Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts of writing an Artist Statement and CV

I'm a Visiting Lecturer at The Heatherley School of Art and in two weeks time I'm going to be giving a talk there about the Do's and Don'ts When Writing an Artists Statement and C.V.

Heatherley School of Art, 75 Lots Road, London SW10 0RN(almost opposite Burnaby Street)

How to Market Your Art #2:
Do's and Don'ts when writing an Artist’s Statement and CV

This is what I'll be covering
  • Why people are afraid of the “artist statement”
  • Why you need an artist statement
  • Avoid confusion - the difference between an artist statement, bio and CV
  • What to include – and what to leave out
  • How to communicate with your target audience
  • How to interest people in what you do – and why people stop reading!
Here are the details of where the talk is.
  • Venue: The Heatherley School of Art. Consult this page to see where they are on a map and how to get there via public transport. 
  • Date: Monday 13th November 2017
  • Time: 4.30pm
  • Admission: FREE 

You don't have to be a student at Heatherley's to attend the talk but you can't book a seat.
This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
My first talk How to get on - online was very popular, so I'd recommend getting there in good time as this talk is a "by request from the students" topic and is also the topic which gets the most traffic on my website!

I'll be providing a synopsis of key points as a handout at the talk

For those who can't get there, I'll also upload the synopsis to my Art Business Info. for Artists website after the talk - and will let you know when I've done this.

Heatherley School of Art: Talks and Courses

Do also keep an eye on the events page at Heatherley School of Art - as they have a number of interesting speakers during the course of the academic year.

You can also find details of the various full-time and part-time (day and/or evening) courses on offer at the School on its website.

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to be an artist by Howard Hodgkin

I recently shared and RECOMMENDED the transcript of a lecture about "How to be an Artist" by Howard Hodgkin on Facebook.  It's an amazingly good read.

Other people thought so too and I stopped counting after it got shared more than 50 times...

Personally I think it should be printed out and tucked away in that file of stuff we reread every so often when we feel in need of giving ourselves a big kick up the proverbial.

Then I realised I hadn't shared and highlighted it on Making A Mark - so here it is.

Below I explain some of the reasons why I think it is such a good read - besides the fact it's very well written for a lecture. I did find myself wondering whether it's a transcript of a recording or of his notes.

Howard Hodgkin

Why is it a good read?

Here are some of the reasons:
  • he commented about the context of being an artist IN ENGLAND
  • He talks about "running the gauntlet of art school" in a country which has more art schools per head that any other country
Once you cross the threshold of an art school, you are not in the real world but nor are you really of course in the academic world because nobody in an art school knows what to ask for in the way of instruction and nobody teaching knows quite what is expected of them to teach. There are no recognised skills that can be passed on and although this is obviously the grossest generalisation, for the most part it is true.
  • he talks about the effect art school has on the people who teach in them
  • and about the need for artists to look after themselves
we have to look after ourselves, we have to build up a reservoir of feeling which is real but which can be tapped on demand. We have to criticise ourselves, we have to be our own audience and our own patrons until somebody else does that for us. 
  •  He comments on the value of collectors and how to treat them
Collectors should be loved, admired, nurtured, flattered and crept to. They are probably the only people in the art world worth really taking seriously; however ridiculous they may be personally, they are for real.
  • he provides a mantra
Artists have to look after themselves and they have to make their audience themselves.
  • He talks about reality
It is no good saying that quality will out. Look at how much bad art is extremely successful. 
  • He talks about inspiration and social position and emotion
  • and he talks about MONEY!
Because if you are wondering how to be an artist the most important thing of all is that you should be paid for doing it. But never, whatever anyone does for you, feel grateful. The gratitude is all on the other side. Whatever you do, however unsuccessful, however creepy, mendacious, self-serving, aesthetically indefensible, morally wrong, however bad an artist you are in fact, never feel grateful when people buy you pictures, never feel grateful when people say nice things about them

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Natural Eye - the sort of wildlife art that gets selected

The Natural Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries finished at lunchtime today. If you aspire to submit your work and get selected next year - read on!

cover of the catalogue is Red Admirals and Passing Hobby by Darren Woodhead
This post is all about:
  • the selection process
  • eligible artwork
  • eligible media
  • how to help get your artwork selected
  • how to become a member
Images in this post are of artworks from this year's exhibition not featured in the posts to date - see list at the end of the post

The SWLA Exhibition in the Threadneedle Space
- note some of the very contemporary treatments of wildlife

What Selectors are looking for

You can see an interesting interview with the current President (Harriet Mead) and the immediate Past President (Andrew Stock) on London Live. This:
  • provides a good view of The Natural Eye show 2017 and 
  • highlights what the selectors are looking for 
I've had various conversations with the President Harriet Mead over the years about what they look for in terms of the open submission.

