Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016

This is the first in a series of three articles about prestigious portrait competitions in the USA and Australia 2016.

I've written about them before, but the purpose of the three articles is to:
  • show portrait artists around the world what styles of portraiture are valued in different countries and cultures
  • alert people to the opportunities and exhibitions about top level portraiture which exist around the world
  • stimulate thinking about portrature
[Note: I'd be very happy to hear from any of you as to the top level portrait competitions in your country.]

The first three I'm featuring are:
  • The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (USA)
  • The Archibald Prize (Australia)
  • The Moran Prize (Australia)
The first is The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016 - which you can see online

First page of the online exhibition of The Outwin 2016

The Outwin Boochever Competition and Prize

Why it exists

The aim is to
showcase excellence and innovation with a strong focus on the variety of portrait media used by artists today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art Collecting in the Digital Age

I came across a report about a survey of art collectors - Collecting in the Digital Age - done back in 2014 - which I'd not seen before. It's worth highlighting the key messages.

The survey was done by AXA Art who insure art and collectibles
  • The survey was done online. 
  • 972 people from around the world were asked questions between January 28 to February 25, 2013
  • The questions asked were based on several dozen long, face-to-face interviews with collectors.  The purpose was to check out themes raised in the conversations.

It should be noted that the survey was obviously directed at people with serious wealth.  While a third of respondents stayed silent on the size and value of their art collections, of the rest....
only a minority of respondents own small collections with less than 25 objects (15%) or a value of less than 100,000 US $ (22%). 
There again who wouldn't want to know more art collectors who have serious money for art collecting!

Particularly if you've gone professional and are now pricing your art accordingly.

Art collectors: who collects what, how, why and where?

Who is the art collector?

  • the typical collector and Internet user is a man
  • 80% have a college or university degree,
  • 73% of collecting is done by people aged between 40 and 70
  • most collecting is done by people with no children at home
  • nearly half are self-employed or entrepreneurs
  • only 25% are employees

What do people collect?

People like things which hang on walls.
  • 89% collect paintings
  • 63% collect works on paper (drawings / prints etc)
  • 60% collect sculpture
  • 49% collect photography

People collect a lot of other things - read the report!

Preference for the type of art collected varies with age
  • everybody likes contemporary art
  • young people like new art
  • older people like more traditional art 

How do people collect?

The survey report came up with a typology of collectors. The described them as follows
  • Young collectors: 8% of the collectors in our sample have "just started collecting recently".
  • Active collectors: only 45% of respondents state that they "have been collecting continuously and for a while".
  • Sporadic collectors: 18% buy collectables "every now and again in phases, with long intervals in between". 1 in 10 collections is worth more than $1m
  • Mature collectors: 16% are already beyond the peak of their collecting activities – they "have been collecting for a while, but not as intensively as before"
  • Non-collectors: A noteworthy minority, 11% of respondents, say they "would not regard themselves as collectors".

Interesting when asked about their collecting strategies....
  • most (65%) said they did it on "gut instinct"
  • 30% collect items of high quality

Why do people collect?

Three common reasons were
  • "I love to own beautiful things and to surround myself with them" (80%) · 
  • "I enjoy occupying myself with art and developing a comprehensive knowledge of art"(79%) 
  • "Collecting is a passion of mine" (72%)

Where do people purchase?

Collectors research before they purchase. 77% want to know about one thing - the artist.

(Anybody thinking they need to do a website / social media review of the information the put out in the morning?)

The think the best place for getting the information they want is art fairs.
  • 64% use trade fairs, exhibitions, events, presentations 
  • 62% find out via galleries
  • 58% read printed media, trade journals, newspapers, books 
  • 58% like to have discussions with artists 
  • 52% use their personal contacts to find out what they need to know
  • 51% use the internet - via online media, websites, internet forums, social networks 

The survey then asked "Where and how do you buy your works of art or collectable items?"
  • Most (73%) buy via galleries
  • However - and very importantly - 63% buy direct from the artist (now you know why galleries don't release details of who buys your art!)
  • 59% buy via auctions

For the rest of the places see the chart on the right - or the report.

Interestingly although 95% of art collectors visit art fairs only 39% purchase there.

Plus art advisers are a LOT less important than they may think they are!

Clearly the art fair is the place to meet galleries, find out who does what, see what interests - and find out about the artists!

There is a divergence of opinion about the importance of the internet

  • 95% use the internet for communication and researching art they're interested in.
  • However:
    • only 34% had bought artwork online
    • BUT 42% did not contemplate ever using the internet for purchasing art.

Which means that another 24% might do so in future!

All those thinking that serious art collectors do not use the internet need to do a rethink!

