Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to return defective art materials and get a refund

From time to time, artists need to return art materials and get a refund because they have found the art media and/or supports and/or equipment to be defective. It may not achieve the quality advertised or perform as it has in the past.

That's when artists need to return the art materials to retailers. Below are some tips for how make those returns speedy and effective so as to ensure you get a refund - and the problem is fixed for the future.

Screen shot of a video by Eunike Nugroho
This highlights two spots which appear on the watercolour paper only when the paint passes over them

(see the video here)

TIPS for returning defective art materials and getting a refund

Why it's important to return goods

  • Manufacturers cannot correct faults if they're not aware of them. The nature of the manufacturing process is such that while they can sample check for obvious things that can be checked it's entirely feasible that problems can occur without this being obvious to the manufacturer.

Returns - Policy, Principles and the Law

  • The overriding principle is that Retailers will only deal with returns on goods supplied by them. You can't expect a retailer to sort out returns for goods he hasn't supplied - even if he also stocks that product.  However if the manufacturer's policy is that you can deal with any of their approved retailers than that's what you can do.
  • Most retailers have a Returns Policy
    • Do read what this is for the retailers you do business with. 
    • In general, this should echo current legislation. However if the law changed recently, what it says on their website may not yet have caught up with the change
    • Remind retailers who say "no can do" that all goods need to be of merchantable quality for the purpose for which they are sold and that they are obliged to comply with the law. (Plus document everything if a retailer takes this stance - put everything in writing rather than dealing with them on the phone).
  • The Law governing the rights of customers always "trumps" any Returns Policy devised by a Retailer. 
    • Note that retailers cannot deny you your rights in law.
    • In effect this means it doesn't matter what a retailer's Returns Policy says if you live in a country where your consumer rights are enshrined in law. What a retailer has to do is comply with the law or deal with the agency which regulates trading standards.
    • However also note that some retailers will have a Returns Policy that can be better than the rights you are entitled to (eg "no questions asked"). This sort of approach is what gives some retailers the 'edge' and enables them to build a faithful customer base.
  • Returns in the UK: Here is a link to the government website which states the rules on Accepting returns and giving refunds: the law for all UK retailers. There are only certain circumstances when a retailer does NOT have to offer a refund.

When you don’t have to offer a refund

You don’t have to refund a customer if they:
  • knew an item was faulty when they bought it
  • damaged an item by trying to repair it themselves or getting someone else to do it (though they may still have the right to a repair, replacement or partial refund)
  • no longer want an item (eg because it’s the wrong size or colour) unless they bought it without seeing it
You have to offer a refund for certain items only if they’re faulty, such as:
  • personalised items and custom-made items, eg curtains
  • perishable items, eg frozen food or flowers
  • newspapers and magazines
  • unwrapped CDs, DVDs and computer software

Who to contact

  • Contact the retailer you bought the art materials from in the first instance. They are responsible for actioning a return and providing feedback to the wholesaler and the manufacturer. The latter is also more likely to listen to others in the supply chain who are feeding back the same message about problems with a product.

The importance of paperwork

  • Find your proof of purchase - which means keeping all your receipts. 
    • You are of course filing all receipts away in your tax file if you are claiming for business expenses!
    • This establishes which retailer you bought the goods from
  • Use their Retailer's Returns Form - it makes life much easier for you and them if you use their return form. This should have the correct address to mail goods back. If you're not sure of the address email them and ask - and then copy paste.

The importance of images

  • Send your retailer a photo of the problem. This is sometimes enough and means you don't have to send back the goods
  • Even better send a video which illustrates the problem. Eunike was videoing herself painting when the spots suddenly appeared in her paper!

The importance of packaging

  • The best and cheapest approach is to reuse their packaging if possible. If you are buying online and having art materials mailed to you, it's very wise to:
    • open the package carefully so you can reuse the packaging if you need to
    • if buying online keep the packaging until you have checked goods are OK eg there are no obvious problems (eg marks and/or creases on fine art paper)

The importance of timing

  • It's much easier to return if you do so promptly. You remember better who you bought the goods from and they have all their records to hand
  • Check when you receive your goods even if you not going to use straightaway.  Make sure they are visibly OK before adding them to your stock.
  • However you can never check for invisible faults that do not manifest themselves until e.g. you apply paint on the paper - as happened to Eunike. Make it clear that the fault was invisible.
  • It's not impossible to return goods you've not used straight away - but to do so you do need to be clear about:

The refund and the credit transaction

  • A refund is normally done via a credit to the card which you used to pay for the goods.  Whether or not the retailer has access to the details of your card depends on the system used to make the payment. You may need to provide the card details to the retailer.
  • You will only get a cash refund if... you bought the goods in an art shop, paid by cash and return them to the art shop.
  • You are NOT required to accept a credit note for future goods from the retailer - unless this is acceptable to you. Only accept a credit note if you know for certain that you will be ordering again from this supplier.

What's your experience? Have your say

  • What's been your experience when you have have needed to make a return and ask for a refund? 
  • Are some retailers better than others?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst on BBC4

I watched a very curious television programme on BBC4 last night.  The well known art critic(!) Kirsty Wark interviewed Jeff Koons (b.1955) and Damien Hirst (b. 1965). The programme and interview were set within the context of the exhibition of Hirst's collection of Koon's artwork Jeff Koons: Now in Hirst's new Newport Street Gallery which opened to the public last year.