We also had a long chat on the phone after I'd seen the show as I wanted to be clear how the selection process works and also what sort of criteria are employed in selecting artwork.

What follows is a summary of that discussion.  I hope the London Live Video (above) and this summary are useful to those who are
  • unclear why their artwork didn't make it through to the exhibition and 
  • want to know what to focus on re. future submissions via the open entry

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Art World not immune to harassment and misconduct allegations

ArtForum reported and ArtNews asked awkward questions

It emerged this week that the art world is not immune to allegations of sexual misconduct / inappropriate behaviour. This post covers:
  • the NEWS articles about the alleged misconduct by Knight Landesman, now an ex-publisher of ArtForum
  • why it's more complicated than just misconduct
  • why it's unlikely to be limited to one individual
At present, the ALLEGATIONS all seem to relate to one named individual who has been various described as
  • a pillar of the international art scene, 
  • a well-known and powerful figure
  • a longtime publisher of Artforum magazine and a power broker in the art world
  • a man-about-town known from the galleries of Manhattan to the Art Basel fair in Switzerland for his primary-colored suits and deep connections in the industry.
  • accused of very Harvey Weinstein-like behavior 
Below are links to the newspaper articles which this week closely followed the accusations of alleged misbehaviour - after a complaint was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York accusing former Artforum publisher Knight Landesman of years of sexual harassment.

I've ordered them by

  • general news titles and then art news titles
  • the prominence of the publication and 
  • the date order of the published articles
It's been difficult keeping up with who said what and when!  

However there is a much bigger picture about abuse of power which also needs to be highlighted - and the debate now seems to be moving in that direction........

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review - Cezanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

I recommend you see the new Cezanne Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery if you can.  I wasn't expecting to like it as much as  I did. 

It's very much a historic one-off exhibition. It's the very first time
  • over 50 of his portraits have been gathered together for exhibition in one place. 
  • his portraits have been seriously exhibited since he died and the retrospective in the Paris Salon d’Automne of 1907, the year after his death which influenced both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, amongst others.
It's also a splendid and significant exhibition occupying almost all of the ground floor exhibition space at the National Portrait Gallery - the same space occupied by the exhibitions for the Lucian Freud retrospective and Picasso's Portraits.

Interestingly, it opens in London 111 years - almost to the day - after he died in 1906.

The last self-portrait (1898-1900) by Cezanne
oil on canvas, 641mm x 533mm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The exhibition opened to the public at the NPG  today and continues until 11 February 2018. So lots of time to see it - however this one is undoubtedly going to be a blockbuster (see below) - so don't hang around to book tickets.
I saw it twice yesterday - in the morning at the PV and then again in the afternoon at the Friends Preview - which was packed.

The Portraits include two of (left) his gallerist Vollard and (right) the art critic Geffroy

The morning was a briefing. I listened to Nicholas Cullinan tell how this exhibition started out some six years ago during the tenure of his predecessor Sandy Nairne.

Then listened to the curator of the exhibition, John Elderfieldprovided an excellent tour and explanation of the exhibition. (He's the Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, following his tenure from 2003 to 2008. He's also nothe Adler Distinguished Curator of European Art and Lecturer 19th- and 20th-Century European Art at Princeton).  

RECOMMENDED READ: John Elderfield has written an article for Apollo Magazine - Cézanne’s radical portraiture by John Elderfield

He also highlighted the help that the online Cezanne catalogue raisonnée published in 2014 had been in preparing the exhibition (and incidentally it's fascinating!)

Elderfield's aim has been to:
  • give a sense of progression in Cezanne's painting processes from beginning to end. 
    • models at the beginning are largely family, lovers and very close friends. Towards the end of his life he paints people around where he lives in Provence. His wife and son by this stage are living in Paris.
    • his use of the knife seems to diminish after the criticisms at the Salon in 1876
    • his palette changes and lightens after 1872 when he moves to Auvers to be near Pissaro and learn about painting plein air and how to paint landscapes
    • his portrait production drops - before recovering later in life
  • highlight the complementary pairs of paintings and the series of paintings - different versions of the same subject (eg of himself, his wife Hortense, his uncle - but also of his gardener at the end of his life)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review - The Natural Eye Exhibition 2017

One of the things which struck me when viewing "The Natural Eye 2017" exhibition of wildlife art is how exciting, vibrant and thoroughly stimulating the ART is - never mind the subject matter.

