Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review - Society of Wildlife Artists 53rd Annual Exhibition

The Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries was absolutely packed at the Private View with those enthusiastic about wildlife art - and there were lots of sales as a result.
  • The exhibition continues until 6th November at the Mall Galleries (10am-5pm).
  • If you mention "Making A Mark" at the Gallery Front Desk you can get free entry for two people to the exhibition (normal price £6)

There are 351 works in the show - all the works are for sale, and many of the artists can (and are) commissioned. (I spoke to one very popular artist with a two year waiting list for commissions!). There is a fair range of different types of paintings, drawings, fine art prints and sculpture as always. This exhibition is always a delight to see what people can do when using different media. I very often see better exponents of the use of a medium at this show than I do at the exhibitions of art societies that specialise in specific media.

Private View of the 53rd Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists
SWLA Annual Exhibition 2016 Catalogue
Hare and Goldfinches Cover by Andrew Haslen
What's excellent about the exhibition is that the art is representational but for the most part does NOT have an emphasis on the hyperealistic which can become very boring when an exhibition lacks variation in style.

Instead what we see is art made by people who spend a lot of time observing their subject matter and understanding how it lives/works/moves and then translating that knowledge into art - rather than creating a 2D artwork out of a 2D photograph.

I saw lots of drawings and studies - which often make buying artwork more accessible.

Below you can:
  • see images of the exhibition
  • find out who won the prizes - and what their artwork looked like
  • find out about the projects which the SWLA is involved with - the drawings and paintings from these were also on display in the exhibition.

In fact it's very refreshing to see an art society that is active and thriving that it needs all three galleries to be able to cover its activities and the work of its members and those submitting through the open submission

Sculpture is always a big feature of the SWLA exhibition
These scrap metal pieces are by the SWLA President - Harriet Mead

The feature wall end of the Main Gallery - plus hares and small elephants!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Botanical Artists in China, India, ​Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and Thailand​​

My Botanical Art and Artists website now includes three pages relating to Botanical Art, Artists and Exhibition in Asia:

The History of Botanical Art in Asia

Banner for Famous Botanical Artists in Asia

Botanical art in Asia has a very long and distinguished history.

Plus it often revolves around a completely different approach to plants

Wilfrid Blunt (the art teacher and historian - not the poet), commenting on this in The Art of Botanical Illustration, says a couple of things I found very helpful to understanding why the artwork and the approach to painting plants is so very different
...flower painting as in independent art, untainted by medical or other practical considerations, began in China as early as the seventh or eighth century AD and was carried on with enthusiasm through these centuries when, in the West, Nature was still an object of mistrust or even fear​Wilfrid Blunt (The Art of Botanical Illustration' - West and East)
...the Chinese or Japanese artist approaches the painting of flowers with a humility that is rarely encountered in the West
​Wilfrid Blunt (The Art of Botanical Illustration' - West and East)

Hence coverage of the art on my page about famous botanical painters of the past features:
  • differences in techniques as well as 
  • who are the famous painters.

I'm hoping to develop sections on Korea and Thailand in the future - and other countries within Asia.

Contemporary Botanical Artists in China, India, ​Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and Thailand​​

This week I have:
  • added in new sections for Indonesia and Nepal 
  • plus I've done a major update of the section relating to Japanese botanical artists
The latter is as a result of meeting a number of them at the reception for the Flora Japonica exhibition. Hence I now have images to go with the brief biographies.  I can also certainly commend the exhibition and the book as being a great way to find our more about Japanese botanical art both past and present.

This photo includes: (left to right):
Noriko Watanabe GM, Masumi Yamanaka GM, Asuka Hishiki, Mieko Ishikawa GM, Junko Iwata GM, Mayumi Hashi , Akiko Enokido GM, ?, ?, Kimiyo Maruyama GM, Keiko Yoshida GM and ​Hideo Horikoshi GM

Botanical Artists - past and present

I'm gradually developing the pages on my website about botanical artists across the world - by continent

If you know of an artist who merits inclusion in the pages relating to Asia, please let me know:
  • Artists from the past - please use the form at the bottom of the Famous Asian Botanical Artists (600-1900)  page 
  • Contemporary artists (any country in Asia) please contact me with the name and website link to information about the artist and a brief summary of why an artist merits inclusion.

Banner for Contemporary Botanical Artists in Asia

My criteria for which artists get included is that they have achieved a recognised level of excellence.

