Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10 Facebook Pages - Art Galleries and Museums

Can you guess:
  • which of the TOP art galleries and museums do well on Facebook
  • which do much better than their GLOBAL ranking for visitors
  • How many followers the top art galleries and museums have achieved on Facebook to date?
I've been quietly watching the various pages of the museums and how they rank on Facebook for years. It's extremely instructive in terms of their marketing and how some of them manage to achieve a virtual ranking online via Facebook that is completely different from their actual ranking for visitors.

Below you can find:
  • which TOP art museums and galleries:
    • do well on Facebook relative to their global ranking for visitors
    • which do much better on Facebook 
    • which need to work out why they perform less well
  • my suggested explanations for the differences between actual and virtual visitors
  • how all this relates to how you as an artist who markets your art online

How Museums and Art Galleries Rank for Visitors and Facebook Likes

This table compares how Facebook Likes compare to the actual number of visitors an art gallery of museum had in 2015.  Below it I add some comments as to the 'quirks' of this data - and another table to show you which are the top 10 museums on Facebook.

[Note: Visitors Figures in 2015 come from the annual survey conducted by The Art Newspaper and associated report; Facebook Figures come from my Insights Page re the other Pages I follow from my Making A Mark Facebook Page]
Museum Visitors in 2015
No. of Facebook Likes

2015 visitors
World Ranking

Rank on Facebook
Total Page Likes


British Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York

Vatican Museums
Vatican City

National Gallery

National Palace Museum

Tate Modern

National Gallery of Art
Washington DC

State Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg

Musee d'Orsay


Some observations on the rankings on Facebook:
  • The top three are way ahead of every other museum and art gallery which ranks well for visitors. This suggests diverse strategies for marketing their museums and art galleries in terms of traditional methods and newer methods associated with virtual visitors.
  • Yet again the Louvre is way ahead of every other museum - there is a very significant margin on Likes just as there is on Visitors. There has to be an explanation for this that goes beyond the content of the museum. Smart marketing perhaps? It's certainly worth watching how the Louvre posts on Facebook.
  • If a country is not Facebook friendly it's unlikely a museum located there will get a lot of likes. Museums and art galleries in parts of the world which might not be so Facebook friendly (eg the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg) are doing less well on Facebook

Which Museums are Missing from the Table?

Museums and art galleries do well in terms of actual visitors are not necessarily the same as those who do well on Facebook.
  • I started with the top ten museums and art galleries in terms of the recorded attendance of annual visitors they attract. 
  • Missing from this top ten of museums and art galleries I follow are those that are ranked numbers 2, 4 and 10 in terms of Facebook Likes.

So here's the table again - except this time it's based on which art museums and galleries rank in the top 10 for Facebook Likes - and below I highlight some of the key facts indicated by this table.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A&I Artist of the Year 2017 - shortlist, awards and sponsorship

I confess I'm always bemused by the idea that The A&I Artist of the Year 2017 should be chosen in 2016 from work completed by artists in 2016 - and then exhibited right at the beginning of 2017!

However, that's how the Artists & Illustrators Magazine have decided that their Artist of the Year exhibition should work - and that's their prerogative. :)  The upcoming exhibition is their 9th.

Artist of the Year exhibition at the Mall Galleries in January this year
Below you can find out about:

  • details of the virtual and real exhibition
  • how to vote for Artist of the Year
  • who's on my shortlist - with my comments as to why
  • a note about the awards on offer and a prompt for art societies when it comes to sponsorship.

Artists & Illustrators Artist of the Year 2017 Exhibition

The exhibition comprises 50 shortlisted artworks from the readers of Artists & illustrators magazine.

You can see
Readers now have the opportunity to vote on the one they like the best - and that person will receive the Readers' Choice Award.

Click on the red button on the red button to vote.

If you click on the first image of 'virtual' shortlist you can then go through a slideshow of all the images at a decent size.