Three prizewinners in this shot
I adored Carry Akroyd's serrigraphs - particularly the one of "Towards Southwold" (top right)
which contained coastline and wildlife I know well!
Wildlife might be the subject and the focus - but what interests my eye is the sheer variety and exciting use of media, styles, approaches and techniques plus the quality of execution in the various ways of making art!  It's an exhibition I always look forward to and it very rarely disappoints. It certainly lives up to its usual high standards this year.

Part of the exhibition in the Threadneedle Space.
I don't always feel the same way at every exhibition I visit at the Mall Galleries. It also occurred to me that it might be very educational for some of the members of the other FBA societies to take a look at the annual education of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA)- even if wildlife art is "not their thing".

Add caption
There are 364 artworks on display at the Mall Galleries until 1pm on 29th October - with members of the society demonstrating in the galleries on most days.  I described in my last post Awards - Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2017 how you can see the exhibition online

This post is my review of the exhibition. It follows on from 
If this is the first post you've read, be aware there's lots more images in these two posts!

Tomorrow's post will be 
  • a commentary on the sort of artwork gets selected and 
  • why submission criteria will be a lot clearer next year
and will also include a count of the number of works by members, associates and non-members.

Review of the Exhibition

What did I notice this year?

As above - the diversity and the quality of the artwork is outstanding. It's always a welcome sight to see BOTH the:
  • unabashed use of bold striking colour by some works 
  • how subtle shades and colours occur where wildlife merges with its habitat.
A wall which includes very colourful artwork
by Daniel Cole SWLA who won Birdwatch Artist of the Year 2016
and Brin Edwards
I thought the exhibition looked a bit more "birdy" than usual this year - but I've had an explanation which makes sense to me.

It was pointed out that, in terms of wildlife which stays in one place - albeit it might be coming and going, birds are pretty reliable at "turning up" and "staying around" if you know where to go and where to look.  Thus you might have a moving target - but it's often one which stays in full view.

LOTS of birds
A wall of handmade woodblock prints on Japanese paper by Matt Underwood SWLA - around the edge
and a woodcut of Blackbirds and Rosehips by Robert Greenhalf SWLA in the middle

As always with wildlife where artwork is NOT produced from photos, you also need a very good set of binoculars or telescope for seeing your subject matter from a distance which means they behave naturally.

It's always interesting in this exhibition to see both the sketches, sketchbooks and the study sheets.  There were some great images and various styles in terms of those exhibiting studies.

Red Fox sketches by Federico Gemma
pencil and watercolour

(large painting of) Studies of dead Pheasant cock and Long-tailed Duck Drake by Ben Woodhams
Timed Guillemot sketches by Wynona Legg
Winner of the 2017 John Busby Seabird Drawing Bursary
(top) one and two minute timed drawings
(bottom) 30 second timed drawings
Read more about Wynona Legg's experience in Wynona Legg – bursary winner 2017

The sculpture is, as always, diverse and excellent. I think it's the first time I've seen a bear with cubs and I'm also pretty sure it's the first time I've seen a Pangolin. What I enjoy is the natural look of the 3D subject matter.

Nick Mackman SWLA's display of a bearded pig, hare, Ethiopian wolves and a sloth bear with twin cubs 
An Armadillo, a Pangolin and a Tortoise - in bronze - by Adam Binder SWLA

Some of the watercolour painting is top quality. 

In my opinion it exceeds in quality that seen in the watercolour competitions and exhibitions of the watercolour societies.  (Some watercolour competition judges need to be introduced to exemplary demonstrations of watercolour - and it seems to me that Darren Woodhead's work would be a good place to start!)

I'm always hugely impressed with whatever Darren Woodhead produces. It's as if he's always challenging himself on a "less is more" dimension - and just how little paint he needs to use to create the painting he wants to make. The fact that he creates all his paintings 'in the field' makes them all the more impressive! I adore watercolours where there is no light edge, it's suggested through the quality of the design and composition and what gets painted and what gets left. His watercolour paintings are almost minimalist in a zen like way.
A Graduate of the Royal College of Art, he works direct in brush and watercolour outside: there is no studio.
Roosting Teal by Darren Woodhead SWLA

Kingfisher Courtship studies by Darren Woodhead SWLA
The printmaking on display is various, numerous and absolutely first class - at every level in terms of technique and size. There seems to be every sort of fine art printmaking on display somewhere in the gallery.

