Friday, April 28, 2017

Discerning Eye (1990-2016) - which artists have shown the most?

In 2016, the Discerning Eye Exhibition of small works celebrated its 25th anniversary. (see my review of the 2016 exhibition ING Discerning Eye 2016 - award winners and review)

The DE people have done a count and calculated that in the first 25 years:
  • 3,563 artists have been selected for the 25 exhibitions and 
  • 12,490 works of art have been exhibited!
What's very interesting is that the website now lists the top 20 artists who have shown work in the shows. Those with a number more than 25 have had multiple works picked in certain years.

What makes this interesting is that these are artists who either have universal appeal over time - or are very well connected to those doing the selection! (i.e. the table does not explain how many were invited to exhibit and how many of the paintings came from selection via the open entry). Whichever, it's still a fascinating list.

Below is the list and embedded in their names is a link to their website. Interspersed are
  • some of my photos from past exhibitions - although I've only been covering them for 10 years. (Below is my own small work - a sketch from the 2007 ING Discerning Eye exhibition - which is one of my favourites. I believe that Mall Galleries enthusiasts will have no difficulty recognising the man with no face!)
  • some quotations from individuals associated with the exhibitions.
Small paintings, at their best, have something unique to offer the viewer - intimacy. Intimacy affords the artist an opportunity to speculate.  Qualities which would normally be inappropriate in a larger work thrive. Small paintings can be exquisite, tentative and fragile. Small paintings can embrace uncertainty without seeming flawed. By the same token small paintings demand a kind of accuracy on the part of the artist, accuracy of intention. | Graham Crowley - top 20 artist and artist selector 2002

"Visual Language"
my sketch in pencil and coloured pencil from my first ING Discerning Eye exhibition

Most Shown Artists at Discerning Eye

Light reflected across the valley - Paul Newland (DE 2015)
oil, 15x15 inches
Joint top with 34 works each are:

The latter two have provided some unique perspectives on art and how to address its modern ills.

First a comment from John Ward in the context of the third exhibition.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A list of recommended picture framers

All artists appreciate a recommendation about a framer. 

You know how this works:
  • if you want a recommendation you need to share who you recommend!
  • if you want the good framers to stay in business, we need to make sure they get asked to do lots of work!
  • plus you do everybody a great service it you provide recommendations on your website for:
    • the materials you like to use and 
    • the framers you patronise because you get a great service 
the studio of an 18th centuryGerman framework gilder

List of recommended picture framers

The next logical step is a list of recommended picture framers. Which is where I come in...

I get absolutely no financial benefit from doing this. Like my blog it's just something I'm doing and sharing - because it helps people

I just know this is information artists need and it works better if there is somebody who provides a list.

So that's what I've done

On my my Art Business Info for Artists website, I have a DEDICATED page for a List of Recommended Picture Framers
  • These are framers who are recommended by artists who have used them - on the artist's website or blog.
  • they are listed in two different ways:
    • traditional vs online
    • geographical location - in the UK and Ireland
At present the listing is limited to the UK and Ireland but there's no reason why it shouldn't include people around the world.

There's just one thing - the recommendation has to come from the artist and there needs to be evidence of a recommendation on his or her website or blog.

View of a framework mill, oil on canvas

You are very welcome to add your recommendations to this list

If you'd like to recommend a picture framer this is what you do.
Complete the form at the bottom of the website page
  • state your name and your email address (ie recommendations cannot be anonymous and can only come from artists)
  • state the name of the Framer, where they are located
  • Identify the URL of a website or blog where you recommend this framer online. If you haven't recommended the framer online then the framer cannot be added to this listing.
By way of explanation, it's more convincing as a recommendation if you also list them on your website and/or have examples of their work on your website.

Who do you recommend as a picture framer?

Below are links to more of blog posts about framing and hanging pictures.

Links to more blog posts about framing

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Preview the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2017

A preview of the New English Art Club's 2017 annual exhibition is now available online.

The exhibition is on display at the Mall Galleries between 16-25th June 2017. All the artwork is for sale

However it's ALSO on display right now as a "virtual online exhibition" via

The annual exhibitions at the Mall Galleries by the art societies belonging to the Federation of British Arts all now have have their catalogue and images online prior to the exhibition opening.

Cover of the NEAC Catalogue for the 2017 Annual Exhibition
In practical terms what this means is:
  • VISIT: you can see very quickly if this is an exhibition you'd like to visit in person
  • COLLECT: art collectors who follow particular artists now tend to buy in advance of the exhibition opening - to make sure they get the artwork they want!
  • BUY ONLINE: those used to buying art online are much more likely to have a good look at what's on offer beforehand - rather than wait for the exhibition opening 
  • GET A BARGAIN!: those on the lookout for "the smart buy" - a great painting selling for a very reasonable sum - are now much more likely to be bought in advance. I'd liken these to the small paintings which always sell well and very quickly at the PV.
  • THINK AGAIN: If you get home and then wish you'd bought the painting you liked, you now have a very easy way of doing something about this.

