Friday, June 23, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017: Artists with their paintings

Portrait artists with portrait paintings selected for inclusion in the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery can expect the following benefits:
  • your portrait will be seen by well in excess of 250,000 visitors in London this summer - and even more around the UK over the course of the next 12 months (see the end of this for details of the exhibition)
  • your CV is greatly enhanced by selection for this prestigious exhibition - and it helps to interest galleries in showing your work
  • your website will get enquiries about commissions for future work. Assuming you remembered to get your website into good order - with a page devoted to commissions - in advance of the show!
Friends Preview

This post is about some of the artists whose work was selected. Let's also not forget the friends and families, many of whom sat for the portraits - and some of came to the press view yesterday!

Previously I've written about the artists selected for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - which contains mini bios and links to their websites

You can see all the works of the exhibitors on the NPG BP Portrait Award 2017 website

Artists with their Paintings

The selection of the artists photographed for this post is not scientific. They are those who were at  the Press View yesterday morning and I managed to spot their label declaring them to be an artist. (Tip: never ever hide your label at a Press View!)

However, in a way it's also a mini profile and nod in the direction of the 2,580 artists from 87 countries around the world who submitted work for the show.

Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs while others are starting out on their careers.

The painters in this post are:

  • UK: England - Martyn Burdon, Rowanne Cowley, Estelle Day, Raoof Haghighi (from Iran / now a UK citizen), Hero Johnson, Laura Quinn Harris, Lucy Stopford, Khushna Sulaman-Butt,
  • UK: Scotland - Hannah Laws 
  • France - Julian Merrow-Smith (born UK; lives in Provence),
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Lithuania: Laura Guoke
  • Israel - Anne Ben-Or
  • Turkey: Mustafa Ozel
  • USA: John Borowicz, David Stanger
  • Canada: Ross McCauley (currently living in Glasgow)
  • South Africa: Emily Stainer

At the end of this list is a section called Other artists I missed for "the ones that got away" but somebody else was sensible and took a photo!  These are
  • UK: Anastasia Pollard
  • USA:  Noah Buchanan
The narrative below includes large pics - but you have to click them to see the large version - and a link to the artist's website. The artists are also organised by country of origin (with a note of where they are living at the moment)

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION


UK - England

Martyn Burdon

Matt Berry © Martyn Burdon
Acrylic on canvas board
This is Martyn Burdon's 5th submission and first time his portrait was selected. He's basically an amateur painter who has been painting seriously for two years.
  • Lives: lives and works in Bedford. 
  • Education: graduated in product design from Brunel University in 2004
  • Works: works in monochrome paint and graphite

Rowanne Cowley

Self Portrait © Rowanne Cowley
oil on canvas
Rowanne Cowley's self-portrait was made as part of a personal project to complete a portrait of each member of Cowley’s family in one year. Sittings and painting sessions have to be organised around her work schedule and generally take place in the evenings or during bad weather.
  • Lives: Craven Arms, Shropshire
  • Education: BA (Joint Hons) in visual art and Spanish at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth; undertaken short courses at Hereford College of Arts
  • Works: works as a full-time gardener
  • Exhibits: Her work has been seen in several open exhibitions in Shrewsbury and Ludlow and a solo exhibition at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre.

Estelle Day

Robert © Estelle DayOil on board

Estelle Day's portrait is of her husband Robert Kirby. Sittings had to be done when the couple’s young daughters were asleep. The artist says:
‘I was under pressure to record as much as I could before they both woke up and I think the urgency of the situation is reflected in Robert’s expression.’
  • Lives: Kingston, SW London
  • Education: Foundation Year in painting and sculpture at Chelsea College of Art; graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art & French
  • Works: works from her home studio in South West London 
  • Exhibits: member of Kingston Open Studios. This is the first time her work has been exhibited.
  • BP Portrait:  First time selected - however she got a painting of her daughter through to the second round of judging in 2016.

