Thursday, May 17, 2018

Call for Entries - Society of Wildlife Artists' Annual Exhibition 2018

Entries from non-members are welcome for the 55th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists is open.  

You have until 12 noon on Friday 6 July 2018 to get your digital entry ready and upload it and complete your submission online.

This post highlights the new advisory guidelines on the sort of work the SWLA wants to see submitted.
The Selection Committee of the SWLA seeks to encourage all forms of three and two dimensional artwork (see 'Acceptable media' below) that is based on representing the world’s wildlife. The Committee is particularly keen to encourage all artists with fresh visions to submit work to the Annual Exhibition that shows imagination, artistic ability, originality and genuine creativity.
SWLA Exhibition - Main Gallery last year

Call for Entries: 55th annual exhibition of SWLA

The SWLA call for entries is administered by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries and you can find more information below and on their website

For full terms and conditions, click here.

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including:
  • NEW The Terravesta Prize: £2,000 for the best work exhibited
  • Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award (£1,000 plus Swarovski equipment)
  • The Roger Clarke Award: £500
  • The Langford Press Printmaking Award: £200 cash and the winner's choice of ten titles from Langford Press publications 
  • The Langford Press 3D Award: £200 cash and the winner's choice of ten titles from Langford Press publications 
  • RSPB Award
  • Dry Red Press Award
  • PJC Drawing Award
  • Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award
  • Eligible artists
  • Any artist over 18 may submit.
North Galleries last year

Eligible artwork

The artwork must be of wildlife 
In summary, the SWLA Selection Committee is looking for:
  • two and three dimensional artwork inspired by the natural world
  • work that displays a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, based on ‘in the field’ observation
  • work that reflects a personal, original, and creative response
  • work that displays a high level of technical skill
  • work that showcases interesting approaches and emerging new talent
Wildlife includes any non-domestic animal such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and insects.Works depicting domestic animals or purely botanical subjects are not permissible.
Works depicting wildlife divorced from its environment or without place, setting or context are rejected in many cases.
Biological or scientific illustrations are in most cases not permissible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!

The reason for the curious title is that this year the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters has
  • finally lost its stuffed shirts
  • included more portraits of women
  • improved its hang
  • and members have painted portraits as interesting as the open entry!
It's quite a transformation!

You can read about the Prizewinners at the 127th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in my previous blog post.

This one is just about the exhibition. (Don't forget! If you mention "Making A Mark" at the admission desk you can get Free Entry for Two - normal admission is £4, Concessions £3)

But first some portraits by somebody who has been featured rather a lot on this blog of late

Portraits by Daphne Todd (centre plus two on the left) and Antony Williams (two on the right)
Top left is Daphne Todd's portrait of Des Volaris,
the omnipresent representative of BP on the BP Portrait Award selection panel
The painting in the centre has also had quite a few airings on BBC1 of late.

Exhibition Metrics and the Open Entry

The Selection Committee this year only had two people who were selectors in 2017: Simon Davis and Antony Williams. The rest were new and were Richard Foster (the new President), Andrew James, Anastasia Pollard and Mark Roscoe.

These are the numbers (the "exhibition metrics") 

There are 220 works hung in this exhibition of which 111 works (50%) were by members 

  • OPEN ENTRY: over 2,000 entries were submitted by non-members
  • The ratio of members' work to non-members is 51:49 - it varies from year to year but overall it appears that the ratio averages out at around 50:50
109 artworks are being exhibited by 92 non-member portrait painters
  • the big change in 2018 is fewer artists are being selected and more are being invited which I guess is another form of selection
  • the good news: around half the artwork in the show is NOT by a member
  • the bad news: less than 5% of the entry gets selected
  • the good news: which is better than the percentage selected for the BP Portrait Award
  • the bad news: however this open entry is more competitive than the RA's Summer Exhibition!

Open Entry

  • 90 works were selected from the open entry and exhibited by 69 artists 
  • The average number of selected paintings per selected artists is 1.3 - most just have one although a few have two or three - typically those who are moving up the ladder towards being invited to be a member
  • Open entries selected for exhibition: percentage selected is less than 4.4% (based on an entry of at least 2,000). This is a reduction on last year due to the increase in artists invited to show a work.

Invited Artists

  • 18 artists were invited to exhibit a portrait - up from just five last year. Typically those invited are artists who have been selected previously and presumably there needs to be a good reason why they are invited (see my example below). Also some (such as Gareth Reid) also had a work selected via the Open Entry
Changing Faces Commissions
Small wonder then that we have the very odd situation where
North Gallery - where most of the open entry typically hangs
In the centre are Carl Randall's portraits of Nick Park, the animator and Raymond Briggs the illustrator
Hero Johnson with her portrait of Sir Alan Parker - and her subject.
Hero won the Changing Faces Prize at this exhibition in 2016
and was shortlisted for the the RSPP Self Prize in 2013 
and was invited by Mark Roscoe RP to exhibit at the exhibition.
She was also selected to exhibit at the BP Portrait Award 2017
What's also very interesting - although I have no statistics to validate this - is that there seem to be a lot more international artists entering the competition - and the Chinese appear very taken with the RSPP!

On that basis I'd expect the international entry to keep on growing....

