The interesting thing about reviewing the exhibitions for two art competitions in the galleries this week (i.e. the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and the Derwent Art Prize) back to back is that you can compare the calibre of work and the selected artists.
For example, I would argue that the calligraphic markmaking used by the winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition could easily have won the Derwent if the prize had been about drawing rather than pencil art!
It was delightful to meet Kathryn Maple, the winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition on Monday evening. Her painting was even more impressive when seen in person. On Monday afternoon and evening it had lots of visitors standing and looking at Fatboys Diner for a long time. That to my mind is a worthy winner.
Below you will find:
- a video of my walk round the exhibition.
- a note of which artists I liked
- more images of artwork in the exhibition
|Visitor reviews part of the exhibition in the West Gallery - the visitor of course lend scale!|
|Small paintings in the exhibition for the Sunday Times watercolour Competition|
A video of the exhibitionExcuse the wobbles, I still haven't perfected walking sideways and backwards while videoing at the same time. I also need to slow down! My excuse is they'd put out all the tables and chairs for the evening reception and I was trying to make sure I didn't back into or fall over any! I think I need one of those tracks that I the camera person glides along on wheels like in the movies!
General observationsThe aim was to hang 100 works from the open entry. In the end they've selected and hung 93 by artists such as former prizewinners Mark Elsmore (Winner 2012 - 2 paintings); Emma Haworth (Winner 2010); Jonathan Pitts (2nd prize 2011), Janet Kenyon (Landscape 2011) as well as leading watercolour painters such former Turner Medal Winner David Firmstone and Angus McEwan
|a variety of landscapes and 'atmosphere'|
Bottom left is Christopher Green's "Manor house"
Centre: David Firmstone's "Fire marked the land like a language x"
Artist, popular art tutor and author Lucy Willis has been selected this year after being consistently selected between 1989 and 2008. I'm always rather surprised she has never won as she is a consummate painter of light , although I have to confess I've seen paintings of hers which I've liked better.
|The house on the cliff (£3,650)|
|Top: Farmer: cam in field 02:52-04:20 (£950) © Debbie Lock and Sara Dudman|
Bottom: Feeding sheep cam 1 00.50-00.60 (£800) © Sara Dudman
Styles and approaches displayed within the exhibition vary from the traditional watercolour through the use of inks and acrylics in representational works through to much more contemporary approaches and styles - notably involving mark-making. "Any water-based media is acceptable" and I'm just waiting for the year somebody enters water soluble oil paints!
The majority of works are representational however very few are photorealistic. It's more common to see stylised representations - so this is not a competition for those who like to copy photographs without any additional elements of an artist's signature style. The few that have done straight copies looked very stiff.
I'd say a lot of the work comes from mature artists - although some obviously comes from much younger artists - including obviously the winner!
In terms of painting, this is a very colourful exhibition. Painters have made a great use of colour, either in terms of a carefully selected palette or in terms of one "wow" impact colour.
|Cloud Study (Loughboroug)|
Palettes for the most part are not naturalistic. People are pushing colour one way or another - - even those who favour monochrome and neutral shades. Paintings which have predominantly one colour are used as anchor points for the hang on two walls.
There's one painting which most watercolour painters will smile at - it's a compliation of colour mixes! I wonder how many of have wondered about entering a particularly nice sheet of colour mixes into an exhibition? Well now some one has - and that someone is Jane Fielder
|The Experiment - with and without rules (£2,500)|
© Jane Fielder
There's also very few paintings I'm surprised to see included in the selection. It would be nice see even less next year. I'm not talking about taste - I'm talking about basic competence.
Tips for those aiming to enter in 2015
Lots of works are using a whole sheet or nearly a whole sheet of watercolour paper. Some - like the winner - are joining sheets of paper and/or creating a compilation of sheets to create one image. Smaller paintings do get selected but only about 20 in total. They are very much a small proportion of the total number of paintings selected.
In terms of presentation, avoid gilt and metal. The exhibition is overwhelming framed in neutral colours - black, white, greys, bleached wood and light natural wood. Check out the video to see what I mean.
Many favour wide frames - particularly for larger works where the mat becomes in effect another visual frame.
Preference on mats varies with one exception. All mats are white or off white/ivory. I looked around and could not see any yellowy/cream whites. I saw a lot of drawings which had been floated rather than matted - especially where the sheet of paper worked on had a deckle edge. The quality of the impression created seems to be directly related to the expertise of those doing the floating!
Note the comment above about two paintings. If you want to enter two I suggest you make them related and largish.
If you want a guide as to pricing I suggest you get hold of one of the catalogues which should be obtainable from Parker Harris
Artists I likedPaintings I liked included
- the winner - I love the calligraphic mark-making of Fatboys Diner and the Peter Doig quality of the painting. Doig is an obvious influence but this is emphatically not a copy of what he does.
- I'm also a huge fan of all paintings by Paul Paul Newland - there are layers and layers within in his paintings
- George Butler's reportage illustrations of his travels
- Christopher Green's monochrome painting of a street in ink (see above)
- I found John Cahill's very controlled palettes and great understanding of tonal values to be very seductive although I'm still in two minds about his very stylised approach to painting.
- a painting of trees by Michael Williams has lines - like tree rings etched in its surface. They succeeded in grabbing my attention
|The Pheasant Wood (£2,500)|
© Michael Wood
- I was surprised to find I really liked the sheep cam paintings - both abstracted and observational by Sarah Dudman and Debbie Locke (see above). It's not a conventional approach to watercolour but it's very interesting - I guess it's the mark-making element again.
Making A Mark posts about the Sunday Times watercolour Exhibition
|STWC 2014 Catalogue|
- Kathryn Maple wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014
- Selected Artists - Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014
- The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014 - Call for Entries
- David Forster wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013
- Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
- Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 - Selected Artists
- Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 - Call for Entries
- Mark Elsmore wins Sunday Times Watercolour 2012
- Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012 - Call for Entries
- Royal Watercolour Society / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition
- RWS/Sunday Times Exhibition - two ...
- Call for entries - 2009 RWS/Sunday Times Watercolour ...