The wall below includes prints by
Little grebes, also known as Dabchicks, move from the sea-lochans onto fresh water to breed. In summer I heard their high wickering call, but they never let me approach very close. They were diving for small fish to feed their chicks, whilst damselflies skimmed above the waterlilies.

Fine Art Prints of birds and mammals
The small wall of prints - on the left as you walk into the North Gallery is particularly noteworthy. I particularly liked the bird prints by Richard Allen SWLA (a woodcutter) and Richard Jarvis ASWLA (linocutter). The later explains on his website about how he approaches linocuts and printmaking - which, of course, starts with sketches.
    Excellent prints by (Left) Richard Allen; (top and right) Richard Jarvis;
    plus Lisa Hooper and Robert Gillmor
    The prints did make me wonder if artists had had a discussion about the best prices for smaller works as there seemed to be a sense of agreement between artists as to how to pitch prices relative to size. That might of course have developed from knowing a lot about how to get the pricing right!

    Most of the exhibition is given over to native animals and birds - and those that visit these Isles. Although the Society boasts international members and some certainly travel for their art, there's very little by way of what people might conventionally think of as wildlife i.e. lions, tigers and elephants.

    Notwithstanding that there is sculpture that highlights foreign wildlife and I spotted one wall of artwork in the North Gallery relating to wildlife seen in Africa by a member artist.  I dont recall seeing any such artwork in the rest of the exhibition. 'International' animals seem to be pretty much limited to the sculptors....

    Lions and elephants etc by Simon Turvey SWLA
    I sat in the middle of the exhibition with my cup of tea and tried coming up with words to describe the show
    • very graphic and calligraphic describes some of the works which enjoy mark-making
    • very loose and lush - there's very little tight and super controlled photorealism in this show. Instead we have people who have fabulous control of their brushes and use of watercolour. I just love watching what some of the artists achieve
    • very little that's bashful and lots that shout "look at me". That's not to say they're loud. It's just that they're not in any way weak or backward about coming forward.
    • lots of red spots (sales) and green spots (unframed prints) - these are achieved not just because wildlife art has a big fan base but also because the artwork is excellent.
    and finally
    • very British! Lots of native and indigenous animals as well as the regular visitors!
    Tomorrow - the sort of artwork that gets selected and how to help your chances!

    Projects and a video

    One of the things I like about this exhibition is that it takes over the entire gallery - and then uses the two far galleries in the North Galleries to exhibit sketchwork and drawings done plein air as part of projects.

    This is a society which believes in:
    • making its art contribute to people's understanding of wildlife; and
    • enabling others to develop their skills and become used to drawing wildlife in the field!
    This video is of the wildlife field study projects undertaken by the SWLA in 2017. See also yesterday's post VIDEO: Wildlife Field Study sketches by the SWLA

    Monday, October 23, 2017

    VIDEO: Wildlife Field Study sketches by the SWLA

    This is my video (below) of the sketches and artwork produced by members of the Society of Wildlife Artists during Wildlife Study Projects in the field at:
    1. Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve, Dorset Wildlife Reserve - during a Residency by SWLA in May 2017 
    2. RSPB/SWLA Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project 
    For more about each of these places/projects click the links above.

    The sketches are being displayed in the North Galleries of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries - which runs until 1pm on Sunday 29th October.

    Given my personal preference for botanical subject matter it's unsurprising that I was particularly taken by Carry Akroyd's sketches of the Kingscombe Meadows.
    Amazing sketches pf Kingscombe Meadows by Carry Akroyd SWLA
    Sketches and a woodblock print by Matt Underwood
    Some of the sketches from the John Busby Seabird Drawing Bursaries can be seen right at the end of the video
    My review of the exhibition - which is taking a bit longer than anticipated - follows tomorrow.

    See also my blog post Awards - Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2017

    Sunday, October 22, 2017

    Awards - Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2017

    I went to see The Natural Eye 2017 on Friday. This is the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists yesterday and I'll be writing my review of this splendid exhibition tomorrow.

    You can view selected works in the exhibition:
    • on the Mall Galleries website - click the link above and scroll down. If you're interested in buying work via the website just complete form to the right of the artwork to enquire whether it is still available.
    • in the online catalogue on Issuu (which you can download if you have an Issuu account) - very useful for checking pricing if you intend submitting in the future exhibitions!
    Society of Wildlife Artists 2017 - in the Threadneedle Space

    Today I'm going to highlight those artists who received awards.   Links in the titles of the work are to that work on the Mall Galleries website or the website of the artist.

    The exhibition was opened by David Lindo (aka The Urban Birder)- broadcaster, presenter on @BBCRadio4 Open Country, writer, author, talker and bird guider - who also presented the awards.

