Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: Sunday Times Watercolour Competition Exhibition 2018

I visited the exhibition for the The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 this afternoon. It's at the Mall Galleries (10am - 5pm) until 23rd September after which the exhibition will be travelling to:
Admission to all the galleries is free.

The exhibition is being held at the same time as the Derwent Art Prize - and the combination of the two exhibitions in the Mall Galleries making this a RECOMMENDED VISIT this week - before they both close at 5pm on Sunday 23rd September 2018.

The entrance to the exhibitions for two major art competitions
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 and The Derwent Art Prize 2018
Below you can read my impressions - about:
You can also see some "views" of the paintings on the walls in the exhibition in the NEW slideshow banner images at the top of my Facebook Page - which give a very good sense of the look of the show.

If you can't get to the exhibition, do take a look at the website because you can see:
  • all the paintings - in a long column underneath the details about the exhibition
  • click a painting and see it individually - with full details (with the caption MINUS  media but PLUS price - make of that what you will!) and a space for comments. I've included links to these below.
  • plus there's also a link (bottom right hand corner) to see each painting at a larger size. This is presumably the digital image submitted for the competition based on the fact some are unframed when photographed. These provide a good guideline re. quality of photograph required for the competition for those aspiring to enter in 2019.  
If you do go and see the show and compare the painting on the wall with the large painting on the website you can also tell which artists 'enhanced' their chances of getting selected. I'm not commenting further or naming names in this review. However I might do so in future ones....

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A bit of a hiatus

I’m writing this blog post on my Mini iPad because my iMac has had to go to the Apple Hospital to have a hard drive replacement.

One of the bonuses of always buying from Apple is that when they have identified a problem with hardware they have installed - in this instance a Seagate Barrcuda 3TB hard drive which has been the subject of lawsuits due to its very high rate of failure after year 3 - they’ll replace it free of charge. Even if you are out of warranty!!  The fact I’ve just saved £335 is the good news.

The bad news is that I now need to use my Mini iPad for blogging for the next 5-7 days. Even using my Bluetooth keyboard, this is not the easiest of exercises when one is used to a 27” screen - used at 125%!

What’s more the last time I used an iPad to blog was when I was in Provence in 2011 (see Four Go Painting in Provence).

Since then the iOS has moved on and the Blogger App no longer works - because Google has not bothered to commit resources to updating it.

Plus trying to upload images from an iPad to Blogger seems really difficult - given my basic principle is do not overload your blog with very large images which only serve to slow down your blog for readers.

Why Blogger cannot access the photos on my Mini iPad - when accessing Blogger via Chrome - is beyond me. It appears that in order to get access to my photos I have to allow Google to access and upload and archive them!!!  Have they not read any of the recent legal imperatives around data privacy?

Anyway I’m trying to think of ways of posting which are simpler!  Minus images is one way!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019 - Call for Entries

The Call for Entries for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019 has been published and the first prize has been increased to £20,000!

This art competition
  • promotes representational art in two-dimensional works in any painting or drawing media
  • has a significant prize pot (see below)
  • aims to display 100 of the very best original representational artworks (but in part the number depends on size and the quality of the submission)
  • at an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in March 2019
  • accepts submissions  up until 5pm on Monday 3 December 2018
The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize has been running since 2005 and I've been covering it since 2008 (see the end for my past blog posts about the competition which contain images of artwork selected). It's an art competition with a generally good reputation and one which is particularly relevant to
  • those who enjoy representational painting 
  • younger painters less than 30 years old.

About the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019

Approximately 200 artists will be longlisted from the digital entry and invited to deliver their actual works after initial selection from digital entries. Following review by the Judging Panel, approximately 100 works will then be selected for exhibition in March 2019 at the Mall Galleries, London.

Last year a record 2,194 entries were received for the 2018 Prize. Of these
  • 92 drawings and paintings (4.2% of the submission) were selected for exhibition
  • by 83 artists 
Melissa Scott-Miller won the £2,000 People's Prize in Lynn Painter-Stainers 2018 with this painting


In terms of prizes it's certainly one of the more prestigious art prizes in the UK - particularly for younger artists who are eligible for two worthwhile prizes in addition to the others.