Raoof Haghighi

Sarah © Raoof Haghighi
Acrylic on aluminium
Raoof Haghighi's portrait is of the artist’s friend, Sarah whom Haghighi had met through an online artists’ group. He asked her to sit for a portrait and was struck by how much they had in common once they met, in person, for the sittings. This is his Facebook Page
  • Lives: From Iran ; now a UK Citizen.
  • Education: a self-taught artist
  • Works: professional artist and illustrator
  • Exhibits: Has exhibited in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Society of British Artists (2014, 2015) and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2014, 2015, 2017). 
  • Other competitions: Threadneedle Prize 2012, 2013 & 2014, Sky Arts portrait artist of the year 2014– London Heat winner, featuring in Sky arts TV – November 4th, 2014, winner of Artists And Illustrators Magazine Artist of the Year in 2011
  • BP Portrait - previously selected: selected in 2011 and 2015

Hero Johnson

Tabitha Moses with Gilda, Liverpool © Hero Johnson
Oil on canvas
Hero Johnson's portrait is of the artist’s friend and fellow artist, Tabitha, with her young daughter, Gilda.
‘Gilda has been the subject of an ongoing artwork since pre-conception and I wanted to contribute to this documentation and to celebrate their story.’
  • Lives: based in London. Originally from Cornwall.
  • Education: postgraduate diploma in fine art at Cyprus College of Art; further studies at the Heatherley School of Fine Art, Chelsea. 
  • Works: Heatherley School of Art
  • Exhibits: has shown drawings and paintings in exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2008, 2013-2017) and the New English Art Club (2017)
  • Other competitions: Winner of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Changing Faces Commission Prize 2015. Awarded The New English Art Club Drawing Scholarship 2016. Awarded The Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers Bursary (2007)

Laura Quinn Harris

Jessica © Laura Quinn Harris
Oil on board
Laura Quinn Harris's portrait of her friend Jessica has been selected for this year's BP Portrait exhibition website.  It's her fourth time of entering the competition and the first time she was been selected. Very sensibly she brought her friend Jessica to the Press View!

The artist made sketches and reference photographs before completing the portrait in her studio over the next five months.  The top worn by Jessica has a lot of textural interest and while Laura may have regretted the choice after starting to paint it, I'm very sure it will have helped with the selection of her painting for the exhibition. One of the key attributes of a portrait painter who works in a realistic way is being able to paint convincing cloth and materials!
The sitting took place in my bedroom at home, as I wanted the patterned wallpaper to provide an interesting decorative backdrop.’ 
  • Lives: Lancashire(?)
  • Education: BA (Hons) in scientific and natural history illustration from Blackpool and the Fylde School of Art and Design
  • Works: Specialises in portraits of wildlife, people and pets. 
  • Exhibits:
  • Other competitions: Artists & Illustrators Artists of the Year exhibition (2016 and 2017) and finalist in the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year competition (2010 and 2013). In 2014, reached the grand final of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014. Won the People's Choice Award at the Annual Exhibition of the RBSA (2017); selected for the 42nd annual Birds in Art exhibition (2017); selected for the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017

Lucy Stopford

Dr Tim Moreton © Lucy Stopford
Oil on canvas
Lucy Stopford's portrait is of the artist’s friend, Dr Tim Moreton who for many years worked as Registrar at the National Portrait Gallery. Stopford met Moreton when he arranged for her to see a portrait that was not on display. He has also sat for other portraits for Stopford on several occasions and for the portrait classes that she teaches.

Her painting is attracting a lot of attention and comment within the exhibition. For me it reflects that fact she also works in clay and thinks about portraits in 3D and planes of surfaces.

Lucy's only previous entry for the BP was 20 years ago but she wasn't selected. For me, she's an inspiration for all those wanting to try 'just one more time'. [She now needs to get herself a website!]
  • Lives: Lives near Thame in Oxfordshire
  • Education: BA in fine art from Leeds University (1993). Attended courses at the Slade School of Fine Art and at the Florence Academy of Art.
  • Works: a portrait painter, sculptor and workshop leader at the Phoenix Studio in Oxford - working from life in oils and clay. Also secretary of The Oxford Art Society and is a co-ordinator of the Oxford Artweeks open studio initiative
  • Exhibits: group exhibitions in Oxford including the St Hugh’s College Festival of Anniversaries.