What has changed

Very few stuffed shirts and lots more women!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Back stories to exhibitions and activities at the RA

This week saw two television programmes exploring the back stories behind exhibitions and other activities and recent developments at the Royal Academy of Arts

This is to do with:
  • the 250th anniversary of the RA is this year 
  • the fact that "The New RA" opens next Saturday on 19th May 2018. (The Friends Previews are 16-18 May 2018)
Below is a brief synopsis/review of each programme
  • The Private Life of the Royal Academy (BBC2)
  • David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (ITV)
Plus there's also a treat for Hockneyphiles at the end of this post.

The New RA - new buildings and spaces and activities

The Private Life of the Royal Academy (BBC2)

Discussing plans for the Summer Exhibition 2017

The Private Life of the Royal Academy was shown on BBC2 and can now be seen on iPlayer for those who missed it
See behind the scenes of the New RA in our very own documentary.
This didn't really do much to avoid the notion that the RA is some sort of exclusive club which has only started to get to grips within thinking about adding in more women as members since 2000.

It's been made partly because of the RA's 250th anniversary. Part of me is convinced it has been made for an American audience and future benefactors in terms of what it  focused on e.g. history, the royal connection, lavish dinners etc and the rituals associated with being a member.

It did show you around the RA - although I've seen much of what it revealed on a trip I did in connection with the building project. It showed you how the RA Summer Exhibition worked - from an Academicians perspective and we had an endless number of views of the signatories over the years when people became members and Grayson Perry floating around in another costume that the students at the London College of Fashion have made for him.

It was interesting to hear that the Friends Membership Scheme generates something like £10 million per annum - and is their bed rock of funding in the absence of any government grant.

However I'm a Friend and have been thinking of giving up my membership ever since they took away the Chesterfields in the Friends Room. It was particularly interesting to hear what the membership was supposed to deliver in the early days (i.e. what I want) compared to what it now delivers now i.e. bigger spaces for doing more things which are no interest to me.

Great Art: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (ITV)

The Bigger Picture at Burlington House in 2012
David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts is the first episode of the second series of Great Art - featuring Tim Marlow (the Artistic Director at the RA). The programme is based on
  • the 2012 RA exhibition, in the very large main galleries: A Bigger Picture - of outdoor plein-air landscapes, (See my blog post Review: David Hockney RA - A Bigger Picture  January 17, 2012) and 
  • the 2016 RA exhibition, in the smaller Sackler Gallery: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life show, 
  • and on extended interviews with Hockney himself.
In the context of the 250th anniversary of the RA it's unsurprising that Tim Marlow wanted to feature the biggest exhibition they've ever had at the RA i.e. the 600,000 people who visited The Bigger Picture in 2012.  There are times when I think Hockney is keeping the RA afloat all on his own.

It's not very penetrating interviewing and I spent most of the time predicting what was coming next - but that might be something to do with how many times I saw A Bigger Picture!

However it was wonderful to see the rooms and the paintings in the exhibitions again. In some ways it was better because of course the rooms are empty and hence you get a much better sense of some of the works.

It tended to focus on the paintings and didn't really do justice to either his drawings or the ipad digital work. It also skipped lightly and quickly over the reasons for moving back and to between California and East Yorkshire.

It's more interesting about the processes of paintings (e.g. each portraits was the product of  three concentrated days of painting - and none of them are commissions) and provides less insight as to why. Other than Hockney likes a big project and a challenge!

What was interesting was hearing extended interviews with two of his portrait sitters RA contemporary curator Edith Devaney and Hockney author Martin Gayford - although we need to remember both probably have a financial interest in making Hockney look and sound good! See also:
Curator Edith Devaney introduces David Hockney’s portrait exhibition, giving an insight into this remarkable series of work and Hockney’s relationship with portraiture, as well as her own experiences of sitting for the artist.
  • Videos on the RA website - In the studio with David Hockney RA (4 minutes) 
David Hockney RA talks to curator Edith Devaney in his Los Angeles studio, ahead of his Royal Academy exhibition '82 Portraits and 1 Still-life'.

The series is adapted from full-length feature films originally released in cinemas under EXHIBITION ON SCREEN.

Bottom line this is a programme which is compiling and using bits of various footage which has been released over the years and re-issuing it in such a way that it feels quite fresh - even when you know you've watched bits of it before!

You can also purchase it as a DVD in the UK, USA and Canada.

More about David Hockney

I've written about David Hockney on a number of occasions on this blog. You can READ my posts BELOW - they're organised backwards by years.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Prizewinners at the 127th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters opened to the public today at the Mall Galleries and continues until 25th May. Those interested in commissioning artists exhibiting in the exhibition will want to know that a special commissions desk is open throughout the exhibition.

If you mention "Making A Mark" at the admission desk you can get Free Entry for Two (normal admission is £4, Concessions £3)

Below are the prizes, followed by the events - and then details of this year's 'how to enter' if you are interested in entering next year and past blog posts about this exhibition.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend yesterday's Private View due to problems with my feet (the sort that stop you being able to wear shoes!) and I'll be doing a blog post reviewing the exhibition generally just as soon as my feet stop being a problem and I can walk again!