Different types of art collectors

The rest of the report - which I recommend you read then focuses on the different types of art collectors

I'd suggest you read these sections in detail to try and understand the sort of people you are dealing with when it comes to art collectors.

These are
  • Type I: art aficionados – collecting out of passion - typically people who like contemporary art; like their collection to express their personality and value the social contacts and friendships they get through collecting art. They often have a plan for how to develop their collection.
  • Type II: traditionalists – collecting over generations - they collect because their family has always collected - it's what they do!  They also like to own and surround themselves with beautiful things and preserve them for future generations to enjoy them.  Two thirds collect on the basis of gut instinct.
  • Type III: investors – collecting for the portfolio - these are people who read auction results and prices paid for an artist the way others would read stock market changes. They collect for investment and enjoy speculating on whether an artist's work is likely to move up or down in value.  Their purchases give them status and express who they are in society.   They are more likely to buy via auctions or on the internet. They are less likely to visit the artist's studio.


For me, the different types of art collectors will remain stable over time. The motivations are similar irrespective of the sector of the art market we are talking about - although I think the Investors are probably more important at the high/expensive end.

My guess is the internet has become much more important since the survey was done.  As I indicated recently in Art Collectors and Instagram, social media has proved invaluable to many collectors for being able to survey what's on offer and just browse.

The imperative for artists is to:
  • make sure you present both themselves and your art in the best possible way - on websites and through any social media that they use. (see Marketing and Communication for Artists)
  • make sure that art collectors can find out 
    • what they want to know from you
    • how to buy or commission art from you. (check with independent third parties whether your website makes that easy or difficult).
  • make sure that any art gallery that sells your work knows how to promote art and artists on the Internet!

Monday, September 26, 2016

About Marianne North

Marianne North is a woman who painted 800 paintings of plants and flowers, representing over 900 species from 17 countries on 6 different continents in 14 years.

Below is a map at the beginning of her autobiography which indicates where she went painting plants.

Countries Marianne North travelled to and painted plants and flowers

Life begins at 40

All this started after the age of 40 while travelling solo, painting in oils, dressed in long Victorian dresses and making plans for a new Gallery to house her collection of paintings when she got back to England.

Admittedly her family was well connected and she was comfortably off, but she still had to endure an awful lot while off painting in the back of beyond!

The Marianne North Gallery

This is now the only permanent solo exhibition by a woman artist in the UK - and you can find it at the Marianne North gallery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The prompt to complete my new page About Marianne North on my website about Botanical Art and Artists is a television programme about Marianne North which is on BBC4 tonight at 9pm.  It's called Kew's Forgotten Queen. You'll be able to find it on iPlayer on this link after it has aired.

In the meantime, if you'd like to find out more about Marianne North, the new page covers
  • the timeline of her life and travels
  • her paintings and painting methods
  • The Marianne North Gallery at Kew

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: 3rd Derwent Art Prize Exhibition

I'm writing this review more for the record and the benefit of those thinking of entering the competition for the Derwent Art Prize (sponsored by Derwent Pencils ) in future years.

This week has seen a surfeit of exhibitions for me - and yet more problems for me with my joints! I really shouldn't spend so much time standing looking at art in art exhibitions - as it now means I can't move the next day!  Hence the delay.....

The Derwent Art Prize - selected works

The 3rd Derwent Art Prize Exhibition 2016

The exhibition finishes today at the Mall Galleries. Frankly 6 days is not enough for this exhibition. However you can see the art online and it will get another outing - and I'll let you know where when I know (keep an eye on my Making A Mark Facebook Page!)
The exhibition will tour to a number of venues throughout the UK from October - December 2016. Full details will be announced shortly.
  • First some gallery view images of the exhibition
  • then a summary of what was good and where there is scope to improve
  • finally, some images of the 8 drawings I liked by 6 artists. I also liked others - but these have all got an extra something...
I've already commented on the prizewinners in Derwent Art Prize 2016 - Prizewinners

Gallery views

There are two absolute truisms about drawings when seen online:
  • they do look different when seen in the gallery - you can't ever beat the face up cloe to the work to get a really good sense of what a work is about and how it has been made.
  • you can never ever get a proper sense of the relative size of different artwork - unless it is seen in context

That's why it's essential to go to exhibitions and not just look online - even if you end up crocked afterwards (as I do!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016

Earlier this week I visited the 29th exhibition of Sunday Times Watercolour Competition at the Mall Galleries and this is my review of this year's selected paintings.