Khushna Sulaman-Butt

Society © Khushna Sulaman-Butt
Acrylic and oil on canvas
I've been a big advocate of group paintings for the BP because it's a a type of portrait well represented in historical art and is very definitely the type of painting which still attracts commissions.

This very striking group portrait by Khushna Sulaman-Butt depicts a group of friends the artist made at Oxford University while studying at the Ruskin School of Art.

Not all of the sitters knew each prior to the sitting. She intentionally chose people who had different types of relationships - some knew each other really well and were good friends, some where acquaintances and some had never met each other at all. For example Harry and Mariette were studying studying art at the Ruskin, some of the others lived together at St Edmund Halls of residence. I wanted a mixture of people who were comfortable/uncomfortable with each other.

She commented to me on the challenge of producing a group portrait. She found it difficult to co-ordinate six subjects in a large studio. She tried planning by drawing out compositions she wanted to try with the models but found it didn't work. In the end they improvised and tried working in lots of different spaces before reaching a composition that felt right.
    Sulaman-Butt says
    This painting is my snapshot of society full of pressures and suggests tension from posing a series of opens ended questions. Tension comes from the make-up of society, the categories and expectations it sets that references standards of beauty. I wanted to create stiffness and vulnerability in the painting; I used a variety of compositional techniques to achieve this.
    ‘I attempted to convey a sense of sinister isolation. The subjects exchange looks in strained silence, highlighting the unspoken discomfort in their differences..... It was hard to balance the natural disposition of each sitter and sincerity of their pose with the silence atmospheres I wanted to resonate through the painting.
    Her work is the feature image for the BP Portrait Award 2018 and has an excellent position on the end wall of the gallery.

    View of the end of the gallery
    • Lives: Born in Lancashire.
    • Education: BFA Fine Art (2016), Oxford University (Ruskin School of Art.)
    • Works: Artist-in-Residence, Kensington Aldridge Academy (which is the school at the foot of Grenfell Tower)
    • Exhibits: Her work has been seen in exhibitions associated with her studies. Her work was selected by the Royal Society of British Artists for inclusion in the National Students Art Exhibition 2012.

    UK - Scotland

    Hannah Laws

    Self Portrait © Hannah Laws
    Oil on gesso board
    This is Hannah Laws's first self-portrait and her first entry to the BP Portrait Award - and the very first time her work has been selected in a competitive exhibition. Yes - some people really do pull it off !

    She started the portrait after she severely injured her arm in an accident and needed to come to terms with the effects of this potentially life-changing event. Getting selected for the BP feels akin to Karma to me.
    • Lives:  born in the north of England; came of age in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland (and came to the PV in a kilt!); recently lived in San Francisco
    • Education: 2017 BFA Fine Art: Drawing & Painting Academy of Art University; 2010 MA (Hons) English Literature University of St Andrews
    • Works: Just graduated
    • Exhibits: Group Exhibition at Art School only


    Julian Merrow-Smith 

    Self portrait © Julian Merrow-Smith
    Oil on linen
    Julian Merrow-Smith's self-portrait was painted in his artist’s studio in the south of France.

    Julian is best known online for his still lives and landscapes and occasional portraits in his extremely popular blog Postcard from Provence which started in 2004 and changed his life in 2006. It was featured in the New York Times and the paintings in his studio sold out in 2 hours... He's been so busy with almost daily paintings for PfP that this is the first BP Portrait entry since!  His thirteen-year project contains over 2600 paintings and he auctions his paintings online.

    He began work on his entry on 22 January 2017 and was far enough advanced at the end of the day that it could be published as a work-in-progress on his daily painting project Postcard from Provence. This is the final version.

