Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ten Facebook Pages about Art in 2014

I decided to do a round up of 10 Facebook Pages I enjoy for the end of the year.  It's very difficult to choose just ten and I have to emphasise there were many others I could also have chosen.

I tried to get a split across the different categories of art on Facebook.  I also decided to leave out specific museums and art galleries and art societies as it seemed invidious to choose!

So here is my final choice. You can see what other people chose by looking at the tag #ArtOnFacebook2014

Art News

The Art Newspaper

The Facebook Page for The Art Newspaper is one of my favourite places for alerting me to what's going on in the wider art economy / context.
It links to articles on its website - which in turn are derived from articles in the actual newspaper - except some are just online!

The Guardian Culture
One of my favourite sites is Guardian Arts and Design section - which gets a teeny bit lost within Guardian culture. I do wish they'd give it a feed all to itself! Here's an example of the sort of post I like - it's all about the National Gallery in London - National Gallery review – Frederick Wiseman focuses on the minutiae

Hyperallergic is one of the Facebook Pages I like - for consciousness raising posts like:

Art Fund Facebook Page Photos

The Art Fund
This is a wonderful site for a wonderful organisation which supports museums and galleries and helps them to buy works of art - and allows me as a subscribing member to see them at reduced rates! It also has one of the best managed and best written pages relating to exhibitions, art galleries and museums. It works hard at arousing interest and sharing what's happening around the country.

Art Materials

Jackson's Art Supplies
I'm a fan of suppliers of art materials and Jackson's Art Supplies - based in Stoke Newington has one of the best pages. It's closely tied into their blog and regularly features interviews with artists, artwork by artists who are clients as well as highlighting lots of different aspects of art supplies which are new, changed and/or are worth highlighting.

Most of all it's INFORMATIVE and you don't feel like you're being hitover the head by the marketing end of what is a commercial operation. I'll be interested to see how it tackles the new rules re Facebook for 2015 - I'm guessing they won't need to change much.

I can also recommend their blog which is also one of my regular reads often via the links which pop up on this Facebook Page.

Unison Colour Soft Pastels
I regularly "tune in" to the Facebook Page to get my dose of colour. Plus all those lovely pastels make me want to get mine out!


Botanical Artists Group
The Botanical Artists Group on Facebook is now huge ( joined when it had much less than 1,000 members). There is a very high standard of art being posted by its members. What marks it out as well as a good place for art on Facebook is the very high quality of the moderation (no spam or spammers here!) and the tremendous helpful and collegiate nature of the posting. The group is closed - and I've learned over time that this tends to be the best way of operating a group of like minds.

Ester Roi
Ester Roi is an artist who I know well. Except she's not just an artist she's also an inventor - and she has mastered the art of promoting her art of Facebook. Check out the number of likes for her page - and how many people are talking about her page.

Sophie Ploeg Art
I've been following Sophie Ploeg for a while. Sophie is great at spotting interesting exhibitions about the type of art she is interested in and for giving you close up details plus showing you all the different ways she gets her art out and about - which this year included an award-winning display at the National Portrait Gallery. We just need to persuade her to move some of the interesting discussions on her account over to her Facebook Page!

Robin Purcell Paints
I just LOVE looking at the watercolours painted by Robin Purcell. I want to know how to paint like this - and keep thinking that if I stare at her paintings for long enough I'll be able to work out how.

some of the images on Robin Purcell Paints Facebook Page
- now and again we get a demo of how it's done!

Alan Woollett Art
Alan's approach to sharing his art - before, during, on its way to the customer, in exhibitions and after it's been hung in its new home certainly has a lot of fans. That and the fact he's drawing birds! What I find fascinating is Alan has neither blog nor website and I rather suspect a lot of his art sells before it's even finished!

[OK - so for those who are counting - there are in fact 11 Pages. I told you there were lots of good pages out there and it was very difficult to choose - plus I lost count!]

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

POLL: Selling Art in 2014 - Is the best place for generating cash the same as the best place for making a profit?

Do you know which was the best place to generate income from your art in 2014? 

Or the best place to make profit?  
Are they same - or different?

I do hope we can continue that tradition of sharing what worked - and what didn't work - in terms of selling art in 2014.

This is an incentive to get your accounts done for the calendar year 2014 so you can see:
  • where you generated the most revenue
  • where you generated the most profit
  • how your results compare with other people as to places to sell art
I'll be running TWO POLLS poll during January (in the side column) and will be reporting on both of them at the end of the month.  Polls closes on 30th January.

[Apparently the Poll wasn't working so I've changed it and there are now two new Polls in the Side Column and these are now registering votes]

The aim is to identify
  • The most (and least) effective places for selling art in 2014 - in terms of which places generate the MOST REVENUE and turnover (i.e. gross sales before costs deducted)
  • The most (and least) profitable places for selling art in 2014 - in terms of where did you generate the BEST PROFIT (i.e. net profit - profit from gross sales after deduction of the cost of sales)
It may be that some of you can only identify revenue rather than profit soI'm expecting more responses for the first compared to the second. I'm also expecting that the most profitable will not necessarily be the same as the place where you sold most.

