Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting out of the Studio - Making A Mark Art Blog Awards 2013

"Getting out of the Studio"  in The 8th Making A Mark Art Blog Awards is the category of awards for all those people who draw and paint outside their studio - sometimes producing finished sketches or paintings plein air and sometimes producing material to develop further in the studio.

They are:
  • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
  • The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy
  • The Going Greener Gong
They're also awards for people who place an emphasis on sharing information.

are for blogging about art on art blogs. 
They started in 2006 and this is the 8th year.  
Click the link to read more about them.

The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize

The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize for excellence in plein air painting plus a strong commitment to sharing information

The past winners are:
I had a number of nominations for this award

For the getting out of the studio award I would like to nominate Roos Schuring of the Netherlands. Not only do I love her style (very free), she paints in the most appalling weather conditions and she also helps other artists a lot with her "sell your art" videos. 
Penny German
(Roos) is an inspiring artist, constantly putting out her work and sharing her knowledge freely on her blog and in her workshops. I went this March when it was freezing cold and the wind blowing and she inspired all of us.
In her paintings she captures the colours of the landscapes so beautifully and true: this is due to her being outside all the time, no matter what the weather conditions are.
Additionally Roos not piants and blogs about it, but puts her art out there as well and selling it. The whole package what being an artist is about.
Astrid Volquardsen
He fits the criteria for excellence in plein air painting plus a strong commitment to sharing information.
René paints in all weather, riding his bike to most locations and has been doing this for years. Rene is talented and humble and deserves some recognition.
I´d like to nominate Luis Perez Ortiz to The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize for his outstanding series of the mountain he views from his window. He draws the mountain almost every day in a small sketchbook and he reaches to transmit both sensitivity and strenght
This is a difficult one. I appreciate all the artwork - and I hope that all the artists are proud of the fact their talent and skill have been recognised by others.

However I'm left looking for another way of differentiating between them.

In the end, I've gone back to the basic principle of this award which was that it was never just about plein air.  It has always been about how the artist uses his or her blog to promote learning and to pass on useful tips about painting plein air.  That's because a lot of people are frightened of plain air painting and the more people can do to demystify the process, the more likely it is that new people will take it up.

I knew two and knew nothing of the other two. So I popped all their blogs into Feedly and started looking back at posts over the last year.

Which is how I come to decide that the person whose blog has impressed me the most is Mike Bailey. He regularly includes lots of very useful tips relating to plein air painting and painting generally - and very obviously thoroughly enjoys his plein air painting. This particular post A Plein Air Set Up For Watercolor  (posted last month) almost deserves an award all to itself!  However I found I was also enjoying reading the "back catalogue" as it were of posts earlier in the year and in the archives. I then started to look around at the rest of his presence online and found that he has lots of free to download articles about art on his website.  What I also enjoyed was the way he writes about making art - it's accessible and friendly. Indeed I felt like I'd been part of a swopping tips with friends session of the sort that always happens when artists sit down together which is why......

The 2013 winner of
The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize is
M.E. (Mike) Bailey (ME Bailey Art)

The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy

combined with the 'Get Off Your Blogging Bottom and Sketch' Brass Plate from 2007 

The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy goes to the most intrepid and/or industrious artist travelling with a sketchbook.

Previous winners are
I received a nomination for this award

Emmanuel Prost (Emmanuel) is nominated by Enrique Flores (Cuatro cosas) - the 2009 winner of this award
I´d like to nominate Emmanuel Prost for The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy for the trip he´s doing right now in the delta of Niger river, Nigeria, a place of environmental chaos he´s depicting with committment and outstanding drawing skills. The images are not in his blog yet as he´s having trouble with the internet but they can be seen here Travelogues in the Niger Delta
This nomination highlights the difficulty I have with the way people straddle blogs and Facebook.  While Facebook continues to only be accessible to its members I think I have to stick with art blogs for this award.  I also found Emmanuel's blog quite confusing. The language isn't an issue as I've got an auto-translate. The problem is the way he blogs - I can't tell where posts begin and end. The way he's posting on Facebook makes much more sense. That said I very much look forward to seeing the write up on his blog in 2014 and have him already on the list of potential nominees for the 2015 award. It looks like an absolutely fascinating project and the images are amazing!

The person who is receiving the award this year is a regular bloke who happens to sketch - a lot.

You can see his sketches on his website/blog - and also on Flickr - and Facebook - and buy original drawings and prints of them on Etsy.  It's all very integrated!

This year Pete Scully has
  • survived intercontinental travel with a sketchbook and a youngster - because he draws colouring sheets for his son to complete on the plane
  • thrived on an in-depth review in several cities, states and countries and sketchbook recording of 
  • organised numerous sketchcrawls for other people in David California - all of which doubtless have a splendid flyer and map of useful places to locate yourself for a sketch
  • draws the routine and the mundane in the area where he lives and the places he visits and makes most places look interesting. He opens my eyes and remind me again and again about how sketching starts with learning how to see.
  • demonstrated how he never gets phased by complicated structures (see his Sagrada Família)
  • makes sure he gets his sketches scanned, posted and published!  (Which as any inveterate sketcher will tell you is the really hard bit!)

The 2013 winner of
The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy is
Pete Scully (Pete Scully)

The Going Greener Gong

The Going Greener Gong is awarded to the art blog which I've found most stimulating in relation to getting us in touch with nature and the environment.

Past winners include:
This award has a botanical and natural history emphasis. All those who blog about making art about wild animals, birds, flowers and plants are eligible. Blogs are not required in any way to limit themselves to just those topics but they do need to have a feel for being green and sustainable about them. They also get extra points for getting out and about and drawing from life!

I've been most impressed this year with The Natural Year blog by Sarah Morrish.  Ever since finding out about Maria Sibylla Merian, I've been a big fan of all those who manage to combine botanical art with natural history art - but people who actually do this are few and far between, which is something of a surprise given the green agenda and the popularity of all things green.

Sarah's strapline is Art & Observations of the Natural World by Sarah Morrish - Botanical & Natural History Artist & Tutor. She goes one better than having an interest in nature an ecology. She actually teaches people about it and to make art about it!  Blogs are hugely useful to tutors if used properly. Sarah's use of her blog for educational purposes was one aspect I found impressive in 2013.
  • She teaches botanical art and natural history illustration, for the Hants & IOW Wildlife Trust, Peter Symonds College AHED in Winchester and at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire - and she sets out details of what's on offer on her blog e.g. Botanical Art & Natural History Drawing & Painting Courses 2013 - 2014. It's a nice pitch between saying enough to be informative without swamping people with detail.  
  • She's also got a series of videos on YouTube and she also demonstrates her approach to her art using step by step posts on her blog.
  • She writes excellent and informative reviews of exhibitions about wildlife art e.g. A welcome break - the 50th SWLA exhibition - note in particular her comments at the end summarising the impact of the artwork and the learning points
  • This is her Facebook Page.  
In summary, this is an artist who is using her blog to link in a structured way to the rest of her online presence and to highlight the teaching and the resources she's making available to those who want to learn more about making art involving nature.

The 2013 winner of
The Going Greener Gong is
The Natural Year by Sarah Morrish

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