The prizewinners are listed below together with the prize they won, what it was for and a brief bio.

Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Prize: £10,000 + Gold Medal - awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
Winner: James Hague for Mette

Mette by James Hague

Background to the Award

This year's winner of the Ondaatje Prize was born in 1970 and comes from Derbyshire. James Hague's art education comprised
  • National Diploma in Art and Design (1987-1988), 
  • ollowed by BA Hons Fine Art - University of Northumbria at Newcastle (1989-1993) and 
  • an MA Painting - Royal College of Art. London (2004-2006).
His MA at the RCA came only AFTER he had already won the BP Portrait Award in 1996 with a self-portrait. (one can only imagine his application!) His self-portrait was described by the Independent at the time as angular and morose (Check out the Getty Image of him with his self portrait 22 years ago) 

His portrait of Sir Michael Caine, that he was commissioned to paint by the National Portrait Gallery as part of that prize is now in the NPG's permanent collection and regularly on display.

You can see his approach to painting portraits in a speeded up timelapse video produced for the BP Portrait Award: Next Generation Summer School in 2014.

Winner of The £2,000 Prince of Wales’s Award

Prize: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium
Winner: Anna Pinkster for Em and Bruno

Em and Bruno by Anna Pinkster 
“In this charcoal portrait of Em and her beloved cat Bruno I have endeavoured to capture a quiet, reflective moment in time as Bruno neared the end of his life.”
In 1994, Anna Pinkster was awarded a first class BA degree in Fine Art by the West Surrey College of Art and Design. Since then she has exhibited largely in London , Bath and Somserset. She has been elected a member of the Bath Society of Artists

Winner of The £3,000 de Laszlo Foundation Award

Prize: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
Winner: Emma Hopkins RP

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

How to make money from your art

Most artists when they start out are fixated with getting representation by an art gallery.

The questions they ask vary between
  • How to get your work in an art gallery?
  • How to get into an art gallery?
  • How do I go about getting an art gallery?
  • How to submit art to a gallery?
  • How to get art gallery representation?
  • How to approach an art gallery with your paintings?
  • How do galleries find artists?
However art galleries are NOT the only way to generate an income from your art.

Plus some galleries have very naughty habits when it comes to the income they make from artist's work.  Then there's the whole question of just how well they sell art and stay in business....

Consequently - rather than putting all their eggs in one basket - any self-respecting artist who wants to make a career out of their art needs to take a long hard look at some of the alternative options for making money from their art.

I'll be giving a talk called How to Make Money from your Art at Heatherley School of Art in Lots Road, Chelsea on Monday 21st May 2018 (4.30pm - 5.30pm)

Admission is FREE and all are welcome - although there is a limit on seating....

If you're interested in finding out more 
- especially about the notion of risk management 
in relation to generating income from your art - 
why not come along!

Heatherley School of Art, 75 Lots Road, London SW10 0RN

How to make money from your art

This talk looks at the world ​of selling art ​ and why it's essential to look beyond the art gallery and expand your opportunities to make money from your art

Why relying ​on ​ an art gallery ​for sales and income ​ is risky

  • how to reduce your exposure to risk
  • why an income portfolio is essential

​How to create an income portfolio

  • art galleries and art dealers
  • open exhibitions and art competitions
  • selling from home and open studios
  • selling online and eCommerce
  • commissions (contracts and business regulations)
  • commercial art (eg book, product development, interiors)
  • licensing and illustration (eg newspapers and magazines)
  • commissions
  • teaching

Monday, May 07, 2018

Review: The FINAL of The Big Painting Challenge 2018

The Final of Series 3 of The Big Painting Challenge was both better and worse than I was expecting.

However, I did maintain my 100% record in predicting the winner - of Series 1 (2015), Series 2 (2017) and Series 3 (2018) so that was one plus point!

As I predicted yesterday - before the Final! - Oliver Freeston won the Final.

Oliver Freeston wins The Big Painting Challenge 2018

However, what was surprising was that he did even better than I thought he might and seemed to weather the nerves best of all four of the male finalists. I'm sure his previous training as a dancer/performer must have helped him.

There's a little bit of me wondering why people do get so worked up. What's the worst that can happen? They don't win - which is absolutely guaranteed for 3 of the 4 and therefore the most likely outcome. It's not as if they miss out on a big cash prize or some life-changing contract or whatever. It's just a title and an accolade. Making it to the Final is "the win" for most people.  I loved Chris's story about what it was like when he told his family he was in the Final!

The Location

The Final was set at the Historic Dockyard at Chatham - which my other half was pleased about as he's often thought we should have a day out there.

They weren't lost for some BIG shapes when it came to the final challenge. In the meantime, there was the task and the "Mentor's Masterclasses"

Some BIG Objects for the BIG Painting Challenge

The First Task

Anybody who has watched this series before will know that the Final is likely to involve a portrait. So no surprise there.

Well no surprise to SOME might be more accurate. Apparently Anil owes Chris a £1 - which I took to mean he guessed it and Anil didn't. Sometimes you can read faces too...

and your first task will be a self-portrait....
Chris goes "I told you so" and Anil looks more than a little gobsmacked

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Painting Show which should replace The Big Painting Challenge

This evening at 6pm is the televised Final of The Big Painting Challenge (BPC).  This post provides a critique of the series to date AND at near the end I set out the sort of programme I'd like to see replace the BPC.