Personally speaking I'd have really liked to see the details re size and media on the listing in the slideshow view.  Otherwise it requires having two windows open to check back and to prior to voting.

I saw the Artists of the Year 2016 Exhibition at the Mall Galleries last January and was very impressed by some of the entries - and Ian Hargreaves (see end of the post) was a worthy winner.

My shortlist 

I suspect as always that some will look much better in person than they do on screen and vice versa. However that said, my vote is going to one of the following (links to websites or Facebook Pages in the names)
  • Jane Elizabeth Martin for Bravado (Technical pen and ink on watercolour paper, 55x50cm) - this shows both amazing pen and ink skills plus imagination in relation to design and content 
  • Karen CharmanThe inconsequential Tree, Topiary Prison (Watercolour on paper, 35x55cm) - The fantasy edge is fascinating - it just caught my eye and I liked it. 
  • Kerry Lisa Davies - Catching Light (Oil on wooden panel, 67x67cm) - a very unusual perspective but one which demands attention. In part it depends on how the contrast between light and muted tones work in a gallery
  • Laura Quinn HarrisEvery Cloud (Oil on board, 41x61cm) - One of those ones where I went past and had to come back to it. This is an artist who obviously enjoys being very realistic - but also knows how to make a painting stand out from the rest
  • Ruth Swain They said I used to look like her (Oil on canvas, 120x100cm) - you can't ignore a painting four foot high with a title like this. It's story in a moment in time.  This is a confident portrait painter who isn't afraid to tackle older people.  She's also excellent at handling tonalities in muted colours.
  • Victoria Braithwaite - Amaryllis, Happy Memory (Watercolour, 56x65cm) - I've seen Victoria's work before - in exhibitions - and it's always very skilled and worth taking a close look at - as is her website.
I know they're all women artists. This was not by design - these were just the artworks which appealed to me - or jumped out and said "look at me"!

The Awards

Interestingly this exhibition ranks alongside a number of the Open Art Exhibitions in terms of the number and value of prizes on offer.

I'm going to be a little naughty and list them below - with a view to providing something of a stimulus for the national art societies to have a bit of a think about whether they are putting enough effort into getting sponsors for prizes at their exhibition! ;)

The awards are
  • Artist of the Year - £1,000 cash prize and gallery representation courtesy of Thackeray Gallery. 
  • A year's supply of art materials at Cass Art
  • £1,500 of gift vouchers to spend with Derwent, GreatArt, and Pegasus Art
  • £660 worth of masterclasses at The New School of Art
  • £600 worth of masterclasses at The Academy of Realist Art
  • £500 voucher towards a creative short course only at West Dean College
  • £500 towards a course at the St Ives School of Painting
  • £500 worth of art classes and art materials from the London Atelier of Representational Art
  • £500 of art and craft materials from STAEDTLER
  • £500 worth of one-to-one tuition with Wild & Tame
  • £500 worth of paper from Canson
  • Rembrandt Oil Colour Box Master Set from Royal Talens
  • 10 week part-time course at The Art Academy
  • £500 brush bouquet from Rosemary & Co
  • £500 voucher to spend at Cult Pens
What I'm seeing in the awards listed above is a lot of sponsorship by art educators.  Maybe art societies could have a think about whether they could do more to offer courses or workshops with their members?

(For links to the sponsors go to the Artist of the Year Page )

You can follow the exhibition on Facebook and Twitter using #AOTY2017

Ian Hargreaves was the Artist of the Year in 2016 with this painting

A&I Artist of the Year 2016: Ian Hargreaves

Monday, December 19, 2016

Summary of 2017 UK Art Competitions

For all those planning their entries to art competitions in 2017. This morning I updated Major UK Art Competitions 2017-18 - my Page devoted to a summary of details and deadlines about art competitions which are run by art organisations based in the UK.
  • The first part includes Tips for entering art competitions
  • The Page covers the following art competitions.
The RA Summer Exhibition in the Main Galleries at Burlington House
is the largest open exhibition in the world

