Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2017 - on Making A Mark

This is a blog post about the most popular blog posts on Making A Mark in 2017 - in two categories
  • normal posts about art - which tend to highlight viral posts and art competitions
  • posts about art on television - which always get a big audience

The Top 10 Blog Posts about Art on Making A Mark in 2017


I'm forever amazed at how some blog posts take off and become viral whereas others that I thought would be popular did less well than I expected.


Top art competitions are very popular - but very 'individual' posts also gained a lot of prominence and went viral in 2017

1.  Let's celebrate the work of Khadija Saye - It's very poignant that the top post should be about Khadija Saye when:


2.  NOT selected by an art competition or open exhibition? - I'm not surprised this comes near the top. It's a perennial favourite - and now listed in my side column as well.
Interestingly I've been asked for and provided written advice to artists in 2017 regarding suitability of their artwork for different competitions.

3.  RA Summer Exhibition 2017 - Call For Entries - a perennial favourite - and I've already got the blog post re. 2018 in draft!  Keep your eyes peeled for when I post it on Facebook, or - even better - sign up to get an email every time this blog publishes a post.

4.  BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist - The BP Portrait Award is one of the most popular of the international painting competitions in the world every year. Little wonder therefore that the publication of the shortlist ranks high!  Interestingly this one was for the mobile version of this post so I'm guessing there was quite a bot of sharing going on....

5.  10 Best Paintings in the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition - While the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is another very popular art competition in the UK, I suspect my decision to vary how I wrote about it (given the painting that won) made this one rather popular. I had a LOT of people writing to me afterwards saying they completely agreed.  It started as follows.....
This year I'm not doing a post that announces the prizewinners in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017. That's because
  • the painting which won is in acrylic on canvas board and is actually eligible for acceptance into the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters! 
  • I have rarely felt so disappointed in the conduct of a panel of judges.
I'm left wondering when are we ever going to discover the next Leslie Worth if we give this prestigious competition over to people who paint with acrylic on canvas not paper so it looks like an oil painting?
this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting.
6.  BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - Selected Artists - I find it fascinating to look up all the websites of the selected artists so I can leave a link to them embedded in their names. It's a major treat to see so many different ways that artists approach portraiture. If you've not taken a look at the websites of those who were selected last year, I recommend you take a look.  Don't forget these are the ones who got through all the earlier rounds are are part of these stats - and these realistically are your chances of getting selected if you enter this year. Except for the fact that the number entering increases every year.....
  • 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%)
  • The judges then reduced this number to their selection of the final 53 for the exhibition (representing 2% of the total number of entries).
Some of this year's selected artists in the BP Portrait Exhibition 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery
L to R: Honest Thomas by Alan Coulson; Jessica by Laura Quinn Harris; Tabitha Moses with Gilda, Liverpool by Hero Johnson; Matt Berry by Martyn Burdon; A Russian Artist in China by Bao Han

7. Watercolour paintings of flowers sell well - This was a post I'd been meaning to write for ages.  Worth repeating why I wrote it - especially to those women who paint flowers but somehow think that watercolour competitions and watercolour art societies wouldn't be interested in what they produce. This is a problem with issues on both the supply and demand sides - and in my opinion, both need to think a bit more about what the public like to see and buy!
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!
Watercolour Paintings by Rosie Sanders at the Johnathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery

8. Training the Eye - Teaching to Look - This was about hugely informative and stimulating video I came across - about how to get artists to really look. One of those which is ALWAYS worth watching again.

9. BP Portrait Award 2017: Artists with their paintings - One of the things I enjoy doing most is publishing posts on this blog of the artists who got selected - even if they didn't win a prize.  That's because just getting selected is an honour and something to be celebrated!  This post highlights some of the artists who got selected for the BP - including three of those whose art is shown on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery above.
Plus showing people that selected artists look just like you and me means more people may get up the gumption to 'have a go' next year. Well next year starts tomorrow.....

Hero Johnson with her painting - selected for the BP portrait Award in 2017

10. Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017 - Selected Artists -  This post includes the names of the 78 artists whose 87 paintings and sketchbooks in watercolour media were exhibited in the 30th Exhibition at the Mall Galleries between 19 - 24 September 201 2017. Links to their websites are embedded in their names - why not take a look at the work of artists selected for this exhibition in 2017?

A corner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2017 at the Mall Galleries
- not including the winner (as explained above)
Let's hope that in 2018, in order to avoid the debacle in 2017, the rules reflect suggestions I had
Eligible media includes any water-based media, which includes acrylic, inks and gouache (note it does NOT state that watersoluble oil paint is acceptable!). My own feeling is that it should also state that all works should be on paper - but it doesn't. It would also be nice if the rules made it clear that sketchbooks are also eligible for submission.