In broad terms, so far as contemporary artists are concerned, this means the artist has to have
  • won an RHS Gold Medal (from the RHS or equivalent) and/or 
  • have their botanical artwork included in major international exhibitions and/or notable collections
  • otherwise recognised as working at a very high level eg professional illustrator working for a botanical garden

Botanical Artists on other continents

If you're reading this on another continent, you may also be interested to know that, to date I have also started to develop pages about botanical artists across the world. Including :
Plus my list of botanical artists - by country - that have exhibited at the International Exhibitions of Botanical Art and Illustration run by the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh. (see my latest blog post Selected Artists for Hunt 15th International Exhibition)

My web pages are by no means comprehensive as yet - however my aim is that they will be in future.

If you can help me develop them I'd very much appreciate this.

Exhibitions of Botanical Art in Asia

If you have an exhibition of botanical art in Asia which you would like to highlight please contact me with the details.

Typically the exhibitions that I features are associated with museums, botanical gardens or art societies

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10 million page views!

Making A Mark achieved 10 million page views at 2.15pm this afternoon! I've been looking forward to this for a while.....

I was slightly slow in catching up with the event so this is what it looked like when I took a screendump at 2.20pm.

The page view count (courtesy of Blogger in the side column of Making A Mark
followed by the Visitor Count generated by Statcounter

Blogger has only been counting page views since 2008
whereas this blog is coming up to 11 years old having been started at the end of 2005 and went public in January 2006

That means that there's actually around 2 years worth of page views somewhere!

What's the difference between page views counted by Blogger and Google Analytics?

I found out the difference between page views as counted by Blogger and page views as counted by Google Analytics yesterday.

  • Apparently Google literally counts page views - and as we know a view of a blog on one page may have several blog posts. 
  • Whereas Blogger counts the views for every blog post - as if every post was its own page - which of course it is since it has a unique URL.  
That's why I'm minded to say that the Blogger count to my mind is more accurate as it's counting visits to blog posts - by URL. Only those who come to the domain name page get treated as one visit even if they read every post on that home page!!!

Blogger also counts your own page views unless you turn them off as I do.

Statcounter seems to come between the two - but has a different length of time for how long the cookie stays before a visit from the same person counts as a repeat visit.

The geographical dimension

Of course things have also got complicated due to the fact that Blogger now uses geographical endings for all Blogger blogs on the basis that this allows them to cater for different requirements of the laws in every country. I've never quite got that one worked out - however I am totally convinced that Google Analytics does not count all page views properly when a blog is read globally.

The importance of your archive

The other interesting thing about page views is that if you have a lot of blog posts as I do (this is the 3,183rd!) about niche topics then you continue to generate traffic for that post long after you wrote it - via search traffic. (If you get your titles and meta description right!)

That's one of the reasons why the traffic to my blog is remaining pretty steady despite the fact I'm not writing as many posts.

The stats from the stats page for Making A Mark on Blogger!

In fact, you could day that the 10,000,000 page views are down to one of the things I learned very early on - which was the importance of making your archive accessible 

I commented to Alyson Stanfield earlier this year that...

I thank the day I read the article by Jakob Neilsen in which he pointed out that your assets (and your traffic) are in your Archives and you just need to find new ways of unlocking them for others!
[I think it was this particular Alertbox - in which he highlighted the statistical verification of making Archives accessible]

Of course - I guess you also have to have content that people think is worth reading! ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Oil painting of the City of London before the Great Fire

The Museum of London has a very rare topographical oil painting of the view of the City of London from Southwark on the south bank of the Thames. It's very rare because it was painted BEFORE the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the City in 1666.

In fact it's one of only three known to be still in existence.  The other two paintings are at Chatsworth House and the Society of Antiquaries.

View of London from Southwark c.1630
in its frame at the Museum of London
It's thought to be a Dutch painting, probably produced around 1630 of the City of London as it was around about 1600 or shortly thereafter. Testing of the painting has tentatively dated the panel to 1625-1655.

The view is from Southwark - which is the area of London to the south of London Bridge - which is the bridge in the painting.

It's a topographical painting which may have been done from the top of of the tower of Southwark Cathedral with a few adjustments to get everything in!

I'm a big fan of the topographical tradition found within the paintings and prints of the past.  To my mind topographical painting is one of the greatly under-rated aspects of landscape painting and art in general.  These add to our body of knowledge of what our landscape and towns and cities looked like in the past.

To my mind it's a great pity that more landscape painters of today don't focus on recording the landscape. It's as if the invention of photography eliminated topographical painting - apart from those done by the urban sketchers of course!

Below are some closeups of different parts of the painting...

...however, first here's a Guide to the various buildings which can be clearly seen in the painting.

You need to right click and open this image in a new tab to see it full size and read the annotations

Guide to the buildings in the painting of the City of London c.1600

The Old St Paul's Cathedral

You can't see the St Paul's Cathedral we know today in the painting because of course it was built after the Great Fire had burned down the one in the painting.