We had problems with the polls acting funny last year so the results for 2013 are missing - and I've switched to Polldaddy to run the polls - which means you can also share a link to them on other sites if you want to let people know about them.

For those interested in what has happened in the past with this poll here are previous posts

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The 2014 Art on Facebook Challenge

This is an invitation to a CHALLENGE for all of you who have enjoyed art on Facebook in 2014.  

SHARE the 10 favourite places on Facebook where you found art you enjoy this year! 

Between now and 31 December 2014 I'm inviting you to celebrate and share up to 10 sites on Facebook where you have enjoyed the art in 2014.

You're not sharing a specific post - you're sharing your cumulative EXPERIENCE over the whole of 2014 of enjoying a SOURCE of art on Facebook.

The source of art MUST be on Facebook and can be any of the following
  • Facebook Pages or 
  • Facebook Groups or 
  • the Personal Accounts of Facebook Members (but I suggest you make sure these are ones which are mostly public - so you can share)
Below I've identified who might own some of the Facebook sites you want to highlight

Organisations or Groups

  • Art Galleries and Museums
  • Groups of artists with a common cause
  • Newspapers / Journals employing journalists who write about art

Individual artists 

  • professional artists
  • semi-professional artists
  • artists who are keen to improve their work
  • people who are beginners

Teachers and writers and video-makers

  • art educators online
  • individual tutors who share art education on Facebook
  • people who curate and share art
  • people who write books about art
  • people who make videos about art

Art Business / Art Economy

  • people who write about the art business
  • art supplies people
It's entirely your choice!

Please use the tag #ArtOnFacebook2014 to indicate this is a post which forms part of this challenge. If you want to explain to people what's it about please feel free to link to this post - but you don't have to.

How you share them is up to you - on Facebook or on your blog or both.

  • You can post all the sites in one day 
  • Or spread out the sites you've enjoyed between now and 31st December - maybe doing two per day!  
  • You can also reshare those sites shared by others!
I'm going to be sharing sites on my Making A Mark Facebook Page between now and the end of the year - and then will post links to them all on my blog on 31st December. 

Will you accept my Facebook Art Challenge?


How this idea came about:
  1. I'm not running the Making A Mark Art Blog Awards this year for a variety of reasons - I've been mightily distracted from reading blogs by writing my book plus health issues - for me and my mother - kept me running around and continued the distraction. Overall it meant I looked at a lot less blogs in 2014 - so it didn't seem fair to do the MAM Awards. 
  2. However I did keep track of people via Facebook and I've been trying to think of a way of celebrating art in 2014 - and this is it!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Drawings by Children of the Tsunami

This is about the drawings done by the children of the Tsunami which killed 286,000 people ten years ago today

This unimaginable loss of life resulted from an earthquake rated 9.1 on the Richter scale in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Banda Aceh in Sumatra - and the Tsunami which followed. In the end people died in 14 countries around the Indian Ocean.

What I didn't know until today was that there were projects to preserve the drawings of the children of the Tsunami.

What caught my eye this morning was a photo by Rein Skullerud in the Guardian. Rein is the Head of Photography Unit, World Food Programme (

Young people who survived the Tsunami ten years ago - with their drawings
photograph by Rein Skullerud, Head of Photography Unit, World Food Programme

The article Indian Ocean tsunami survivors reunited with childhood drawings provides exceptional images of the drawings - and the accounts of what happened to the children at the time and since the Tsunami

I felt very sad looking at them. The drawings also felt to me like they said more about the disaster than any photographs taken at the time.

If you'd like to remember and pay respects to the people who lost their lives, can I commend this article to you as an appropriate way of remembering the dead and celebrating the achievements of the living.

The article also reminds us of the power of drawings as a way of coping with images in our head and remembering things that have frightened us - and things that we have lost and want to remember.

More drawings by children of the Tsunami

This is a website which contains four pages of drawings of the Tsunami made by the children of Khao Lak

These two videos also contains drawings by children involved in the Tsunami - in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Interestingly while researching this topic, I found another article about another Tsunami in Alaska some 50 years ago where children draw what had happened to them. Sadly none of the drawings were reproduced in that article.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas in London 2014: Art Exhibitions

This is a list of art exhibitions for those planning to visit London over the Christmas and New Year period.  Current exhibition dates are listed in red - and many of them close in early-mid January.

For those unfamiliar with locations, here's a map!  You can zoom in and out using the + /- signs bottom right.  It will help you see the distance between different places if you're planning to visit more than one.

You can also share this map via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter using the share sign top right - if you do please remember to credit this post as the source.

a map of major museums and art galleries in London open to the public


If you have limited time and want to maximise looking at art, I'd recommend basing yourself around Trafalgar Square where you have a number of exhibitions and displays within the National Gallery and National Portrait  Gallery.