    The Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award went to Jack Snipe by Nick Derry SWLA (Facebook / Twitter)

    This prestigious award, held in association with the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) and Swarovski Optik, is given to the artist whose work at the SWLA’s annual exhibition The Natural Eye is considered to be the most outstanding.

    You can see more of the work Nick is exhibiting this year on his website.
    Passionate about wildlife art since childhood, Nick took his first sketchbook out into the field when he was 13 years old in order to record his first Bittern. Since then, he has learned to draw and paint a bit better (most of the time), won a good few awards, assisted in illustrating several publications, become a member of the SWLA and sketched more than one Jack Snipe.
    Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award 2017
    Jack Snipe by Nick Derry SWLA

    Mixed Media
    £800 SOLD

    The Terravesta Prize is a new prize this year sponsored by Terravesta, pioneers of sustainable energy from Miscanthus, who are also sponsoring the exhibition as a whole.  The artwork was chosen by William Cracroft-Eley the Chairman of Terravesta, who greatly enjoyed the exhibition and stayed for most of the day!

    Flooded Washes by Carry Akroyd SWLA (Twitter) won this new prize and was selected because it was strong on habitat as well as wildlife - and excellent art of course!
    A painter and printmaker, Carry Akroyd is drawn to the nature of the unlabelled countryside trying to survive alongside agribusiness
    Carry is both a painter and printmaker and specialises in serigraph printing - which is the term used for screen printing when it is fine art rather than commercial art. However she also produces monoprints, etchings, linocuts and lithographs.   You can also see her art in Found in the Fields - an article on the BBC Wildlife Magazine which focuses on how she finds wildlife on the margins of agribusiness. She is also the President of the John Clare Society - who was also concerned about the impact of commercial agriculture on the countryside. She seems a very fitting choice for this new prize.

    The Terravesta Prize
    Flooded Washes by Carry Akroyd

    serrigraph (edition of 6)
    £885 SOLD (unframed - one still available)
    The RSPB Award went to Dafila Scott SWLA for her pastel drawing of a Bittern over the fen which highlighted this wading bird in flight.

    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    Howard Hodgkin Portrait of the Artist - at Sotheby's

    The collectable art and artifacts from Howard Hodgkin's estate are being auctioned on Tuesday at Sotheby's in London.

    You can view the exhibition on Sunday and Monday - and it has some really lovely things in it.

    You can also see the items online at the Sotheby's website for Howard Hodgkin Portrait of the Artist.

    I must confess I love looking at what artists collect, even more so if they like the same things I like!  I love the fragments of Iznik pottery (I'm a big fan of the V&A's collection of Isnik tiles and pottery) but am somewhat bemused by the prices...

    It's also intriguing how somebody known for his contemporary art should collect so much very traditional and decorative art.  The Indian pieces are outstanding!

    Plus do read his article How to be an artist - it's a RECOMMENDED READ.

    Friday, October 20, 2017

    Art Schools in the UK - an Introduction

    A new page on Art Business Info. for Artists
    I'm developing a new section within Art Business Info. for Artists in relation to Practice - How to be a successful artist - Habits, Practices and Development.

    One of the new pages in the sub-section that relates to Learning for Artists is about Art Schools in the UK
    • Are you interested in doing a fine art course?
    • Are you trying to decide which art school to apply to?
    • Do you know what your choice is if you want to do an undergraduate degree or postgraduate course in art and/or design?
    Applications for a place to pursue an art degree in the 2018 academic year are now over.

    However it's never too early to start looking if you're thinking of applying for a place in the future.

    It starts with What is an Art Degree and then organises listings of the Art Schools, Colleges and Universities with a Fine Art Department / Campus by geography - as follows:

    • All about Art Schools and Colleges - which includes references to the various ranking tools used to grade performance of both the school and the students
    • Postgraduate (only) Art Schools in London
    • Undergraduate Art Schools in London
    • Other London Art Schools
    • Art Schools i
      • the South of England
      • the Midlands
      • the North of England
      • Wales; and 
      • Scotland

    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    Basquiat on the BBC and at the Barbican

    Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was a precocious and highly original talent - as a poet, artist and social commentator. He lived fast, painted faster, made a lot of money and died young, age 27, of a heroin overdose - just over 30 years ago. In May this year he achieved iconic art star status.

    'Basquiat Boom for Real' Barbican
    Photo Tristan Fewings | Getty Images | The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat Artestar
    The anniversary of his death has been marked by:
    • programmes on the BBC
    • an exhibition at the Barbican.
    More about these below.

