Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Episode 6 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

Announcement of the shortlist for Heat 6
This is a review of Episode 6 of Portrait Artist of the Year by Sky Arts - with added extras about the artists not included in the programme!

You can find links to my previous reviews of the first five episodes at the end of this post.

The Professionals


Last week an amateur artist won. So the five professional artists trying to make sure they look better than the amateurs this week are:
  • Marcus Callum (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - Born in Scotland in 1967. Originally a computer programmer, he trained as an artist in New York and Sydney and spent 20 years in Australia before returning to the UK. He hads a major interest in classical realism and he's been a former finalist (three times) in the Archibald Prize (something they didn't mention on the programme) and a finalist (three times) in the Art Renewal Center International Salon (again not mentioned). He is now a professional artist working primarily as a painter but also working in digital media. He has a section on his website about the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year competition. It includes some of his four hour practice portraits (obviously painted from photos). Interestingly his self portrait for the competition was also the painting which was an Archibald Finalist in 2012. (The link tells the story of how he painted it).

  • Alex PhilippeBorn in Brussels in 1984, works and lives in London. Studied at Academy of Fine Arts, Painting. Brussels before doing a Masters at Sotheby's Institute of Art, London
  • Samantha Fellows (Facebook | Twitter ) is a professional portrait artist working on commission. She graduated in Fine Art from Oregon State University in the USA. She is also a scenic painter (with a seperate website). She paints scenery for theatre, film, tv, retail and events, as well as mural and street art commissions, has run scenic art companies and continues as a scenic art tutor. I met her in 2016 - and featured her on this blog - when she had portraits of both her daughters in prestigious exhibitions simultaneously in London. Her eldest daughter, "Pearl in the morning, ready for school" was in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and a portrait of her youngest, "Rose's School Picture" was in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I spotted both daughters in the audience at the Heat - they were behind their mother while she was painting for most of the programme
Samantha Fellows with her family right behind her - literally!
  • Danny Howes is a former graphic designer who is now a professional full time artist who lives and works in Birmingham. His self-portrait includes a nod t Van Gogh. He values narrative  He started painting when his gran bought him a full set of oil paints age 10. There's a lesson in there for grandparents everywhere!
  • Jessica Wolfson - Born in Scotland in 1972, she did her degree at the Glasgow School of Art and lives and works Glasgow. She now teaches at the Glasgow School of Art. She won the BP Portrait Travel Award in 2002.
I am a Glasgow based visual artist specialising in scribbling ,making mistakes , rubbing out and constantly painting over things .

The Amateurs

The four amateur artists participating were:
  • Niki Duffy - This is his self-portrait. b.1988, he did an animation degree at Salford University. He works mostly from photos having used friends as models.  This was the first time he had worked from a live sitter.
  • Lyn Aylward (Facebook | InstagramTwitter) - based in Norfolk, Lyn specialises in portraits and figurative studies worked in oils. She's a member of Artworks and Breckland Artists and exhibits on a regular basis.
  • Miriam Morada (spelling?) - a student from Singapore who is currently studying fine art at Glasgow School of Art.
  • Dave Duffy (Facebook | Instagram |  Twitter) - a former graphic designer and self-taught Irish artist born in Wexford who has no website.  However his Facebook Page has 10,000 followers.  Interestingly he was approached by Sky Arts to enter the programme - which suggests there are people working on behalf of Sky prowling popular Pages and Groups for likely candidates!  He was given a short amount of time to create a self-portrait - which he produced in one session of several hours. He's also a session musician and teacher.



Survey of the self-portraits


As usual, there was a lot of variation in the self-portraits in terms of size, media and pose. Clearly some were designed to attract attention while others very much focused on the quality of the painting.

If you get the opportunity to review the programmes again, the remarks made during the survey are indicative of the sort of features the judges are looking out for.

I'm now pretty convinced that the survey of the self-portraits is pretty critical to who gets through to the shortlist.

My guess it that after the review of the real portraits as opposed to the digital images, the Judges have pretty much decided which are the artists they need to keep a particularly close eye on.

In fact I wouldn't mind betting they have a short list in mind before a brush is lifted!