What you can see is the old St Paul's Cathedral (built between 1087 and 1314) - at the top of Ludgate hill. If you look at the area around the current cathedral you can see where the walls of the old cathedral are marked out on the paving.

Old St Paul's Cathedral at the top of Ludgate Hill
Old St Paul's Cathedral at the top of Ludgate Hill

In the foreground, on the left is Baynard's Castle by the river - it was destroyed by the Great Fire and never rebuilt. It was situated on the site of the Puddle Dock offices of KPMG where I used to work!

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is very clear towards the right edge of the painting - plus the loop of the Thames around Rotherhithe and the Isle of Dogs.  The perspective on this side of the painting is somewhat compressed! I spent some time recently trying to spot where my home is...

Tower of London and St Olave's Church in Southwark

On the South Bank in Southwark is the stone built church of St Olave which was mentioned in the Domesday Book (when it was a timber church).

This is another special location for me as I used to work in the Health Authority HQ offices right next door in the mid 80s.

The Four Theatres on the South Bank

Many people will know that the National Theatre is now located on the South Bank.  What fewer people know is that the South bank of the Thames used to be home to four theatres in the 17th century.

In the part of the painting below, which shows the foreground of the painting - and the South bank in Southwark - you can see the four Theatres. Each has a flag flying above it. From left to right are

  • the Swan Theatre (built 1595), 
  • Hope Theatre (built 1613-14 on the site of an old bear garden), 
  • Rose Theatre (built in 1587 nearer the Thames) and 
  • the Globe Theatre (opened 1599).  The Globe Theatre has of course been rebuilt due to the project started by Sam Wanamaker.

What's special about the theatres are that they help to date this painting.

The Swan, Hope, Rose and Globe Theatres c.1660
The Swan, Hope, Rose and Globe Theatres c.1660

The Traitors' Heads

At the Southwark end of London Bridge was the place where the tar-soaked heads of traitors who had been beheaded were put on spikes above the bridge’s stone gatehouse - as a warning. This is clearly illustrated in the painting. Note the disparity between the size of the heads on the spikes and the size of the people in the street below!  One of the important aspects of topographical paintings is you can never quite trust the relative dimensions!

William Wallace, the Scottish Patriot who was executed in Smithfield was the first recorded head to be displayed on London Bridge in 1305. The practice of spiking Traitors Heads ended in 1678 - so was very much normal practice at the time of the painting.

Other people whose heads ended up spiked on this gatehouse included Thomas More (1478 – 1535),  Guy Fawkes (1570 – 1606) and Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658).

Traitors Heads on London Bridge

and finally...... why it's very special to me

This painting is pretty special to me because "he who must not be bored while I sketch" was the person who facilitated it finding a home in the Museum of London. In my home it's referred to as "his painting"!

The painting was found in the archives of a London Borough's Reference Library. It was realised that if it were an original it might be pretty special. My other half led on "what needs to happens next" for the Council. Professional advice was taken, negotiations were undertaken and due process was followed. The eventual happy outcome was that the painting is now in the ownership, care and protection of the Museum of London for the interest and enjoyment of all those who visit the Museum to learn about the history of London.

Why don't you see if you can find it next time you pay a visit? It's in the Tudor section.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2017: Call for Entries

This an overview of the Call for Entries for the 2017 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize which has a first prize of £15,000 and two prizes for young artists.

This prestigious and well regarded art competition for painting and drawing has two aims:
  • to encourage the very best creative representational painting and 
  • to promote the skill of draughtsmanship
View of some of the prizewinners in the 2016 competition
I like this art competition a lot. The selectors typically stay on brief and it attracts some excellent artwork from a wide range of artists - both experienced and emerging

I've also been following it for long enough now to know that it's very often a competition which picks out young artists who become extremely well known and successful in the years that follow (You can see my review posts for this competition in previous years (back to 2008) listed at the end of this post)

All entries are digital in the first instance with works selected for exhibition from a second round of judging of the actual artwork.

The deadline for entries is Monday 19th December 2016 at 5pm (17:00 GMT).

Approximately 100 paintings are selected for exhibition and all works are for sale.
The exhibition will be held at the Mall Galleries opening 6th March 2017 and closing on 18th March 2017. It will be open daily 10am to 5pm with free admission - and always gets a good attendance.

Below you can see my overview of the Call for Entries.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Pastel Society - a final Call for Entries

Did you know that if you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any dry media you can submit work to open annual exhibition of The Pastel Society?

Below is an overview of the details for those wanting to submit work to The Pastel Society (PS) Annual Exhibition 2017 at the Mall Galleries.

You have three weeks to get a submission together if you want to enter.