    Basquiat at the BBC

    There are a number of programmes and articles about Basquiat
    and articles

    "Basquiat - Rage to Riches"

    I knew very little about Basquiat before watching the programme the Basquiat - Rags to Riches programme (link above) - but found it enormously interesting and a very good programme / bio about the artist. It's an interesting mix of the people who knew him really well as friends and those who knew him once he became absorbed by the art world - such as Larry Gagosian.
    The recent Sotheby's auction of a Jean-Michel Basquiat Skull painting for over a hundred million dollars has catapulted this Brooklyn-born artist into the top tier of the international art market, joining the ranks of Picasso, de Kooning and Francis Bacon. This film tells Jean-Michel's story through exclusive interviews with his two sisters Lisane and Jeanine, who have never before agreed to be interviewed for a TV documentary. With striking candour, Basquiat's art dealers - including Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger - as well as his most intimate friends, lovers and fellow artists, expose the cash, the drugs and the pernicious racism which Basquiat confronted on a daily basis. As historical tableaux, visual diaries of defiance or surfaces covered with hidden meanings, Basquiat's art remains the beating heart of this story.

    Basquiat at the Barbican: "Basquiat: Boom for Real"

    The exhibition at the Barbican opened on 21 September 2017 and it continues until 28 January 2018. I expect it will be very busy over Christmas/New Year! (Note the visitors info below)

    'Basquiat Boom for Real' Barbican
    Photo Tristan Fewings | Getty Images | The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat Artestar

    Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    Tim Storrier wins richest portrait prize in the world

    The Lunar Savant (portrait of McLean Edwards)
    by Tim Storrier
    acrylic on linen
    The Lunar Savant (portrait of McLean Edwards) by Tim Storrier has just won the First Prize in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize - worth $AUD 150,000 

    It's the richest portrait prize in the world[Note: Just to give some sense of perspective, according to Google, as of today, $AUD 150,000 equates to £89,160 in the UK; €99,910 in Europe  and $117,525 in the USA]

    However the BIG story is the backstory about how the portrait came to be entered for the competition in the first place - which makes for fascinating reading. I'm guessing the sentiments expressed will be ones that many artists will have known at some point in their career.

      About the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize

      Founded in 1988, the aim of the prize over the last 29 years has been to encourage
      both excellence and creativity in contemporary Australian portraiture by asking artists to interpret the look and personality of a chosen sitter, either unknown or well known.
      The competition is only open to:
      • Australian citizens or 
      • an artist legally resident in Australia for the 12 months preceding the entries close date
      The judges of this year's competition were:
      • Daniel Thomas AM - an art historian and curator, who was once 
        • chief curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 
        • then Senior Curator of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Australia and, 
        • from 1984 to 1990, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia
      • Wendy Sharpe - an Australian artist who has won an awful lot of awards 
      • Greta Moran - a founding Director of the Moran Arts Foundation which she established with her late husband Doug Moran in 1988. 

      First Prize

      Tim Storrier's portrait of his friend the artist McLean Edwards is to my mind the absolute stand out portrait amongst the finalists - it's head and shoulders above the others - in more ways than one. (notwithstanding the fact the finalists included a self-portrait by McLean Edwards).
      Standing almost two metres tall, the portrait is one of the largest in the competition and certainly one of the most beautiful and arresting, depicting a disheveled-looking Edwards in a stark, mystical night landscape with a cigarette dangling loosely from one hand, a bemused look on his ruddy face and one shoe noticeably absent.Doug Moran Art Prize Won by a Portrait Rejected by the Archibald | Jane Albery, Broadsheet Melbourne
      Judge Daniel Thomas described the portrait as one that
      “went outside his personal mythology and produced an affectionate, teasing, ‘friendship painting’ of a wild fellow artist”.
      Interestingly, according to the Sydney Morning Herald
      • this is the first time Tim Storrier has entered the Doug Moran Portrait Prize competition. 
      • the portrait was "screened out" by the the judges of the Art Gallery of NSW (presumably in relation to the Archibald Prize)
      On collecting his prize money Storrier apparently commented as follows
      "That picture should have been really called Lazarus, because the judges of the Art Gallery of NSW in their wisdom screened it out; it did not make the cut..... It's interesting isn't it? It's two different institutions with two different value systems at work." Tim Storrier quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald
      Storrier was also in the news earlier this year for blasting the choice of winner for The Archibald Prize - see John Olsen and Tim Storrier blast judges of Archibald Prize dailytelegraph.com.au - they accused the judges of picking a "bland" portrait. He reiterated his criticism that the board of the Art Gallery of NSW had been taken over "by a postmodernist cabal" driven by fashion and political caution. in the interview he gave to the Sydney Morning Herald.