In part, it's a pragmatic solution to the fact that the day is long and they don't really have time to review and debate which self-portraits they really like at the end of the day. They need to have already decided which ones were "good", which were "mediocre" and which disappointed when seen in person.

Hence the importance of the submission to both getting selected and,, in my opinion, the shortlisted artists in each Heat.

The Sitters 


The sitters were all actors - Claire SkinnerKenneth Cranham, and Sope Dirisu

They were all EXCELLENT sitters - which was I think reflected in the portraits produced by the better painters.

The last time I saw Kenneth Cranham was in Wright Brothers in Borough Market on my 60th birthday! We had a chat while waiting for table...

Discussions and Observations


Strategy / Planning / Timing

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Artists and Illustrators at the Mall Galleries


The Artists and Illustrators "Artist of the Year" Exhibition is on view at the Threadneedle Space in the Mall Galleries until Saturday 24th February (1pm)

You can see the 50 artworks shortlisted for the Readers Choice Award on the competition website.


The winner of the Readers Choice Award - and other awards - is being announced at a special prizegiving event this evening (Tuesday 20 February) at the Mall Galleries.

I saw the exhibition yesterday when I visited the Pastel Society's annual show.  Interestingly people were confused as to which exhibition they were in - and were wondering if the A&I Exhibition was the Pastel Society. This is maybe unsurprising given that last year the Pastel Society also had the Threadneedle Space for their exhibition.

Maybe scope to improve the signposting of the different exhibitions on entrance to the gallery - and individual galleries?

However I have to say I found one very marked difference between the artwork on show compared to that in the Pastel Society exhibition elsewhere in the Mall Galleries.

I walked around slowly once - took some photos and then looked again.

Something was niggling. I always like to work out what a niggle is all about.

I could see that some of the draughtsmanship was good - a bit too good if anything.

I suddenly realised that most of not all of the artwork on display failed to show optical mixing of colours on the support.
  • Most of the paint seemed to be being applied as a single layer
  • I didn't see transparent glazing in the watercolours. 
  • I saw very little paint mixing on the support by those using oils and acrylics. 
This approach to painting creates images which I find curiously flat.  To me it's a technique of painting that is also also very characteristic of an amateur painter.  That's because, unless used by expert hands, it can veer towards giving an impression of 'painting by numbers/fill in the contours" effect.

The painting that I liked best was by Caroline Pool.

Here I am: Sally by Caroline Pool

I recognised the name straight away. She had two works in the very recent Threadneedle Exhibition 2018 and curiously this work is hung about a couple of feet to the left of where one of her paintings hung in the Threadneedle Space last week!

This painting works hard at shapes and form and the differences in textures within the painting.  The cutout effect also demanded that my eye take a close look!  The palette of colours used was also almost triadic - which again made for a pleasing picture.

It's certainly a work by a professional painter and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if she wins an award tonight.  There again it won't appeal to everyone.....

You can see the prizewinners on https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsAndIllustrators/

Monday, February 19, 2018

The 4th Derwent Art Prize 2018 - Call for Entries

This is about the Call for Entries from international artists for The 4th Derwent Art Prize
The Prize aims to reward excellence by showcasing the very best 2D & 3D artworks created in created with any pencil or coloured pencil as well as water soluble, pastel, graphite and charcoal by British and International artists.
The prizes total £12,500 and the deadline for entry is 8th May 2018 (5pm GMT)

This is a digest of
  • who can enter, 
  • what you can enter and 
  • how the process works 
  • with an overview of the timeline of dates. 

The Exhibition


Approximately 80 drawings will be selected for exhibition at the Mall Galleries.

  • The exhibition will be held between from 18th – 23rd September 2018. 
  • All artists selected for exhibition will be invited to the Private View and Prize Giving on the evening of Tuesday 18th September 2018.
  • The exhibition will then tour to a number of venues throughout the UK - which means that all work submitted to the competition for exhibition must be available until 31st January 2019.
View of part of the Third Derwent Art Prize Exhibition

The Prizes


The Prize Fund is divided as follows:
  • First Prize £6,000
  • Second Prize £3,000
  • Third Prize £1,500
  • People’s Choice Award – Exhibition £750
  • Young Artist Award – For artists under 25 years £750
  • Coloured Pencil Award for Excellence – £500


The Selectors


A gallery curator, a leading artist and an art critic comprise the independent selection panel who decided which work gets selected for exhibition and which work gets prizes.