Was it a double whammy in terms of art marketing by the two of the most famous promoters of their own art?

Or something else? Read on to see what I thought!

PLUS links to other reviews of the exhibition and information about Koons and Hirst at the end!

a nanosecond from the BBC programme "Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons Side by Side: The Interview"
The programme Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons Side by Side: The Interview was really rather odd. It's available on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days and it's a RECOMMENDED viewing by me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Is there a guide for pricing art for competitions?

I get asked questions about pricing art from time to time. Today I got one about pricing for art competitions.

I've anonymised the question with respect to (1) the person who asked the question and (2) the competition as neither are relevant to the answers.
I am entering some works this year in the [prestigious] competition. I have got the works photographed well (I think) and they fit the bill for being me and maybe a bit different. The three I'm entering form part of a series (there are 2 more but they got rejected by me). My problem is with pricing. I have entered juried competitions in the past and think my pricing has sat well in the range ignoring the unbelievably cheap. However, this is a big one. I couldn't make it to see the exhibition last year so I have no information to go on. I have also not worked at this large a scale for open exhibitions. I think the price I would normally put on them would be too low (I am "up north") and I don't want to look foolish. Are there any guides to help with ballpark figures? How much would you think for a full imperial watercolour?

Thank you btw for such a fantastic website. Long may it continue!
You'll find my take on the answer to this question below.

I invite readers of this blog to add a comment at the end about 

  • either their own practices 
  • or their perspectives on what is the right approach for pricing for art competitions.

Is there a guide for pricing for competitions?

No - there is no guide for pricing art for art competitions.

In terms of working out what to do about pricing below you can find my personal observations on:
  1. a principled approach to pricing art
  2. some practical suggestions for working out prices 
  3. how to price for an art competition

Images are from various competitions - plus a poll about how much artists know about pricing art!

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2015

1.  A principled approach to pricing art

There is one over-riding principle behind pricing art - Be Consistent.

In general, your art should cost the same wherever it is shown whether that is on your website, in a local gallery or in an open competition.  Here's a couple of reasons why:
  • Buyers need to have confidence in the value of your work. That means they need to know that 
    • the price of the art won't change depending on where you sell it and 
    • they are not paying a premium for your work because you happen to be selling it in a prestigious competition.
  • Being consistent is also a very important consideration when it comes to galleries. A gallery that might become interested in your work and consider adding you to their roster of gallery artists will very soon have second thoughts if it finds your work is priced differently depending on where you sell it.
If you do price your art differently, you need to make sure that there are other very obvious and evident characteristics which justify such differentiation in pricing. These will probably relate to, for example:
  • nature of the art e.g. original rather than reproductions
  • size e.g. large rather than small i.e. why dimensions are an important feature of any title credit line
  • media used e.g.it's well known that some media (e.g. oil) will command higher prices than others e.g. watercolour for the same quality/size/etc of artwork
  • presentation e.g. framed rather than unframed

So in relation to pricing for art competitions my advice would be
  • Price to be consistent with SIMILAR examples of your own work shown in different places over time. 
  • Do NOT price for a competition per se. Create work which is high quality and worthy of the competition and then price relative to the rest of your work.

One of the walls at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015

2.  Practical suggestions for working out prices

There is no "quick fix" for working out prices.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interviews with RHS Botanical Art Gold Medallists 2016 - from Australia and South Africa

This is the second in a short series of short interviews  I did with the RHS Gold Medal winners for Botanical Art earlier this year.

These interview posts have been very popular with botanical artists around the world and the first this year was with the RHS Gold medal winners from Asia.

I've amended the latter post to include Akiko Enokido and her display of Classical Camellia Japonica. I had thought she was living in the USA but has in fact returned to live in Japan.

My next post in this series will be about the UK and European artists who won RHS gold Medals at this year's show.

This series follows on from my posts about


Julie Nettleton (Sydney, New South Wales)

Julie Nettleton won the award for the Best Botanical Painting: Xanthorrhoea resinosa Pers., Grass Three with Antechinus Stuartii, Brown Antechinus which you can see behind Julie in the photograph below. Her painting includes a tiny marsupial mouse.

Julie Nettleton with her Gold Medal winning exhibit of Xanthorroea (Grass Trees) 
at the 2016 RHS London Botanical Art Show. 
She won Best Painting in Show for "Xanthorrhoea and marsupial mouse"

Her display told the life story of Xanthorrhoea sp., Grass Trees’.  They're called this because they develop a trunk from the base of old leaves and can grow to about 2 metres high. Xanthorrhoea are Australian native plants that can grow for hundreds of years because they have can survive fires.

Xanthorrhoea sp., Grass Trees’ - a Gold Medal winning display by Julie Nettleton

The particular ones which Julie has been painting all grow in a small area of protected bushland scrub within the North Head Sanctuary at North Head (on the north side of the entrance into Sydney Harbour - the one on the left as the ferry turns left for Manly!).