This post is about:
  • the exhibition of selected works - there are 78 paintings in total in the exhibition (12 less than last year and 22 less than was advertised in the Call for Entries)
  • which artwork I liked the best
  • aspects I think can be improved
If you want to see the exhibition you need to hurry up and do so this week as the exhibition closes at 4pm on Saturday 24th September. Admission is free. After that there are two more chances to see the exhibition:
  • 24 - 29 October 2016 Parabola Arts Centre, Parabola Road, Cheltenham GL50 3AA - Monday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm. 
  • 10 December 2016 - 28 January 2017 Guildford House Gallery, 155 High Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3AJ. Monday – Saturday: 10am - 4.45pm.
You can also see the works online on the exhibition page of the website (it takes AGES to load) - and compare them to those in previous years (scroll down).  Each painting also has an individual page on the website.

Viewing the exhibition - prizewinners on the left.
This is my fourth blog post about the competition. The first three were:
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition Prizewinners - on the wall

Review of the exhibition

Before I start.....

Why the big reduction in number of paintings selected and hung?

The very first comment I wrote in my exhibitions notebook was "smaller than in previous years?".

I'm very puzzled as to why the number of paintings exhibited has dramatically reduced.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Impressive solo exhibition by 2016 Threadneedle Prizewinner

Yesterday I was really impressed when I walked into the Threadneedle Space at the Mall galleries and saw Lewis Hazelwood-Horner's solo exhibition which is part of the The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2016 which he won earlier this year(see Lewis Hazelwood-Horner wins £20,000 Threadneedle Prize 2016).

Lewis Hazelwood-Horner and two of his large paintings about processing hops for beer.
The idea behind the prize is that the winner gets a hefty cheque - which then gives him or her the time and space to paint - and then a one week solo exhibition later in the Threadneedle Space. This serves as a 'shop window' for the potential of the artist to impress art galleries, art collectors and those who might need want to commission a work.

Well the exhibition by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner impressed me - and then some!

Beer & Guns by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner
It's one of the very best exhibitions I've ever seen in that gallery. It's well hung and 'hangs together' but it's the content which is amazing.

Lobb the shoemakers and sleeping on hop sacks

views of the hop fields and brewing process
I've been bemoaning for some time that we no longer see narrative paintings which tell a story or document the present day - where we see ordinary people in their natural context.

Instead we see landscapes without people, townscapes with anonymous people and portraits of individuals which rarely tell a story. It can get boring.

What we get with these paintings is engagement with both the process, the people and the place. It's real life and it's a really valuable exercise to be documenting these processes in 21st century Britain.

They're also very striking paintings - Lewis has a keen eye for a good composition and clearly demonstrates a real love of his media and painting.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Derwent Art Prize 2016 - Prizewinners

A pencil drawing about "Refugees" by Agim Sulaj has won the £6,000 First prize in the Derwent Prize 2016, sponsored by Derwent Pencils.

Prizewinners received their prizes from Eileen Cooper RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy at the Awards Ceremony at the Mall Galleries this evening where the exhibition is being held all this week.

Derwent Art Prizewinners 2016
Left to right: Tim Wright (3rd Prize), Lee Wagstaff (2nd Prize), Apple Wong Hiu Fung (Young Artist Award), Angharad Pelling (UKCPS Award), Astri Thomas-Saunders (Marketing Manager, Derwent) Agim Sulaj (First Prize) and Eileen Cooper RA, Keeper of the Royal Academy - who awarded the prizes
Other prizewinners and their artwork can be found below together with more about Agim Sulaj.

The scope of the works in the Derwent Art Prize exhibition are determined by the terms and conditions and the judging panel
The work entered must be created in pencil (including water-soluble, pastel, graphite, charcoal or coloured pencils). The work must not exceed 182cms in its greatest dimension. There is no minimum size limit. The Prize is open to both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional works. All entered work must have been completed within the last 3 years.
Overall, in my opinion this is the best Derwent Art Prize exhibition yet - and I'll be writing more about it later this week.

The most noticeable difference this year is that all the main prizewinners are well established artists with a considerable body of work who work in pencil in addition to work in other media.

View of some of the work in the North Gallery
It's very definitely well worth a visit to the Mall Galleries this week where the exhibition can be seen in the North Gallery until 24 September 2016. Not least because it's a fabulous week for exhibitions associated with art competitions - with
You can also see all the shortlisted works being exhibited this week online - although I can emphatically say you need to visit the gallery to really appreciate the work.

About the Derwent Art Prizewinners

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Who's made a mark - 18th September 2016?