In case anybody's interested, I think Oliver Freeston will win The Big Painting Challenge.
  • He's never been one of those considered for elimination 
  • he won the public vote last week 
  • he does seem to have made an effort to listen and improve his painting each week.
  • he's given his website a makeover! He just needs to do the same for the artwork displayed on it now. Most of it seems to be pre-BPC.
  • he's in the middle of the photo for their Chapter 10 Exhibition which opens this week (see the end of this post)

The Big Issues for the BPC

The BBC obviously does not consider The Big Painting Challenge as any sort of serious contribution to the arts in this country

How do I arrive at this conclusion?
  • I checked out the BBC Arts webpage this morning when I sat down to write this post. The Big Painting Challenge is nowhere to be seen. This presumably because the programme is not part of the Factual World which embraces the rest of the Arts, Culture & the Media Genre on the BBC.
  • Nor is the Programme to be found in Learning - and interestingly the BBC does not recognise or cater to Adult Learning
  • Instead The Big Painting Challenge is listed under Talent Shows!!! How "dumb" is that?
At the beginning of the series I wrote a post I called The Big Painting Challenge (2018) - The Issues in which I highlighted my niggles about this BBC programme - described thus by the BBC
Passionate amateur artists undertake an intensive, six-week, artistic boot camp in a bid to perfect their skills and be crowned the overall champion.
At the end - I just feel very sad.

This programme totally missed an amazing opportunity to EDUCATE as well as entertain - without making it a "lose a candidate every week" type of show.

If you are going to have a knock-out then you must start with the best you can find

As it was it wholly:
  • misrepresented and down-sized the nature of development in painting and 
  • dumbed-down the process. 
So let's revisit my issues identified at the outset of this series - before I identify the programme I hope they make next year.

Friday, May 04, 2018

London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts until 6th May

I'd completely forgotten that it's the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts this week.

London Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts 3-6 May 2018

The 33rd London Original Print Fair started yesterday. The Fair is held in the Main Galleries at the RA (the ones they use for the Summer Exhibition).

This is the Exhibition Guide
There are also several events during the course of the Fair.
So, for example, this is a Printing Demonstration: Hokusai's Great Wave

Printmaking Explained

It's worth noting that Helen Rosslyn a prints and drawings specialist and a Director and the Organiser of the London Original Print Fair is the author of new book called A Buyer's Guide to Prints published by the RA - new edition Sept. 2018
( I wonder why she didn't have it published in time for this Print Fair. )

Here for those who know rather less than they'd like to about original fine art prints (i.e. they're not made using the giclee process) is some information courtesy of their website - in a section called Printmaking explained. There's lots more on the website including some great examples of that particular type of print available at the Fair. plus videos about some of the processes.

If you click the links below you'll see I'm a big fan of dry point and engravings but tend to buy linoprints - and this is mainly because I can't possibly afford the prints I do want to buy!
The image is drawn or painted onto a smooth, non-absorbent surface. Paper is pressed against the image, usually with a printing press, to create a one-off image. Most of the ink is removed during the process, so it cannot be repeated. Therefore, a monotype is always unique.
The plate is covered in an acid-resistant layer of wax called an etching ground. The image is then drawn into this surface with an etching needle. The plate is immersed in an acid bath until the acid has bitten into the drawn lines. The ground is removed and the plate is inked and printed as with an engraving.

As in an engraving, the drypoint needle draws the image directly onto the plate. The residue copper is left on the side of the etched lines, which then collects the ink, creating a furry effect called burr.
Lithography is a chemical process based on the fact that water and grease repel each other. Traditionally the design is drawn with a greasy crayon onto a lithographic stone, hence the name, from the Greek ‘lithos’ meaning stone. The stone is dampened with water, which is repelled by the crayon. It is then inked with a grease-based ink, which is repelled by the water and adheres only to the areas covered by the greasy crayon. A sheet of paper is placed on top of it and the two are passed through the press together, so that the design transfers directly onto the paper.
Screenprint, also known as silkscreen or serigraphy, is a stencil-based printmaking technique in which fabric, originally silk, is stretched across a wooden frame to create a screen. Areas around the image are blocked out as in a stencil and a tool called a squeegee is then used to press ink through the unblocked areas of the screen onto paper. The process is repeated for each different element of the image. Excerpt from Helen Rosslyn's A Buyer's Guide to Prints
The image is engraved directly onto a metal plate, usually made of copper, with a sharp tool called a burin. The plate is inked and wiped clean, before being passed through a printing press.
Woodcut is a relief printing process in which the areas around the image to be printed are cut away from a wooden block, leaving the image in relief.

All about woodcut from London Original Print Fair on Vimeo.
LOPF goes behind the scenes at Paupers Press to show you how a woodcut is made. Paupers are printing Grayson Perry RA's 'Reclining Artist' published by Paragon in 2017.

Linocut is a relief printmaking process in which the areas around the image to be printed are cut away from a sheet of linoleum, leaving the image on linoleum in relief. The raised areas are then inked and the image transferred onto a second surface, usually paper. Linoleum is a malleable surface that is easier to cut into than wood or metal, allowing artists to create more subtle variations and effects.