What you need to do if you want to buy

First check out the paintings and drawings in the exhibition

To do this click on the title below the artwork (i.e. don't click on the image - nothing happens!)

CLICK TITLE below the artwork to see a larger image

This will bring up a page for the artwork which has
  • a larger image
  • details about the artwork i.e. media and size 
  • confirmation of the price
  • a link to more information about the artist if the artist is a member - in this case June Berry NEAC Hon. RE RWA RWS - who is one of the more senior members of NEAC (born 1924) whose drawings and paintings I've been enjoying for many years
  • a form to complete to make an enquiry about the artwork
  • an invitation to "view in a room" - which gives an approximate size rather than exact.

This is the page you will see if you click the title
If you want to buy a painting you like the look of you need to:
  • EITHER email the Mall Galleries using the form which pops up on the page for the artwork (after you have clicked on the title)
  • OR telephone the Mall Galleries on 0207 930 6844 and you will be able to purchase the painting using plastic over the phone.
TIP: I tend to right click on the title to bring up the image in a new tab. That's because the back button on my browser takes me back to the beginning of the virtual exhibition rather than the specific page I'd got to.

If you had the money....

Which artwork would you buy if you had the money?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017: Call for Entries

Registration is now open for entries for The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 which has a first prize of £8,000.

View of part of last year's Jerwood Drawing Exhibition 
This is the last year of Jerwood's sponsorship of The Drawing Prize project.
  • The project was founded in 1994 as the Rexel Derwent Open Drawing Exhibition 
  • Between 1996 and 2000 it was known as the Cheltenham Open Drawing Exhibition
  • Then in 2001, the Jerwood Charitable Foundation became its principal benefactor. 
It's now a prize in search of sponsor for 2018.

In the meantime the 2017 exhibition for The Jerwood Drawing Prize is seeking entries for and exhibition and somebody to give the prizes to!

Those who entered the Derwent Drawing Prize in 2016 should certainly be taking a look below...

One of the Student Awards 2016
went to the drawings of "dreams and nightmares" by Amelie Barnathan

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 - Summary of Key Points

This open exhibition is a platform for drawing practitioners to showcase their work alongside other leading contemporary artists in the field, and provides those selected with the opportunity to help promote a wider understanding of drawing for future generations. 
Second Prize 2016: Sid in Bathtub
ball pen on tracing paper
by Anna Sofie Jespersen
  • The deadline for registration of entries is 17.00 on 28th June 2017
  • Significant cash prizes for drawing
  • Up to 3 drawings
  • Online registration - this is the online entry page
  • Drawings must then be submitted to a number of Regional Collection Centres for drop-off and/or pick-up in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and around the English regions - see end of this post
  • Fees for submission vary between London and the Regions.
  • Work can be for sale - but you need to allow for the 50% commission levied on all sales made at the exhibition(s).
  • Notification of selection will via email by Friday 21 July 2017
For further information and links please visit

Eligible artists - Who can enter

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is open to
  • artists resident in the UK
  • everybody who works with drawing from students to established artists.
Only artists who have registered online by 5pm on 28 June 2017 will be eligible to submit their drawings to the Submission Centre.

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is open to all artists resident in the UK. (So you don't have to be born here but you need to be living here legally.)

Eligible Drawings - What you can enter

  • Work MUST have made since January 2016
  • You can submit up to three drawings (note you can change your mind about how many drawings you're submitting up until 28 June)
  • Composite drawings must be presented within one frame.
  • Work should not exceed 2.5m in any dimension when framed.
  • There are specific requirements as to framing
  • Each drawing must be authenticated by the artist in an appropriate place (eg signed and dated, on the reverse of the work or frame is acceptable). 
Note there is no stipulation as to what you draw with - or what you draw on or how you draw - and this is intentional.

Note that the First Prize in 2016 was won by a video - Singularity by Solveig Settemsdal (b.1984) - see BBC | Video Art wins Jerwood Drawing Prize
"which offers an almost sculptural digital rendering of the transformative and fluid drawing process."

The Selection Panel 2017

The Selection Panel will aim to create an exhibition that explores and celebrates the excellence and range of current drawing practice in the UK.
The Panel members are:
Last year the selection panel viewed 2,537 works submitted by 1,408 entrants over a two-day period.

The Exhibition

Up to 70 drawings will be selected for the exhibition.