The total pot for prize money for 2018 is £35,000 split as follows:
  • the Lynn Painter-Stainers First Prize (£20,000) 
  • a second prize (£4,000) 
  • the Young Artist Award (£4,000) for young artists aged 25 or under. The aim is to promote and support fresh new talent. 
  • the Brian Botting Prize (£5,000) for an outstanding representation of the human figure by an artist aged 30 or under 
  • The Daphne Todd Prize: £2,000 
The £2,000 People's Prize which was introduced in 2018 seems to have gone and been replaced by the Daphne Todd Prize.

Lynn Painter-Stainer 2018 Prizes - Left to right:
Young Artist Prize | Second Prize | First prize
I wasn't a fan of last year's winner (see and I think it very interesting what those visiting the exhibition voted for - see first image above.
The judges will be looking for work that demonstrates the very best in creative representational painting and promotes the skill of draughtsmanship. (website)
For me, there seemed to me to be more of an emphasis on 'innovation' and 'creativity' last year and draughtsmanship seemed to take a lower profile. For example there were no drawings in the exhibition at all whereas there have been a number of works on paper in many exhibitions in the past - such as the composite work in ink on paper by the winner in 2017 - who is a Judge this year!

Winner of Lynn Painter-Stainers First Prize 2017
Lunchtime, Liverpool Street by Christopher Green
ink on paper 142 x 136 cm £5,800


The Judges Panel has changed and retained only one Judge from last year.

There are three artists - including two former first prizewinners in this competition plus two gallery directors - one commercial and one the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery.  It's a good mix.
The panel of judges will review all entries from the digital submission process. Only works shortlisted from the initial digital submission will be received for final judging in person - at the end of January


The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize Exhibition will be at the Mall Galleries in London between 5 – 17 March 2019 (Open 10am-5pm daily, free entry)

The Exhibition will be curated by the artist Sam Wadsworth and Andrew Wilton, the Honorary Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Academy of Arts.

How to Enter

These are:


Artists - Who can enter

  • Living artists over the age of 18, who are resident in the British Isles - irrespective of whether or not they are a British citizen. 
  • You can be professional or amateur artists
  • British citizens living abroad cannot enter.
Two of the prizes are age-related. It is IMPOSSIBLE to tell from the website what the date is for determining age - despite highlighting this issue FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS! Plus nowhere on the Entry Form are artists asked to state their age. The "normal rule" of most other competitions, that follow good practice and specify a date, is that the determining date is the deadline for entry.

Eligible artwork - What can you enter?

  • Original - which (although they don't say) means in art competition terms that you can assert copyright for your work. What the law says is that your work is derivative and not eligible to claim copyright if you have copied another original artwork done by somebody else - and that includes photographs.
  • two-dimensional works in ANY painting or drawing media.
  • MUST be completed in the last three years (assume the date ends on the deadline for entry)
  • MUST NOT have been previously exhibited. (Presumably within the three years which ends with the deadline for entry - again no date is specified)
If your work has been exhibited in a solo or group show in a public or commercial gallery it is not eligible for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize. However, if your work has been in an open studio show or shown as part of your degree show or has been shown online, then it is eligible for the Prize.FAQs
  • All works must be for sale, except for commissioned portraits (which must be marked NFS on rear). Note that Commission of 40% + VAT will be levied on works sold during or as a result of the exhibition, or by means of the website, (i.e. your sale price nets you a sum equivalent to 52% of the price you state if your artwork is sold)
  • available for exhibition
  • You can submit up to 4 works
  • Longest dimension - including frame - must not exceed 60 inches (152 cms).

Entry Fee - what does it cost?

  • Entry is £15 per work (£8 per work for students).


  • 3rd December 2018 - Deadline for online entries, by 5pm (GMT)
  • 21st December 2018 - Results of initial judging emailed to artists by this date
  • 25-26th January 2019 - Shortlisted artists submit works to FBA 10am-5pm (4pm on Saturday)
  • 29th January 2019 - Results of final round judging emailed to artists by this date
  • 5 - 17th March 2019 Exhibition at Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1
(Note: the FAQs have NOT been updated for the new dates for the 2019 competition)

Entry Process - How do you enter?

This is a link to the Rules and Guidelines which you MUST read in full before you enter.
Don't blame the organisers if something happens which you didn't expect because you only skimmed them and never sat down and read them properly!