The Fair hosts 50 of the world's top international specialist dealers, galleries and print publishers.  A number of exhibitors are new this year. Exhibitors include
  • Advanced Graphics London
  • arts, -tis, f., Germany
  • Artchina Ltd
  • Aspinwall Editions, New York Emanuel von Baeyer – London Gallery Boisserée Colgone/Germany Brook Gallery Ltd 
  • CCA Galleries and Worton Hall Studios Gordon Cooke
  • Dreipunkt Edition, Germany
  • Durham Press, USA 
  • Eames Fine Art Andrew Edmunds Enitharmon Editions Flowers Gallery 
  • GBS Fine Art
  • Gerrish Fine Art
  • Gilden’s Arts Gallery
  • Glasgow Print Studio
  • Hanga Ten – Contemporary Japanese Prints Peter Harrington Gallery
  • Elizabeth Harvey-Lee
  • Gwen Hughes Fine Art
  • Lyndsey Ingram 
  • Bernard Jacobson
  • Jealous
  • Jennings Fine Art
  • Galerie Lelong Editions, Paris Long & Ryle 
  • Marlborough Graphics Martinez D., Paris Moritaka, Japan Osborne Samuel Julian Page 
  • Paragon
  • Paupers Press
  • Polígrafa Obra Gràfica, Spain
  • Pratt Contemporary | Pratt Editions Rabley Contemporary Gallery
  • The Redfern Gallery
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers Sarah Sauvin, France
  • Karsten Schubert
  • Stoney Road Press, Ireland
  • TAG Fine Arts
  • Greville Worthington
  • Zuleika Gallery

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Radka Kirby wins Wildlife Artist of the Year 2018

The Wildlife Artist of the Year 2018 Exhibition opened yesterday at the Mall Galleries.

I was there on Tuesday night for the preview and to see the awards being made - but there was a hiccup on details - now remedied - and below you can find out
  • who won the very prestigious Wildlife Artist of the Year award - and £10,000 and 
  • you can also see artwork which won in each category
  • plus see the works which won awards in the context of the exhibition as a whole.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition

This is always an excellent exhibition every year - in part because it attracts entries from all over the world. Just to get selected for the exhibition is a major achievement for many artists given the number and calibre of the entries it gets.

For all lovers of wildlife art - especially of the more exotic variety - it's a very worthwhile an exhibition to visit.

For all aspiring wildlife artists it's an ESSENTIAL exhibition to visit - as you can only really appreciate the quality of the paintings and sculpture when viewed in the galleries.

However for those unable to get to London, you can view the works selected for the exhibition online - although sadly you don't get a sense of size from this perspective.

50% of the sales of all works of art also goes to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia.

The exhibition is open as follows
  • Wednesday to Friday – 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday – 10am to 4pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 1pm

Awards and Views of the Exhibition

The awards are listed below:
  • Comments from the Judges are quoted in blue next to each award.
  • There's an image for each award
  • I've interspersed the awards with some photos of the artwork within the gallery (where I've got an appropriate photo). This helps give a sense of size and impact.

Wildlife Artist of the Year (£10,000) - Radka Kirby

Peaceful Place by Radka Kirby
This is a paintingof a flock of birds on a colourful sub-Saharan lake.
This wonderfully sublime piece is a hugely deserved winner and a fitting tribute to this competition. It simply claims the ‘x-factor’!

My own feeling was that it exuded a peaceful feeling despite the bright colours.
Radka Kirby is a Czech born artist and is also known as Radu Tesaro. This Bored Panda article explains the background to her style of knife painting - and you can see a lot more of her palette knife paintings of wildlife. She lived for six years in Zambia, which has had a great influence on her art. She now lives in Prague, painting portraits, landscapes and African wildlife.

There are four awards in this shot
Wildlife Artist of the Year is on extreme right
The Animal Behaviour Award and The Artist Magazine Awards go to the painting bottom left
Into the Blue Award is for the bronze sculpture in the foreground

Overall Runner-Up (£1,000) - Malayan Tapir by Justin Coburn

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Selected Artists: John Moore Painting Prize 2018

  • 2,700 paintings were entered for the John Moore Painting Prize 2018 
  • 258 paintings were anonymously shortlisted for stage 2 judging
  • 60 artists have had their work selected for exhibition - for the 60th year of this competition.
The selected paintings and their artists are listed below. The names of the five prizewinning artists will be announced on Thursday 12 July. You'll be able to see all the paintings at The John Moores Painting Prize Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery from 14 July to 18 November 2018.  This exhibition is also a key part of the Liverpool Biennial which happens this summer.

Motif for this year's competition designed by Sir Peter Blake
60 Paintings by 60 Artists in the 60th Year of this competition

The competition culminates in an exhibition held at the Walker Art Gallery every two years, and 2018 will mark the art prize’s 60th anniversary and its 30th exhibition, having championed contemporary British painting for over two decades longer than any other art prize of its scale.