Major Art Competitions

These are defined as ones where the first prize is at least £10,000. In broad terms they are listed in terms of the date of their deadline for entries

Exhibitions in 2017

  • BP Portrait Award 2017 (First Prize £30,000)
  • Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2017 (First Prize £15,000)
  • David Shepherd's Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017 (First prize £10,000)
  • The Royal Academy of Arts - Summer Exhibition 2017
  • Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 (£10,000 commission)
  • The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017 (£10,000)
This is my video walk round the BP Portrait exhibition  at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016

Exhibitions in 2018

  • The Columbia Threadneedle Prize for Figurative & Representation Art 2018
  • John Moores Painting Prize 2018 (First Prize: £25,000)

An impressive solo exhibition  in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries in September
Lewis-Hazelwood-Horner won this opportunity and £20,000
as the First Place prizewinner in the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2016

Minor Art Competitions

These are significant art competitions but the prize pot is less and the top prices a lot less than £10k.
  • RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2017
  • Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017
  • ING Discerning Eye 2017
These two sections are followed by information about past art competitions going back to 2007. You can view the images of all the recent and previous exhibitions - and, in some cases, see what sort of artist got selected.

Summary Information

The summary information provided covers:
  • Website: 
    • Information: this is the one which provides information for artists
    • Enter: the one for entering the competition if different
    • Organisers : the one for the organisers if not the same as the competition website
  • Prizes: listed if available
  • Open to
    • UK: defines how "UK artist" is defined - and it's not always limited to UK citizens
    • International Artists: defines whether or not entries from international artists are welcome
  • Call for Entries: provides a link to my overview blog post of the call for entries if published
  • Deadline for Entries: highlights in red the deadline which must be observed
  • No. of Entries: if figures are available these are highlighted
  • Digital Entry: indicates whether entries are limited to digital images submitted online - and whether or not any other form of entry (eg postal is allowed)
  • Exhibition: 
    • Venue: states location
    • Dates: states dates - or dates of last exhibition if new details not yet published
The latter entries relate to posts on this blog that relate to those selected, those winning prizes and the exhibition
  • Selected Artists: will include my selected artists post when published
  • Shortlisted artists: will include my shortlisted artists post when published
  • Prizewinners: my blog post covering prizewinners
  • Exhibition Review: my review of the exhibition
  • Other posts: occasionally there is a video!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers Elections 2017

The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) is holding its elections for membership in February 2017. Membership is NOT limited to those living and/or working in the UK.
The Society seeks practising professional printmakers from the UK and abroad and intends its membership to reflect the best of printmaking as an art form in all its diversity.
The Society was originally founded - as the Society of Painter-Etchers - in 1880. Queen Victoria granted it its Royal title in 1888. It changed its name to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, so as to incorporate all methods of printmaking, in 1989. This is by way of explanation for the accepted shortened form of their name as being RE.

The deadline for submitting an application for membership in 2017 is Wednesday 8th February 2017, at 12 noon.

Home page of the website of the The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) 

The Benefits of membership of the RE

Fine art printmakers who are elected to membership enjoy full Membership benefits including:
  • three major group exhibitions at Bankside Gallery each year
  • other opportunities to exhibit in art fairs. 
  • your work will be publicised through the Society’s website
  • opportunities to run artist demonstrations
  • your work may be used for publicity, on merchandise
  • generally become involved in Society events.
In the first instance, an application for membership can result in your election as an Associate Member. The annual subscription fee for an Associate is £190 in advance on 1st January in the second and subsequent years. (It's rebated in the first year to reflect less than a full year).

The Election Process

Artists who work in any printmaking media, including digital, are invited to apply for membership. Successful candidates invariably are those who appear equally outstanding in all aspects of their work as practising professional artist-printmakers.