The deadline for your digital entry is Friday 4 November 2016, 12 noon

At the end of this post are links to past exhibitions which I've reviewed on this blog so you can see what sort of work gets exhibited by members and those selected from the open entry.

A panoramic view of the Private View of the 2016 Pastel Society Exhibition at the Mall Galleries


Who is eligible?

  • This is an OPEN exhibition and is not limited to work by members
  • Any artist over 18 may submit. 
  • There is no restriction of where you live and the exhibition often has works exhibited by people who live overseas.  The exhibition is open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU.

Artists who are not resident in the UK but are resident in the EU are welcome to submit work. If your work is sold at the exhibition you have a responsibility to register and account for UK VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs. Artists submitting work from outside the UK and EU must be registered BEFORE they submit online.
View of a corner of the exhibition in 2016

What media and images are eligible?

Eligible media

  • Pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media are all acceptable media.
  • I must confess I'm always surprised by the oil pastels. If the new watercolour sticks or the art marker sticks called them pastels would that mean that they too became eligible media? For me personally, the criteria ought to strictly limit artwork to dry media in all its various forms.

Eligible images

  • Works should not be larger than 2.4m (7.8 feet) along the longest dimension.
  • Work must have been:
    • completed during the twelve months prior to the exhibition and 
    • not have been exhibited elsewhere.
  • Number of works:
    • Maximum of six works submitted. 
    • Maximum of four works selected.
  • Minimum price: £300.

Submission: key dates and points to note

The Call for Entries for the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2017 can be found on the Mall Galleries website. This includes details of the numerous prizes on offer.

The website ALSO has the FULL Terms and Conditions for all 'Calls for Entries' for exhibitions at the Mall Galleries
  • ALL work must be submitted online at
  • You must complete the registration form and upload your digital image (in JPEG format and no bigger than 1MB) no later than Friday 4 November 2016, 12 noon when registration closes.
  • The submission fee is £15 per work (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under) - with no further hanging fee.
  • CHECK if your work has passed the digital screening by logging on from Friday 11th November 12 noon.  
  • If pre-selected you now have two months to get your work framed prior to delivery for the second round of selection.
  • IF PRE-SELECTED you need to deliver your work for the second round of the selection process
    • Works should be delivered unwrapped with forms and labels.
    • Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier.
    • Deliver your work on the Receiving Day - Saturday 7th January 2017 between 10am - 5pm.
  • Selection takes place on Monday 9th January 2017.
  • CHECK if your work has been selected for exhibition on Tuesday 10 January, from 12 noon.
  • Be prepared to collect unaccepted work on Thursday 12th January 10am - 5pm
Drawings in Charcoal at the 2016 exhibition

TIPS for potential entrants

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Who's made a mark on art 161016?

I'd like to say a very sincere "Thank YOU" to all the people who wrote lovely comments on my Retirement post and on Facebook and especially to those who sent me personal messages via email. (You can write to me any time - my email is in the right hand column. However I'm afraid I can't help at all with some queries - and I do get some weird ones - and consequently I now typically only reply to those I can help.)

I'd also like to remind people that I'm not disappearing off the face of the earth and am just going to be blogging less on Making A Mark in future as I do rather more of what I particularly like doing!

So what happened in my first week?

I visited six museums/galleries and went to five exhibitions - and I haven't done that in a LONG time!

Sunday 2nd October - South Bank - Tate Modern and Bankside Galleries

We visited Bankside on Sunday and went up the Switch House for the first time to see what the fuss was about the Viewing Gallery. One nearby resident made it very clear what the problem was (see below). Frankly given there is no view on that corner - except into people's flats - I don't understand why they can't install opaque glass on that corner which causes the problems

One resident's perspective on The Switch House Viewing Gallery!

Tuesday 4th October - my official Birthday Treat Day!

On Tuesday morning I went to see Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern - which I'd been saving up for a treat. I definitely recommend this and I'm going to be going back at least once before it finishes on 30th October.

This is the Georgia O'Keeffe: Room Guide for those who have missed it (it's not obvious!)

You can also Download the large print guide [PDF, 822Kb] - which provides details of all the paintings on display.

Note to self: I must remember to take advantage of the members hours (on 15 Oct 2016, 16 Oct 2016, 22 Oct 2016, 23 Oct 2016, 29 Oct 2016, 30 Oct 2016) when it opens before it's open to the public.  I didn't get there early enough and it was swamped with school children on trips - all sat or stood around drawing - which is great but it makes it very difficult to navigate between paintings! I almost wish they would have a day each week when it's just school children....

We then had lunch at the Club Gascon in Smithfields. I drew all my courses but have still to finish colouring them. Here's one of the courses...