At the end of this post is a video made to celebrate 60 years of the John Moore's Painting Prize and its 30th exhibition

For those who want to know more about sort of paintings are eligible for the prize please read my blog post about the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2018 - Call for Entries

The jurors were
  • Lubaina Himid MBE - Born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1954. Lives in Preston, UK. An artist and professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. She won the 2017 Turner Prize.
  • Marvin Gaye Chetwynd - Born in London, 1973. Lives in Glasgow, UK. An artist whose practice intertwines performance, sculpture, painting, installation and video. 
  • Jenni Lomax - Born in Manchester. Lives in London. An independent curator who was Director of Camden Arts Centre, London, from 1990 to September 2017
  • Bruce McLean - Born in Glasgow, 1944. Lives in London. A sculptor who has used a variety of mediums, including photography, impersonation, video and drawing over the last 50 years.
  • Liu Xiaodong - Born in Liaoning Province, China, 1963. Lives in Beijing, China. Currently professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. 

John Moore Painting Prize 2018 - Selected Artists

The artists seem to be a shy bunch - I can't find ANY of the shortlisted works online except for one

Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: Movement - Big Painting Challenge 2018

It was semi finals week in the Big Painting Challenge this week. Six people were left - which meant that two people had to go before the Final next week.

The six semifinalists and their Mentors - just read the body language.....
So I wrote down in my notebook I use when watching each episode the four people I thought would make it to the Finals two minutes into the programme - and come the end I was proved right.

Who will be in the final? 
Mind you, I think that's because I pay attention to the way the edit by the production company leaks subliminal clues from the very beginning of the series! Pay attention to who gets highlighted in the opening sequence - particularly in relation to episodes not yet shown - and how much time they get!

This week the theme was ostensibly Movement - but was actually about looking - and the need to look, study and memorise movements and work out a strategy that worked for them about how to depict movement.

The comments on social media continue to be overwhelmingly negative about this programme on both Facebook and Twitter #BigPaintingChallenge. Indeed I can't think of another "how to paint" programme which has ever produced this reaction.

The theme underlying most comments is how unfair and mean the programme is to the artists.

Even the Daily Mail decided to comment - see Judges on The Big Painting Challenge are branded 'bitchy and cruel' by viewers - who say they're more interested in 'crushing' amateurs than the quality of their art (although their final sentence - not the one below - defies logic!)
Judges Daphne Todd and Lachlan Goudie were branded 'unbelievably brutal' by contestant Susan, from Northern Ireland - and many viewers strongly agreed
I've been a defender of the Judges until now - but this week was not good.

If this programme is not reconstructed into something less "gameshow" and more educational and appropriate for an early Sunday evening slot in future I shall be very surprised.

I do hope the BBC take the opportunity to fire the production company at the earliest opportunity.  The direction and editing is just plain nasty.

The First Exercise

On the whole this first challenge was a much better tempered and less upsetting affair compared to last week. Pascal seemed to be on best behaviour and was extremely pleasant.

I concluded there had been a post mortem after the previous week and a commitment made to have no more tears.

How wrong was I?

Friday, April 27, 2018

FAKE Facebook Group called "American Watercolor Society"

The FAKE American Watercolor Society Facebook Group's "About" Page
If you are a watercolourist you need to know that the "American Watercolor Society" GROUP on Facebook is FAKE.

The "About Page" of the FAKE FACEBOOK GROUP looks like the image at the top of the Page.

The REAL American Watercolour Society on Facebook only has a PAGE - this is the URL - and they do NOT have a Group.

How do I know it's Fake?

Post about the FAKE Facebook Group on the REAL American Watercolor Society PAGE

Two things

  1. The real American Watercolor Society has called it out with a post on its Facebook Page - but is having trouble working out how to stop it using their name
  2. The Admin for the group is somebody called Mehmet Serakibi who is Turkish and lives in Saudi Arabia

and another thing....

Artists have been added into this group without their knowledge or consent - and that includes some of those whose faces appear on the image above.

The Facebook Problem

The problem is that:
  • Facebook insists that all accounts (for individuals) MUST be in real names
  • Facebook states that it wants to get rid of any Fake News on Facebook
  • However it has has not created a way for Members to report Groups using Fake Names - as in the name is real but the person creating the Group is just not entitled to use it - and has very obviously used it with the intention of fooling people.
  • It has not created a way like Twitter has to validate and verify the use of a proper registered name.
I reported the group to Facebook. Let's see if it acts on my report. 
This was my report - and I used the Feedback facility to report this.
"You do not have a facility for reporting a Group as a scam.For example this group called "American Watercolour Society" is misrepresenting itself as an official bona fide society. 
The REAL American Watercolour Society have a Page and are trying to report this group to you for misrepresentation. 
You state accounts MUST have real names so people know you are. 
You say you want us to report Fake News. 
How come you don't allow people to report Fake Groups using the name of a real organisation of the same name?"
If you are concerned about this type of mispresentation of the identity of legitimate art societies can I suggest you:
  • check you have not been fooled/scammed by this group
  • maybe also complain about the fakery

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ship of Fools by Kehinde Wiley on show at Queens House in Greenwich

Ship of Fools (2017) 
© Kehinde Wiley
2724mm x 2225mm oil on canvas
Courtesy of Kehinde Wiley and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
The first work by the American artist Kehinde Wiley  to be acquired by a public collection in the UK went on show today at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, London.