A round of some of latest posts on this blog and my various Facebook Pages (see the side column)

Art Competitions

Gridlock (Manhattan) by Janet Kenyon
winner of the Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize
at the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition

Art Exhibitions & Collections

Art Exhibitions

Botanical Art

Art Collections

  • Who knew Richard Attenborough loved Picasso's ceramics? Or that he probably had the best collection in private hands?  Although Richard Attenborough made a lifetime loan of their Picasso ceramics to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, the Guardian reports that Richard Attenborough's beloved Picasso ceramics to go on sale via auction

Art Business & Marketing

Art Studios

  • Will artists need to move out of London in future if they want cheap space to rent now that every last inch of brown field sites are being rezoned, refurbished and rebuilt? Read the article on Apollo Magazine about Where will London's Artists work?

Art Galleries & Fairs

Selling Art & Social Media

Instagram and Videos


  • As my series of articles for The Artist Magazine wind up, I start to write about matters you have to deal with after you start to trade and sell art in How to keep on the right side of the tax man in the September edition.

Time management

Art Education



Art on Television

Botanical Art

Friday, September 16, 2016

Art History: JMW Turner and the Industrial Revolution

The BBC has made The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution available again via iPlayer. You have 26 days left to watch the programme that was first broadcast in 2013.

Painting the Industrial Revolution

This documentary places Turner and some of the paintings he produced firmly in the context of the changes in science and industry in 19th century Britain.  This was the age of steam - when ships with engines replaced those with sails and when railway engines began to cross the land.

It was a really momentous time - and Turner recorded some of the changes in paint. He painted machines, science, technology and industry. In turn, painting some of these subjects also helped change the way that Turner painted

The film considers nine of Turner's paintings and considers what was happening in industrial history at the time.

Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway
Location: Maidenhead Railway Bridge looking east,
across the River Thames​ between Taplow and Maidenhead
The bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1838. 
Royal Academy in 1844
Collection: National Gallery
Various 'experts' provide comments including Professor Sam Smiles (the Turner Scholar) , Simon Schama and Tracy Emin.

Here's the beginning of the film on Vimeo

The Genius of Turner from Fresh One on Vimeo.

If you're not able to view iPlayer I also found the documentary at various places online. I'm not sure how legit they are but for what it's worth here are the links (which I've not checked for content or quality)


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Jerwood Drawing 2016 (Part 1) - Solveig Settemsdal wins First Prize

The Jerwood Drawing Prize "....aims to celebrate the breadth of contemporary drawing practice within the UK."

It also claims to have the longest and largest open exhibition for Drawing in the UK. It's certainly the longest (I think they might mean 'oldest') - but I think I'd dispute whether it's the largest without knowing the criteria for how this is measured!

For the record, this year the panel of selectors saw 2,537 works submitted by 1,408 entrants over a two-day period.
The selected artworks, and prizes, represent the selectors’ diversity of understandings and varied insights into contemporary drawing.
This year the selected artwork includes hand drawn, digital and three-dimensional works.

On Tuesday night the winners of this year's prizes for drawing were announced at a reception to which I was invited but was unable to attend.

In this post (Part 1) you can find below :
  • the names of the prizewinners 
  • the images which won
  • the names of the artists whose work was selected for the exhibition
  • where you can see the exhibition as it tours the UK
  • the events associated with the Exhibition.

In tomorrow's post (Part 2) I'm offering a commentary on how this prize is run. I would like to make it clear I'm not critical of the prizewinners - but I do think there needs to be a major rethink about how this competition is run.

Jerwood Drawing Prize - The prizewinners

The prizewinners in 2016 come from Norway, Denmark, Thailand and Italy/France.

All live and work or study in London.

First Prize (£8,000)

a still from the video Singularity created by Solveig Settemsdal

Is a way of recording how a drawing is made a drawing? I would argue it is - but ONLY if this is stipulated in the rules (see Part 2 tomorrow)

This year the First Prize has been won by a video Singularity created by Solveig Settemsdal (b.1984). This is the first video to win this prize - which seems odd since I've been seeing videos about drawing in exhibitions for some time. However maybe the difference is that the videos I've seen have been of the process of drawing in 2D and this video is about transforming space in 3D.
The video offers an almost sculptural digital rendering of the transformative and fluid drawing process.
Settemsdal comes from Norway, graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2010 and is currently based at Spike Island in Bristol.  She has been working between drawing, sculpture and photography starts her MFA in sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art in September 2016.
She uses materials which are easily affected by their surroundings to engender sculpture with a certain liquidity; embodying a constant potential for transformation. Inorganic and biological substances are often pitted against each other to initiate a balance between conscious intention and unconscious material process.
In this instance the substances are white mineral ink and a lattice of the biological gelatine.

Does using ink make it a drawing? It's perfectly possible to capture the drawing process on video in other ways and I've seen many such videos - so what makes this one different - and why describe it as a drawing?