Marbled Duck, Figs, Maury & Pickled Mirabelle
pen and ink and coloured pencils
On Tuesday afternoon I found the Early Physic Garden I'd been searching for at the back of the Barber-Surgeon's Hall in the City of London and then went to see the earliest painting of the City of London in oil (i.e. pre-Great Fire) at the Museum of London which I'll post about later.

Wednesday 5th October - Picasso Portrait at the National Portrait Gallery

Wednesday morning  was the Press View for Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait GalleryHere's a taster and I'll be writing more about this soon. Reviews include:

Portrait prints and a painting by Picasso at the National Portrait Gallery
I then went down to the Mall Galleries for lunch and to view the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries (see Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2016) - which celebrated their 50th anniversary of their Royal Charter. It was nice to see an art society filling all three galleries again as they used to do when I first started visiting the Mall Galleries. So much more to see and appreciate!

Friday 7th October - Maria Merian's Butterflies at the Queen's Gallery

I then took a breather on Thursday before visiting the Maria Merian Butterflies exhibition at the Queen's Gallery on Friday. You can read my REVIEW: Maria Merian's Butterflies and what I learned about Merian's techniques in terms of collecting her natural history and botanical specimens and how she created a luxury version of both paintings and book for a select audience. Maria Sibylla Merian  was a very smart woman when it came to marketing her artwork!

Maria Merian's Butterflies and
a rare counterproof edition of Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium
(the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname)
......and that was the first week!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Top botanical artists by country

Yesterday I published a NEW website page on Botanical Art and Artists.

Plus I rejigged the Botanical Art Exhibitions Page so that the links to
are BOTH now at the top of the Exhibitions page.

After all, these are two major international exhibitions that most botanical artists hope to get selected for and do well in.

The new page lists:
  • all the Hunt International Exhibitions of Botanical Art and Illustration to date (1964-2016) - with the dates, number of artworks, number of participating artists and how many countries were represented
  • lists all the artists by COUNTRY who have participated in the Hunt International Exhibitions of Botanical Art and Illustration in the last 15 years (2001-2016). 

Hunt International Exhibitors by Country: Completing the Listing

I'll be completing the list of the artists by country to include all those who exhibited between 1964 and 1998 when I've received the country data from the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation. I should have it complete by the end of this year.

In the meantime if anybody wants to have their name added in please tell me your name and country and which year you exhibited and I'll check you were an exhibitor with the Cumulative Index and then include your name on the list.

I've already added one artist to the list since it was published!

To get your name added just leave a comment on this blog post OR email me (see the side column for details of how) OR complete the form on this page).

Comments on the exhibition metrics.

Having reviewed the metrics for all the exhibitions to date, it struck me that there have been three distinct phases to these triennial exhibitions over the years in terms of how many artworks and artists are on display and how many countries had artists representing them.
  • 1964 -197: BIG - lots of artists from 20+ countries participated in the early exhibitions which typically included 300+ artworks
  • 1988 - 2010: LARGE - Between 60 and 90 artists participated in each exhibition. Typically there were always more artworks than artist (between 90 and 100 artworks on display) meaning that some artists had more than one artwork on display. Artists represented between 11 and 18 countries
  • 2013-2016: SELECT - the exhibitions are now much smaller (c. 40+ artworks by c.40+ artists) with each artist having just one artwork on display. Consequently the number of countries represented each year is also smaller.

Top Countries for Botanical Art

I totalled the number of artists for the top five countries. In the period 2010-2016, the five countries with the most artists exhibiting at the last six of the Hunt International Exhibitions of Botanical Art and Illustration are:
  1. USA - 100 artists
  2. UK (England) - 85 artists (Scotland and Wales are counted separately)
  3. Japan - 57 artists
  4. Australia - 36 artists
  5. Italy - 14 artists

This is by way of a challenge to all those countries and national botanical art societies which are developing their body of botanical artists! To get exhibited at the top shows you first have to develop the interest, knowledge, competence and skills - and then you have to apply! :)

The 15th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration

The 15th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration is being held in 2016 - and I was supposed to be visiting right up until the point when I tore the meniscus in my knee!

I should be there right now with those attending the ASBA Annual Meeting and Conference in Pittsburgh.

The exhibition includes 43 artworks by 43 artists who are citizens of 15 countries - listed below. (I've included photos of those artists I've photographed winning Gold Medal at the RHS Botanical Art Shows)


  • Laurie Andrews 
  • Helen Burrows 
  • Jean Dennis 
  • Pauline Dewar
  • Anne Hayes 
  • Angela Lober
  • Lauren Sahu-Khan 
  • Sandra Sanger 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Grayson Perry vs Jonathan Jones

I read an article today which  was just plain weird.