Her display tells the life story of the grass tree and includes:
  • a plant with a new spike, 
  • two spikes growing taller and the flowers beginning to form, 
  • a close-up of the flowers on the tip of the spike, 
  • a view of the grass tree minus spike but including its skirt of old grasses, 
  • the tree minus the skirt after it's been through a bush fire - revealing the 'trunk' of the grass tree. Plus a mouse which lives in the grass
  • Finally a grass tree which has recently experienced fire and has no grass - but reveals its structure and interior.
What I particularly liked was that the artwork was extremely well designed as a whole and then within each artwork. This is undoubtedly due in part to Julie's training and background as an interior designer.

Sandra Sanger (Melbourne, Victoria)

This is Sandra Sanger's fourth RHS Botanical Art Gold Medal (previous wins were in 2008, 2010 and 2013) and this year it was for her display of ‘Orchids: Paphiopedilum and Australian Natives’.

You can find my first interview with her in 2013 in this post.

Sandra Sanger and two of her paintings of Orchids: Paphiopedilum and Australian Natives
Sandra Sanger and two of her paintings of Orchids: Paphiopedilum and Australian Natives

The Orchid Show is no longer exhibiting at the same time as the Botanical Art as happened last time Sandra exhibited with the RHS in 2013.

Sandra commented that the great advantage of orchids from a botanical art perspective is that they last for months and progress slowly as they open.

You would think that once you've won four Gold Medals that you might be able to rest on your laurels. However Sandra is a refreshing example of the artist as a constant student!

She is a great enthusiast for continuing to learn about how to paint botanical art. She goes to a minimum of two classes each year and likes taking Master Classes with more than one teacher. She finds she always learns something she didn't know before. She's also a big fan of meeting up with groups of other botanical artists and painting together.

Sandra is a very experienced exhibitor and has shown in a large number of shows in Australia as well as the RHS.

She puts a lot of emphasis into thinking about her presentation and how her work is mounted and presented. In terms of thinking about layout of her work she always works on the floor and looks at how the works relate to one another and flow across the wall in terms of both structure and colour.

In terms of travel, her framer mounts her work and then packs it into a special case for her. He cuts the correct sized shape in foam rubber so that the paintings have a good buffer against jolts and shocks during transport and also cannot move inside the case.

South Africa

Margaret de Villiers (Hermanus, Western Cape)

This was Margaret Villiers's second RHS Show and her second Gold Medal.  She won Best Painting at her first show in 2013.  She is a member of the Botanical Association of South Africa - which used my photos of her for their blog post about Margaret's Gold Medal!

Margaret de Villiers with her display of seven Ericas of the Western Cape Fynbos

Her subject matter is a continuation of her massive and major project to record all the Ericas of the Western Cape Fynbos!

(NOTE: Fynbos means "fine bush". It's the popular generic name for the varied “fine-leafed” plants. 9,300 of the 30,000 species being indigenous and unique only to the Western Cape region of South Africa - this link is to information about the Fynbos Biome).
Fynbos, or the Cape Floral Kingdom, is the smallest of the worlds six plant kingdoms, covering only 0.4% of the earth’s surface. According to its size it is the most species-rich plant kingdom, consisting of some 8600 species, of which 68% occur nowhere else in the world.
Margaret told me that there are over 800 Ericas in the world and 400 of them can be found in the mountains of South Africa.  Her view is that it's impossible for a photograph to carry the amount of information contained in one of her paintings - which is of course one of the main reasons why botanical illustration continues to be regarded as important even in the age of the camera.

Margaret is painting to teach and to tell a story about a unique area of flora!

I hadn't realised until I got home after my first interview with Margaret at her first show in 2013 that Ericas from South Africa had been a theme of paintings by Franz Bauer during his time at Kew Gardens as  'Botanick Painter to His Majesty'.

Margaret uses the classical approach pioneered by Bauer of painting the plant as the major image - but then also including all the dissections and the images of the differentiating characteristics along the bottom edge of the painting.  It's an excellent approach for including all the information required.

Classical Bauer approach to recording Ericas of the Western Cape Fynbos by Margaret de Villiers GM
Many of the Ericas that she paints are brought to her by local people who know she wants specimens to record.  Her preference is to see how they grow on location - she needs to find out what sort of vegetation they grow alongside. However carrying a sticky erica down a mountain is apparently not an easy job!  She tends to take a bottle with a little bit of water.

When she takes a specimen she takes a photo and then works her way through a checklist of things she needs to record to capture the differentiating characteristics of each Erica.

She was keen to emphasise that she has the support of a small army of amateur botanists and she regards her Gold Medal as belonging to the whole team associated with the project.

It's a sentiment I've heard from other botanical artists in the past and I'll doubtless will again.

The Hermanus Botanical Society are also very proud of her - see below and Hermanus Artist Succeeds Again

Image from the Hermanus Botanical Society Facebook Page on 14th March 2016

How to enter

You can find more information about the RHS Botanical Art Show and how to enter it on the
RHS ​Botanical Art & Photography Shows page on my website

Previous Years

You can take a look at the art which has won a Gold medal in previous years in my blog posts below. The first set is about tips I've had from Gold Medal winning artists. The second set are interviews with those same artists. Both show images from the shows.

More Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal

These are now summarised on a page in the Education section of my new Botanical Art and Artists website - see Tips and Techniques

Interviews with RHS Gold Medallists and Reviews of the Shows

Monday, May 23, 2016

Arts and Crafts at the RHS Chelsea Show 2016

The artists - painters, printmakers, carvers, sculptors etc - exhibiting at Chelsea this week - in THE show in the Royal Horticultural Society's calendar are detailed below.

Various fairs - besides art fairs - are used by a lot of artists to develop connections with art collectors as well as sell their artwork and the various ways in which it can be reproduced. If you've thought of using a non-art fair or major event to market your art, you can get a pretty good idea of the type of artist who shows at such events by reviewing the artists listed below.

Links to their websites are embedded in their names.

Carvers and Sculptors

This is very obviously a show which is very popular with sculptors who I guess will be endeavouring to attract the attention of those with large gardens in need of a statement piece!
  • Martin Cook - carves stone for memorials (best known for the Bali Bombings memorial on Horseguards) and gardens. He's also made the The Shard Garden with Gary Breeze for the late publisher Felix Dennis.This year he's exhibiting one of the main attractions in the 'Fresh' category - called "The Antithesis of Sarcophagi Garden".
a representation of a world turned inside out; a garden inside a sculpture; desolation verses life; civilisation versus nature. 
Iris Torus by David Harber
The Iris Torus....inspired by the reflective facets of a cut diamond and the play between positive and negative and solid and void. The end result is dramatic, with the fragmented, laser-cut mirrored surface emulating the iris of an eye
  • Hesmondhalgh Sculpture - Brendan Hesmondhalgh is a Yorkshire based animal sculptor who works primarily in clay, wax and bronze.
  • Robert James Workshop Ltd - produces Literary Bronze Garden Sculptures
  • Eleanor Lakelin - Eleanor Lakelin uses a lathe and carving tools to make vessels and sculptural forms in wood.
The provenance of materials is of particular importance to Eleanor and she likes to share the story behind each piece of work. In order to create ethical and sustainable work, she has made it her challenge to only use wood from trees felled in South London or elsewhere in the British Isles.
  • Christopher Lisney Sculpture - He lives and works in Gloucestershire and describes himself as an artist blacksmith. He has specialised in garden sculpture since 1999 and likes making original, quirky, large scale sculptural metalwork. A regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
  • Hamish Mackie Sculpture - Sculpting since 1996 with work in public and private collections around the world. He specialises in sculpting and casting movement in wildlife in bronze. Also works on commission and has a prestigious client list
“Observing animals in their own environment is essential to understanding the subject’s physical and instinctive traits. For example, the disposition of a captive predator is very different from that of a predator the wild.”
  • Nicholas Moreton - a working sculptor since 1986, based in Northamptonshire. His stand will incorporate a carving studio plus finished works
  • James Parker Sculpture - a Scottish artist who started making sculptures in 2007. Worked initially with slate using drywall process and now works predominantly with slate or glass but also produces mixed media works. Exhibiting sculpture suitable for gardens
  • Michael Speller - contemporary bronze sculpture. Started a second career as a sculptor after being successful in business - which in turn started with studies at Chelsea School of Art 1996 – 2000. Work in collections all over the world and some prestigious commissions.
  • Stonebalancing - Adrian Grey is an exponent of the art of stonebalancing and he also sells prints of his stonebalancing efforts which are susceptible to change when the tide comes in!
  • Kinetic Seed Sculpture by David Watkinson
      Straysparks Creative Metalwork
      - creating handforged metal sculptures. Shortlisted for best new product design at RHS Chelsea flower show 2011/2013/2015
    • Jan Sweeny - produces wildlife sculptures in bronze
    • Paul Vanstone and Coombe Sculpture Garden - Original sculptures by a prizewinning sculptor exhibited in a garden setting.
    • Edward Waites and Gladwell & Patterson - a sculpture garden of works by Edward Waite who specialises in animals and wildlife
    • David Watkinson - Kinetic and Static sculture - I rather like the idea of a sculptor who looks to natural forms and how they move to create a stimulus for sculpture. I rather like his sycamore seed kinetic sculpture which uses ball bearings so it can move easily in the wind.

    Painters and Printmakers

    Friday, May 20, 2016

    Complementary colours and other schema

    In the past few days a blog post about A modern approach to complementaries by Delphine Doreau which by I highlighted on Facebook has attracted a huge audience and very many shares.

    Delphine made an RGB colour gradient in a circle and then inverted the same colour gradient at 180 degrees inside the circle - so that each colour matched up with its complementary in terms of RGB colours.

    Huge interest in this blog post

    So for those of you who don't follow Making A Mark on Facebook, you can find the link to the article at the top of this post.

    More schema for representing Colour

    My own collection and compilation of information about Colour is "in transition" to a new website at the moment.

    However below are a few more links about colour from my 2008 major Colour Project which might be of interest to artists.