Further recommendations for those in South London after the section on Central London.

Note that all museums are closed 25-26 December - but only a few are closed on 1 January.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tate must release details of BP sponsorship

The ethics and sponsorship of art debate took a step forward on Monday. A campaign by a pressure group to force national art museums in the UK to give up sponsorship funding from BP took an interesting turn.

A Tribunal hearing an Appeal of a Freedom of Information Act case against the Tate brought by environmental campaigner Brendan Montague (supported by the arts and activism charity Platform) upheld part of his Appeal.

Tate Britain
The Tate Museum now has 35 days to disclose certain detailed information relating to BP Sponsorship Funding between 1990 and 2006 - but not from 2007 onwards.

You can read the Judgement online.

The lawyer for Mr Montague stated
“The long standing relationship between BP and the Tate is controversial. Only when the public are fully informed about how much money Tate actually receives from the company, can a properly informed debate take place about whether BP is an appropriate sponsor for the art gallery and its work.” 
The Museum had previously claimed exemption from disclosure citing the Freedom of Information Act exemption clauses
  • s41 (information provided in confidence) and 
  • s43(2) (prejudice to commercial interests) - which is subject to a public interest text
The Appeal has two parts as follows

  • by Mr Montague was against the continuing redaction of some of the information previously supplied. 
  • by the Tate was against supplying any of the redacted information

The Tribunal upheld some of the redactions and have allowed others to be unredacted "in the public interest".

The campaign group focuses on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the global oil industry.  I'm unclear whether it's associated with the Liberate Tate websites related to Tate Funding and its relationship with oil. These are
One of the issues about such campaign groups is whether their perspective represents a large enough constituency within the community at large to make oil really unpopular.  However, unlike tobacco, a lot of people use oil and oil based products on a daily basis.

Below is my summary of what seems to be the gist of the argument and responses by BP and the Tribunal - plus some comments on related matters.

Platform / Brendan Montague

  • oil money is tainted since the oil companies are responsible for damage to the ecosystems and climate change
  • when the figures are released it will be seen that the amount of sponsorship by BP is so small as to be easy to dispense with
  • then the debate about the value of the sponsorship in an ethical context can properly commence
  • An aside! The pressure group has developed one of the most inaccessible 'so-called' infographic I've ever seen! It purports to show how much the sponsorship money represents as a percentage of total funding. In reality the infographic is either far too small or far too big and in either case it's impossible to see the point they're trying to make. Which is rather odd given that in all other respects, this is a campaign group that has a surprisingly smart and sophisticated website.
I wondered who is funding the Campaign Group so took a look at their Funding Page.  Interestingly one of their sponsors is the Arts Council! Oddly enough, they don't say how much each of their sponsors actually provides by way of funding.......


    • Tate considered that it ought to prevent BP having its sponsorship placed under scrutiny because:
      • the current sponsorship agreement contains a confidentiality clause
      • they don't want to prejudice their relationship with BP and hence jeopardise the relationship
    • “protests might intensify” which might then create a risk to public safety and wellbeing.


    The Tribunal considered that
    • BP are perfectly capable of understanding the nature of the controversy generated by their activities in the public domain - and do not need to be protected by the Tate
    • the Tate's interpretation of some aspects of Freedom of Information Act have been :
      • “mistaken” - about the need for Tate to disclose information as a publicly funded FOI Act organisation; and 
      • “somewhat fanciful”- particularly with respect to health and safety issues associated with protests.
    • the nature of the relationship between Tate and BP was essentially a "win-win" situation since both stood to gain in the context of a purely commercial transaction
    We accept Mr Montague’s evidence that arts sponsorship can legitimately be understood as a means of maintaining BP’s ‘social licence’ to operate and of enhancing, maintaining or repairing BP’s brand. This was confirmed for us by Mr Aydon’s evidence. Mr Aydon’s explanations of how the sponsorship system operates show that it is understood on both sides as an essentially commercial relationship. In our view it was clear from the evidence that Tate needs financial support, that BP needs ways of enhancing, maintaining or repairing its brand, and that sponsorship brings these two needs together, via a commercial negotiation.
    • the exemption relating to disclosure of sums relating to 2007 onwards would be maintained - partly because "public curiosity" does not equate to "public good" and a lot is already known
    the extent to which disclosure would be in the public interest must be judged in the context of what is already publicly known, ie, that BP’s sponsorship is important to Tate, and that Tate is one of four cultural institutions which are together receiving £10 million from BP over a five year period. Weighing the limited contributions to the public interest that would be made by disclosure on one side and the potential importance to Tate of maintaining the exemption on the other side, we conclude that the Commissioner was correct to find that the balance was in favour of maintaining the exemption. 
    • more information needs to be disclosed - but not as much as Mr Montague would like. Tate have 35 days to provide details of sponsorship between 1990 and 2006

    What do you think?