It may be less. Last year 61 works by 55 artists were selected for the 2016 Jerwood Drawing Exhibition

The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017 exhibition will, as usual, be at the Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London SE1.
  • The Jerwood Drawing Prize winners will be announced on Tuesday 12 September 2017.
  • The exhibition opens to the public on 13 September and continues until 22 October 2017.
It will then tour to venues across the UK.

The Jerwood Drawing Prizes 2017

  • First Prize: £8,000; 
  • Second Prize: £5,000 and 
  • two Student Awards: £2,000 each 
All four prizewinners in 2016 were women.

  • The second prize was won by Anna Sofie Jespersen (b.1992) for her ball pen on tracing paper work, Sid in Bathtub (studying for a Fine Art Degree at Chelsea College of Art)
  • Two Student Awards of £2,000 each went to 
  • Jade Chorkularb (b. 1971) for "That What They Would Do" a video of real-time drawings during interviews with people being asked what they would do if they only had an hour left to live.
  • Amelie Barnathan (b. 1991). studying for her MA in Visual Communication at the RCA produced large-scale drawings which rendered dreams and nightmares. 

Collection Points

  • London - Wimbledon College of Art 
  • Bath - Bath School of Art and Design
  • Belfast - School of Art University of Ulster 
  • Aberystwyth - Aberystwyth University, School of Art
  • Cheltenham - University of Gloucestershire Hardwick Campus 
  • Glasgow - Centre for Contemporary Arts
  • Leeds - The Tetley 1st Floor Galleries
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne - Fine Art Department, King Edward VII Building, Newcastle University
  • Norwich - Outside Colman House, University of East Anglia
  • Plymouth - Main reception Plymouth College of Art 

Please note that all Submission and Collection dates and times may be subject to change.

You can see past posts on this blog by reviewing posts tagged Jerwood Drawing Prize

Thursday, April 20, 2017

BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - Selected Artists

This year 2,580 artists entered portraits for the BP Portrait Award - but only 53  from 87 countries were selected for the 2017 Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.

This blog post is about those artists who have been selected to exhibit in the BP Portrait Award 2017 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.
the BP Portrait Award 2017 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting
Here are some numbers:
  • In terms of entries, out of the 2,580 entries from all over the world
    • 1,214 Entries came from the UK - England, Scotland and Wales (47%)
    • 1,366 Entries came from 84 other countries(53%)
  • 218 paintings (8.4%) of the original entries made it through to the final judging session at Trinity Buoy Wharf. 
  • The judges then reduced this number to their selection of the final 53 for the exhibition (representing 2% of the total number of entries).
Alan Coulson with his portrait painting selected for the BP Portrait Award 2017
See the names of the selected artists - organised by the country where they live at present - BELOW - plus:
  • links to their websites and 
  • a short summary of their CV 
  • some photos of the artists and/or their portraits
Allocation to country takes detective work! Where I couldn't work out a country I created a category at the end called "unknown". If anybody spots a mistake with a website please let me know via comment or contact me.

SELECTED ARTISTS ARE INVITED to send me a copy of the image of their portrait - to feature in this blog post - along with a copy of their confirmation email. See the side column for how to contact me.

The Best of the Rest

My commiserations to all those reading this who entered but were not selected for the exhibition
  • My BP "Best of the Rest" will be published on Sunday (subject to receiving enough images of portraits)
  • See my blog post How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017 for my invite to those who failed to get selected for the exhibition
  • At the end of the post, you can find links to my posts about selected artists in previous years. Taken together these are an excellent method for studying the type of portraiture which gets selected for this award.

BP Portrait Award 2017 - Exhibiting Artists

Yesterday I posted about the artists shortlisted for the prizes - see BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist.

Today I must congratulate all those artists who have been selected for the exhibition.

  • LINKS TO THEIR WEBSITES are embedded in their names in the list below (where available). 
  • Previous prizewinners are highlighted in red
  • Those previously selected for the BP have a link to previous portraits (unless they were in those years of the very irritating exhibitor listings where you have to go through all portraits one by one from the beginning and/or there were a lot!)
  • For those without a website see my blog post listed on my Major Art Competitions in the UK page
The Websites of Contemporary Painters in the UK - Get your website sorted BEFORE you enter a juried art competition or miss out on the traffic when the names of selected artists are announced!
The photos below are a mix of
  • portraits sent to me of work selected for this year's exhibition and 
  • images of artists with their portraits due to being selected for previous exhibits.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist

The three artists shortlisted for the First Prize in the 38th BP Portrait Award are:
All the shortlisted portraits feature female sitters and are painted in three different media - egg tempera, oil and acrylic.  All the painters have previously had works selected for the BP exhibition. Each of them is guaranteed a prize - but only one has previously won a prize in this very prestigious art competition.

Below is a summary about each artist. The names of the first, second and third prizewinners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, which will be on the evening of Tuesday 20th June. It must be nice to go to it as a shortlisted artist knowing the worst that can happen is you're coming away with a cheque for a considerable sum of money - somewhere between £8,000 and £30,000.