It's is a massive snipe by Jonathan Jones who is feeling rather aggrieved with Grayson Perry. A classic case of "dealing it out but not being able to take it". READ Quote me on this, Grayson: you're not a true artist at all by
Grayson Perry has quoted my dismissal of him as ‘suburban popular culture’ on a new pot of his. But I’m no snob – and this is typical snark from an artist who makes dry jokes instead of feeling anything
This followed two things

First an announcement by Victoria Miro (his gallery) that the Serpentine Gallery has invited Grayson Perry to present The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! next year (between 8 June - 7 September 2017 to be precise) - and the release of an image of a new pot for this exhibition. This quotes remarks made in the past by Jonathan Jones (who is also somewhat irate about the fact Grayson Perry spelt his name wrong!) who has something of a history when it comes to "not being nice" about Grayson.

Those offended by Anglo Saxon should not read the words!

Sketch of two pots for the exhibition
What the Gallery says
Perry's exhibition will tackle one of his central concerns: how contemporary art can best address a diverse cross section of society, confronting subjects that are universally human. 
What Grayson Perry says
The new works I am making for this show all have ideas about popularity hovering around them: What kind of art do people like? What subjects? Why do people like going to art galleries these days? What is the relationship of traditional art to social media?"
What Jonathan Jones says
He really is not an artist at all. No true artist can be so calculating, so stagey, so conscious of playing to the gallery. There’s a rational dryness to his art that makes it dead on arrival. His incorporation of my criticism is exactly the kind of oh-so-knowing gesture that he offers instead of any true creative fire.
Methinks the man does protest too much!

The next article I read was by ArtNet - commenting on the Guardian article READ Grayson Perry and Critic Jonathan Jones Embroiled In a Heated War of Words by Caroline Elbaor, October 12, 2016

For the record - the tweets on this article by Jonathan are gathering tweets and retweets.  Here are some of the best

This is Murial Gray, who is the first female chair of the board of governors at Glasgow School of Art as well as being a a Scottish author, broadcaster and journalist.

She was retweeted by critic and broadcaster Waldemar Januszczck

also who in turn was retweeted by Jonathan Yeo, the artist - which is where I picked it up!

Then there was the poet and prizewinner George Szirtes's comment

I think the general consensus is that Jonathan Jones hasn't got a clue!  I've been noticing his articles have been very variable in recent times. This was something of a nadir!

The second thing that happened was that Grayson Perry met the Queen last night at a major celebration of the arts at the Royal Academy of Arts Queen honours Grayson Perry and other leaders in fields of visual arts and architecture (although I think the Telegraph writer misunderstood what was going on!) - which of course made for a spendid visual anachronism!

I wonder why Jonathan wasn't covering that?

For the record - my view on the article is as follows (as posted on my Facebook Page earlier today)
Let me be very clear - if I ever had to choose between Jonathan Jones and Grayson Perry, I'd choose Grayson every time for bringing some genuine original thought into commentary on contemporary art and society.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2016

This year it's the 50th anniversary of the royal status of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

some stunning paintings of sea, waves, skies and vessels
this all includes three prizewinners
They've "pushed the boat out" - their annual exhibition can be found in all three galleries of the Mall Galleries (open 10am to 5pm and finishes 1pm on Saturday 8th October).

Below you can find images of the exhibition and a list of the prizewinners (and associated pic if I spotted it).

RSMA exhibition in the Threadneedle Gallery
There are over 400 works of art on display and there's a fair few large ones

One of the main walls in the West Gallery
as well as walls of smaller ones.

a wall of small works
small works are often by non-members
It looks good and, as per usual, there's an awful lot of sea, sand and boats. In fact I tend to think of this as "the boating exhibition"!

Monday, October 03, 2016

American Masters at the Salmagundi

You can see paintings by all the artists in the American Masters Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club on the exhibition website.

Very oddly, there is only one photograph of the exhibition on the related Facebook Page (which is still dominated by the 2015 exhibition; the feature image on the website is of the 2015 exhibition, the URK of the artists' page indicates 2015 and there is no video.

I think some updating online needs to happen sooner rather than later! Maybe somebody could some photographs and/or upload them to the website and Facebook Page? I did find some images of what the exhibition looks like on the Facebook Page of Tim Newton - and the exhibition and gallery look amazing!

Most paintings are very traditional in terms of subject matter and painting style compared to the UK. That said there's some very fine examples of painting on display.

The majority of paintings are in oil. It's a great pity there are no watercolour paintings as some of the most impressive American painters I know work in watercolour. There's one artist who works exclusively in graphite and one who does woodcuts so it's obviously not exclusively an oil painting exhibition.