Stage 1: How to enter

  • ALL Entry is digital and online - via the secure 
  • Digital Images must be: 
    • 300 dpi 
    • file formats: JPG, TIFF, or PNG 
    • maximum file size of 1MB (increased from previous years - at last!) - but it still means a pretty small image in terms of pixel dimensions for length and height @ 300 dpi 
    • files titled using your name and at least part of the title of the artwork 
  • Submit your entry online using this online entry form.
BIG TIP: Make sure you get the best possible digital image of your artwork

Stage 2: How to submit work

You only need to submit your actual painting or drawing if you've passed the initial selection filter at Stage 1.
  • Typically around 200 artworks make it through to Stage 2 
  • If you pass, this means your art now has a 50% chance of being selected for exhibition so don;t give them an excuse to exclude it e.g. frame which is not fit for exhibition
BIG TIP: You cannot assume you can book a framer at short notice - especiallyover the Christmas/New Year period. What this means is
  • if your work is not framed then you need a framer booked and on standby 
  • then cancel the job once you've got the result if you do NOT get selected for Stage 2. Not nice for the framer but there really is no other option (speaks one who got caught out badly on one occasion when every framer was booked up in advance!)

You need to:

Good luck if you get this far! I hope I see your artwork in the exhibition....

More about the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize (2008-2018)


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Edward Bawden at Dulwich Picture Gallery - last few days

The exhibition about Edward Bawden at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London finishes on Sunday 9th September - and if you've not seen it yet and can do so, I urge you to get along to the Gallery to see it.  It's a fabulous exhibition.

I saw it this afternoon with Felicity House and we enthused our way around the show - finding lots to like and lots to marvel at in terms of how he worked and what he produced.

Edward Bawden, Untitled landscape with sunset, 1927, 
watercolour on paper, 
Private Collection, Photo: Mark Heathcote, 
© Estate of Edward Bawden 
If you can't get to see the exhibition, but are interested in Bawden, the alternative is an excellent exhibition catalogue which you can either buy from
Below is less a review of the exhibition and more an assortment of notes - about both the man and the artworks we saw. (Plus news of another exhibition about Bawden at the end)

First a few notes about Edward Bawden - not from the exhibition but rather from online sources which you can investigate at your leisure.

About Edward Bawden

Edward Bawden RA CBE (1903-1989) is hardly an unknown or forgotten artist. Born in 1903, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career as graphic designer, illustrator, watercolourist, war artist, printmaker, teacher and patron of the rts. When he died at the age of 86, a retrospective of his work had opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum
So starts the exhibition catalogue

Below is a video about Edward Bawden (in his home) first broadcast on Anglia TV when the artist was 80. It includes Bawden talking about his art - including comments on his view about the absence of a distinction between fine art and commercial art

He describes himself as a pattern maker and says he has no sense of form and could never have been a sculptor

He studied at Cambridge Art School and the Royal College of Art, was taught and mentored by Paul Nash at the RCA and was a member of the Bardfield set which included Eric Ravilious.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a key to understand his interests and how he worked

You can find out more about him on the following links:
Edward Bawden Working in His Studio
Edward in his studio by his friend and contemporary Eric Ravilious

About the exhibition

This brief video previewed the exhibition

This is a brief video about the exhibition - and you can see the works hung in the exhibition

These are the exhibition reviews
The exhibition is not based on a time line - instead it has themes.

The exhibition is divided into sections focusing on:
  • World Off Duty
  • Gardening
  • Spirit of Place
  • Portraits
  • Architecture
  • Fable & Fantasy

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Shortlist for £15,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 + Exhibiting Photographers

The annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world.

For the 2018 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize - and Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery:
  • 4,462 submissions were entered by 1,973 photographers from 70 countries. 
  • 57 portraits from 49 photographers have been selected for display (1.27% and 2.48% of submissions and photographers respectively)
  • 4 submissions are a series; and
  • 4 photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018, the international photography award organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London. and sponsored by the law firm Taylor Wessing
This post is about the shortlisted artists and also lists the names of the photographers selected for the exhibition.