What you need to know

The next elections are being held in February 2017.
  • The actual annual election of Associates (ARE) - in a secret ballot of the RE Council - will be held at Bankside Gallery on Saturday 25th February 2017.
  • The vote takes place after the members have reviewed each applicant’s prints, drawings (or other preparation work) and artist statement.
The selection process is thorough and challenging and many of our current members have undergone many elections before being successful. The Society seeks practising professional printmakers from the UK and abroad and intends its membership to reflect the best of printmaking as an art form in all its diversity.

Criteria for election as an Association

The RE Council are looking for certain significant qualities in candidates including:
  • A high degree of individuality and commitment in their work. 
  • Evidence of maturity and accomplishment in printmaking. 
  • Agreement to participate on a regular basis in exhibitions and assist with the Society's work.


  • Deadline for applications: Wednesday 8th February 2017 | 12 noon 
  • Date for sending in portfolio: Friday 24th February 2017 | 11am - 7pm 
  • Results / Collection of artwork: Sunday 26th - Monday 27th February 2017 | 11am - 6pm

Who can apply

There are no restrictions of applications for membership.

How to apply

  • Obtain the application form and conditions - information and an application pack are available by clicking here.
  • Print out the form and complete the form - you need to provide:
    • the work you are submitting; 
    • your training; 
    • details of the most significant shows you have been in and/or 
    • any work in public collections and an artist’s statement.
  • You can submit up to eight prints
  • You can also submit up to six pieces of supporting work eg sketchbooks
  • you can list up to five exhibitions of your work
  • You need to summarise your artist statement in less than 200 words.
For those who need to have a think about their artist statement you might find this section about How to write an artist statement on my Art Business Info for Artists website to be useful.
  • Complete and submit your application by the due date and, unusually these days, MUST ALLOW TIME FOR POSTAGE!
    • MUST be by post - there is no digital submission (why not accept PDFs of the completed form via email?)
    • MUST be accompanied by a cheque for the fee. (It's a great pity that the RE doesn't provide the opportunity for people to pay via PayPal or a BACs transfer - cheques are rapidly becoming an outmoded means of making payments!)
  • You then need to submit your portfolio by the due date. Pay particular attention to the commercial aspects of applications from prospective members
Monoprints and monotypes are permissible in part but candidates should note that the Society seeks Members who are practising printmakers, producing editions of prints that we can exhibit and sell for mutual support

Who selects new members

Those who become new Associate Members are elected by a panel of the RE Council.
The Society draws from a broad range of printmakers with diverse tastes and practices. Changes to the selection committee mean that rejection one year does not preclude selection on another occasion.

A suggestion for the RE

How about making life easier for the printmaker - particularly those living outside the UK, the society and its administrators by transforming this process into one which is suitable for a world where most things are now done - and filed - online?

For example, the Society could agree to:
  • EITHER make the form available as a Word document or a Google Docs document - so it can be completed via email. 
  • OR use an online form based on the website for all submissions. It's what typically required of artists when submitting their work to an art competition.
  • create a dedicated email for all correspondence, queries and submission of applications - this avoids applications getting 'lost'.
  • make arrangements so that people can submit their applications online - (it's not difficult) eg
    • send their completed form in Word via email to dedicated email address 
    • pay their fee via BACs transfer or Paypal / credit card.
In doing so you will reduce the amount of paperwork produced and enable all applications to be forwarded as online documents to the selectors in advance of the meeting.  This reduces paper wasted and printing costs.

You can still have an arrangement for those who are not digitally literate and allow applications by post and cheque as well.

Sandy Nairne by Chuck Close at NPG

It's not uncommon for an art gallery or museum to commission a portrait of its Director as he or she leaves office. That's why you can now see a large portrait of Sandy Nairne by Chuck Close in a new display Depicting the Human Head at the National Portrait Gallery.

Sandy Nairne is the former Director of the National Portrait Gallery and retired in February 2015. He's now Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme.