    Making A Mark - the Colour Project (2008)

    a colour chart of complementary colours in coloured pencils
    • Hues - a systems perspective Jul 8, 2008 ... Hues: primary, secondary and tertiary colours; How to represent colour ... Colour harmonics - complementary colours, analogous colours etc.
    • Describing a colour space - there's more than one colour wheel! (10 July 2008) About a Matrix of Theories about Colour Space - which is the method I've adopted to categorise some of the people who have tried describe colour in terms of spatial relationships - to describe a colour space.
    • A Matrix of Colour Space Theories (pdf file) (2008) Table of colour theories organised by approach to colour theory - additive, subtractive and partitive
    • Complementary Colours and mixing neutral colours (15 July 2008) How to identify complementary colours in the context of different shapes which explain colour theory
    • Analogous Colours (Jul 16, 2008) This post is an attempt to redress the balance on the paucity of online information about analogous colours - but it also recommends other sources of even better advice and information!
    • Colour Schemes: Split Complementaries, Triads and Tetrads (18 July 2008) Discusses and explains three colour schemes used by professional artists:
      • Split Complementary - a colour plus the two colours either side of its complementary colour 
      • Triad - any three colours which are equidistant on the colour wheel
      • Tetrad - any four colours which are equidistant on the colour wheel

    • Why your colours onscreen don't look the same when printed (10 March 2011) Have you ever wondered why your images onscreen don't come out looking the same when printed? This post discusses: how the CMYK model works; why RGB files don't look like CMYK files and how to convert an RGB file to a CMYK file for printing purposes

    and finally

    For those who like their colour information in book format....

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    Victoria and Albert Museum pays tribute to Engineering as Design

    We think of the Victoria & Albert Museum as being an art museum very much associated with design and decoration. Maybe not so much with engineering.  Yet that's the subject of its new season of exhibitions and exhibits.
    The V&A Engineering Season highlights the importance of engineering in our daily lives and considers engineers as the ‘unsung heroes’ of design, who play a vital and creative role in the creation of our built environment.

    Elytra Filament Pavilion

    The V&A Museum now includes a new exhibit - The Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden at the centre of the Museum.

    It's based on the lightweight fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra and the entire structure has been fabricated by robots.

    The pavilion is the outcome of a project which integrates architecture, engineering and biomimicry principles. It examined how biological fibre systems can be transferred to architecture the pavilion is the result of four years of research.

    View of the Pavilion from above
    What's especially interesting is that it's intended that the pavilion will grow and change its configuration over the course of the V&A Engineering Season. Changes made will be in response to anonymous data on how visitors use and move under the canopy. This, as well as structural data, will be captured by real-time sensors installed in its canopy fibres.

    In effect it's a structure which will mimic human behaviour.

    The Pavilion in profile
    The robot creating the cell structure prior to installation
    The canopy of the Pavilion is made up of 40 hexagonal component cells. On average they weigh 45kg each and take an average of three hours to make. These cells and the pavilion’s seven supporting columns were created by a computer-programmed Kuka robot in a four-month construction process at the ICD’s Fabrication Hall in Stuttgart (see above)

    The newly-commissioned site-specific garden installation 'Elytra Filament Pavilion' is by experimental engineer and architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer.

    Future exhibitions and events

    You can find out more about the Engineering Season - which runs from 18 May - 6 November 2016 on the V&A website.

    The season features an ambitious series of displays, large-scale installations, events and digital initiatives dedicated to global engineering design,

    Over Arup and Total Design

    Explore over 100 years of engineering and architectural design and discover the untold design stories behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings. 
    Sydney Opera House under construction (6 April 1966)
    © Robert Baudin for Hornibrook Ltd. Courtesy Australian Air Photos
    Once upon a time I wanted to be an architect. However I could never get my head around physics and decided that being an architect wasn't such a such a wonderful idea if I couldn't understand the technicalities relevant to structures and building mechanics.

    Which is why I have the utmost respect for all architects and structural engineers who can make magic out of space.

    Over the years whenever I saw a building project which seemed to be particularly novel or just BIG, Ove Arup would invariably be the name decorating the 'credit' signboards outside.

    Despite his name, Arup he was born  and brought up in England - to a Danish father and a Norwegian mother. He became known as a British engineer who ended up with the title Sir Ove Nyquist Arup, CBE, MICE, MIStructE (1895 - 1988)

    Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design (18 June – 6 November) is an exhibition which will explore the work and legacy of the most significant engineer of the 20th century.

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Jerwood Drawing Prize 2016: Call for Entries

    The 22nd Jerwood Drawing Prize, the largest and longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK, is calling for entries from artists.

    The deadline for registering up to three entries is 5pm on Monday 27 June 2016.

    The Prize aims to promote the breadth in drawing practice and celebrate excellence in contemporary drawing in the UK. This post contains images from last year's exhibition.

    EXHIBITION: You can see The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2016 exhibition at the Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London SE1 between 14th September and 23rd October 2016. It will then tour as an exhibition various venues across the UK (details to be supplied).

    PRIZES: There are some significant prizes - for drawing which will be awarded at a ceremony on 13th September.
    • First Prize – £8000
    • Second Prize – £5000
    • Two Student Awards of £2000 each

    Jerwood Drawing Prize 2016

    Who can enter?