    As a key exponent of the art of selling and posting art internationally, Julian is well aware of the merits of smaller paintings!
    • Lives: Born in UK, lives in Provence in France.
    • Education: BA (Hons) in fine art from Wolverhampton Polytechnic
    • Works: professional painter; he also delivers plein air painting workshops in Provence
    • Exhibits: work has been seen in exhibitions in France, the USA and UK including the annual exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2002, 2004)
    • BP Portrait - previously selected: 1999 (submitted three times; selected twice; unable to submit while the 40 age barrier was still in place)


    Anne Ben-Or

    Carmel © Anne Ben Or
    Oil on linen

    Anne Ben-or is a Belgian-Israeli painter, specialising in figurative painting from observation. Her portrait is of her daughter, Carmel.
    ‘Carmel is starting her life as a young independent woman. One can see the positive force inside her. From a very young age, Carmel knew how to look straight forward, without fear. I was always impressed by this quality. It is a challenge, as well as a great joy, to translate what radiates from her in pictorial language.’
    Do take a look at her website - it has some really great portraits of groups! I'd encourage her to submit a group painting next time...
    • Lives: Israel
    • Education: studied painting and sculpture at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and at the Jerusalem Studio School founded by Israel Hershberg
    • Works: Professional painter
    • Exhibits: numerous group and solo exhibitions in Israel, the Netherlands and Germany.


    Mustafa Ozel

    Portait of Beyza © Mustafa Ozel
    Oil on canvas
    Mustafa Ozel portrait is of Beyza, an artist’s model (one of a few paintings in the exhibition of a professional artist model). The portrait is rich in colour and very painterly in its brushwork - which hasn't come out in my photograph (click the link in the title above to see the work better)

    The artist says:
    ‘I look for certain characteristics in those of whom I make portraits. Having rich colours in the face is of great significance for me as is the effect of catching a fleeting emotion. I decided to make this portrait, as Beyza has these features.’
    • Lives: born in Yenipazar in 1961
    • Education: graduated from the Painting Department in the Atatürk Faculty of Education at Marmara University in 1984
    • Works: Artist
    • Exhibits: group exhibitions in Turkey, Switzerland, Greece and the UK and in solo exhibitions in Istanbul, Ankara and Montreal.


    John Borowicz

    Nikki © John Borowicz
    Oil on panel
    John Borowicz has entered the BP twice and been selected for exhibition twice - which is the sort of record only equalled by those who are regular BP contributors. I think we can look forward to seeing more of John's portraits in the future!  You can see his portrait of his son Tad (son of the Artist) who was featured in last year's exhibition.

    He created this portrait of his friend and neighbour, Nikki eight years after his first attempt. He began work on this second, successful version after having seen the portrait paintings in the Permanent Collection of the National Portrait Gallery while in London for the BP Portrait Award in summer 2016.
    His felt his previous attempt to capture her likeness in paint failed to depict her inner character. I very much got a sense of the person in his portrait. It speaks of somebody who has a certain 'look' as well as specific features.

    John has some great photographs of the Artists Preview and himself with other current and ex BP artists on his Instagram account
    • Lives: South Dartmouth, MA
    • Education: 1986 - 1991 University of Massachusetts Amherst; 1989 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
    • Works: Artist
    • Exhibits: Represented by Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York; numerous exhibitions in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
    • BP Portrait - previously selected: 2016 

    David Stanger

    David brought his family with him to the Press View - as did a number of other artists.

    The Stanger Family from Pennsylvania, USA at yesterday's PV 
    - with Dad's portrait of his art teacher
    David Stanger's portrait is of his old art teacher Jerome Witkin who has been a Professor of Painting at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York since 1971. The portrait includes Witkin's drawings and sketches in the background for a portrait he was working on of Van Gogh. Professor Witkin was able to study his own work in progress while he was being painted.
    Witkin shaped Stanger’s early life as an artist as both an artist and his art professor. Stanger visited Witkin’s home or a couple of days to get the portrait started. While there he was able to reflect on how the portrait expressed the intertwining of the men’s artistic and professional lives.

    This was the first time he has submitted an entry to the BP and he was prompted to do so because of the digital submission
    • Lives: Pittsburgh, PA
    • Education: BFA in Painting, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY), 1998; MFA, Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD), 2003
    • Works: painter, curator and educator - Associate Professor of Art Seton Hill University; also 
    • Board Member, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (2012-Present)
    • Exhibits: numerous group exhibitions and publications in the United States; finalist in the portrait category of the Annual Painting Competition of the Artist’s Magazine in 2013 to 2016.

