Sunday, August 30, 2015

Akash Bhatt wins Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015

The prizewinners in the 2015 Sunday Times Watercolour Competition were announced earlier today.

Akash Bhatt RWS RBA has won the £10,000 First Prize for his latest painting of his mother - called Blue Room.

Winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015
£10,000 First Place
Blue Room by Akash Bhatt
Over the years the artist has drawn and painted both his parents and developed a suite of work in doing so. His father passed on a few years ago but his mother continues to sit for him.

Akash Bhatt was born in Leicester and now lives in Wembley. He is a member of both the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of British Artists. His work can be regularly seen in the exhibitions of both societies.

Akash also won the London Lives competition in 2010 when his painting featured along the length of Blackfriars Bridge - and I wrote about his win on this blog

The second prize was won by Michael A E Williams for a painting called Land, Sea, Place.

I was unable to identify a painter called Michael Williams who painted using water-based paints when doing my selected artist post in the summer (see below). However the Sunday Times Colour Magazine - which has an article about the prizewinners - indicates that Michael Williams lives in Gloucestershire but has had a very long association with Wales - and that this painting is of the island of Skomer.  As a result, with a few more clues, I've now found his website - and these are some of his recent paintings.

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015 - Second Place
Land, Sea, Place by Michael Williams
watercolour, 74 x 104cms
With those clues I also found two websites with more of his paintings - this gallery site and the Bay Art website which contained this very informative quote about his paintings
Williams is not one to take advantage of water colours propensity for ambivalence. He avoids that wet, blotter-like seepage and slippage, which can easily facilitate atmosphere, approximation and ambiguity. Rather, he rigorously manipulates the challenges of this medium by accumulating discrete marks to gradually build a unifying structure, (he never uses white pigment as a means of reversal or correction). This involves a balancing act between the surface demands of rhythm, pattern and detail (the known) and the desire to actualize light and space (the transcendent)? Consequently, there is a strong sense of particularity in these works that affirms both substance and fragility.
The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize (£1,500) was won by Leo Davey for a very effective painting of the view of a canal under a bridge and associated reflections in the water.

As I indicated in the selected artists post Leo has been...
selected for this exhibition in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Try taking a look at his page of watercolour paintings on his website
Winner of the The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize
Drip... Regents Canal, London  by Leo Davey
You can see exhibition for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition at three venues on the following dates:
followed by the Smith & Williamson Tour to

I'll be writing a review of the exhibition once it's open.

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015

You can read more about this year's competition in my previous posts:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hesketh Hubbard Exhibition - not enough life drawing!

I went to see the Annual Exhibition by the Hesketh Hubbard Art Society on Thursday. The Society is London's largest life drawing society

The Portrait (£175) by John Harper Sutton
The exhibition is now finished.  This post highlights:
  • my thoughts on the exhibition - and a suggestion for the future
  • the prizewinners 
  • work by artists I liked
  • the artist who had the most visitors - due entirely to positive self-promotion.  It's a learning lesson for very many artists!

Friday, August 28, 2015

St. Paul's Studios on the Talgarth Road

Many artists living in London who have ever travelled west will have marvelled at the Artists Studio from the Arts and Crafts era - with the wonderful large north facing windows - on the A4 just before the start of the Hammersmith Flyover.

They're called St. Paul's Studios. I've always wanted to know more about them and the sale of one of them means this post includes information about:
  • one which is for sale and 
  • the history of the studios
  • other 19th century artists' studio buildings in London - in Pembroke Gardens, Kensington; Tite Street, Chelsea and Greville Road, St John's Wood.
I find it fascinating that most of the studios developed in west London in the 19th century and east London at the back end of the 20th century. Where I live (in the East End of London) has more artists per square mile than any other place in the UK!

St Paul's Studios on the Talgarth Road (courtesy of Google Streetview)

Artist's Arts and Crafts Studio for Sale.