    I don't see why we should let a little detail like the sums of money involved get in the way of starting a debate so here's some questions to ponder on:
    • Should BP be sponsoring the Arts in this country - and why (or why not)?
    • Do you think exhibitions/competitions etc would suffer if BP funding was no longer available?
    • Do you think another company would fill the gap if BP no longer funded art?
    • Do you think any substitute sponsor would be better or worse than BP?
    It's worth thinking about what the alternative might be. For example - supposing a Russian Oligarch whose money was generated by the oil industry were to invest in improving his profile in this country, might we back at where we came in - or worse?

    Monday, December 22, 2014

    Royal Academy Videos: how we made Mr. Turner

    For those planning a viewing of "Mr Turner" over the seasonal break - here's a few links to some very helpful videos, websites and blog posts by the Royal Academy of Arts.  JMW Turner was of course one of their own - and several scenes are set at the RA!

    They're highly recommended by me.

    see below for more details about this hour long video
    What I hadn't realised that the cast had made use of the RA Archive when doing the research for their characters - which is the Mike Leigh way of creating and producing films. This is when there were just 40 Academicians and just 20 Associates - they were a very elite body of men.
    • RA Blog - Who’s who in ‘Mr. Turner’? by Annette Wickham - In this blog post she highlights who are the other painters in the film and what their backgrounds are. It's one of the top ten blog posts of 2014.
    • Next is an absolutely fascinating and very informative video about the context of the Summer Exhibition at the RA. This video illustrates how how the makers of 'Mr. Turner' recreated the 19th century Royal Academy and the exhibition of 1832. You have the Director, Mike Leigh, and a number of the art historians and people responsible for the set discuss the process in detail. Plus Tim Wright the man who taught Tim Spall to paint and the chap who painted the unfinished paintings!

    • On the website there's also a link to a full length panel discussion (very nearly an hour long) between Timothy Spall (Mr Turner); Mark Stanley; Martin Savage and Dr Jacqueline Riding - the consultant historian and art historian for ‘Mr. Turner'. It's absolutely fascinating in terms of how the film was made.  Things like how Timothy Spall took what was in effect a foundation course in painting over the course of two years BEFORE the film got started - so he would able to paint in a convincing way.
    "The film is about people who got on with it" Timothy Spall  
    Link: "Mr Turner" - a new film about JMW Turner

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Art Marketing Lessons at Christmas

    This is an invitation to share the lessons you've learned this year about the successes and failures you have had in marketing your art.....
    • EITHER as a present for Christmas
    • OR what you've learned throughout this year
    • OR what specific approach or process has worked much better this year compared to previous years
    Please share the lessons you've learned in terms of
    • types of artwork which have sold well or 
    • ways of marketing which tend to prove more successful than others
    Also feel free to tell us about any experiment or initiative you've tried which you won't be repeating in future!

    To comment - click the link to comments in the grey box beneath this post (it's to the right of the date).

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Petition to UK MEPs: Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints

    Today I became aware that there is  petition on 38 Degrees - "Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints." However to date it doesn't have a lot of signatures!

    The 38 Degrees website and the petition about Cadmium in Artists Paints
    The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) may have changed its mind about the proposed ban - see yesterday's blog post - A Rethink: about proposed ban on Cadmium in artists' paints - and artists' professional practices.

    However it is consulting until 8th February 2015 on its new position - and those seeking a ban may well present more evidence and change their mind yet again.

    If you are at all concerned about even the possibility of a ban, a "belt and braces" approach would suggest signing this petition is a good idea.

    I've just signed the petition and decided to publicise it so you can decide whether you want to add your name too.  Click the link at the top if you want to read more about why the petition was put together.

    If you want to share the share the petition with others, either share this post or these links:

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    A Rethink: about proposed ban on Cadmium in artists' paints - and artists' professional practices

    Back in June, I posted Will Cadmium be banned in artists' paints in Europe? about the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) proposal for legislation to ban artists paints containing cadmium pigments throughout the EU.

    Today I received an email from Dr Howard Oakley, who updated me on what has happened since. Dr Oakley put some considerable effort into protesting the proposed ban - and submitted a 22 page response!

    He told me that the ECHA has changed its mind in the light of the evidence submitted as a result of the consultation on the proposed ban on cadmium in artists paints.
    the proposed restriction is not the most appropriate EU wide measure to address the identified risks in terms of the proportionality of its socio-economic benefits to its socio-economic costs."
    It's very interesting from a number of perspectives and, as well as the ECHA response, it also touches on:
    • Health & Safety: artists' awareness of the toxicity of cadmium and associated studio practice
    • Labelling practices: artists' awareness of whether or not they were assuming paint contained cadmium if it used the word Cadmium on the label - when it did not
    • Art Education: the role of art schools in promoting best practice in use of paint containing toxic pigments
    • Representation of Artists: the role of art societies in representing artists who use specific types of paint
    Plus I ask you your views on a few questions........