I'm not sure I'd call this a drawing so much as a video of a liquid 3D sculpture.  The movements which make it are not unlike those which make 3D art. It's only 2D because it was filmed.

The video is certainly teetering on the edge of the boundaries between drawing and sculpture and digital art and I guess it's this reason which won it the top prize.  However I'd love to know
  • WHY it's in a drawing competition - as opposed to a sculpture competition - and 
  • WHY it got the top prize.
Now if it had been an animation I'd be absolutely clear why is was a drawing. I guess what I'm looking for are comments from the judges which state explicitly why they consider this to be contemporary drawing practice. However there are none.  (How does this expand our knowledge about the scope of contemporary drawing practice?)

Maybe this could be remedied next year?

Below is a 45 second extract from the 9.31 minute film - from the very beginning of the film. Personally I think it's a pity that the section she made available to share on her website isn;t extracted from later in the film when it's clearer how the ink and gelative were manipulated.

Monday, September 12, 2016

13th Florum Exhibition in Sevenoaks - a review of art and artists

Artwork at Florum 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Private View for the 2016 Florum Exhibition on Friday evening. It's not just that it has some wonderful artwork and the best ever hors d'oeuvres (better than professional caterers!) - but the people who organise and the artists who participate in it are such nice people!

It's therefore very sad to report there will be no Florum in 2017. This is prompted by
  • the fact that the Society of Botanical Artists are having to change their exhibition to the autumn next year and that means two exhibitions involving too many of the same people too close together.
  • the decision by a number of members who have been running it for many years to take a break. Will they be back or will there be a new set of members on the organising committee? - we'll just have to wait and see!
So we shall wait and see whether Florum resurrects itself and if so whether it's at a new time of year and maybe at a new venue with new organisers. Who knows?

I sincerely hope it will keep going as it's a delightful exhibition and sales are always very brisk!

Review of Florum 2016

The aim of the exhibition is to create artwork inspired by plant life. It's emphatically not a "strictly botanical" exhibition but that makes it all the more appealing to a wider range of visitors.

The exhibition maintains its normal high standards although I think I might be right in saying there are fewer works being exhibited this year. I do know that last year there was a surge in larger works creating a complete nightmare for those designing the hanging - and this might be the reason.

The strength of the exhibition lies in its diversity
  • one room places an emphasis on botanical art in all its different forms 
  • the other room includes artwork which is stimulated by flowers, gardens and the landscape - anything which involves plant life. Work includes diverse media from miniatures to jewellery to fine art prints, textile art and paintings in various media
I'll be putting a slideshow together of the exhibition. However this takes a little time to prepare so below you'll see some of the images from the exhibition. You can see more photos of the artists with their artwork on my Botanical Art and Artists Facebook Page (which you can see irrespective of whether you have a Facebook account - however you can only comment if you are on Facebook).

Exhibition details

Venue: Kent Wildlife Trust Sevenoaks Reserve,
Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3DH
Dates: 10th - 17th September 2016 (daily)
Times: 10.00 - 5.00

List of exhibiting artists

The exhibition includes a number of new artists. Each artist's name contains a link to their website or a site related to the artist. The list is interspersed with artwork by the artists - and photos of the artists with their artwork!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Coloured Pencil Junkie - I need more greens!

I'm a coloured pencil junkie and every now and again I place a big pencil order. Very often it's associated with working on artwork when I become concerned that I've run out of a colour or I'm down to my last one and it's getting very short. There again there's the ones I've never used and wished I had which I find when start looking at the complete list of colours!

This is my pencil order which arrived from Pencils4artists this morning which was rather later than I was expecting - and two days after the artwork got handed in!

Nevertheless - like all true coloured pencil junkies - I lined up my pencils in order of colour and took a photo!  Not least because it helps me to remember that I have had that pencil before and this is what it looks like!  It also helps me gauge the differences between the different manufacturers colours when you mix them in this way.

[Note: It's a BIG photo so if you're interested right click and open in a new tab and you should be able to see them up close!]

My new pencils
Above are the colours and below is a list of what I ordered.

The list is not in the same order as the picture - and I've ordered two of some colours. However the list is in the order of colours and manufacturer's numbers.