      That commentary makes more sense now it turns out that even pre-eminent portrait painters can feel very aggrieved about how selections are made for prestigious competitions!
      “It’s just amazing how a limping dog can end up winning a race, isn’t it?”Tim Storrier on his Doug Moran win after being rejected for The Archibald
      Storrier has very definitely for both street cred and a track record as both a portrait painter and winner of major awards.
      • He has won the Sulman Prize twice with 
        • 1968: a painting of a motorbike accident in the outback (Suzy 350) when he was 19 years of age
        • 1984: a painting called The Burn
      • He's a previous winner of The Archibald (Portrait) Prize with his faceless painting of The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch(see my previous post Tim Storrier wins the $75,000 Archibald Prize 2012).
      • He then went on to win the Packing Room Prize in 2014 for his portrait of 'Sir Les Patterson' one of the messier inventions of John Barry Humphries, AO, CBE - Australian comedian, satirist, artist, and author.
      His work is also included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York and all major Australian art museums.
      I just wish he'd have a shot at the BP Portrait Award so I could get to see one of his portraits - as they are always fascinating if not a total conundrum dressed up as a portrait.

      You can see more of Storrier's portraits/artworks on his website. This is a video about him.

      You can read about McLean edwards perspective on the portrait and the win by his friend in
      Head to head — Tim Storrier v McLean Edwards in Australia’s richest art prize

      The Finalists

      30 portraits made it through to the Finals of the Doug Moran Prize. (I like the fact every finalist wins $AUD 1,000).
      This is a very short video about the judging

      The Exhibition

      The Doug Moran Portrait Prize Exhibition opens tomorrow
      • Dates: 19 October to 17 December 2017
      • Venue: Juniper Hall, 250 Oxford Street, Paddington in Sydney.
      • Hours: Open Thursday to Sunday 10am to 4pm
      • Admission: Free
      The Juniper Hall venue is a former gin distillery in Paddington and the oldest building in Sydney, which was fully restored in 1988 and bought by the Moran Foundation in 2012 from the National Trust. It's used as an art gallery.

      Previous Winners

      On this page of the website you can see images of the previous winners and finalists between 2009 and 2016


      Tuesday, October 17, 2017

      An Apocalyptic Artful Autumn

      I went to Kew Gardens yesterday to view their new Artful Autumn exhibitions in the gardens. I hadn't quite bargained on getting Apocalypse Now thrown in for free!

      The weather was forecast to be warm and sunny and a great day to visit the gardens to see the sculpture and installations.

      However, we've lost confidence in the BBC Weather forecasts ever since the Met. Office lost the contract to provide the weather forecasts. We now find ourselves quite often photographing the BBC weather app showing one thing for a specific location and the weather doing something completely different.

      Yesterday was a case in point as the orange sun and the huge dust cloud descended on Kew as we walked around the gardens!  I must confess we spent an awful lot of time just staring at the sky as it got darker and darker!

      Below are some views of the various installations
      My favourite wood seat sculpture
      I'll touch on the Life in Death exhibition by Rebecca Louise Law later this week. Apparently it was very busy last weekend!


      Kew Gardens is a brilliant location for a sculpture exhibition - if and when they are presented well.

      Two figures near the Palm House
      For me the absolute minimum is providing either an online guide or a leaflet for what you're seeing.  Plus a good and uninterrupted view of the sculpture in its setting.

      Instead,  all too often at Kew this Autumn, what I've found is:
      • a very unhelpful barrier around the sculpture which completely spoils the effect of the sculpture; and/or
      • placing an erect large announcement about what it is very close to the sculpture
      See below for examples. It's extremely difficult to get a good clean look at the actual sculpture - unless you look at it from an angle which is not the best!

      Saturday, October 14, 2017

      Awards and CBMs at the Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2017

      This week "Changing Seasons" the 2017 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists opened at Central Hall Westminster in London. Admission is free and it's on every day 11am-5pm until Saturday 21st October.

      Entrance to the exhibition - at the end of the Private View

      For the last ten years I have reviewed the annual exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists on this blog - see my PAGE dedicated to botanical art and artists and past posts about the SBA exhibition (in the top menu of pages)

      In 2015 I set up my new website Botanical Art and Artists - complete with a dedicated news blog.