The Competition

The competition is open to everyone aged 18 and over from around the world. Photographers are encouraged to interpret portrait in its widest sense of photography concerned with portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals.
Competition is INTENSE just to get selected for the exhibition. Moreover this competition has an enthusiastic international following. So to get shortlisted as well must feel like the most tremendous achievement for any photographer.

Like the BP Portrait Prize, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize offers an important internationally recognised platform for professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike to show their work - except in this instance the portrait are contemporary photographic portraits.

All submissions are judged anonymously. The exhibition typically displays a wide diversity of styles which reflect both cultural preferences and the individual styles of the photographers submitting entries and their approach to portraiture.

Photographers were again encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints.

  • The winner of the first prize will receive £15,000. 
  • The second prize winner receives £3,000 and 
  • the third prize £2,000.  

The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 will be announced on Tuesday 16 October 2018 at 19.00

Shortlist for Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018

The shortlisted portraits include
  • two photographs of women living in London
    • a double portrait of a pair of shoppers taken in England’s capital
    • photographs of a London mother holding her baby; 
  • two photographs of children living in Africa
    • a child from a remote village in the jungle of Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province; 
    • a series on the all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Province

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Royal Academy of Arts 2019 Exhibition Programme

The Royal Academy of Arts have announced their 2019 programme of exhibitions. There seem to be more than usual - however I guess the redevelopment created extra space!

The star of the show for me is the exhibition of self-portraits by Lucian Freud in just over a year's time

Lucian Freud, Reflection (Self-portrait), 1985.
Oil on canvas, 56.2 x 51.2 cm.
Private collection, on loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art
© The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

This is the listing. It doesn't include the exhibitions in smaller spaces - but it does include:
  • one  blockbuster by a contemporary painter (I predict)
  • one 'likely to be very popular' overview of a major theme of the Renaissance
  • two solo exhibitions for Royal Academicians - and one shared with Michelangelo's drawings
  • two exhibitions of artwork by two lesser known European artists
  • two annual events

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Making A Mark in August 2018

Fans of Making A Mark will remember the "Who's made a mark this week?" posts which I had to discontinue in 2014 as they were taking over my life.

Since then I've diversified and now have other active websites and blogs - and what you used to see on Making A Mark can now be found elsewhere.

I've been mulling on how to profile what I've written and seen and today I'm going to start a trial of a NEW MONTHLY SUMMARY of
  • posts on my blogs and website updates 
  • coupled with some of the posts to three of my Facebook pages
Tell me what you think of it - on Facebook!

Making A Mark in August 2018

For those who missed my posts because you were on holiday or life intervened...

All posts are from Making A Mark except
  • ABI = Art Business Info. for Artists
  • BBA = Botanical Art and Artists


    Image of Wyeth's Studio, © Phil Bradshaw, FreshFly
    • The Andrew Wyeth Movie - a hugely popular blog post. - an extended trailer for the new documentary film about Andrew Wyeth, originally planned for a 2012 release - but due to launch this month!
    • BBAVideo Interview with Kathy Pickles - Between 1991 and 1996, Kathy Pickles exhibited every year at the RHS Botanical Art Show. Each year she won a Gold Medal for her exhibit. In 2015, after nearly 20 years, she returned for a sixth time - and won a sixth Gold Medal.... and I've just found the video interview I did with her at the time!
    • Lucian Freud - paintings of plants and gardens - following the exhibition at the Tate I did a an inventory - in a timeline - of all his paintings of plants with:
      • notes about their context and location
      • links to where you can see them and 
      • quotes by people - including Freud himself - about his paintings of plants and why he did them.
    "The subject matter has always been dictated by the way my life has gone. I noticed that when I was under particular strain, I didn't feel so like staring at people or bodies all day." It was at times like these that the palm, the Egyptian Book, thistles, cyclamens, buttercups, substituted for sitters. Seeing through the skin

    Calling All Artists - Art Competitions and Open Exhibitions

    Friday, August 31, 2018

    Ken Howard gets the brush-off from police in Venice

    Police in Venice have told Ken Howard to stop painting in St Mark's Square in Venice - where he has a home and has painted for the last 60 years!

    Shame on the Venice Police! Should you wish to express your views this is the official English language Twitter account for Venice

    I have!

