      Some six years ago I started to research still life painting in response to a debate about it is - which ended up with me writing a post for this blog What is a still life?  I also developed developed a website (Still Life - Resources for Artists) as a repository for all the links I could find online to information about 'the still life' - including
      • a definition of what it is, 
      • how the genre has developed over time and 
      • some sense of the variety which we can see in people's artwork today. 
      In doing my research I came across an awful lot of still life paintings by artists from different countries and different ages.  As a result, I'm now very fond of a good still life - but by the same token, the bar has been raised  from my personal perspective in relation to what I think is a good still life!

      On the whole I find I prefer paintings by people who regularly pursue (or pursued)  the art of still life painting on a regular basis.  That's because it's actually more complicated than it looks to do well. Artfully arranged 'found' objects are my particular 'bete noire'! It's the surest signal I've yet found of amateur painting.  Those who paint still life on a regular basis eventually develop the skills to present an image which is constructed to tell a story - and we all know that this has happened - or create an arrangement that is aesthetically pleasing, without any pretensions as to having just happened on it.  Plus they can spot a genuine 'found' still life subject at 20 paces!  I'm very fond of those who use it as an exercise in rendering basic shapes, colour and light - with the subject matter being somewhat incidental to what is basically an abstracted painting.

      Artists included in this exhibition at the Mall Galleries this week are listed below - with images of artwork from the show.  My preference very much leaned towards those who presented a consistent suite of works framed for showing in a coherent way.  I liked individual pieces by other artists - some of whom I rate as excellent still life artists - but the ones who I'm highlighting below are the ones who had the most positive impact on me.

      Tuesday, September 17, 2013

      'Australia' Exhibition at the Royal Academy - review

      Australia at the Royal Academy of Arts is the largest survey of Australian art which has ever been mounted outside Australia.  Its theme is land and landscape.  Its narrative starts in 1800 and continues through to this year's Winner of The Wynne Prize.

      Gallery 9: Desert Painting
      'Australia' at the Royal Academy - 21 September 2013 to 8 December 2013
      Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia
      Prior to this the only significant exhibitions of Australian landscape art were
      Most people in the northern hemisphere know very little about how artists living in Australia have chosen to represent their landscape. This is an exhibition which I think will not only correct that omission - it can also "wow" people with some of the art on display.

      That includes me.  Despite having a sister who lives in Australia I know very little about Australian art. However I've really begun to appreciate Australian art more and more while covering their major art competitions - one of which (The Wynne Prize) relates to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours.  (Why don't we have a national prestigious competition on this topic in this country?) The 2013 winner of the Wynne Prize has made the journey and can be seen in the Final Gallery.

      Plus I discovered the paintings of Arthur Streeton who was an Australian Impressionist painter of landscapes and was entranced. As a result, I've been really looking forward to seeing this exhibition and some of his most famous works.

      I don't think people's ignorance of Australian landscape art will in any way inhibit their appreciation of the art on display.  If anything, my personal view is it's good sometimes to look at new art for the first time with a fresh eye - even if you are ignorant as to its significance and meaning.

      I think there's a lot in this exhibition which people will like - although not everybody will like everything.  Those of a more contemporary disposition may find the early galleries tedious.  Those who are interested in the story and narrative behind the development of landscape art in Australia will appreciate the chronology and the overview. Those who like patterns and different ways of seeing and painting landscapes have a lot to choose from.

      In this review I'll be showing you images of what they galleries look like.  I waited until the end of the preview when most people had gone to get a clear perspective on some of the art on show. Some look extremely impressive - particularly those which contain aboriginal art or Australian Impressionism.

      Monday, September 16, 2013

      Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 Exhibition at the Mall Galleries

      Today I went to see the 26th Exhibition for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.
      • 813 paintings were submitted by some 413 artists
      • 83 paintings by 79 artists made it through the selection process to be exhibited in this week's exhibition at the Mall Galleries.  (It closes 5pm on Saturday 21 September)
      • 4 artists won prizes
      Prizewinners - Sunday Times Watercolour 2013
      and - for those who didn't get through - I've got some images of and comments about the ones that did!

      We already know:

      Below you will find my observations in general about the paintings in the exhibition.
      Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 - The first afternoon of the exhibition

      General observations about selected paintings