      Two years later it's beginning to rival Making A Mark for numbers of visitors and pageviews AND - according to an Alexa analysis of similar sites - is now the top website for botanical art in the world!

      Consequently I now focus my blog posts for the dedicated botanical art fan on that site - however I know there are a lot of fans who have not made the move over.

      The Awards Ceremony at the Private View with Jekka McVicar presenting awards

      So here for you are the my first two out of three posts about this year's exhibition.

      Thursday was the PV and on Friday I posted about the botanical artists receiving Awards - Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2017. It includes images of the artwork receiving awards and more information about the artists (links to their websites are embedded in their names).

      This morning I've posted about those awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit in Society of Botanical Art 2017 - Certificates of Botanical Merit

      My final post tomorrow will  comprise:
      • a review of the exhibition as a whole and 
      • a commentary on its development over the last decade that I have been writing reviews of this exhibition.
      This year it includes 457 artworks covering paintings, drawings, miniatures, fine art prints and botanical ED works in glass and jewellery.

      A view of the exhibition which embraces a range of styles and media for portraying plants

      So, for those of you who have been reading this week's very popular post about Watercolour paintings of flowers sell well - maybe it's time to find out what you're missing!

      You've got a week left to visit this very popular exhibition.

      Thursday, October 12, 2017

      Watercolour paintings of flowers sell well

      Flower paintings are hugely popular with the public. Watercolour paintings of flowers also sell well - particularly when executed by experts.

      I find it such a pity that leading open exhibitions of watercolour paintings (by the RWS, RI and Sunday Times Watercolour Competition) don't include more paintings of plant life in general and flowers in particular.

      I'd love to know why there's a dearth of flower paintings in watercolour shows - when some of the best watercolour painters in the country paint flowers!

      I can't help but think that this is down to one of three reasons
      • Panels of Judges who don't like, don't understand or don't rate flower or botanical paintings - and don't care what the public like!
      • Well regarded flower painters and botanical artists who don't enter open exhibitions and art competitions for watercolour paintings - because their work doesn't get a good reception. (I've heard this story so many times re experiences in the past)
      • Or it just doesn't occur to artists who paint flowers to show their work outside a friendly environment - which is typically one which involves a lot of women! (I spend a lot of my time encouraging those who create artwork about plants and flowers to enter open exhibitions and competitions - and those that do generally do well, except when they come up against a panel of judges who make some very odd decisions eg STWC in 2017.)
      My own view is it's probably a combination of the above.

      This will never change until great flower painters who produce excellent work start entering the open exhibitions of other art societies and art competitions.

      Here are two exhibitions in London this week.

      Watercolour paintings by Rosie Sanders
      The first is the Rosie Sanders: Secret Letters Exhibition at Jonathan Cooper's Park Walk Gallery just off the Fulham Road in Chelsea. (Prices are between £3,800 and £18,000). 16 out of the 26 paintings had sold when I visited on Tuesday this week. More will have sold before the exhibition closes on Saturday.

      This is a video of my walk round the exhibition on Tuesday this week.

      Rosie is yet another female painter who ALWAYS paints what she loves and ALSO knows how to create and present work which sells (see blog posts at the end re other women who've had virtually sell out shows in the recent past)

      As a result Rosie has a solo show at this gallery every 1-2 years. (Note: Jonathan also shows other artists covered on Making A Mark in the past - who have won the BP Portrait Award and the ING Discerning Eye competition)

      It's simply not the case that watercolour paintings don't get shown by galleries or, alternatively, don't find buyers (see yesterday's post). The issue is the image that is created and the expertise used in creating that image....

      The second exhibition is Changing Seasons - the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists which has its Private View today and opens to the public tomorrow until Saturday 21 October. It's open every day 11am to 5pm and I'm expecting to see some excellent work.

      However most of these artists will never dream of showing outside group shows organised by those who understand their work.

      I'm off to see this exhibition shortly (it's at Central Hall, Westminster - opposite Westminster Abbey) and will be highlighting prizewinners and reviewing the exhibition on my botanical art news blog on my website Botanical Art and Artists later this week.

      [Note: This website is fast catching up with Making A Mark in terms of traffic - because that's how popular this sort of art is!]

      Those who are smart can do both exhibitions in one day this week!

      More women artists who know how to paint what they love and sell it!

      Three more women artists who have organised and held their own solo shows and sold virtually all the work
      plus another botanical artist who has had a very successful solo show of watercolour paintings of flowers in Chelsea Fiona Strickland exhibition at Park Walk Gallery

      All the artists share an ability to understand that they have to create their own future. Others can help them - but they have to make it happen!