    Here are a couple of newspaper articles which cover what happened.
    The artist, a former president of the New English Art Club and a professor of perspective at the Royal Academy, told them he had used the same spot for decades but they remained unmoved.“I first came to Venice in 1958 and I’ve never had a problem,” Prof Howard told The Telegraph.“But of all of a sudden they’ve brought in new rules which say you have to have a permit. It’s a bit daft.”On Tuesday he duly went to the municipal office which issues the permits, only to find that it was closed.
    An artist known for his work in Northern Ireland during the Troubles has criticised "overzealous" police in Venice after being removed from the city's famous St Mark's Square.


    Thursday, August 30, 2018

    Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018: Prizewinners & Selected Artists

    This is about

    First Prizewinner: Sophie Charalambous
    The Prodigal Son,
    Watercolour on Khadi paper, 112 x 114 cm

    The exhibition takes place at the Mall Galleries next month - but is not on for long, so you need to make sure you've made a date in your diary if you want to get to see it. The exhibition dates are 18 – 23 September 2018 and the exhibition is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.

    Eligible media includes any water-based media, which includes acrylic, inks and gouache

    The competition has acquired a new strapline
    Celebrating and rewarding excellence and originality in the medium of watercolour
    You can find my call for entries blog post here Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 - Call for Entries.

    I must confess I wasn't feeling very kind to the competition at the time after the debacle in 2017 when the winner was eligible for acceptance into the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters! (see 10 Best Paintings in the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition)

    However on the basis of compiling this post, after last years' prizewinner debacle, I think the STWC may have turned a corner!


    Sophie Charalambous won the £6,000 First Prize with her watercolour painting of The Prodigal Son, (Watercolour on Khadi paper, 112 x 114 cm) - see top of this post

    Thank goodness we are back to having a 'proper' watercolour painting - that looks like a watercolour painting - winning the first prize. 

    Second Prize (£3,000) was won by Michael Chance for 'Growth of the Soil'. It's an intriguing painting which reminds me of some artwork from the Far East. I'm wondering what impact the gum arabic and honey have had on the watercolour and ink.

    Second Prizewinner - Michael Chance, Growth of the Soil
    watercolour, ink, honey, gum Arabic, 112 x 86 cm

    The Third Prize (£1,000) was awarded to Richard Anthony Elliott for 'Diving Boards, Crystal Palace'

    Third Prizewinner - Richard Anthony Elliot,
    Diving Boards, Crystal Palace
    watercolour, 120 x 120cm

    Selected Artists

    The statistics are

    • 80 works were selected from a total of 120 shortlisted 
    • from the 1,304 submissions from 600+ artists 
    • making a a success rate for selected works of slightly in excess of 6% of those submitted.
    You can see the panel of leading figures from the art world at the end of this post.

    I've researched the previous exhibiting history of those selected in the context of the competition (under its various names over the years) and have highlighted the history of  exhibiting for specific artists.

    I'm particularly taken with how many artists are NEW to the exhibition this year - which I think (before seeing the exhibition) can only be a good thing. I'll let you have my further thoughts on this when I've seen the exhibition!


    • This year, the ONLY people who have links (in their name) are the artists who have their own website. However entries may contain bio details from other sites. What's sad for me is that those without a website probably won't ever know they got the opportunity to be profiled in this post.
    • Previous STWC record in this competition indicated in blue italics. 
    • First time = exhibiting for the first time
    • The selected artists are listed below in alphabetical order by surname

    Wednesday, August 29, 2018

    Green and Stone art shop is moving to.....

    Green and Stone - the renowned and extremely popular supplier of art materials - is on the move from its current home at 251 Kings Road in Chelsea.

    It has to move quickly and hopes to be in its new home by October - and you can help!