They are:
  • Gill Saunders, Head Prints within the Word and Image Department at the V&A. I know her from two of her books which I've got Picturing Plants:An Analytical History of Botanical Illustrations (1995) and Recording Britain (2011)
  • Clare Woods - a painter who trained as a sculptor and is essentially concerned with sculpting an image in paint, and expressing the strangeness of an object.  (This seems like a very odd choice for a competition involving dry media. Is it too much to ask that this competition is judged by a well-regarded practitioner who specialises in drawing! There are after all quite a few of them!!!)
  • Chris Sharratt - a freelance arts writer based in Glasgow who is currently the Editor of the A-N website but has also written for a number of publications
I very much hope that this year the organisers actually check that the judges have both read and understand the conditions of entry! (i.e. no making up their own version of entry requirements and terms and conditions!) I don't enjoy highlighting Judges who very clearly breach the rules of the competition. See Derwent Art Prize 2014 - ineligible drawing wins first prize?


How to Enter


The official websites / pages of information

This is the website https://www.derwent-artprize.com/ (which has now addressed the major omission which I identified last time I wrote this blog post in 2016)
This is the Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/DerwentArtPrize - which is never very active.
This is the Twitter account @DerwentPencils which is quite active.
You can see the Derwent Art Range on the sponsor's website.

You can download catalogues from previous competitions to see the sort of work that gets selected

If intending to submit an entry do make sure you read carefully
This is the Online Entry Form

The competition and exhibition organisers are Parker Harris. Further enquiries about the competition should be addressed to Parker Harris, on: derwent@parkerharris.co.uk or Tel. + 44 (0) 1372 462190 - but do look at the FAQs first!

Who can enter?

The Prize is open to all British and international artists (as defined by the rules)
  • Nationality:  The eligible geographical regions / countries are: 
    • Europe, 
    • North America,
    • South America, 
    • Africa, 
    • Asia (participating countries: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand), 
    • The Middle East (participating countries: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan) and 
    • Oceania (Australia, New Zealand). 
  • Who else can enter
    • Previous prizewinners can enter
    • A third party agency (such as a gallery) can enter work but there are significant conditions that must be met (i.e. the third party must confirm the conditions stated point 7 of the Terms & Conditions.)
  • Age: 
    • All entrants must be over the age of 18 years old on 1st June 2018. 
    • You also have to be alive!

Eligible artwork


Eligible media

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Read: Starting out - TIPS for an Emerging Artist

This is the first in an occasional series of "long SUNDAY READS". By which I mean, highlighting topics or web pages which involve reading for more than a minute!

If you are an artist who has developed your skills in making art and worked out what you want to make art about - you might now be wanting to move on to the next stage.

So my first read relates to a page which is trying to answer all those questions that artists have when they want to move on

https://www.artbusinessinfo.com/starting-out-tips-for-artists.html
So.....
  • If you're NOT a hobby painter who's happy hanging artwork on your walls or stashing it in cupboards
but rather you're 
  • an art student who wants to gear up for your future career
  • an established artist whose career has stalled - and you need a refresh
  • just an artist who wants to make some progress beyond making art
Try reading STARTING OUT - TIPS ​for an Emerging Artist

This first SUNDAY READ is all about the attitudes, habits, knowledge and practices related to the art business which will help emerging artists develop their careers - and exhibit and sell their art.

Although the page is titled "Starting Out" it's actually as much for more established artists who want to "rev up" their careers

So If you want.....
  • to be a success as an artist
  • to avoid failing as an artist
  • to be successful selling 'daily paintings'
  • to sell your art online
  • to exhibit your work
  • to be more productive
  • to develop your career
  • to get representation by a gallery
Try my LONG SUNDAY READ #1 for tips about "what you need to know" and practical advice about working as a visual artist.

It's by no means a finished page.  I'm intending this should be a page that I keep adding content to over time - as I develop more of my Art Business Info for Artists website.