Tomorrow's blog post will be about the artists selected for the exhibition.  (Artists can start emailing me images of their portraits if they'd like to see them featured in the post)

The BP Portrait Award Exhibition will be on display at the following venues:
  • National Portrait Gallery, London all summer. It opens to the public on 22 June and continues until 24 September 2017 (Admission Free)
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery Exeter (4 October – 3 December 2017); 
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (December 2017 – March 2018); 
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (March – June 2018.)

Artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2017

This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
The prizes for this competition, which attracts entries from all over the world, are as follows
  • First Prize: £30,000 plus a commission worth £5,000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection, to be agreed between the Gallery and the artist. 
  • Second Prize: £10,000 
  • Third Prize: £8,000.
In terms of the competition as a whole:
  • The Entry: The shortlist of three was selected from 2,580 portraits by artists from 87 countries (the entry is limited to one portrait per artist). 
  • Selected Artists: Tomorrow's blog post will be about who got selected for the exhibition. I'll be linking their websites to the names of the artists and doing a brief synopsis of the artist and their work.
  • The Best of the Rest: the closing date for How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017- of those not selected - is Friday.

Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann
(300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Age: 42 (Born in Mulhouse France in 06.07.1974)
Nationality: French
Occupation: artist and illustrator. His illustration work has been featured in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Elle Magazine.
Current home:
Art education: a degree in illustration from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Strasbourg
Previous appearances in this award: Vacuum 2 was selected for the BP Portrait Award 2016 exhibition
Title / Media: Double Portrait (300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Subject: Double Portrait captures a moment when the artist was walking in the park with his wife, Caroline. The title, Double Portrait, suggest the passage from one state of being to another as Caroline was eight months pregnant at the time.
Ehretsmann was struck by the light on Caroline’s face which he said reminded him of the work of naturalist painters Jules Bastien-Lepage and Emile Friant. 
I met Thomas last year - see BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings - so this is the first year for me that I've met all three artists prior to the announcement!

This year, as last, his paintings comprises multiple layers of semi-transparent acrylic paint - painted in very small hatching marks. He's also a master of tone control in muted and darker passages of the painting.

I met Thomas last year at the preview

Benjamin Sullivan

I've had Ben Sullivan 'tagged' as a future BP Portrait First Prizewinner for as long as I've been writing this blog and covering this competition!

He paints absolutely beautifully and also captures extremely good likenesses of everybody he paints.

He's exhibited in every BP Portrait Exhibition every year since 2006. I love the fact that in addition to his regular commissions, he also paints his family. It was wonderful to finally meet up with Ginnie and Edith, their new baby, at last year's Awards Ceremony when Ben won 3rd Prize. She was such a big hit with everybody, I'm not in the least bit surprised in the choice for this year's portrait!

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017

The consolation prize for the 218 artists...
  • who made it through to the final round of the BP Portrait Award 2017 
  • BUT did not get selected for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery my "Best of the Rest" blog post!

This week the selected artists for the BP Portrait Award 2017 will be announced.

In 2016, I had my first My "Best of the Rest" from BP Portrait Award Entries blog post for the very high calibre portraits that did not make it through.  It was enormously popular and I think identified very clearly what a high standard of portraiture gets submitted to this competition.

So I'm going to do the same again this year - which I suspect will please all those who have been asking me am I doing it again.

Subject to enough submissions I'm happy to display "the ten best of the rest" i.e. of submissions sent to me for review that were not chosen for exhibition by the BP Portrait Selectors this year. Below you can find out how...

The first artist, Justin Russell, has pre-selected himself through submitting his portrait early! (see below). Justin is a London based artist, specialising in realism and hyper-realistic painting. Justin made it through to my best of the rest top 10 in 2016.

Mr Cyril by Justin Russell
oil on board, 120 x 90cm

Rejected to selected

This invitation is ONLY extended to those artists whose portraits were rejected by the BP Portrait Portrait Award 2017 Selection Panel.

What I need from the artists whose entries were rejected is:
  • TWO digital images
    • your portrait as per the image you submitted (I want good images to review). I'll then downsize the images of the ten best and make them web-ready for the blog. They will be displayed @72 dpi with the longest dimension being no bigger than 600 pixels 
    • PLUS a scan or photo of your 2017 rejection letter from the competition showing the date, the email address of the NPG and the name of the sender of the email + your name, competition number and the outcome of selection. (I'm no fool - I don't want to be drowned in portraits from those who forgot to send their entries in or got rejected in previous years!). 
  • PLUS dimensions and media of the portrait in your email
  • PLUS your website domain URL. I will provide a link to your website if your portrait gets posted - much as I do for the selected artists.
  • receipt of your entry by Friday 21st April.