    Proposed Cadmium Ban: The response from the  European Chemicals Agency

    This is the summary of the new position
    RAC adopted its opinion, and SEAC agreed on a draft opinion, on cadmium and its compounds in artists’ paints, not supporting the proposal from Sweden to restrict the placing on the market and use of cadmium and its compounds in artists' paints covered by TARIC codes 3213 and 3212. The reason for the proposed action by Sweden was a concern for for human health via the environment . During use and cleaning procedures cadmium based artists’ paints are released to the waste water. When the resulting sewage sludge is applied as fertiliser in the agriculture, the cadmium compounds used in artists’ paints will eventually end up in foodstuffs.
    RAC found the risks to be negligible. The 60-day public consultation on the SEAC draft opinion will be launched in December 2014. SEAC plans to adopt its final opinion by March 2015.  Annex to RAC and SEAC news alert December 2014 Annex to RAC and SEAC news alert December 2014 (121.4k)
    REPORT:  This is the report of the ECHA's Committee for Risk Assessment (adopted 26 november 2014)

    OPINION: This is the

    Cadmium selenide
    Cadmium selenide
    - used for red artist's paint
    Significant doubts were cast on the estimates of the impact of cadmium in artists' paints.

    The Committee also noted the impact assessments of artists.

    I have to say that I really did think that the strength of opinion and the extent to which people were prepared to submit comments indicated to me that there was a good chance that the proposed ban would not be agreed.
    Alternatives to Cd-containing artists’ paints are available. However, during public consultation it has been brought up by industry and by a large number of comments (341out of 666) by artists using the paints that alternatives to artists’ paints containing Cd donot provide the same technical specifications as Cd pigments e.g. regarding lightfastness, opacity and tinting strength (at least more paint has to be put on the canvas to achieve similar results). These parameters are mainly associated with aesthetic aspects of the paintings and therefore cannot be monetized easily. In addition to the familiar concept of technical feasibility of alternatives, the aesthetic aspects of the paints needs to be fully taken into account due to their role in painting/production of art. There is a strong assertion from public consultation that the alternatives are not of equal value.
    We'll just have to wait and see now whether the revised position statement is agreed.

    More consultation

    Its proposals not to proceed with the ban are also now out for consultation.

    Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the draft opinion by 8 February 2015.

    Health & Safety Implications for Artists

    Professional practices - and health and safety

    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters - Annual Exhibition 2014

    Last week I visited the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. This can be seen at the Mall Galleries until 1pm on the 21st December - so lots of opportunities for last minute Christmas shopping!  Who doesn't need a nice oil painting?

    In previous years I've visited the exhibition on preview day but I find there's always too many people to see the paintings properly (I like to look from a distance first) and then of course I spend too much time talking to chums and not enough time looking at the exhibition! So this time I went two days later.

    I've been mulling over since then what to say about it. It's something of a Curate's Egg.

    The ROI has some excellent painters as members and their work is well worth seeing. It also has an Associate Membership as a route through to full membership for younger emerging artists - and those who have come to oil painting later in life - and there are some excellent younger artists now showing with the ROI

    At the moment it seems to me that the ROI is on a cusp - moving from a more traditional way of operating - and painting - to becoming a more contemporary art society more rooted in the 21st century while still valuing the traditional skills of oil painting and picture making.

    A very muted and symmetrical end wall 
    I loved Lachlan Goudie's still life paintings (either end) - which I would have liked to see featured as a group
    I very much liked the painting of the cliff by Chris Rigby
    and the small landscape paintings by Tim Benson
    So, for example, this is an art society which now has an active and good-looking ROI blog and a well used Facebook Page which is building 'likes'. I particularly liked the way that the exhibition was trailed via images of paintings in the exhibition in the few weeks prior to its opening.  It has also posted lots of pics of its members with their paintings on its Facebook page enabling those who can't get to the Preview to put a face to the man or woman behind the painting

    Special mention must also go to the ROI for getting its exhibition prizewinners up and on the blog within two days of the announcement of the Awards!  Well done on that score!

    However in my opinion, the ROI still needs to apply itself to having accurate information about its annual exhibition (dates, times, venue) front and centre on its website rather than sending people off to another link!  A special mention for the related events would not go amiss!
    I also understand from the Facebook Page that the exhibition has already taken more in sales this year than it did last year - and it's not yet at the half way mark!  I'm sure that in part must be a result of better marketing online.

    However, here are some observations which are a tad less positive.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Vincent Van Gogh's Notebooks

    I'm updating websites at the moment while playing an old BBC programme about Vincent van Gogh's Notebooks on my Mini iPad which sits just in front of my iMac.

    Do play it - it's excellent!