These artists' coloured pencils come from three manufacturers:
You can read more about the individual manufacturers and their ranges on my Coloured Pencils - Brands and Manufacturers page on my website which provides an index of reputable coloured pencils and product reviews


Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils

Colour 044 Light Cobalt Blue
Colour 047 Light Blue
Colour 046 Sky Blue
Colour 054 Aquamarine

Faber Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils

Colour 157 Dark Indigo
Colour 149 Bluish Turquoise


Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils

Colour 055 Night Green
Colour 058 Sea Green
Colour 059 Hookers Green
Colour 062 True Green
Colour 063 Emerald Green
Colour 065 Juniper Green
Colour 067 Sap Green
Colour 068 Moss Green
Colour 070 Apple Green
Colour 071 Light Green
Colour 072 Green Grey
Colour 074 Cedar Green

Faber Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils

Colour 158 Deep Cobalt Green
Colour 163 Emerald Green
Colour 159 Hooker's Green
Colour 165 Juniper Green
Colour 173 Olive Green Yellowish
Colour 171 Light Green
Colour 166 Grass Green
Colour 112 Leaf Green
Colour 266 Permanent Green
Colour 167 Permanent Green Olive
Colour 267 Pine Green
Colour 168 Earth Green Yellowish
Colour 172 Earth Green
Colour 170 May Green
Colour 174 Chromium Green Opaque
Colour 230 Yellow Green
Colour 470 Spring Green
Colour 231 Lime Green

Caran D'Ache Pablo Water Resistant Coloured Pencils

Colour 015 Olive Yellow
Colour 016 Khaki Green
Colour 225 Moss Green
Colour 018 Olive Grey
Colour 039 Olive Brown
Colour 019 Olive Black


Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils

Colour 008 Canary Yellow
Colour 009 Orange Yellow
Colour 085 Light ochre

Faber Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils

Colour 107 Cadmium Yellow
Colour 108 Dark Cadmium Yellow
Colour 109 Dark Chrome Yellow
Colour 268 Green Gold

Thursday, September 08, 2016

All the mistakes you can make when submitting work to an art exhibition

Who hasn't had an awful experience when preparing for an exhibition?

16 things that can go wrong when submitting art to an exhibition

Here's a list of things that can go wrong. If you leave a comment and come up with a good one I'll add it to the list. A lot of what's on there comes from stories people have told me. I swear I haven't made all the mistakes myself - just some of them!

1.  Don't read the call for entries and rules properly 

One loses count of the stories heard of people not realising that the media used or the subject of their artwork or their country or their status doesn't allow them to enter!

2.  Get the submission date / deadline wrong 

I think probably most of us have done that one. Ranks alongside forgetting the date of your examinations. The effect on your insides is about the same. If you're really, really lucky you don't paint in oils and realise you've got the date wrong with at least a couple of days to spare.....

3. Realise far too late that the custom built frame makes your artwork too big to enter 

I think there are three strategies on this one but I'd be interested to hear more
  • EITHER Say absolutely nothing and cross your fingers that the organisers won't reach for their tape measures. This is the only one that works - sometimes. Some have done this and got their work accepted; 
  • OR ring up and ask the organiser whether it would still be OK to enter it. You know what they're going to say so basically you've just spent money on a wasted phone call; 
  • OR put the very considerable expense down to a learning curve. One you won't be repeating....

4. Realise far too late that your cheap bargain frame makes your artwork look cheap too

There's absolutely nothing wrong with a cheap robust frame; the trick comes in making them look simple but expensive! I believe in bone coloured paint!

5. Fail to complete your artwork on time 

This goes without saying. Who hasn't been there? There's the artwork you submit and then there's the artwork you meant to submit.  Then there's the first two versions in which you tried to get it right and the one you submitted because you have now given up the will to live!

6. Fail to get the artwork to dry on time

The same as above but only for those working in media which takes forever to dry!  This one tends to go with resolutions to "never ever use xyz again!" because you've been caught out by changing your normal media.

7. Find out that the varnish destroys the finish

You're using new media - and forgot to test it with the varnish before you started to use it!  Often comes about (but not always) as a result of not reading the tiny tiny print on the side of the container.

8. Find out that the fixative makes your media run

Not every fixative likes every dry media. On one memorable occasion I recall a friend telling me a very sad story about working on a commission and then watching her coloured pencil media drip off the support after she applied fixative. It literally became liquid and slid off the support!

9. Forget to take a proper professional image/scan/photo of the artwork before it is framed

We all live in hope that this is the last time we'll see the artwork if it is for sale so we need a good image of it . However does this mean we remember something we need to do every single time when we submit work to an art exhibition. Of course we don't!!!

There's a variation on this one which is that you don't look at the pics you took until after you have submitted the work.

Which explains this really dreadful group shot of my artwork for Florum! I eliminated the reflections on the glass - and the definition in the photo....