You can read more about the house which is for sale on the following links.
Estate Agent: Featherstone Leigh listing
Address: 149 Talgarth Road, London, W14 9DA (Grade II Listed in 1970) - formerly known as #8 St Paul's Studios.
Built: 1891
Listed Status: Grade II listed - which means that the special features of the building cannot be altered without special permission of the relevant planning authority.
Asking Price £1.4 million | Offer made: £1.525 million
Previous occupants: Dame Margot Fonteyn who used the space as a dance studio
Layout of St Paul's Studios,Talgarth Road, Barons Court, W14

Past sales

These studio houses do come on the market from to time - but not very often.
145 Talgarth Road
The downside to the houses are that they have the extremely noisy and dirty Talgarth Road to the front (studio window side) and the Piccadilly Line to the rear and only small gardens front and back.  Of course when they were built circumstances were very different

The History of St. Paul's Studios

Designed byFrederick Wheeler FRIBA (1853–1931)
Built: 1891
Purpose: Designed to house bachelor artists - on behalf of James Fairless a fine art publisher
  • Ground Floor: 3 "living" rooms for the artist
  • First Floor: The "work space / studio" - 30 feet long and 22 ft wide (9.1 m × 6.7 m) with a 20-foot-high (6.1 m) ceiling
  • Basement: Housekeeper's Flat
Address: Originally number #1 to #8 St Paul's Studios, Red Cow Lane (and subsequently Colet Gardens); the numbers converted to #135 to  #149 (odd numbers only) Talgarth Road at a later date.

Articles about the studios:

Other historical artists' studios in London

This article by The Independent discusses St Paul's Studios and other historic studios in London.  I was surprised to find that some of them were let to artists by the Prudential insurance company who aimed to let studio spaces to artists.

Pembroke Studios, Kensington (map)- 11 studios, each with a skylight and a floor- to-ceiling, north-facing window.

Pembroke Studios, site plan, and typical studio plan and elevation. C. F. Kearley, builder, 1890–1
British History Online

Tite Street, Chelsea

Tite Street was home to a number of artists and there's a few houses with very large windows. This is 31-33 Tite Street which used to be the home and studio of John Singer Sargent. Whistler also used #33 as his studio. The odd thing about the properties in Tite Street is that none of them have the much desired north facing window.

Greville Road Studios, St John's Wood

This is an article about the planned refurbishment of a listed artists studio - with images - in Greville Road, St John's Wood

I've always thought it would be fun to create a gazette of the locations of all the artists studios in London!

If anybody else has links to interesting art studios in London I'll add them into this post.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rosa Sepple sells 50+ paintings in 4 days!

I don't often write about the exhibitions of individual artists - however Rosa Sepple very much deserves to be highlighted on the pages of this blog.

Rosa can currently be found in the Mall Galleries with her one woman exhibition "Out of the Blue" - in association with her gallery (Adrian Hill Fine Art, Holt, Norfolk). She's an elected member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour (2004) and the Society of Women Artists (2009).

Out of the Blue by Rosa Sepple RI SWA #1
Rosa has invested a great deal of effort and money in this exhibition. For example she has:
  • hired the large Main Gallery - which is unusual. Most artists having a show at the Mall Galleries normally go for the North Galleries or the Threadneedle Space. However Rosa is showing some 120 paintings and needed the space!
  • framed all her paintings with the same high quality frame from Italy - customised for each painting in terms of size and thickness. In addition, the work is triple matted and the middle mat picks out a colour in the painting. It's very professional, very simple and very effective.
  • got a hardback book out - about her story and all the paintings in the exhibition.

I'm sure some people must have thought she was taking a huge risk with this sort of approach to selling her art.  They couldn't have been more wrong!

I very much recommend people go and see her exhibition before it closes on Saturday for the following reasons:
  • it's a very impressive exhibition. I can't think the last time I saw 122 paintings by the same artist which are all painted in a mature and well developed style. Seeing them all together certainly packs a punch!
  • the consistent framing really helps with the very positive impression of the exhibition as you come into the gallery. This is an exhibition which convinced me it was impressive as I stood at the top of the stairs and before I'd looked at any painting up close.
  • importantly, in four days since Monday, when the exhibition opened (with the book launch) Rosa has sold over 50 paintings - both large and small (for - I think - between £6.5k and £750). 
I think I saw more red dots this afternoon in the West Gallery than I've seen in the same gallery during some annual exhibitions by some FBA art societies towards the end of their run!

Rosa Sepple with some of her paintings on the end wall.
Chatting with Rosa in the gallery this afternoon I wanted to find out why she has been so successful.

First off, she had always had a feeling that having a large exhibition of her work would show people what she was capable of - and she is very definitely correct about that. Others have also been very impressed with her show.