    It's the equivalent of listening to a good Radio 4 programme while including black and white photography of his drawings and paintings. I find I don't miss the colour as I know most of the images used so well.
    This documentary, made for the BBC's schools and colleges strand, follows Van Gogh's story from his early studies until his death. The programme details the hardship that the artist witnessed and endured throughout his life. (1964)
    I hadn't realised the influence of his Japanese woodcuts on changing his style from the strong, sombre, stylised drawings to a more refined and lighter drawings and then paintings which included colour.  Or the impact that trying to draw light had on his own scope for mark-making.
    He tried to draw light and even colour and created a new set of notation marks
    Van Gogh Starry Night Drawing
    Starry Night (Saint-Rémy, June 1889)
    Medium drawing, pen and Indian ink on paper; 47 × 62.5 cm (18.5 × 24.6 in)
    (Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow)
    The programme is a great mix of intelligent selection of quotations, film of places he visited and painted and a narrative which covers both biographical history and the changes in his artistic practice.

    Vincent Van Gogh 0018
    View of Arles, flowering orchards (April 1889)
    (Flowering Orchards - a Van Gogh series)
    oil on canvas, 72 × 92 cm (28.3 × 36.2 in)

    I made a study of Van Gogh and particularly of his drawings back in February 2007 - and, as a result have written about him on and off ever since!

    Below is a list of my blog posts about Vincent Van Gogh - and the website I created at the same time.
    and my website

    Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    What are your favourite things - related to art?

    Today I've been focused on sorting out the answers to an email interview with Steve Pill, the Editor of Artists & Illustrators Magazine - which is a very popular art magazine in the UK.

    recent covers for Artists & Illustrators
    You'll have to wait and see what the answers are when the magazine is published (and I'm not sure as yet which edition it will be).
    However I thought I'd share the questions with you. It's for a new feature in the magazine called "My Favourite Things" - which sounds like the sort of article I always love to read!

    These were my questions.
    • As an 'urban sketcher', where is your favourite place to draw?
    • And what is your favourite sketching implement?
    • If money was no object, which one painting would you most like to own?
    • Apart from your own, which art blog do you most enjoy reading and why?
    • Do you have a favourite coffee-table art book?
    • Which gallery do you enjoy visiting most to discover new art and artists?
    • Do you have a favourite art school and/or art tutor?
    • Which is your favourite art shop?
    • What was the last great exhibition you saw?
    Why don't you see if you can answer these questions? 

    What are your favourite things related to art?  Leave your answer as a comment - I'm interested to know! :)

    I found some of them nearly impossible to answer and it was really difficult trying to narrow down to just one answer.

    Monday, December 08, 2014

    Why colour converts and creates sales on websites

    Did you make any deliberate decisions about which colours to use when putting together your website or blog?

    Talking of websites (as I was yesterday) - and selling art online - I've just been reading an article which suggests that
    • 42% of site visitors base their opinions of a product ONLY on it’s website design.
    • 52% of site visitors did not return to a site because of bad aesthetics
    Kissmetrics - How do colours affect purchases
    So what did you know about aesthetics, navigability and colour when you designed your blog or website?  Anything?

    For example did you know that Research from Quick Sprout indicates that 90% of all product assessments (e.g. whether or not to buy a painting or whether or not to trust your website as a place to buy art) have to do with colour (see Chapter 4: The psychology of color)

    Check out this infographic by Kissmetrics (below) plus

    ++ Click Image to Enlarge ++
    How Colors Affect Conversions
    Source: How Colors Affect Conversions – Infographic

    and finally here's a palette tool for tinkering with website and blog colours. This is Panetton - have a play!

    Will you be reviewing your colour palette for your website as a result of reading any of the above? What was the claim which influenced you the most?

    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    The Mall Galleries has a NEW website

    Lewis McNaught, the Director of the Mall Galleries has been promising me that a new website for the Mall Galleries was on the horizon for a wee while.  The new website 'landed' in virtual terms last week - just in time for Christmas.

    Regular readers will know that I regularly review the annual exhibitions of the UK national art societies which make up the Federation of British Artists which have a home at the Mall Galleries - so this is a big deal for me!

    Mall galleries website - who we are
    the "who we are" section of the new website

    ...and here's my review of the new website!

    The new website is designed for new technology. This is very welcome given that half the visits to websites now take place via mobile devices.

    I looked at the website on my 27" iMac, my iPad Mini and my iPhone 6+ (let's just say I'm wedded to Apple!) to see what the website looked like in different formats. It works fine in all of them.  I spotted a few areas where there is some finishing off to do - notably the artists' galleries - but other than that it's a huge improvement.

    Lots to like

    It's got a very clean look - a bit like the Apple website went to an art gallery.