The painting 'Ship of Fools' (2017) has been acquired by the Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) with the help of the Art Fund
Ship of Fools is a large oil painting that depicts a group of four migrants in a rickety boat with a tree trunk growing where the mast would be. Like many of the artist’s other works, Ship of Fools responds to an old master painting: in this case, Hieronymus Bosch’s panel of the same name in the collection of the Louvre.

Ship of Fools makes visible not only the problems that confront contemporary migrants, but also the invisible legacies that informed maritime history and indeed the genre of marine painting.
In the  painting, Wiley’s contemporary subjects are displaced, nameless sea-faring migrants in search of a better life who represent the perilous journey millions make today in an age of increasingly closed borders.
Wiley draws direct inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch’s own mysterious and influential scene of the same title which was created in the late 15th or early 16th century and which critiques the misbehaviour of then-contemporary clergy. Whilst Bosch’s painting depicts gluttony and desire and follows the traditional allegory of the ‘Ship of Fools’ - a ship struggling to keep its course due to a dysfunctional crew - Wiley instead gives his subjects a more heroic demeanour, suggesting that ‘foolishness’ comes from their willingness to risk everything in the search for a better life in the context of a world that typically ignores their desperation. Viewers of the painting are thus placed in the uncomfortable position of examining their own feelings and actions about migration and the migration crisis today.
Kehinde Wiley (b.1977) was recently in the news for his official portrait of President Barack Obama (see The response to the Obama Portraits) .  He was also listed in 2018’s TIME Magazine ‘100 most influential people’ list and hence can properly be regarded as one of the most significant contemporary American artists.

He's best known for majestic large scale paintings that feature people of African heritage. His works explore themes of race, identity and power that challenge the absence of people of colour from traditional art histories.

The painting was created for Wiley’s recent exhibition, In Search of the Miraculous, at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London

'Ship of Fools' is a traditional theme which a number of painters have reflected by prior to Wiley.  
  • The ship of fools is an allegory, originating from Book VI of Plato's Republic, about a ship with a dysfunctional crew
  • The concept makes up the framework of the 15th-century book Ship of Fools (1494) by Sebastian Brant
  • This as the inspiration for Hieronymus Bosch's painting, Ship of Fools: a ship—an entire fleet at first—sets off from Basel, bound for the Paradise of Fools.
  • The tree in Wiley's painting reflects  the version painted by Hieronymus Bosch as part of a triptych. The Ship of Fools was painted on one of the wings of the altarpiece, and is about two thirds of its original length - and is now in the Louvre.
Ship of Fools by Hieronymus Bosch
58 cm × 33 cm (22.8 in × 13.0 in)
The contemporary allegory of Wiley’s Ship of Fools helps to bridge the gap between the old master paintings in the Museum’s collection and current political and social issues.

This acquisition will enable the Museum to explore its important holdings related to slavery, migration, and colonialism, and help shed new light on the Museum’s world renowned collection of marine paintings.

Exhibition information for visitors:

  • Venue: Queen’s House, Greenwich
  • Dates: From 1pm, 26 April 2018
  • Opening times: every day, 10.00 – 17.00
  • Visitor enquiries: 020 8858 4422
  • Admission: Free
  • Website:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sculpting with light and shadow and drawing with pins and credit cards

The other day a reader suggested I take a look at an online article about  called Kumi Yamashita - a Japanese artist based in New York who creates
  • animated shadows and perspective distortion as artwork installations
  • portraits by rubbing and by using pins and thread and warp and weft
A constant theme of her work is the use of everyday materials to create art.

I investigated further and would now HIGHLY RECOMMEND you also take a look.

I think she's quite remarkable and amply illustrates the notions of
  • artists seeing the world in a different way; and 
  • how an artist can perceive possibilities for making art in a variety of ways from everyday objects in daily world.

An Introduction

Specifically, my reader suggested that I looked at one image of a shadow of a woman sitting on a chair.

It turns out that the woman did not exist and the artwork was created through a wood sculpture lit from a specific angle to create the illusion of the shadow sitting on a chair.

I never like to stop at one article and started looking around - found her website - and was truly impressed by the range of media used and the image /  illusions - or artwork - created as a result.

Artwork Galleries on the website of Kumi Yamashita

I highly recommend you take a look at her website - where you will find galleries relating to:

Light and Shadow

The Light and Shadow gallery is just full of exploration of different ways of creating images of people using light and a formed shape created out of paper or carved wood or whatever. The work Chair was the first to be drawn to my attention.  However I actually find others more interesting

You can see her using the wooden building blocks of a child, a child's wooden letters and numbers, creating origami profiles in coloured paper of a face, which are the repeated in cast resin etc etc.

Here's a video of some of her work

Portraits are also a theme of her work.  These are produced in three different ways
  • rubbing
  • a single unbroken thread
  • weaving


The Rubbing Gallery has a series of portraits. The process is somewhat similar to brass rubbings - except Kumi rubs with graphite on Japanese paper using people's expired credit cards (and moves them around under the paper) to create their portrait. The portrait of Samuel Beckett in his own words was created through rubbing graphite onto Japanese paper over plates which were embossed with passages of text from his handwritten notebooks (feels like maybe 3D printing might have been involved here as well)


She creates portraits using a solid white wooden panel, thousands of tiny galvanized nailes and a single unbroken thread which is wound around the nails in patters to create a monochrome face with tonal features.