Sandy Nairne by Chuck Close

Sandy Nairne by Chuck Close, 2016
© Chuck Close/National Portrait Gallery, London

archival pigment print, 2015
74 5/8 in. x 60 in. (1896 mm x 1523 mm) overall
Given by the artist, 2016

What's important about this particular portrait is that it's the first portrait by Close to be acquired by the Gallery and the first major work by the American artist to enter a British public collection.

That's because most of the people that Close paints are American and therefore ineligible to be included in the permanent collection of the Gallery which records the faces of those who have contributed to British history and culture.
‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and ... to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’.
I'm a HUGE fan of Chuck Close and his large-scale, photo-based portraits and this choice of portrait artist for the commission is a great idea!

Sandy Nairne with Chuck Close
This particular portrait is a six-foot tall watercolour print portrait of Sandy Nairne, based on a unique large format colour Polaroid photograph that was taken in John Reuter's 20x24 Studio in New York.

Close has donated the portrait to the Gallery.

The process of producing the portrait involve Close in the processes he has developed to enable him to continue to create portraits following the event which paralysed him in 1988. This includes
  • using a digital library of more than ten thousand, hand-painted, monochromatic marks created for the process to make the transition from a photograph to a watercolour. 
  • choosing and manipulating the specific size and spacing of the grid and the interaction of the individual marks in order to retain the characteristics and clarity of a special watercolour technique that was developed by Close in his own studio with Donald Farnsworth, the artist's main collaborator.

Depicting the Human Head

indicates the full size of the portrait

Sandy Nairne by Chuck Close is in Depicting the Human Head in Room 33, First Floor Landing, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Wednesday 14 December 2016, Admission free.

Depicting the Human Head also includes paintings of:
  • pianist Alfred Brendel by Tony Bevan and scientist Sir Paul Nurse by Jason Brooks, both commissioned during Nairne's term as Director, 
  • John Keane's 2001 painting of politician Mo Mowlam and 
  • a recently acquired self-portrait by British artist Nigel Henderson. 

About Sandy Nairne

Sandy Nairne CBE was Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 2002 to 2015. His achievements included:
  • overseeing a number of important exhibitions
  • expanding the education, digital and national programmes
  • increasing attendance figures to over two million visitors each year
  • leading a £10m campaign to acquire Van Dyck's late self-portrait

Previously he was Director of Programmes at Tate (1994-2002), working alongside Sir Nicholas Serota in the creation of Tate Modern and the Centenary Development at Tate Britain. He has also worked at the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (now Modern Art Oxford).

He is currently Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme, the Fabric Advisory Committee of St Paul's Cathedral and the Art Group for Maggie's Cancer Care Centres, and a Trustee of the National Trust and the Courtauld Collection.

About Chuck Close

Chuck Close has been a world famous portrait painter and photographer since the late 1960s. In 2000, Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

He now lives and works in New York City and Long Island. In 1988 Close was paralysed following a rare spinal artery collapse but he has continued to work using a brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm.

Close has made portraits of subjects including Philip Glass, Cindy Sherman, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  His work is represented in many of the great international museums of contemporary art including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Tate, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Centre George Pompidou, Paris.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cezanne Portraits exhibition in Paris, London and Washington

A major "once in a lifetime" exhibition of Cezanne's Portraits will tour major galleries in Paris, London and Washington in 2017 and 2018.
The exhibition is being curated by
  • John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Mary Morton, Curator and Head of Department, French Paintings, National Gallery of Art and 
  • Xavier Rey, Director of Collections, Musée d'Orsay.
Self Portrait in a Bowler Hat, 1885-86 by Paul Cézanne.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Photo: Ole Haupt; 
The self portrait of Cezanne (above) has previously been unseen in the UK.