The likelihood is that all my "best of the rest" will be selected from the final 218 artists. However, if you think your portrait is really good and you've previously been selected for the BP Portrait Award please also submit your portrait and rejection letter for 2017 (as per instructions above) to the email address below.

I'll post my "Best of the Rest" post next Sunday.

Selected for the BP Portrait Award?

If you've been selected for the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition - and want an image of your painting included in the "selected artists" blog post on Wednesday, please do the same as above - but include your selection letter!

Where to send your email entry

This web page gives you my email address - on the top right, under the pic of me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Noli me tangere

"Noli me tangere" is a phrase which has generated paintings across the centuries.

It's particularly relevant to Easter Sunday as the phrase is the Latin version of what Jesus Christ is supposed to have said to Mary Magdalene when she saw him after his resurrection (John 20: 14-18) - which is, of course, what Easter Sunday is supposed to be all about.

(This post is to counterbalance the Easter Bunny festival we seem to have these days!)

Scenes from the Passion of Christ by Hans Memling by Hans Memling
oil on panel
Galleria Sabauda, Turin
click the link to see the entire picture
'Noli me tangere' variously translates - depending on whether you are looking at
  • the Greek source - "cease holding on to me" or "stop clinging to me"
  • or Latin derivation "don't tread on me" or "don't touch me."
Below are images of the various paintings titled Noli me tangere - in chronological order, with details of who painted them. Paintings are sourced from Wikimedia Commons (link in the title). The location cited in the caption often links to the information page about the painting at the gallery, museum or church where it is now.

I find it fascinating how one single theme - and a phrase - can generate so many different interpretations by different artists over time - especially since the artists are like a roll call of the greats!

Below you can see the development of art by Giotto, Duccio, Fra Angelico, Memling, Botticelli, Dürer, Titian, Holbein, Poussin, Lorrain

No. 37 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 21. Resurrection (Noli me tangere) (1304-06) by Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – 1337)
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua
Giotto completed a fresco cycle in The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. The frescoes narrate events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ and cover all the walls.

There are various online images of the Giotto fresco relating to the resurrection (Noli me tangere) because of a recent full-scale restoration of all the frescos in the chapel (hence 'before' and 'after').

This 2015 blog post is worth a read The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

Noli me tangere (Maestà de Sienne) (c.1308-11)
- by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319) 

Tempera and gold on wood, 51 x 57 cm
Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana del Duomo, Siena
I'll never ever forget when I was introduced for the first time to The Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna in Sienna.  Several individual paintings make up an incredible impressive altarpiece which was installed in Siena Cathedral on 9 June 1311. The reverse comprises a combined cycle of the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ in a total of forty-three small scenes. This is one of those.

In this painting, the landscape plays a major part in emphasising the posture of Mary Magdalene.

Noli me tangere (c.1440-1442) by Fra Angelico (1395-1455)
Fresco, Height: 166 cm (65.4 in). Width: 125 cm (49.2 in)
San Marco, Florence
This fresco by Fra Angelico is in the former Dominican Friary of San Marco in Florence - now the Museo Nazionale di San Marco. The Museums of Florence website tells you more about it and the art it contains

One of the things which struck me while reviewing the painting is what a major part vegetation plays in many of the paintings - and the variations as to whether it was local to the painter or more associated with the Middle East.

Advent and Triumph of Christ (detail) 1480
by Hans Memling (1433-1494)

oil on oak, 31.89 inch wide x 74.41 inch high
Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
I'm a big fan of Hans Memling (in terms of paintings I've personally seen) but am not very well acquainted with all his works. I had no idea he had painted the 'Passion of Christ' as a complete painting (see the painting at the top). In that the meeting between Christ and Mary Magdalene is tiny.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017 - Call for Entries

This is my annual post about the Call for Entries for the 30th Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. For the 2017 competition, you will find below:
  • a summary of the process
  • tips for those thinking of entering this prestigious watercolour competition; and
  • plus links to all the blog posts I've written in previous years about the exhibition, who won prizes and who got selected - and their websites!

The Call for Entries - Process and Key Points

this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting.
This post provides an overview of the whole process plus key details relating to
  • key points you need to know - and not forget!
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the time table
  • the prizes
  • the judges
  • the exhibition
For those who know the STWC of old the most important change this year is that Smith & Williamson appear to have pulled their sponsorship - so no prize for cityscapes and no additional tour to other venues in the UK - which is very sad.