    The Jerwood Drawing Prize is open to
    • artists resident in the UK
    • everybody who works with drawing from students to established artists.
    Only artists who have registered online by 5pm on 27 June 2016 will be eligible to submit their drawings to the Submission Centre.

      What can you enter?

      As usual, the competition says precisely nothing about what it considers to be drawing. You consequently are given the latitude to interpret it as you see fit.

      Eligible works MUST:

      Sunday, May 15, 2016

      The Google Tilt Brush for painting in 3D

      I'm AMAZED by Google's new Tilt Brush which allows you to paint in 3D and which went on sale last week. I think we can expect to art installations being created by this at major art galleries in the near future!

      screen capture from the official Google video - Tilt Brush: Painting from a new perspective (see below)
      Basically you use the space around you as your canvas and a digital paint brush to create multidimensional art.

      In effect - literally - you paint digitally in 3G space (virtual reality) by using three dimensional brush strokes produced using the Tilt Brush.

      Consequently it requires a virtual reality headset to execute the work. It uses the HTC Vive device which has won multiple awards and the software is available on the Steam platform.

      Here's a video of what it can do

      This Chrome Design experiment site is definitely worth a look! Virtual Art Experiments let loose six artists to see what they could do when using the Tilt Brush in Virtual Reality. You get to choose an artist and the video produced uses a headset so you can see what they are doing. The videos show what happened in real-time speed but you can speed up the videos using the controls bottom right.  Some artists are more confident than others - and some work faster than others - in real time!

      It's definitely well worth exploring Google's Tilt Brush website which explains more about how the brush can produce immersive 3D artworks:
      • It has videos which explain the features: dynamic brushes; an intuitive interface; scope to work room size and to share your creations
      • boasts about the compliments it is collecting
      • and has a normal less jazzy low key Help section
      The Tilt Brush has also got its own social media - it has:
      • its own Twitter account @tiltbrush - but only one tweet to date (and 2,196 followers so far!). If you want to check out artwork using the software check out #TiltBrush on Twitter - although to be fair what we have at the moment is pictures of lots of chaps with headsets on who don't seem to have quite got the hang of it so far!  Bear in mind that like any new media it takes some time and a lot of practice before you get good at using it!

      and here's some articles I found on the internet (I'll add more if I come across good ones).

      Thursday, May 12, 2016

      The NEW BBC Painting Show

      Last year we had The Big Painting Challenge and this year there is The BBC Painting Show. Or at least that's its working title. You never know they may get creative and come up with a new and improved title as well.

      [UPDATE: It now looks like it might well be called "The School of Art".]

      For those who want to improve as a painter

      So if you want to improve your painting fancy showing all the artists in the UK how you can paint here's
      • what the context for this show is about
      • the nuts and bolts of what you have to do.

      What's different this year?

      Do you think that with the right coaching and inspiration you could become a truly great artist?
      This time the emphasis is on painters who want to get better and the show is about what happens to them as they get instruction from.

      It sounds to me very much as if the BBC is going for a show pretty much like the The Great Pottery Throw Down. Features of this were:
      • one location only (this helps the BBC contain costs. Multiple locations is a recipe for losing control of a budget!)
      • participants were skilled - and capable of becoming better. Most of the Thowdown participants had been working with clay for some time and demonstrated some commitment to it. I think that's a pretty good indicator of the sort of person they may well be looking for
      I'm wondering if what they're looking for are painters at an intermediate stage who are capable - if they receive instruction - of moving up and learning the skills associated with painters who operate at a professional level - with instruction. In other words rather like the programme model associated with the Pottery Show where the potters learned new ways of working with clay and creating a pot before having a go for themselves.

      That suggests to me that, by definition, they'll be looking for people who are
      • happy to engage with new ways of working (i.e. not "set in their ways")
      • can demonstrate an ability to learn from instructions and apply pretty fast.

      Who can enter The BBC painting Show?

      • You've got to be 16 years old or older on 1st July 2016. I suggest you don't try and cheat. If they've got any sense they'll ask to look at your birth certificate if you are at the younger end of the spectrum.
      • You MUST be 
        • an amateur painter
        • resident in the UK
        • able to commit to all the filming days required - including weekdays and weekends - probably during July and August 2016 .
      Read the application form carefully - and note that it's pretty clear (or at least it is to me) that they are less than keen on participants who are going to create fodder for spoiler stories in the tabloids.

      How to enter The BBC painting Show

      You need to email your application to amateurartist@bbc.co.uk no later than Friday June 10th 2016. However the BBC would much prefer it if you got it in ASAP!

      What does an application comprise?

      First you need to download and complete the application form. (Word, 120KB).

      PLUS you also need to organise THREE photographs.
      • two photographs of your work. Remember the quality of the photo is at least as important for this 'competition' as it is for any other so don't be sloppy!
      • a photo of yourself. Make it a nice one - and remember they want to see your face. Best to make it like somebody you wouldn't mind seeing on television!

      Tuesday, May 10, 2016

      £15,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 - Call for Entries

      From painting portraits of people to photographing people as portraits...

      This post is about the Call for Entries for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016.  The competition is open to anyone aged 18 years old or older. The First Prize is £15,000 and the exhibition displays some of very best contemporary portrait photographs by photographers from all around the world.