This will be the first time that the National Portrait Gallery has ever staged a major show entirely devoted to Cezanne's Portraits. The exhibition brings together for the first time over 50 of Cézanne's portraits from collections across the world, including works never before on public display in the UK. The paintings are drawn from museums and private collections in Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Up until now, Cezanne's portraiture has received surprisingly little attention, so we are thrilled to be able to bring together so many of his portraits for the first time to reveal arguably the most personal, and therefore most human, aspect of Cézanne's art.Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London
The exhibition will:
  • consider the chronological development of Cézanne's portraiture 
  • changes that occurred with respect to his style and method will be examined
  • explore the special pictorial and thematic characteristics of Cézanne's portraiture and 
  • review his creation of complementary pairs and multiple versions of the same subject. 
  • discuss the extent to which particular sitters influenced the characteristics and development of his practise.

Facts about Cezanne and his portraits

  • born in 1839; died in 1906
  • Generally categorised as a prominent Post-Impressionist painter
  • Widely recognised as a very influential artist in the 19th century. He influenced the art of Cubists, Fauvists, and successive generations of avant-garde artists. 
  • Both Matisse and Picasso called Cézanne 'the father of us all.'
  • He painted:
    • almost 200 portraits during his career
    • 26 self-portraits
    • 29 portraits of his wife Hortense Fiquet
You can also find out more about Cezanne (and his landscapes and still life paintings) on my website About Paul Cezanne.
This overview of Cezanne's life and art provides a compendium of links to more information about:
  • Cezanne's paintings, drawings and sketchbooks;
  • museums and art galleries, exhibitions and websites where you can see his work;
  • the places Cezanne painted in Provence
  • books and articles about his artwork and his life and other resources for improving your knowledge of Cezanne, his unique approach to painting and his views on art (and society).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2017 - Call for Entries

This post is for ALL watercolour painters - wherever you live - who are interested in submitting their watercolour paintings to the competition run each year by the Royal Watercolour Society.
The Royal Watercolour Society wishes to encourage artists who have a strong personal vision and an innovative approach to watercolour.
The deadline for DIGITAL SUBMISSION of entries to the Contemporary Watercolour Competition run by the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and sponsored by Cass Art is 12 midday on Monday 16 January 2017.

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2017

There's a strong emphasis on "contemporary artwork'.

However I sometimes think that the Selectors need to remember that the word "contemporary" is actually defined as 'belonging to or occurring in the present' - so whatever style you work in today is by definition "contemporary"! Last year's exhibition had a better balance between those who are "striving to look cool" and those who remember that "representative paintings need not be traditional".

You can see a virtual exhibition of the artwork selected for the 2016 exhibition on the RWS website. However see also my comments below and in the blog posts from previous years at the end.

Gallery view of the 2016 Contemporary Watercolour Exhibition at the Bankside Gallery

Call for Entries

The competition webpage provides you with access to:

Deadline for entries

The deadline for entries is Monday 16th January 2017, 12 noon

Who can enter

The Royal Watercolour Society’s annual competition is open to all artists except RWS Members.

In effect it's an open entry for artists who may become the next Associate and Full Members of the RWS as the competition takes place prior to the elections to membership in March.

Eligible work

  • Original work: Paintings must have been made by the entrant. There are no comments about derivative pieces or use of photographs taken by other people.
  • Subject matter: no constraints on style or subject matter 
  • Age of work: completed in last four years. Yet again we have a competition which does not stipulate a date to indicate the "later than" constraint.
  • Size of work: Slight contradiction on the FAQS which says in one sentence that all sizes of work are welcomed "However, if your painting is framed, it should not exceed 100 x 100cm"
  • Eligible media: includes: "all water-based media" - which means watercolour, acrylic, gouache, ink or any other water-based media on a paper support
The judges will be looking for ideas, competence and integrity – as long as the materials conform to those stipulated on the application form, they will be interested in how you choose to use them and will be excited by both innovation and expertise in traditional methods in using water-based media.

Pricing: all work MUST be for sale. Note that the Bankside Gallery levies a commission of 40% + VAT on picture sales

How to enter

You can enter a maximum of 6 paintings.

Entry is by digital submission - of form and artwork - via this webpage plus payment of the relevant fee