Winners Wall in the 2016 Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

What you really need to know

The judges will be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water-based medium.
  • The deadline for submissions 5pm, 26th June 2017. 
  • Open to all artists painting in watercolour who currently live (legally) in the UK
  • Entry for the 2017 competition is digital and ONLINE.
  • up to 4 artworks can be submitted @£15 per work entered
  • Your digital file for submission needs to be 300 dpi with a jpeg, tif or png file size of 500kb or less
  • You'll find out on 4 July 2017, via email, whether or not you have been selected for the final judging in front of the selection panel.
  • You only submit your watercolour if you're shortlisted. You need to deliver work to London on 14th or 15th July 2017
  • This is the official website. Plus these are the rules
  • The top prize is £10,000 BUT the prize pot has been cut (details below). 
  • It's unclear whether there is going to be a tour this year

  • You review the images from past exhibitions (see blog posts reviewing past SWC exhibitions at the end of this post)
  • you review the Facebook Page for the competition - which demonstrates the diversity of ways in which watercolour can be used 
  • Have a go and enter two works
  • The cost relative to the achievement and the experience is negligible
This gives you a sense of size of the artwork selected last year

Eligible artists - who can enter

  • The competition is open to all artists born or currently resident in the UK (i.e. you don't have to be a British citizen). 
  • There are no age limits for artists wishing to enter.

What you can enter

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why art prices rise - inflation, status and market value

There are three main reasons why the price of art rises:
  • an increase in the perceived worth of the art in the marketplace
  • a change in the status of the artist 
  • inflation
I'm going to unpick these below (in reverse prder) and suggest some reasons why raising prices in the absence of any of the above might be the artistic equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot!

Price Inflation

Many of who grew up with rampant inflation still have it factored into our brains as a really sound reason as to why prices rise.

However, if you exclude house prices, general consumer prices have not moved much in recent years. In fact, we've been living through a time of extremely low inflation. (It almost went negative at one point!)


This is what has happened over the last 9 years in the UK


I came across a very handy calculator online - the Historical UK inflation rates and calculator (which uses Office for National Statistics figures) - which calculates what a value in a specific year would be worth in today's values.

It allows you to extrapolate a sale price in a past year to one at today's date - based purely on inflation

  • 2008: priced and sold a painting for £500
  • 2017: the same sort of painting priced today = £635
TIP: If you're having problems selling your paintings, why not try checking back to when you were achieving sales and checking prices you charged then to the ones you are charging now?

Change in status of the artist

An artist who wins a major prize or becomes elevated to membership of an art society or secures gallery representation - or gets mentioned on the television or in the press - sometimes starts to reflect their change in status in the prices they charge for their paintings.

The reality is that although a positive status change can add credibility to the story you tell about your paintings they rarely add a significant amount to the price you can charge; unless you KNOW you can sustain that price over time - when your change in status is yesterday's news.

In general terms, a steady increase slowly over time, backed up a credible CV which indicates growing acceptance and recognition within the marketplace (eg increased exhibitions; moving from group exhibitions to solo exhibitions / rinse and repeat!) provides a much more sustainable basis for increasing prices over time.

Put another way, what are you going to do if you increase your prices because you get taken on by a gallery - and then get dropped by that gallery a year later because your paintings are not selling? It's not just music companies who take a hard look at the talent in relation to numbers!

TIP: Aim to set an upward trend in terms of exhibitions, sales and prices - but don't over-reach on price such that it has a negative effect on exhibitions and sales.

Do NOT try and be a one hit wonder! Use the change in status to raise your profile and anything and everything in your marketing that helps to promote more sales. After all sales are what generate income, not price increases!

Increase in perceived value in the marketplace

There are all sorts of things that create value in the marketplace. 
  • Perception of value helps to generate market value - and it can be very difficult to change perceived value.
  • Perceived value is also not the same as real value - which is why we get fluctuations - especially if the latter can be validated through other means. (eg prove an artwork is a fake and it instantly loses value - as the value is in who created it not what it looks like)
  • Perceived value in the secondary market has a major influence on current real value in the marketing of new artwork for sale. 

Examples of perceived value

Some examples of ways in which artwork is perceived to have value include:
  • oil paintings are ALWAYS valued higher than watercolour paintings:
    • this means you can't charge the same for watercolours and oil paintings of the same size by the same artist - because that's just NOT the way the market sees the value (even if you're John Singer Sargent!)
    • BUT you can change perceived value if you change the way you frame your watercolours so they look more like oil paintings!
  • artwork by men is traditionally ALWAYS valued higher than artwork by women in the marketplace. 
    • This is an extract from an NYT article from 2005 which provides a very neat synopsis of the issue and the problem. 
Take two contemporary artists, Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread, who both came to prominence in the 1990's as so-called Y.B.A.'s: Young British Artists. Both have won the Tate museum's Turner Prize: Ms. Whiteread in 1993 and Mr. Hirst in 1995. And both have made their way into high-profile collections. Next week Christie's is offering an important early sculpture by Ms. Whiteread, a fiberglass and rubber cast of two mattresses from 1991, which has been on extended loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Christie's suggests a value of $400,000 to $600,000. Meanwhile, Mr. Hirst's most famous early sculpture, a tiger shark suspended in a glass tank of formaldehyde, from 1992, sold in January for $13.3million.