(Top row) Massonia bifolia
(Middle row): Crassula Buddha's Temple; Cardiocrinum giganteum Seeds pods study
(bottom row) Astrophytum and Haworthia - Spots and Stripes

10. Neglect to book the framer in time 

This one comes with a variety of options:
  • you didn't know your old framer has died/disappeared to beat the creditors/packed up and not told you
  • how were you supposed to know that your framer likes three week holidays just before the busy season for submissions?
  • your framer is so good he's now booked solid for the next six months
  • your framer is good but can't help you and he's not telling you about anybody else who is as good as him!
This is when you learn to frame for yourself!

Or alternatively inspect my List of Recommended Framers 
(New names always welcome - just post something public that I can reference about your framer and why you like him or her - and then complete the form at the bottom of the page)

11. Break the glass in your frame

You can do this any number of ways but my favourite - and the one that gives me collywobbles every single time is taking it out of the frame so as to clean both sides. Especially when you nearly drop it as the sharp edge cuts your finger and very nearly drops on to the artwork which is nearby.... (Been there, done that!)

12. Scratch the frame badly during transport 

You've probably just ruled your work out of being hung and all for the sake of proper packing materials.

However if you notice in good time you can sometimes work magic with sandpaper and paint. (Guess who's done this one?)

13. Send the artwork via a man with a van - who can't find the destination on time

It happens and has happened. It pays to use those who have developed a good reputation.

(see Fine Art Transport - For those who 'need to know'​ how to pack, mail and ship art)

14.  Fail to build in contingency time for getting to the hand-in on time

So yesterday my partner stopped me from banging on my horn and screeching at the delivery driver who was blocking the exit from my cul de sac to "*&^%$£ get out of the way" on the basis that this would only make him slow down. I can also do getting out of the car, saying nothing and reaching for my iPhone and taking a photo of the illegally parked vehicle. But I save that one for when I'm getting desperate!

15. Arrive at the hand-in only to find that the artwork has dropped down behind the mat 

This only happens to people who mat their artwork and do NOT use the proper method for hinging artwork to a mat (or use a framer who hasn't got a clue!)

16. Procrastination 

It goes without saying that this underpins that old adage "By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail". Of course for the next exhibition or next year you'll do better....

You may have realised by now that I've been preparing for an exhibition. The problem with knowing what can go wrong is I still get the heebie jeebies even if almost everything goes OK.

So what's been the big mistake you made - or only just avoided?

Please leave a comment or send me an email with your BIG MISTAKE or NEAR ESCAPE!


The annual Florum exhibition was started with the aim of creating a colourful and inspiring mix of works celebrating plant life. 

I've got artwork in the Florum exhibition which opens to the public at Kent Wildlife Trust's Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve on Saturday.
I'm stewarding all day next Friday if you'd like to come and meet me as well as see the exhibition.
I'll be doing a review of the exhibition on this blog at the weekend.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course & Bursaries

The Seabird Drawing Course was set up by the late John Busby and is an inspiring residency held in Scotland with access to the Bass Rock seabird colony.

This post is about:
  • the nature of the course
  • the bursaries offered by the Society of Wildlife Artists for those wanting to attend the course
  • the SWLA annual exhibition - and a special offer to readers of this blog.

The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course

John Busby (author of the authoritative publication Drawing Birds and Looking at Birds) set up the seabird drawing course 25 years ago. It is an independent course and open to all.

It offers the opportunity to:
  • work alongside c.20 established and enthusiastic artists and 
  • get an insight into the diverse approaches that those artists have to working in the field.
Dates: The next week long course is to be held in June 2017
Venue: Seabird colonies around North Berwick and the Firth of Forth.
Course Leaders: The Course is typically led by members of the Society of Wildlife Artists which has lots of members who like drawing birds! In 2017, Course leaders Kittie Jones, Greg Poole, John Threlfall (author of Drawn to the Edge) & Darren Woodhead will be on hand to offer advice and guidance on drawing and painting in the field.

The course is run by Mark Boyd and you can to apply to go on the course independently please write to Mark on

This is a blog post by Bruce Pearson about this year's course which he attended in June

The SWLA Seabird Drawing Course Bursaries

Drawing by Evelina Flodstrom - Winner of the 2016 Bursary

The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) also offer two or three bursaries each year - to emerging artists - for places on the Course.
Applications need to include evidence of previous artwork
  • DO SEND images of recent artwork that demonstrate the ability to sketch from life  - including sketches and fieldwork (they don't have to be polished, finished works)
  • DO NOT SEND Artwork copied from photos. This is considered to be of little relevance to the nature of the seabird drawing course.

What the bursary provides

The current bursary is £550 per person, divided as follows;
  • Course fee (£330) (which is paid directly by SWLA).
  • £220 - paid shortly before the course for use by the applicant e.g. boat trips (£30/trip, ranging from none to 3 or 4) and/or towards accommodation.
These are links to blog posts by past Bursary Winners saying what the course meant to them.