Obviously I can't visit the exhibition, so I've done the next best thing and have included links to the websites of artists whose work I liked - you'll find them embedded in their name.

The selected artists are:
  • Douglas Allen
  • Kathy Anderson - I like some but not all of her floral paintings. Some are a tad overbright which seems to be an American convention.
  • Del-Bouree Bach, 
  • Garin Baker
  • Cindy Baron - I like the atmospheric effects in the landscapes she paints
  • D. Elienne Basa - good to see somebody challenging the conventional format for landscape paintings
  • Zufar Bikbov, 
  • Christopher Blossom, 
  • Eric Bowman
  • Roger Dale Brown, 
  • Kelly Carmody
  • Scott Christenson - I'm a fan of big vistas
  • Nicholas Coleman
  • Carole Cooke
  • Nancy Seamons Crookston
  • Stephen C. Datz
  • William R. Davis
  • Don Demers
  • David Dornan
  • Kathleen Dunphy - I've seen a number of her paintings over the years and she seems to be good at capturing the way in which colour palettes need to vary with the light. She also has a useful blog. Incidentally this is one of the best designed and easuy to navigate websites.
  • Ron Elstad
  • Mary Erickson
  • Andy Evansen
  • West Fraser
  • George Gallo
  • Max Ginsburg
  • James Gurney - I guess many of us are familiar with James work and books. This is the site on which he posts his original art.  That's a very impressive landscape (below)
James Gurney and his wife at the exhibition. His two paintings are on the left.
  • George Hallmark
  • Quang Ho - an impressive impressionist painter. It's great to see somebody whose work is not overly refined.
  • Charlie Hunter - you can see more of his paintings on Flickr
  • Joel Carson Jones - somebody who is a fan of Trompe l'oeil paintings
  • Michelle Jung
  • Thomas Kegler
  • Tim Kelley
  • Michael Klein - one of the very few who has a contemporary website in terms of design and responsiveness. Visually impressive paintings (although his images take a while to load).
  • Joshua LaRock
  • David A. Leffel
  • Joseph Larusso
  • Leon Loughridge -an artist who produces woodblock prints. You can see how his work is produced on his website
  • Antonio Masi
  • William Matthews
  • Sherrie McGraw, 
  • Joseph McGurl, 
  • Terry Miller - drawings in graphite. This is his blog
  • James Morgan
  • Ned Mueller
  • C.W. Mundy - his website declares him to be an American Impressionist (but is a bit slow) 
  • Billyo O'Donnell
  • Joseph Paquet - interestingly he has an ongoing project to record the buildings and landscape of industrial and roadside America that he grew up with - which is recorded in a website titled Rust/Roadsides. I suspect this will become more and more important over time.
  • Robert Pillsbury
  • Sergio Roffo
  • Jason Sacran
  • Patrick Saunders
  • Claudia Seymour
  • Burton Silverman
  • Matt Smith
  • Kate Starling
  • John Stobart
  • Nancy Tankersley - one of the few with a more impressionist treatment of her subjects
  • John C. Traynor
  • Thomas Valenti
  • Curt Walters
  • Jeff Weaver
  • Charles Yoder
Click the image to find out more about the artist and to see other paintings by them in the exhibition.

Another thing that is very odd is that very few of the painters have included their website address with their details. However some have so it's obviously allowed. 

Exhibition details

This is the 8th exhibition of the American Masters.

Venue: The 1853 brownstone mansion. of the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue. New York City
Dates: September 29 through October 21st 2016
The event will help celebrate the recent $1.5 million renovation and restoration of the Club’s Upper Gallery space in their landmarked 19th of Greenwich Village. This fine art exhibition and sale will feature works by nationally recognized artists not often exhibited in New York City.
Paintings are not sold as in a normal exhibition. There is a Gala evening when a ballot will be used to determine who gets the opportunity to buy a painting. You can find details about the Sale Event on 14th October

Sunday, October 02, 2016


Today I'm changing my life - and this blog.

I've been mulling over the future for some time. You may have noticed I posted much less frequently over the summer months.

I've decided that as I get older I want to spend more time being where I want to be, doing what I want to do, seeing what I want to see and being with the person I value the most.

In other words, two years past my very big birthday I want to retire and enjoy all the very many benefits of being a pensioner!  I've been one for ages but have not really made the most of the change in status. Instead I created another 'job' for myself - and that's what going to change.

My 'proper' retirement will continue to be active but with a change in priorities.