Addendum re. art competitions and open exhibitions


I also provide good coverage of the annual exhibitions of the national art societies on this blog.

It's worth noting that none of the national art societies generated the same level of interest or traffic as some of the art competitions.

This year I've also been monitoring the ratio of members to work from the open entry selected for the open exhibitions - with a round-up post for 2017 still to come.

Arising out of that I RECOMMEND:
  • ARTISTS give more thought as to whether art society open exhibitions or art competitions are going to generate:
    • a better chance of selection and/or 
    • a better profile for their art
  • ART SOCIETIES need to think some more about 
    • the ratio of work by members to work selected from the open entry in their annual OPEN exhibitions
    • how to improve their communication and marketing of both the call for entries of their open exhibition opportunity and the exhibition itself so as to improve both the quantity and quality of the artwork - and the sustainability of the society over time.
In 2017 I reverted to publishing Calls for Entries for the open art exhibitions of the National Art Societies - as well as the major art competitions. This will continue in 2018 and I'm also going to continue monitoring the percentage of the annual open exhibitions.


The Top 10 'Art on TV' Blog Posts of 2017


I should preface the listing of these posts by saying I get emails from Sky about their programmes BUT I don't subscribe to Sky and consequently can't see their programmes. I suspect the same applies to rather a lot of those who read my blog.


1. Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 - Watch the Heats - I suspect if I'd followed through with a review of the actual programmes when shown on Sky they might well have topped this list. However I don't have Sky and while I'm happy to review videos, I think somebody at Sky forgot to send them to me...

2. Review: The Big Painting Challenge FINAL 2017 - I absolutely loved reviewing the episodes of this series, which this year had a worthy winner.  I later met Suman Kaur in person and she's just as nice in real life as on screen!  She also had an unusual painting selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2017 - of which more above.

The end of the first day of the Final of the Big Painting Challenge 2017
- stood outside the Queens House, Greenwich

- hearing about the next challenge.....remember what it was?
"With the next challenge we're really pushing the boat out...."
Meriel Frostrup

3. BBC's NEW Big Painting Challenge - If you wonder why I feature art on television on this blog, it's because it's very popular. A bit like the water cooler conversations when we all used to watch the same thing at the same time - before the era of 'on-demand tv'.  The Big Painting Challenge on BBC1 proved to be extremely popular amongst aspiring artists.

4. Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 1 - If you want your name and artwork to be recognised, maybe you should apply for the various opportunities for painting challenges on television that arise in 2018?

5. Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - Call for Entries - I expect to be drafting the new Call for Entries next month!

6. Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 3 (Animals) - Everybody loves an animal - and what's better than cuddly kittens or little puppies? Trying to paint an elephant contre jour!  However the popularity of this particular post might just have been due to the fact I vented some of my irritation at the nonsensical remarks made by the new judge who got a big thumbs down from me by the end of the programme.

7. Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 2 (Landscapes) - This is when somebody at the BBC demonstrated their naievte when planning the filming of this programme. Bottom line they failed to realise that the real challenge about painting landscapes isn't perspective - it's painting plein air - in a howling gale, on a day when the weather changed on a very regular basis - and you could actually watch paintings dripping off the page!  I'm afraid this was one of the best comedy programmes all year for me - my jaw just kept dropping! I felt so sorry for the painters. Note to the BBC - when you plan to film painters outside you have to do what any sensible painter does when the weather is absolutely impossible!  Go inside for tea and a bun until the weather improves!

8. The Great Pottery Throwdown - Series 2 starts tonight - I'm a big fan of this programme as I love ceramics - and haven't got a clue how to make them. So this series renders me very much in student mode, watching the crafting of a pot. I also liked it when I got sent the book of the series to review! See Book Review - The Great Pottery Throw Down.

The Great Pottery Throwdown - Series 2. Remember this lot?

9. Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 4 (Portraits) - Interesting that both animals and landscape got more viewers than the portrait episode.

10. Gareth Reid is Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017 - So nice to know that an artist who knows how to wield charcoal with intelligence and sensitivity should win the Sky Arts Portrait of the Year. Even better for me given I've already featured Gareth Reid on this blog back in 2008 ( see BP Travel Award: Gareth Reid and the Finnish winter bathers ) when he exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. I could tell he was a 'class act' then and said so!

Gareth Reid with his portrait of Graham Norton

I wonder what will take people's fancy in 2018?

That's all up to you!

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