    I love the fact that we at last have:
    • a mobile friendly website - yay! 
      • On my iPhone 6+ I've got a bigger screen than most so maybe not the best test - however the website clearly shows up as a mobile version with different methods adopted for navigation. 
      • On my iPad Mini it's a mini version of the full size website - so text just becomes a lot smaller. However the nice clean fonts and the sizing used means it's still clear to read ie it's not impossible to read without magnification.
    • lots more BIG images which give a much better sense of the type of art on display. I very much like the big banner image near the top of a lot of the pages. That should provide some incentive for artists to submit excellent digital images of their art!
      • images on the FBA artists's pages have a much better display with one being big and thumbnails underneath - and I like the facility to search by medium and artist's name. If there was one improvement I'd like to suggest it's a third "slice and dice" ie by art society since a number are members of more than one.  This would enable those wanting to apply for membership of a society a better chance to take a look at the art of existing members.
    One of the menu pages for the alphabetical list of artists

    We are currently introducing new professional development schemes in order to help artists and creative practitioners to further their skills and individual practice by networking and working alongside established artists and industry professionals.

    Room to improve

    • the spacing below the banner and above the first item on the page looks odd on some pages. I'm assuming there's space for text introducing the page which is not being used on some pages -hence the odd look of lots of white space
    • not all the 'table of content' links are working. It's a common bug with all new websites.  One thing I would suggest is an email link somewhere to the webmaster or whoever will sort out all the "found" bugs in terms of links not working etc.
    • the artists' pages are obviously not yet complete - but the improvement in display means there's lots of incentives for the artists to get their images sorted for inclusion and/or provide more their mini-galleries!
    • the media categories on the artist pages have not yet got links to all the artists

    I think a review of sizing and how much actually appears on a screen is something that might usefully be reviewed. It's BIG on the 27" screen - the strapline image stretches to the full width of the screen - but I'm also getting a lot of white empty space between the image and the next item. I think scrolling might start a lot sooner if the gap between the banner/top item and the next one down were to be reduced.

    Overall - a welcome and very significant improvement on the old website. I look forward to hearing more about future developments

    Friday, December 05, 2014

    Christmas e-cards 2014 by art galleries, museums and artists

    Want to send a fine art ecard for Christmas to artist friends both near and far? Have you wondered about whether seasonal ecards are available from art galleries or museums - or artists?

    This is my periodical update of the situation this year.

    Museums and Galleries

    I've listed the art galleries and museums alphabetically - because it doesn't actually matter where you live or where you are sending an ecard too - they will all do the job for you!

    However for those who like to know a bit more about the individual sources I've also indicated where they are situated

    Geffrye Museum of the Home (London)

    The Geffrey Museum in Shoreditch (or is it Hoxton) does a neat line in Christmas ecards of the British Home at Christmas in the past and traditional Christmas cards from the past.

    The Guggenheim Museum (New York and various)

    The Guggenheim has an extensive collection of ecards - very much focused on the art and not so much on Christmas per se.

    However the set up is sophisticated. You get to choose the colour of the background to the card, you fill in your name and the recipient's name and your respective email addresses - and then add a message. You have the option to find out when the recipient opens the ecard.  The other nice bit is that your email is included at the end of the text message which makes it really easy for the recipient to reciprocate.

    Museum of Fine Art (Boston)

    The ecard facility seems to have been withdrawn.

    However the MFA allows you to email items in its collection.  It's not at all sophisticated - you click the email icon, MFA then inserts a link in an email, you complete the address box and then send it. The recipient clicks the link - and gets to see the image in a new screen - but the accompanying message remains in the email.  If you search for "Christmas" you'll find images like CHRISTMAS by Robin Tanner (English, 1904–1988)

    Museum of Modern Art (New York)

    MOMA has a really extensive collection of ecards with a number of different categories.  For example, there are 48 pages for ecards of paintings and sculpture in its collection alone! However although it has categories for special occasions it doesn't have one for Christmas.

    National Museums Liverpool (Liverpool - surprise surprise!)

    Two collections are available and each has a wide selection to choose from as well as a range of styles. The ecard allows you to add your own message and to send the same card to up to 10 people if you don't want to personalise by name.  Once sent the next screen gives you the option to send another ecard.  The email arrives as a "you have been sent an ecard" and inviting you to click a link - and they, of course, manage to insert a nice display advert for finding out their activities at Christmas!  When clicked you get a nice large image plus the message underneath.
    • Fine Art Christmas cards - features paintings and sculpture from the Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery and Sudley House, plus works exhibited in John Moores Painting Prize exhibitions
    A selection of fine art ecards from the National Museums Liverpool

    The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

    The Royal Pavilion Museums have a collection of old-fashioned Christmas cards.  They include an option to send as an ecard.

    The Tate (various)

    The Tate has the Tate Kids ecard collection.   None are particularly Christmassy.