That means:
  • "Less is more": still writing but less time blogging - on Making a Mark. I'll certainly continue to cover the art competitions and the open exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK which I enjoy hugely. However there's likely to be much less coverage of other exhibitions - except those I'm particularly interested in and want to share.  I gave up trying to do daily posts some time ago and now make more use of Facebook. There will be fewer blog posts going forward. Hopefully I'll get better at translating what I highlight on Facebook into a weekly post on Making A Mark - and also get back to featuring individual artists more. I'd like to write more articles for magazines - if they'll have me! 
  • more time on the websites I do want to develop - that includes 
    • the two published to date for Art Business Info for Artists and Botanical Art and Artists. There's still loads of content that needs to go on both those sites. These have their own blogs as well - with shorter blog posts!
    • the two new websites I want to create relating to Fine Art Materials (currently a work in progress) and another site for resources for artists covering the basics e.g. drawing, composition, colour etc. The main reasons for doing this is educational - to highlight and make more accessible the resources that already exist on this blog and other great sites.
  • more time on making my own art. Having cataracts, writing a book and various injuries etc all  took their toll on the ability and time for making art and I got out of the habit. I now need to get back into good habits! Maybe even selling some - you never know!
  • more time visiting places I want to go and see - lots more gardens and galleries! I'd like to get back into regular sketching which took a severe knockback this year due to problems with walking and balance and needing to keep what I was carrying to a minimum.
a birthday trip seven years ago
the sort of place I want to be - visiting gardens and places where painters painted
He who must not be bored
while I sketch
- in another garden!
  • more time on going out with "he who must not be bored while I sketch". He complains a lot about me always being on the computer so I'm going to do something about that! We're neither of us getting any younger and we need to make the most of our time together. 
  • more time walking - to reduce weight and make life much more bearable as my bones and cartilage degenerates and soft tissue keeps tearing (I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis on top of other joint problems). Getting the right balance between walking enough and yet actually remaining mobile continues to be a really major challenge (I seize up!). Achieving tolerable levels of pain would be great. 
  • plus much more time on an absolute essential which is leaving my current home and finding a new one - without stairs - which will be more suitable for the very significant problems I have with mobility from time to time.  There's nothing quite like being unable to move up and down stairs easily due to injury to get you focused on what are the real priorities in life!
Once I've got myself settled in a new place I'll be able to reappraise and change my life again.

What do you think? Have I got my priorities right?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

The Big Draw 2016 communication underwhelms

The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016 takes place this month - between 1-31st October 2016.

October is traditionally the month of The Big Draw with a different theme each year.  It's about:
  •  promoting visual literacy - which is seen as important to our lives as other forms of education such as numeracy and literacy (in the reading and writing sense).
  • aiming to give the arts parity with other subjects
This year the theme is an acronym 'STEAM'
Bringing together Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. STEAM fuses creative innovation, enterprise, digital technologies and the arts.
logo of the Big Draw Steam Festival 2016

Peter Heslip, director of visual arts and London at Arts Council England commented:
The charity’s work around the STEAM agenda will play an important role in raising awareness of how visual literacy is an essential part of the cultural education that children and young people should have access to.”

More about the Big Draw 2016

For me - the big emphasis of the BIG draw going forward needs to be on communication online.

The Symposium took place last month at the Baltic Exchange but the website is still in prospect mode and reports absolutely nothing about what happened.

The Big Draw Festival was also launched last month at The Whitworth Gallery at The University of Manchester on 22 September, 2016. Again the page is about what will happen despite the event having taken place 10 days ago (and sadly too few images) and absolutely no pointers to what did happen.

Events this month can be found on the website - but I won't be highlighting any due to the horrible functionality of the website (which I have highlighted before in previous years - to no avail)
  • You can find Events via this map. Personally I find this terribly uninformative compared to the information that used be supplied on the Big Draw website (before the current website incarnation). It used to be possible to filter (eg by age rangel type of event etc) and scan lists to identify and spot events that would suit you and that you wouldn't mind travelling to. I used to go to a number - but no longer do so. The current information assumes a willingness to click every link (TWICE!!!) and is just plainly dysfunctional - in terms of communication - to my mind.   
  • These are images from the Gallery of events in 2016
  • My own view is that:
    • in 2016, there seems to be rather too much emphasis on some big events 
    • compared to rather too little emphasis on the smaller events which are much more accessible to a wider number of people of all ages - as used to be the case when I first started covering the big draw some 10 years ago (eg see Big Draw events around the UK in October in 2007)
    • there seem to be much fewer events compared to just two years ago.
This the map of events in the UK 2016

and below is the same map in 2014

An organisational re-launch is currently planned for early 2017. 

Hopefully somebody is also planning a new way of displaying and communicating events on the website in 2017 - and making them happen.

Otherwise this might be my very last Big Draw post.......