    The interior of 251 Kings Road
    The shop has some very loyal fans and due to their support, unlike other art shops it has not closed and is now the longest running shop in the King's Road - until the move in October....
    .....over the years, due to our fiercely loyal customers we have remained; and I am proud to say we are the longest running shop in Kings Road. We have kept Green and Stone exactly as it should be; a creative hub of information for the artistic and with an eclectic mix of curios. It serves as a peaceful escape from London’s modern revolt.
    We have welcomed the locals of Chelsea and tourists from near and far; those who have sought us out, those who stumble upon us, the artists, writers, directors, movie stars and musicians, and everyone in between. Having served some of the greatest contemporary artists like David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Lucien Freud, Quentin Blake and Henry Moore to name but a few, we are considered the best art shop in Europe. Hester Baldwin, manager of Green and Stone
    However, the building has been suffering from some serious structural problems and has experienced repetitive flooding in the basement.
    To remain in the same building has its perks. We are a landmark destination; the black cabs know where to find us if you can’t. Our nostalgic shop front suspends you in a time now past and we can be relied upon as a location for a meeting place as we have been here for 85 years; indeed, Green and Stone is an institution.
    However, as with anything old, 259 Kings Road has its downfalls too. Without the TLC the building needed our dear shop has started to shake its head in protest and sent floods of biblical proportions through the basement; more than once, I hasten to add. I believe, after 85 years of trading here at 259 Kings Road, this old gal wants an early retirement. This day would always come, but we were not expecting it quite so soon.
    If you value the continued existence of this much loved store - and I suspect most of its current fans do - can I suggest you read on past the details of the location of their new home to the Crowdfunder - because the actual move is going to cost some £100,000

    Green and Stone's New Home

    Sunday, August 26, 2018

    Lucian Freud - paintings of plants and gardens

    Lucian Freud painted plants and gardens as well as people and animals.

    I was reminded of this last Friday when I saw Two Plants at Tate Britain.

    Two Plants Lucian Freud
    Today I decided to review the paintings of plants and gardens by Lucian Freud as I'd never looked at them all.

    Below you can find an inventory - in a timeline - with

    • notes about their context and location
    • links to where you can see them and 
    • quotes by people - including Freud himself - about his paintings of plants and why he did them.

    In between are my photos of the above painting after I gave it my usual nose to canvas inspection..... I found the way in which he applied paint to very interesting.

    All we need now is an exhibition dedicated to his paintings of plants and trees. There's certainly a lot of paintings to pick from!

    Paintings of plants and gardens by Lucian Freud

    "The subject matter has always been dictated by the way my life has gone. I noticed that when I was under particular strain, I didn't feel so like staring at people or bodies all day." It was at times like these that the palm, the Egyptian Book, thistles, cyclamens, buttercups, substituted for sitters. Seeing through the skin
    You can see his plant paintings in The Lucian Freud Archive.

    The links below are to
    • either Bridgeman Images which represent his work for licensing purposes.
    • or where paintings can be viewed in Galleries (if possible)
    All are oil paintings unless otherwise indicated

    The ones I know about are:
    "one of the most memorable potted plants in the history of modern art"Lawreence Gowring about the Yucca which appears in Freud's paintings
    • 1953 - Bananas (Southampton City Art Gallery) 
    • 1953 - Plants in Jamaica - meticulous observation of exotic Caribbean vegetation at the Goldeneye villa of Ian and Ann Fleming on Jamaica, where Freud stayed during a visit in 1952-1953. Sold for £481K in 2011
    For Freud, Jamaica's relaxed and vibrant island culture represented a welcome escape from the turmoil surrounding his private life back in London. This was reflected in the two paintings that he produced whilst he was there, Bananas(Collection of Southampton City Art Gallery) and Plants in Jamaica; both of which were conspicuously devoid of any human presence. "I noticed I switched away from people when my life was under particular strain," recalled Freud. "I preferred working in complete isolation. Not using people is like taking a deep breath of fresh air" (the artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Venice, Museo Correr, Lucian Freud, 2005, p. 35).

    The tropical beauty of the verdant Caribbean landscape provided Freud with a fresh and fertile source of inspiration for his painting. Perhaps more importantly, the painting en plein air that it required brought to his work an unprecedented immediacy and technical vitality that Freud developed over the course of the next ten years into an altogether more fluid approach to both subject and technique. 