    Worcester Historical Museum

    They have a collection of historical Christmas cards available to send as Christmas ecards - some of which are very suitable for children

    Alternatively if you'd like to study the design and decorative appeal of Christmas cards sent in the past, you should go to the Victoria & Albert Museum's Study Room Resource: Christmas

    Membership ecard sites

    Two ecard sites which provide seasonal greetings - for a fee - are:
    • Jacquie Lawson - an English artist who has been providing ecards for a long time and comes up with new cards for every seasonal event.  I find them a tad "folksy". This is the link to her Christmas/Advent cards
    • olie is a husband and wife team producing online greetings cards. She's the artist. These are their Christmas / Hanukkah cards and they have a wide variety of designs. They look more digital somehow compared to Jacquie Lawsons. 
    Do please tell me if you've found any other sites - particularly any created by individual artists

    Thursday, December 04, 2014

    How an artist's brush is made

    One thing leads to another - and after hearing about the Da Vinci 1287 yesterday I had a jolly good look around their website. Which is how I came to find this fascinating video by Da Vinci Artist Brushes about how they make their brushes.

    I loved seeing what their hair looks like when it arrives and how they process it before they then start making it into brushes. Who knew it was gum arabic which creates that coating on the brush to preserve its shape until it reaches its owner?

    More facts

    In case you think it odd I'm highlighting Da Vinci, after viewing the video I went looking on the websites of other brushmakers for similar videos about they made their brushes and more information about brushmaking but didn't find anything as comprehensive as this website.

    • The new Winsor and Newton website seems to be dumbed down compared to its predecessor which I liked a lot.  
    • Rosemary Brushes are brilliant in their descriptions in relation to individual brushes but say nothing about the process.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2014

    An egg tempera day

    I did a workshop about egg tempera with Ruth Stage today.  This is a bit of a picture post with random jottings of things I learned today

    Egg Tempera paintings by Ruth Stage
    New England Art Club Exhibition 2014, Mall Galleries
    The day came in four parts
    1. instruction by Ruth on materials and how to make egg tempera and the supports to paint on
    2. a review of her work
    3. we all had a go at painting on the gesso boards she brought for us
    4. a review of the egg tempera paintings in the National Gallery

    Things I learned about egg tempera today

    Ruth has been painting in egg tempera since her studies at the Royal Academy Schools. In 2013, one of her egg tempera paintings won the Lynn Painter Stainer Prize (see Lynn Painter Stainer Exhibition 2013: Review)

    Ruth prefers to paint with egg tempera because it doesn't smell (ie good for those who have problems with solvents), has a good finish, dries quickly and looks different. It also has the advantage of getting more robust with age.

    Ruth uses:

    She recommends:
    • breaking the egg under a tap as this helps to remove the white of the egg
    • prick the egg yolk with a pin or squeeze the yolk out through your fingers leaving the egg sac behind
    • using a different plastic spoon for each jar of pigment to avoid contamination
    • only mix a tiny bit of paint as it dries quickly on a palette
    • wiping a gesso board with a damp cloth before you start to remove any film, dust or contamination
    • using like watercolour ie she would not recommend building light paint on top of dark
    • only using a couple of layers of thin paint - and waiting for the first layer to dry before adding the second. 
    • thinking about where to put the paint before applying it as it cannot be moved around in the same way other paints can - there is now working 'wet in wet' with egg tempera
    • scratching out to create texture or to add in a new colour
    • choosing subject matter which will work the need fore a different approach to painting with egg tempera. If you click the link in Ruth's name (at the top of this post) you can see a gallery catalogue of her work for a solo exhibition and how she uses calligraphic mark-making over a flat wash.
    • working upright most of the time
    Here we are painting after lunch

    NEAC Egg Tempera workshop in the Mall Galleries
    Mine's the large one in the foreground - I'm painting from a sketch of Chartwell under the table!
    Did you know that the Wilton Diptych is painted in egg tempera?

    "Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child
    by his Patron Saint John the Baptist and Saints Edward and Edmund" ('The Wilton Diptych') c. 1395-9
    Egg on oak, 53 x 37 cm
    Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano (c.1438-40) by Paolo Uccello
    Egg tempera with walnut oil and linseed oil on poplar; 182 x 320 cm
    Or that Uccello's painting of the Battle of St. Romano is a painting in egg tempera?  Or that it's possible to use oil with egg tempera - in this instance walnut oil is mixed in for the green paint of the foliage.
    The support was made from about eight planks, was modified in the 15th century, and has a very thick priming of two layers of anhydrite in glue with a thin layer of gypsum in egg tempera on top. Drawing, both freehand and with a straight edge, and incising were observed and, unusually, some incised lines were applied into the paint, while graphic lines of paint were used to reinforce the image.
    Egg tempera was the main medium, with walnut oil added for green paint to give some gloss.
    You can find out more about Egg Tempera on the website I constructed following my first egg tempera workshop at the V&A back in 2006 - see Egg Tempera - Resources for Artists . Plus the links below are to my previous blogs posts about the V&A workshop
    Note: The workshop was organised by the NEAC Drawing School and held in the Mall Galleries during the Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club. It was one of the activities in the Galleries this week