      It's an exhibition I very much enjoy seeing every year and the standard is very high. No wonder then that it attracts entries from lots of different countries

      Below I've highlighted a summary of what you need to know to enter - and the links to the full terms and conditions of entry and how to register and submit your entry.

      The deadline for submission of entries is 23.59 on Tuesday 5 July 2016.

      The exhibition for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 17 November 2016 to 26 February 2017. It will then tour to venues around the UK.
      The photos in this post are of works selected for the exhibition last year. You can see the prizewinning photos in my reviews of the prizewinners and exhibitions in the posts listed at the end.

      Faces from the exhibition


      Who can enter?

      Photographer must:
      • be 18 years of age or over as at 1 January 2015
      • not be a previous winner of the Prize (like BP Portrait Award you are no longer eligible to enter if you win)
      Some of the photographic portraits are of famous people
      These typically are taken while on an assignment

      What photographs are eligible?

      What's interesting about this competition is it provides us with a definition of a photo.

      It's a requirement that all photos entered must be portraits and it defines a portrait as follows
      ‘Portrait’ may be interpreted in its widest sense, of ‘photography concerned with portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals’.
      This is a link to the 2016 Rules

      Other requirements of the work are that it should be:

      Monday, May 09, 2016

      Comparison of the RSPP Open and BP Portrait Award Competition

      Last week while viewing the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters I began to ponder about the pros and cons for portrait artists of entering this open exhibition compared to the BP Portrait Award.

      You can read my analysis of the similarities and differences below - and my conclusion as to why more artists should submit to this exhibition below.

      I think my thoughts were prompted by a seriously good hang of the seriously good portrait drawings and paintings in this year's show at the Mall Galleries. I understand this was executed by the Hanging Team of Simon Davis VPRP (2006)Antony Williams RP(1996); Sam Dalby RP (2013) - led by its Foreman Toby Wiggins RP (2006) who won the BP Travel Award in 2006

      Portrait Paintings by Sam Dalby RP, Miriam Escoffer Assoc RP, Paul Brason PPRP 
      and a portrait of photographer Don McCullin by Charlotte Sorapure
      The team created a really good looking and impressive exhibition across the entire gallery
      • the institutional commissions are spread around the entire gallery - which means no "stuffed shirts" wall
      • portraits from the open entry are also now spread around all the gallery spaces. They're in every single room - including the major space in the West Gallery.
      OTHER FBA ART SOCIETIES should pay attention to this very clever move. It means that there is no marked difference between the area where the members artwork hangs and the North Gallery which a number of galleries use for the artwork selected from the Open Entry.

      The 'lull' in the afternoon between the crowds for the awards ceremony (and celebrities)
      and lots of visitors who arrive after work for the private view in the evening

      Friday, May 06, 2016

      Prizewinners at the 125th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

      I'm going to split my review of the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters into two halves.
      • The first (below) is about the prizewinners and 
      • the second, on Monday, is about the exhibition itself - and a very important change which has relevance to the other Federation of British Artists societies showing at the Mall Galleries
      The exhibition opened to the public yesterday at the Mall Galleries and continues until the 20th May 2016. Catalogues are lavish and £10. Admission is £3 and £2.50 concession. Free to Friends of Mall Galleries, National Art Pass holders and under 18s

      There is a list of all the events during the course of the exhibition on the RSPP website - with more details on the Malleries site. Most of them cost nothing.


      Five of the six prizewinners came from the Open Entry - which is very strong for this exhibition. More about this in my next post.

      The Ondaatje Prize For Portraiture

      Prize: £10,000
      Winner of the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture
      A Portrait of Roger Scruton by Lantian D.

      This year's winner is Lantian D.   Her subject is Roger Scruton who is a writer who is currently a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a visiting professor in the philosophy department at Oxford University and is leading a Masters Degree in Philosophy at the University of Buckingham. He has specialised in aesthetics throughout his career.

      It's a really fascinating portrait - every part of the painting makes me wonder what it is about. I know he has a horse - but this animal looks more like a donkey (or maybe a horse with a winter coat?). The background is obviously Cambridge and I guess that it's easier to represent this via Kings College Chapel than Jesus College which is where he took his first degree or Peterhouse where he was a Research Fellow. The big brown socks appear to have a life of their own! [Update: The animal is a donkey - and Roger Scruton thought it ought to be a horse (he has one) but read the comment from Lantian D. for why it is a donkey)

      What's just as fascinating is the story of the development of the artist as a painter.

      Lantian D is a self-taught artist.  She followed a strict and traditional education in China and did a commerce degree to keep her parents happy.  In 2008 she then studied media arts and film production at the University of Technology, Sydney.