    Sotheby's Catalogue note for Plants in Jamaica | Auction 2011
    Intimately observed down to its smallest, naturalistic detail, the all over composition of Plants in Jamaica is delicately articulated in modulating tones of radiant greens and browns. Using the finest sable brushes, in this work, Freud provides a mesmerizing visual manifestation of his renowned proclamation that: "The picture in order to move us must never merely remind us of life, but must acquire a life of its own, precisely in order to reflect life." (Lucian Freud, Some Thoughts on Painting, July 1954)
    • 1955 Cyclamen - a stem, a flower and three leaves on a wall at Coombe Priory bought by and his second wife, Caroline Blackwood as a place where she could stay when he was in town. One of only two Freud murals now in existence (see Wall Flower and next item)

    Saturday, August 25, 2018

    All Too Human - Diversity at Tate Britain

    I went to the All Too Human - Bacon Freud and a Century of Painting Life exhibition at Tate Britain yesterday. The Spring and Summer have been full of other activities - and sunshine - and I suddenly realised the exhibition closes on Monday!
    All Too Human explores how artists in Britain have stretched the possibilities of paint in order to capture life around them. The exhibition spans a century of art making, from the early twentieth century through to contemporary developments. London forms the backdrop, where most of the artists lived, studied and exhibited.

    I'm not going to comment on the art as everybody has their own perspective and the reviewers from the newspapers have given it a thorough going over (see links to their reviews at the end).

    Instead I'm going to comment on something that struck me this morning when reviewing the names of who was in the exhibition - and who was not.

    Key points:

    • it's an exhibition of c. 100 paintings by SOME of those considered by SOME to be leading modern British painters (i.e. made their names in the 20th century)
    • it includes a significant number of works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon 
    • it's about painters in Britain who represent 
      • human figures, 
      • their relationships and 
      • their surroundings
    • it has very few women painters. Notably Paula Rego gets a room to herself and there is a large painting by Jenny Saville - but other female painters are less notable than the chaps.
    • there's an effort at diversity (as in 'tackle the checklist') - in terms of ethnicity - but it's not very persuasive. 
    and it wholly misses a VERY notable point about diversity in relation to "British Painting" - see below


    It's very definitely an exhibition of paintings by people with very diverse backgrounds - although very little is made of this.

    It hadn't really occurred to me before this exhibition just how diverse "British painters" in the 20th century were.

    Map of locations: Blue = artist studios; Red = Art Schools; Green - galleries

    List of locations of Artists Studios and who is linked to which London Art School

    The art (mostly paintings) are by artists who had some sort of association with London - with some being members of the so-called "School of London" - and very many underline the diversity of nationalities in the capital - and in the field of painting in the 20th century.

    So they include......

    Thursday, August 23, 2018

    How a ginger cat with attitude makes Fat Cat Art

    I happened on Fat Cat Art again recently - and decided to try and understand a bit more about how a very "fat ginger cat with attitude" could contribute to derivations of some serious art.

    James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
    Arrangement in Grey, Black and Ginger No. 1 Whistler's Mother with the Cat

    artworks by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat /
    The fat ginge is called Zarathrusta and is owned by Svetlana Petrova - who lives in St. Petersburg. She always had cats - and involved them in her creative projects. However Zarathrusta is really her mother's cat and she inherited him after her mother died.

    Zarathrusta loves to sit for adaptations of the paintings and artwork of the great artists past and present
    We, Zarathustra the Cat, enjoy Ourselves as the first cat contemporary artist, working in fields of performance and appropriation art.
    The website was launched in 2011 and since then he has been digitally integrated into rather a large number of famous paintings - in an amazing range of styles and period of art - and his artwork has gone viral around the world. 
    Fat Cat French art at the end of XIX century
    artworks by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat /
    Twentieth century art and Zarathrusta the Cat
    artworks by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat /

    Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Falling Down in the Mind of Someone Sleeping
    artworks by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat /
    I'm a particular fan of some of the changed titles of the paintings.  There's some thought gone into these!

    What's the technique?

    • the artwork is selected
    • high resolution images of the artwork are secured
    • photographs are taken of Zarathrusta - posing. It sometimes takes many months for Svetlana or her photographer to get just the right photo - so I'm guessing there are multiple project pics on the go at any one time
    • the cropped cat pic is inserted into the painting using Photoshop - and sometimes it's tweaked to fit with the style of the painting so that the two fit together well
    • text is created to go with the picture - by his bilingual author/artist mother.

    The net result of all this?

    He's gone beyond an Internet Meme and there have now been exhibitions, videos, a book (published by Penguin Random House USA - see below)) and calendars (see the 2019 calendar here - and on the Facebook Page) 

    In fact a small cottage industry in St. Petersburg runs off the stretches and contortions of Zarathrusta and the digital wizardry of Svetlana.