According to conventional wisdom, the value of an artist's work increases when she has shows in prestigious museums. But as Mark Fletcher, a private art adviser who has dealt in work by both artists, said, "Whiteread has an extraordinary, esteemed museum exhibition and patronage history, but it's Hirst, which has little such institutional support, which does extremely well in the marketplace."

The X Factor: Is the Art Market Rational or Biased? | Greg Allen | New York Times May 1, 2005
    • However, if you appeal to a niche market for specialist artwork, it seems to me that the gender differences very often become minimised e.g. the avid collectors of paintings of birds are much more interested in the species portrayed and the quality of the painting than the gender of the artist.
  • the value of artwork in the secondary market is often determined by "art advisers" 
    • Demand in the market at the high end is for quality and provenance
    • However, art advisers often don't actually "know" the value of artwork in an objective and validated way - just that they are believed to "know more" than the knowledge of the collector. 
Buyers in other investment markets would not approach any major purchase without a team of highly vetted and professional advisors. In the art market, however, it has been common for buyers to rely on reputation, personal judgement and opinion. Even in areas where forensics, science, legal and other due diligence are available, collectors have often deferred to promises and the opinions of advisors.  Plotting the art market: An interview with Clare McAndrew
    • The implication is that in order to increase your perceived worth in the secondary marketplace you need to have the backing of those with some sort of standing.
resale prices matter to collectors, as auction sellers are not inclined to sell if they are likely to make a loss. This supports the theory that there is much more to collecting art than following the simple conventional rhetoric of “just buying what you like and selling what you don’t”.  Deloitte Art and Finance Report 2016
  • Prices in a capital city are often perceived to be higher than those in the provinces - however, an artist needs to sell at the same price everywhere. 
    • It's so easy these days to check out what an artist sells his or her artwork for via their website or other galleries
    • Why would an art collector pay a premium for buying in (say) London when they could buy directly from the artist or their galleries in the provinces?
TIP: Artists should aim to monitor and manage the influence on the perception of the value of their artwork.  An artist can:
  • look for means to lever changes in the perception of the value of their artwork and their reputation as an artist. 
  • keep a close eye on the value of their artwork in the secondary market - whether that is via eBay or Christies!

Bottom line

The value of paintings is determined by whether or not they sell. In other words, the price is the sale price, not the asking price.
For all the experts and connoisseurs and scholars and analysts, when it comes right down to it, the price of a work of art is based on what buyer and seller agree it's worth, and that's all.

The X Factor: Is the Art Market Rational or Biased? | Greg Allen | New York Times May 1, 2005

For information 

I collate all information about pricing art in section on How to Price your art on my website. This includes:

Below are some links to articles / reports about the price of art:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Watching a heat of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

Today I went to the Wallace Collection to watch a Heat of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019However,
  • I can't tell you who the sitters are and who the artists are or show you the portraits!
  • BUT I can show you all their palettes and I can tell you about what I observed!
First some background.
There are three sitters and three artists per sitter. So I'm going to organise the pics of the palettes by sitter - and then they'll make sense in a year's time when the heat is televised!

In the pics you can see the palettes and tools they were using. Some obviously brought all their kit from home while others were taking advantage of the art supplies made available by Cass Arts who sponsor the programme.

In between the pics, I'll provide my observations and comments on the Heat.

You can speculate as much as you like as to who are the professionals and who are the amateurs - I'm not telling! However the range of people participating ranges from somebody who has just done their A levels through to an artist who was classically trained in Florence.

Sitter 1 - actress

Somebody commented on a recent blog post about an art competition, that the artists all seemed to be painting from their iPads.

I can clarify that a lot do use iPads. However, from my observations the reasons are as follows:
  • Some sitters sit still and others move a lot. A photo on an iPad gives you something to work from while the sitter comes back to the resting pose
  • Some artists are squaring up their canvases and using software on their iPads that "squares up" the photo they took. This then enables them to check the accuracy of the structure of the face as they plot it on the canvas. Seems like a good idea to me to assist with working to a time limit.
  • Not every artist is used to working from life and the iPad is like a comfort blanket. However, I do think the judges watch carefully and do know who is painting the sitter from observation and who is too dependent on their iPad.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Damien Hirst back from the deep - with an awfully expensive wreck

This is by way of a round-up of all the reviews of the latest Damien Hirst extravaganza with a summary of ratings and comments.

I've tried to sort out who has seen the exhibition as opposed to scanned the press release.