    Portrait of the Artist Jerome Witkin © David Stanger
    Oil on linen


    Ross McAuley

    Self-Portrait with Pear © Ross McAuley
    Oil on canvas
    This is the second time that Ross has entered the competition and the first time his work has been selected. This self-portrait was painted after the artist had bought a vintage sports jacket.
    ‘ I was struck by the bright colours and bold pattern of the garment. The pear in the background is a print that was given to me as a gift.’
    • Lives: Has lived and worked in Glasgow, Scotland, since 2013 (Originally from Canada)
    • Education: BA, Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto (2006-2010)
    • Works: Fine Art Printmaker with Glasgow Print Studio
    • Exhibits: group exhibitions in Toronto, Glasgow and London including the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017 Winners Exhibition, The Wallace Collection, London

      South Africa

      Emily Stainer

      Annabel © Emily Stainer
      Oil on canvas
      Emily Stainer's portrait is of her niece. She prefers to work on a smaller scale and to produce intimate little works - in part influenced by the fact she has three small children! She's particularly interested and influenced by Old Master paintings of children, who often appear to be dressed as adults with serious expressions, and Renaissance profile portraits.

      The digital submission process prompted her to try again after her 2006 success and submit an entry. Her brother then brought the painting to London in his suitcase!
      • Lives: born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1980; in 2015 returned to her home town Johannesburg, after eight years spent living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
      • Education: Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2003); Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London (2006). Both were obtained with distinction.
      • Works: When she is not busy painting or sculpting, she is kept occupied by her three energetic children; Alexander age seven, Frederick age four and Josephine age 5 months!
      • Exhibits: solo exhibitions at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (Menagerie, 2005) and the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg (Cautionary Tales, 2008) and at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (Menagerie, 2007). And she has exhibited on group exhibitions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.
      • BP Portrait - previously selected: 2006 (submitted three times; selected twice) - see her 2006 portrait 
      Emily with baby Josephine - and possibly a future subject for a BP Portrait?

      Other artists that I missed

      Other artists who I missed at the Preview can be seen below. The link in the title is to a better image of their portrait and information about it. The link in their name is to their website

      Anastasia Pollard

      Corinne © Anastasia Pollard
      Oil on board
      Anastasia Pollard RP is an American, trained in Italy and living in London. She is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and teaches at LARA.

      The portrait is of the artist’s friend, Corinne Allen, a musician and songwriter. The portrait was completed in a few sittings during which the women developed a lasting friendship. Pollard says:
      ‘I was struck by her passion and talent and subsequently asked her to sit for me’. 
      • Lives: born in Alexandria, Virginia. Lives in London
      • Education: studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Florence Academy of Art. 
      • Works: Artist. Teaches portraiture at LARA
      • Exhibits: annual exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
      • BP Portrait - previously selected: 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012

      Noah Buchanan

      In the Shadows (Boy Meets Man) © Noah Buchanan
      Oil on linen
      Noah Buchanan's portrait is of Kai, the son of Buchanan’s girlfriend. Their relationship is close, as Buchanan met Kai’s mother following the death of her husband, Kai’s father. The portrait was painted at the coastal cliffs of Santa Cruz. Buchanan waited for the sun to set, so that the light would provide dark shadows. He says: ‘It was cold and I think the discomfort is apparent in Kai’s pose.
      • Lives: 
      • Education: BA at the University of California Santa Cruz and an MA at New York Academy of Art
      • Works
      • Exhibits: numerous exhibitions in the United States; awarded the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2012; shows with John Pence Gallery in San Francisco
      • BP Portrait - previously selected: 2002, 2016

      Past Artists with their Paintings

      At present this is a short series of artists with their paintings - but I aim to continue!

      Posts about the BP Portrait Award 2017

      UPDATE - This is a compendium of all the posts for 2017

      BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017

      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.)
      2017 marks the Portrait Award’s 38th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 28th year of sponsorship by BP.

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