    Fat Cat Art: Famous Masterpieces Improved by a Ginger Cat with Attitude 
    (From Amazon UK |

    You can view them on Facebook on a regular basis - with videos of typical cat activity

    I wish them well for the future. It's fun rather than serious but if anything gets people looking to see what the original painting looked like, that's OK by me

    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    Ban Pony Painting Parties

    I sounded off about the awful Pony Painting Parties on Monday on my Facebook Page - which seems to have contributed a little to getting the word out that these need to be stopped.

    As the petition points out (my bold)
    The 2006 Animal Welfare Act says that owners have a positive duty of care towards their animals and a responsibility to prevent the animal from becoming distressed. Animals have ways of communicating distress - horses show stress signs through swishing, flared nostrils, raised tail, sweating and a raised heartbeat. These subtle signals are not obvious to families/children and could even be ignored by organisers who are prioritising profits.
    The issue for me is about
    • showing respect for animals who are not in a position to say 'No' (remind you of anything?).
    • reminding people that anything that makes a profit can also be taken up by those who behave in ways which are very much less than ethical
    • how come we can have laws and nothing is done about their implementation?
    The good news is that the petition is now up to nearly 160,000 signatures (from about c.25,000 signatures on Monday when I signed).  I'm really not surprised given some of the comments from those who read my post on Monday.
    Signed. I’m staggered by this. Appalling

    This is so sad that people think this is fun. I doubt it’s fun for the pony who has no choice in the matter. The UK really needs tougher animal laws on all levels !

    that is awful, what a way to teach children how to treat and respect animals.

    I have horses, and there's no way anyone is getting near them with paint. This is just stupidity, and no respect for the animal, and apparently no desire to actually learn something about horses. In other hands it can escalate to abuse - there was a case at an auction place where a poor pony was dropped off, after being used as a paint gun target, hundreds of shots taken at him. Someone was eventually charged.

    O fer heaven's sake. I try so hard to teach children to RESPECT and VALUE animals - what lamebrain thought this was OK?
    Interestingly the number of signatures to dare way exceeds some of those petitions already debated by Parliament eg Hold a referendum on the final Brexit deal!

    Petition to Parliament

    This is the link to the Petition to Ban Pony Painting Parties if you'd like to sign as well.

    The rules on Petitions to Parliament are that:
    • if a petition gets 10,000 signatures then the petition will get a response from the government
    • if a petition gets 100,000 signatures then it will get a debate in Parliament
    ...and this one will be getting a debate in Parliament.

    BUT - and this is important - the actions of politicians will depend on how many people sign it before it gets to the debate!

    Hopefully at some point somebody will also think it a good idea to point out to parents that:
    • grooming a pony is a very good and appropriate way to show you love your pony
    • there are lots of art teachers out there who are very happy to give their kids painting lessons - without disrespecting dumb animals!

    More about pony painting parties

    If you doubt these are happening, here's the news coverage - all written before the petition topped 100,000 signatures supporting it

    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    The Stockholm II Stool

    Ever wondered about that very comfortable black sketching stool is - that's provided by most museums and art galleries?  The ones which have their very own special trolley which means they can be wheeled around to wherever they are needed...

    The Stockholm II stool on its specially designed trolly

    I'm a big fan of them - they always make sketching in galleries a very comfortable exercise. A friend used one yesterday - and wondered where one could get one...

    So I took a photograph of the label of one and did a little bit of research.

    It turns out that the stool is called the Stockholm II stool and
    • it's very robust - it weighs only 1.7 kg and can take up to 110 kg load capacity
    • it's also very comfortable - and has even won awards. 
    STOCKHOLM II has received the “Excellent Swedish Design Award” and the “Red Dot Design Award, The Best of the Best”.
    • Plus it comes in a variety of colours. 
    • There are even variations - the New York comes with a wider seat and the Chicago one is somewhat lower to the ground. Plus there's even one for kids!
    It's also designed to be bought and stored as multiples - and comes with its own dedicated trolley - which I guess is why it gets bought by all the museums and art galleries

    However if you're thinking it might be nice to own one of your own, prepare for a sharp intake of breath - because they are NOT cheap. 

    One of these very efficient and effective stools will set you back about £100

    I shall look at them in future with a new found respect!