Warp and Weft

She also creates portraits by taking a fabric made of two different coloured threads and pulled out strands of the lighter thread to create a face - in an enormously effective manner.

Viewing an Exhibition of the work of Kumi Yamashita 

This is a video of somebody visiting an exhibition of her work. He forgets to adjust focus at times but it demonstrates the artworks from different angles

About the Artist

This is from a profile of the artist by a gallery
Kumi Yamashita studied at the Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, and the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. She has exhibited extensively worldwide and recently completed several public commissions in Tokyo, Glasgow, and Seattle.
Her work has had a lot of press coverage since 1994

Her practice seems to involve quite a view artist in residency and visiting artist programs.

Her work is in a number of public collections in Japan, the USA, China - and Glasgow!

Three of her pieces are coming soon to a new exhibition of historical and contemporary silhouettes opening in May at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C.

More about Kumi Yamashita

I didn't stop at her website. These are articles about her work and include interviews - and I very much recommend the first one.
Kumi’s methods and materials go beyond the confines of traditional media, transforming one medium into something else. With great attention to detail, Yamashita’s works are exhaustively complex and precise— yet they remain deeply human.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Waterscape - The Big Painting Challenge 2018

This week, Episode 4 of The Big Painting Challenge was the Waterscape Episode.

Seven painters and two mentors face the Big Waterscape Painting Challenge
As it was plein air week, they of course had REALLY BAD WEATHER!  I'm not sure that they were planning to have quite so much water in the air as well as in front of them.

Mariella announced at the beginning of the programme that they were on the banks of Loch Lomond "at the tail end of a hurricane" - which I think this means it was being filmed in the third week of October and they had to go north to still have leaves on the trees! 

Here's a taster of how bad it got.

What was really odd was the variation in clothing - and you could really tell who had previously painted plein air (or was used to being outside in Scotland) and who was more used to painting in nice warm studios i.e.
  • who knew what it was going to be like (Pascal - head to toe in red waterproof oilskin of the type worn by fishermen and Tilly - who had layers on her layers and both had really effective hoods)
  • who didn't (Oliver - rocking a laddish V neck sweater and absolutely no visible waterproof whatsoever!)
Pascal in waterproofs

Pascal had a really bad week. He made Jane cry and then this....

Anyway - back to the normal challenges........

Below is my digest/review of what happened in this week's episode. This post follows on from my earlier posts (see end for the first two series and my posts about this series so far)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Worldwide Day of Botanical Art

My blog post about the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art Day on 18th May 2018 is my contribution to Earth Day which is today.

Next month 25 Countries on 6 Continents are hosting 
25 Botanical Art Exhibitions portraying Native Plants!

Plus on the 18th May 2018, they are all having activities on one Worldwide Day of Botanical Art to unite our concerns for the preservation and recording of indigenous / native plants around the world - and particularly in the country they come from.

So do please read about what's happening - you never know there may be something near to where you live!

Worldwide Day of Botanical Art

I've found it a fascinating project - it really makes you realise just how far some plants have travelled in the past few hundred years!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery

I highly recommend, if you're in London this summer, that you go and see Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery - until 29th July. 

The 75 paintings in the exhibition spans 1860 - 1912 and includes series paintings of Rouen, London and Venice and wonderful paintings of places he knew well in Normandy, Paris, the Netherlands and Italy.

Some 25% of the paintings are ones in private collections - making this probably the only time you will ever see them.

While I'm not 100% behind the curator's analysis of what the exhibition is about, I'm absolutely delighted that there are so many excellent paintings on display - including some of my all time favourites!

The thing is Monet did not paint architecture per se - not like those who simply love architecture. He didn't even paint "things". What he was painting was the light and colour around rather large equivalents of squares and oblongs - as per the famous quotation below.
Try to forget what objects you have before you - a tree, a house, a field, or whatever. Merely think, 'Here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow,' and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape, until it gives you your own impression of the scene before you.
Rouen Cathedral series - dawn on the right (east) and sunset on the left (west)
It was an absolute joy to be able to see the Rouen series from a decent distance so you could admire  them all together.

However I doubt if you'll be able to do that once the hordes arrive - unless you make a point of going late in the day and waiting until almost everybody has left!

That's because I'm very sure this is going to be a very popular exhibition. The National Gallery has been able to assemble some world class paintings from public and private collections from all over the world. Some I have never seen before in exhibitions or books.

What follows is an introduction to the exhibition - with images to give you a sense of what it looks like - and a note of how the exhibition works

I must emphasise that no book and certainly no blog post can ever emulate the way these paintings when viewed face to canvas. Some of them are quite extraordinary.

The structure of the exhibition

The exhibition is in the galleries in the basement of the Sainsbury Wing - which always seems to be the favoured location for any exhibitions which have enormously valuable paintings! It's very secure.

There are three sections to the exhibition
  • The Village and the Picturesque (3 rooms)
  • The City and Modern (2 rooms)
  • The Monument and the Mysterious ( 2 rooms)