      She then went on to work in galleries in Sydney and London, became acquainted with the contemporary art scene - and rejected it and studied Chinese art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

      In 2013 she decided to paint until her savings ran out - and got her entry accepted to the BP Portrait Award (which you can see in this post - I got her gender wrong!) Subsequently she had two paintings accepted for the Threadneedle Award and this year she had a work selected for the Lynn Painter-Stainer Award exhibition

      She has a brilliant artist statement which should be read by all!  It includes the following which probably goes some way to explain why she chose to paint Roger Scruton
      Today, traditions of craft and the pursuit of beauty have long been forsaken by much of the art world. Postmodern Art, which appears to have been initiated by Duchamp and capitalised on by Warhol (and so on), no longer makes sense to an “un-indoctrinated” eye. The Avant-garde of the 20th century finally got more than what they bargained for. Look around: insipid jokes, flippant kitsch, hollow attitudes, juvenile anger, nauseating shocks, bewildering objects and shameless plagiarism are the daily diet of the art industry.
      This is a photo of the painter with the subject - Roger Scruton. I'd have loved to have been there to photograph artist with model but alas "The Knee" was back in the knee brace and not keen on the scrum which is the RSPP Awards Ceremony.

      The De Laszlo Foundation Award

      Thursday, May 05, 2016

      Grayson Perry - the artist as cultural anthropologist

      More art on TV!  Channel 4 has another Grayson Perry series and this time it's all about men!

      Grayson Perry has had a project of one sort or the other with either Channel 4 or the BBC every year going back to 2012 (see details at the end - plus links to my blog posts about the same). It's now officially time to start guessing what the next one might be - it's probably happening right now!

      The latest series is called Grayson Perry - All Man and it's recommended viewing for all artists interested in art created out of exploring themes of importance within our society.

      You can catch up on their On Demand Service - see Grayson Perry - All Man Episode 1

      The series has three episodes.

      This first one was focused on 'The Hard Man' and was set in the North East - the home of industrial decline over the last three decades.  (The quotes relating to the episodes below all come from the website of the production company)
      Episode 1 – HARD MAN – sees Grayson spend time with a group of cage fighters in the North East. As a self-described ‘lifelong sissy’, Grayson thinks the desire to be tough is holding modern men back. But as he explores the vulnerabilities that lie behind the fighters’ public personas, takes part in the Durham miners’ gala and meets the friends and family left behind in the wake of one young man’s suicide, what he uncovers reverses his expectations.
      Grayson was back investigating different groups of people. What I always find amazing is how he (a) manages to find them and (b) how they all seem to like him and (c) why they tell him all sorts of things about their lives.

      Maybe because his natural manner is so disarming? How could anyone not like Grayson?

      What was also very touching was the way he revealed more about himself during the course of the programme. I do value an artist who creates art based on research and investigation of a subject but at the same time grounds it in his own emotions and values.

      The Death of a Working Hero - as seen in "Grayson Perry - All Man"
      His aim was to make art out of his findings from his meetings with different groups.  There are two works

      • a tapestry - The Death of a Working Hero (above)
      • a ceramic urn - Shadow Boxing (below)
      I do hope we'll get to see them at some point in the future.

      Shadow Boxing - as seen in "Grayson Perry - All Man"

      Grayson Perry drawing with a digital stylus 
      - as seen in "Grayson Perry - All Man"

      I must confess I found it fascinating to watch him making the artwork for his tapestry direct on the huge (Wacom?) tablet with a digital stylus. He's a very fine draughtsman who has found a way of making his style work through digital software and into weaving!

      When I say tapestry it is of course a tapestry reincarnated as a Miner's Gala Banner.

      Which was then processed through (I think) Durham Cathedral at the end of the programme where it is revealed to those who participated in the programme and whose images features in the two works he produced.

       "The Death of a Working Hero" being processed as a Banner- as seen in "Grayson Perry - All Man"
      The next two episodes are
      Episode 2 – TOP MAN – Grayson goes to Skelmersdale, Lancashire to meet two groups of men concerned with rank and territory: the police and the drug dealers they regularly arrest – as well as the local residents who live with this turf war. More than 80% of the crime and anti-social behaviour in the UK is caused by men, but the issue is rarely addressed in gender terms. As Grayson joins officers on a raid, and walks the boundary of the estate with some of the young men who live there, he finds universal male preoccupations bound up in this very local conflict.

      Episode 3 – RATIONAL MAN – finds Grayson among traders and hedge-fund managers in the City of London. The modern City, they tell him, is all about calm, cool rationality, but Grayson suspects that in the long journey from hunting mammoths to clicking mice, impulsive aggression and raw passion haven’t disappeared quite so easily. A tense final exhibition sees the financial powerbrokers come face to face with the work that Grayson has created.
      The series has generated a number of articles. The Guardian has gone overboard!  It's certainly the case that he's generated more column inches for the tragedy of male suicide than anything else I've seen in recent years

      Grayson Perry on Television and Radio

      There have been previous collaborations between Grayson Perry and Channel 4
      • his first Channel 4 series was All In the Best Possible Taste (2012) won a BAFTA for his exploration taste and class. This resulted in his series of six tapestries titled The Vanity of Small Differences which were shown at the RA Summer Exhibition in 2013. Perry and his gallery gifted this major work to the Arts Council Collection and the British Council and they have subsequently toured the country.
      • The next series was Grayson Perry: Who Are You? in 2014 - which resulted in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. 
      In addition:
      • Grayson Perry’s Dream House has been nominated for a BAFTA and two RTS Awards
      • and his Reith Lectures in 2013 were a resounding success and are still available on BBC iPlayer