Max Angus - The Seed Searchers

The Natural Eye: The Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 

The Society of Wildlife Artists will be hosting The Natural Eye: The Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries between 26 October to 6 November.  It will doubtless be including some of the artwork made as a result of the Seabird Drawing Course.

Readers of this blog can get free entry for two to the exhibition (normal price £6) if you mention this blog (the Making A Mark blog) at the Gallery Desk 

Thursday, September 01, 2016

London's Burning Festival - 350 years after 1666

Artists are heavily involved in the activities to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London which started on 2nd September 1666.  

This weekend is all about Great Fire 350 in the City of London.

Website for Great Fire 350 - marking events 350 years ago
The Great Fire of London started in a baker's shop belonging to Thomas Farynor. By 1am his house in Pudding lane was ablaze. The fire then spread quickly down Pudding Lane and carried on down Fish Hill and towards the Thames. Buildings were made of timber and their roofs were covered in pitch to make them waterproof, However these made them very combustible and it was easy for the fire to spread as buildings were typically built very close together.

Fires were quite common at the time. People were not initially alarmed. What made this one different is that it was the end of a long hot summer, the buildings were tinderbox dry and this fire began to burn out of control....
The fire soon took hold: 300 houses quickly collapsed and the strong east wind spread the flames further, jumping from house to house. The fire swept through the warren of streets lined with houses, the upper stories of which almost touched across the narrow winding lanes. Efforts to bring the fire under control by using buckets quickly failed. Panic began to spread through the city.

As the fire raged on, people tried to leave the city and poured down to the River Thames in an attempt to escape by boat.
Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg - The Great Fire of London - Google Art Project
The Great Fire of London by Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg

Activities for the 350th commemoration of the Great Fire of London

The London's Burning Festival, organised by Artichoke, will involve a range of activities across the square mile of the City of London.
London’s Burning will bring the Square Mile and beyond to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks that will give a contemporary perspective on a significant moment in the country’s history.
This is the official website for the commemoration and the Festival.

You can also Download the programme of events taking place between now and the finale - the big burn - Sunday.

These include:
  • Artist Martin Firrell presents Fires of London, two new commissions either side of the River Thames. 
    • Fires Ancient will light up the south and east sides of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral with a fiery projection echoing both the catastrophic impact of the Great Fire of London on the Cathedral itself and the birth of the building designed by Christopher Wren that emerged, phoenix­like from the ashes. The projection will be visible from across the river and with a unique view from the terrace of One New Change. (Supported by Cheapside Business Alliance, RSA Insurance and Land Securities)
    • Fires Modern will project Firrell’s text and flames about stories of resurgence and change that have shaped the UK’s capital city onto the flytower of the National Theatre’s (NT’s) iconic Grade II listed building. 
  • French fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse will create a Fire Garden on the riverside area in front of Tate Modern - transforming it into a crackling, spitting, after ­dark adventure.
  • On Saturday 3 September, tation House Opera’s interactive installation will trace the route of the Great Fire of London along 6km route within the City of London using 26,000 breezeblocks - which will topple as the fire progresses
  • there's an underwater performance-artwork at Broadgate
  • plus many more events - you can read all about them on this page

and finally 

  • On Sunday 4 September, the finale event will be the burning of a structure depicting medieval London, on the River Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges. The structure is an artistic interpretation of the look of the city in 1666 and it's being assembled on barges - ready for burning at 6pm on the evening of Sunday 4th September - view the video below to find out more.
Artichoke has been commissioned by The Space to produce a live digital broadcast of the spectacular finale event, London 1666. An extraordinary 120­ metre long sculpture of the 17th ­century London skyline will appear on the River Thames and burn, in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire of London of September 1666. A collaboration between American ‘burn’ artist David Best and Artichoke, the project has involved months of work and participation with local schools and young Londoners.
You will be able to watch the burn online live!


Initially I thought nobody seemed to have told Transport for London! Then I learned there was a Great Fire 350 page on the TFL website

Also this is a map showing the planned line closures for this weekend and also bus replacement information, please click here.

Importantly for those living in East London, there is:
  • no District Line between Tower Hill and West Ham and 
  • no Hammersmith and City Line between Barling and Liverpool Street 
  • although the Central Line is running normally.
Also if you're travelling in London on Saturday 3 or Sunday 4 September, TFL advises that:
  • Roads will be closed in the City of London around event times
  • Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges will be closed between 17:00-23:00 on Sunday 4 September
  • Buses in the City of London may be diverted or terminate early to avoid the road closures
  • Tube and rail will be the best way to get London on the event days, but Blackfriars station and other stations along the event route may be busier than usual