Out of the Blue by Rosa Sepple RI SWA #2
Out of the Blue by Rosa Sepple RI SWA #3
She also wanted to find out why people liked her work and hoped to get some clues from what sold and who bought what. She certainly now knows which paintings she could have sold again and again. (I think she'll be painting a few more 'Madonnas' after this show!)  However other than this her collectors continue to be very diverse.

Out of the Blue by Rosa Sepple RI SWA #4
Here's why I think she's been successful.
  • she paints for herself. She doesn't do commissions as such. She only paints what she enjoys painting and her paintings are unique!
  • she paints happy pictures. Never underestimate the power of a happy painting to make a buyer also feel happy!
  • she paints pictures of people who are often in groups and there's a story behind every painting
    • I have been whinging for some time on this blog - in various contexts - about the way that narrative painting involving groups of people appears to be in severe decline in this country. Artists appear to have lost the ability to tell stories with their paintings. 
    • Rosa hasn't - and the result is that, so far, she's sold 2,000 paintings in her career to date (and she had her first exhibition at a library in Outer London in 2003)
    • In my experience people like working out the story behind a painting and they're very happy to make up their own version. In other words, having a painting with a story engages the viewer and draws them in.  I've seen this happen with other artists. I had a friend where we all used to guess the story as she developed the painting - it becomes engrossing!
  • she's developed a strong base of collectors who love her work and want to buy more to add to their collection.  This is the key to becoming a successful artist. People who LOVE your work are powerful advocates for it, love showing it off and love telling others to come and see the latest exhibition of their favourite artist.
  • Working with a Gallery that does "own-art" certainly helps a lot. Being able to buy paintings over 10 months means that you can acquire collectors, as Rosa has, who plan on acquiring more paintings and have now developed a habit of buying on a monthly basis - without a gap!
So there you are - that's a recipe for success! See if you can do better!
"My paintings are an expression of a playful world I never had. Somehow I missed my childhood, went straight into marriage and motherhood and much of the fun in life seemed to pass me by. Now, as I sit and work in my studio, I can take my most excessive imaginings for a walk in complete safety and do all the naughty things I might like to have done."
Rosa Sepple

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Retirement and Pensions for Artists

It's been a while since I mentioned the topic of planning for our retirement as artists. I know a lot of people aren't thinking about retiring as artists - but there does come a time for some artists when eyesight begins to fail and arthritis sets in!

Today I've published a new page about Retirement and Pensions for Artists on my Art Business Info for Artists website.

It includes all the available information I'm aware of which is accessible online. That said it's not a lot.

I'd be very happy to add to the page if people know of any online articles or information which would be a useful addition for readers of this page.

The content covers:
  • Do artists ever retire? 
  • Do artists ever make provision for a pension?
  • POLL: Have you ever made provision for a pension?
  • Using art as a pension pot
  • Pensions: self-employment vs. employment
  • Changes to pension planning
  • How much state pension will you get (UK)?
It also includes a poll. It's a Polldaddy Poll so I've also been able to include it in this blog post as well. Do please vote for the option that best matches your circumstances.

Hopefully some of you will own up (anonymously of course!) and tell us what provision you have made for your retirement.  Once enough of us have voted we will be able to see whether our rate of provision is similar to the statistics collected through other surveys.

I have to confess I'm one of those artists who is extremely fortunate to already have my own pension - although my state pension seems to keep taking a backward step and kicks in at a later and later date every time I look!

I've also included on the webpage the link to how you can find out when your state pension will kick in if you don't know already.

QUESTION: What do you think is the best way for artists to prepare for their retirement?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Can you believe it? 8 million pageviews!

While I was out sketching in Cambridge on Sunday, somebody took a look at a page on Making A Mark and notched up the 8,000,000th page view - according to Blogger!

Magdalen Bridge and Scudamores, Cambridge
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
I got a non-stop commentary from the Punter Guides of the history of Magdalene College as they went past below!
Isn't it absolutely amazing that one woman's interest in art and willingness to share can turn into an art blog which gets visited by people from all over the world (see below)?

I have to say I still can't quite get over the fact that when I go to sketchcrawls and exhibitions I meet lots of people who all know who I am even though I've never ever met any of them before.

I'd love to say "Thanks!" to the person who viewed that 8 millionth page - but all I know is that you live in one of the places listed below!

Instead I'll say "Thank you" to you all - and I do hope you come back again and look at some more! My archives are extensive! :)

Current Country Totals From 1 Aug 2015 to 25 Aug 2015

 United States (US)12,478
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