There aren't any images of the exhibition in this blog post because he's licenced all the images to Getty Images (click the link to have a look!) who have a fairly hefty charge for using them.

Synopsis of key points

Exhibition details

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable
9 April 2017 – 3 December 2017
Solo Exhibition

Punta della Dogana, Venice

Key Points

The Exhibition

  • Themes of Reality vs Unreality; Fake News; False Facts etc. 
  • based on the notion that these are artefacts recovered from the bottom of the sea - from the wreck of an old treasure ship discovered off the coast of East Africa
  • uses the methodology of museums to present the exhibits
  • a 60ft high headless demon can be found in the courtyard of Palazzo Grassi
  • some exhibits are clear spoofs e.g. they include the faces of people such as Pharrell, Kate Moss, Rihanna et al
  • the exhibition is on display in two museums in Venice - one is an ex-Palazzo and the other is Venice's old customs building, the Dogana da Mar - which is now an art museum
As always, I've always thought that the theme underpinning much of what Hirst does involves him thumbing his nose at the art establishment.

The Metrics

  • the project took 10 years
  • comprises a collection of 189 statues 
  • created by hundreds of craftspeople employed by Hirst
  • cost c.£50 million - according to Hirst

The Art Media

  • not everything is bronze or marble - there's also quite a lot is aluminium, polyester and fibreglass 

The Partner

  • Hirst's project partner - the man who owns the art galleries - is Francois Pinault
    • the fashion billionaire who owns luxury brands (e.g. Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen) and well-known everyday brands (e.g.) Samsonite - and Christies, the Auction House
    • the owner of one of the largest collections of contemporary art

Is it for Sale?

“Treasures” cost Mr. Hirst millions of dollars to produce and Mr. Pinault millions to present (exact figures were not disclosed by either man). Collectors who have been offered the works report that prices start around $500,000 apiece rising to upward of $5 million. With Damien Hirst’s market untested on such a grand scale, the question the art world is asking is, will he sink or swim in Venice?

In 2008, Hirst cut out the gallery and went straight to the Sotheby's auction house to sell a complete show Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, - the day before the crash - and made £111m. ($198 million) and created a new record for the sum raised by one artist at auction (unbelievable but true!)

This time around he seems to have created another project but this time a major contemporary art collector who owns the auction house - can collaborate on how it is marketed, presented and presumably sold.

In other words, this is what rich people do for fun....

...and to maintain the value of the art owned by art collectors and previously created by Hirst whose reputation has slipped in previous years.

Think of it as the second coming - or as one wag put it "Elvis returns to Vegas"!

The Reviews

Below are reviews I've read and are worth a read to get a perspective on this art market/museum/exhibition phenomenon.

Five star

The problem with this one is Jonathan is a fan. He wants to believe in the resurrection of Damien. Read it while tossing salt liberally over your shoulder.
The show is in fact a fiction about value and meaning, and the role of art as truth.

A blogger who has actually seen it

  • Cat Bauer Venice Blog | Unbelievable! Damien Hirst in Venice: Best Seen Through the Eyes of a Child What is most interesting about Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is that Damien Hirst has hit upon on a creative principle innate to novelists: you can create a fictional story; you can create characters -- you can create an entire world -- and bring that world to life.
This one's interesting because this individual has actually seen it and photographed it - and asked some children what they thought of it!

Trying to remain detached

The only review I read which had tested the water re prices and sales (see quote above)
Worth a read - I think Hettie Judah gets it about right.
Probably the best actual description of the show - with some acute comments.
You begin to realise that the fictional narrative in which we’re engaged — or not — is much like a video game, with pathways endlessly dividing into other story strands.

Not the usual exhibition review

Metro | Freaky, mind-bending photos from Damien Hirst’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ post-truth exhibition in Venice

This one has some great photos and some snappy comments!
Hirst’s latest exhibition makes you question the fakeness and reality of what you’re seeing, and why we go to museums at all.
Here’s the avant-garde artist’s take on cultcha.
The sculptures are spoofs of the kinds of artifacts people will queue for hours to see, from Medusa’s severed stone head…
Daily Mail | Could his £50million fake shipwreck be the downfall of Damien? LIZ JONES gets a sinking feeling at Hirst's 'sea treasures' spectacular

I rather liked this one. It has a strong sense of "the Emperor's New Clothes" about it
It's all very colourful, glitzy and embellished, and everyone is mwah-mwahing and clapping, but would you actually want to wear it?
There is an 18m tall statue in one courtyard, a Buddha made from one enormous piece of jade and a silver room, which is when, for me, it all became a bit 'ground-floor of Harrods'.

Previous posts about Damien Hirst 

Damien Hirst's paintings are really awful. I've seen better painting and better artwork in a primary school. It really is not worth spending any time on them.