Do please take a look. I'm very happy to receive any thoughts, queries or comments you may have via

  • EITHER feedback in a private message to my website
  • OR leave a comment on this blog post below.

I'm particularly interested in the questions that emerging artists want answered. That will help with the continued development of the page. I already know what quite a few of these are - but am always interested to learn more about what are your BIG issues. 

Plus you never know I may have already written about the topic!

______________________________________________________


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Graphite and watercolour - two NEW guides

Two new publications by leading artists who demonstrate expertise in their respective fields
  • one is a new book about his watercolour portfolio by leading watercolour painter David Poxon RWS NWS
  • the second is a detailed guide about using graphite for scientific illustration by Rogério Lupo.
[Note: This post has been revised since first published]

Watercolour Heart and Soul by David Poxon



Watercolour, Heart & Soul is David Poxon's first book about how he paints in watercolour.

To me that seems somewhat surprising given he's been a leading watercolour painter with an international reputation. Indeed he's moved on to being one of those artists who you see a lot of other artists trying to emulate his paintings!

David is an elected member of the prestigious R.I. (The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours) and serves on the R.I. Council. He is also a signature member of N.W.S (The National Watercolour Society) in the USA and has served on the jury for selection (in 2015).

The book is now published.
Watercolour Heart & Soul contains an eclectic collection of his most iconic paintings together with a detailed section describing the artists techniques. Author's website
I confess I've not yet seen a copy as it is so new, however if it's as good as David's paintings.....

UPDATE: Please note I am only suggesting this book for people who want to see David's paintings. 

You can order this 190 page book in one of three ways

Graphite for Scientific Illustration by Rogerio Lupo


Graphite for Scientific Illustration by Brazilian illustrator Rogério Lupo is a new English translation of his Guide (in Portuguese) about how to use graphite for scientific illustration of botanical subjects.

This is a FREE guide which can be downloaded as a PDF file from Slideshare (just click the link in the title above)

It's intended for:
  • anyone interested in learning about the fundamentals of graphite 
  • anyone who wants improve their knowledge and skills in the use of graphite for scientific illustration generally and botanical illustration in particular.
The guide covers the following:
  • how to observe and render light and shadow and nuances accurately
  • How to sharpen, handle and move a pencil to achieve better application and coverage of the support with graphite
  • How to use pencil delicately so as to make good use of time, achieve a good finish and preserve the integrity of the paper
  • how to render shade gradually from the lightest to the darkest tones
  • How to render the different textures and colours of subject matter in monochoromatic shades of grey
  • How to recognise and represent luminosities, reflections and contrasts; 
  • Practical and fast methods for rendering of hairs and thorns.
  • How to prevent errors, cope with problems with paper and damage which cannot be repaired
He also provides a very useful commentary on both brands and grades of graphite and different types of paper suitable for working on when using graphite.

Rogério Lupo is a Brazilian Natural Science Illustrator based in Sao Paulo. He has won first prize in several competitions including the very prestigious Margaret Flockton Award - for international 'strictly botanical' illustrators in 2010 and 2013. He graduated in biology from the Universidade de São Paulo. Much of his work is dedicated to the illustration of scientific botanical articles/papers. He has also researched different approaches to illustration and artistic techniques.

Judging by the traffic to my blog post yesterday on my Botanical Art and Artists website, there's very great interest in getting hold of this Guide!

Hence why I decided to share it with a wider audience.

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to create a poster for an art exhibition

When creating publicity for an art exhibition - what comes first? The image or the words?

Do you recall how The Apprentice programme on BBC always has an episode where the two teams have to make a poster and video advertising a product - and they almost always get it wrong by trying to do too much and just creating visual clutter?

Art Exhibition Posters can sometimes remind me of the worst examples perpetrated by The Apprentice!

Muddled, cluttered and with virtually no visual impact!

I got this email today - asking me for help in resolving a dispute about how to word the publicity for an exhibition. Below you can read the email and my response

What would you have done/said?
Hi Katherine,

I would be grateful if you could give me some advice if you have the time please.

Myself and 5 other artists are planning an exhibition in a local town. We are very different types of artist with different styles and working in different media.

We have hit a problem regarding the titling of the exhibit. In the absence of one of the artists, the rest of us decided on the following 
CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION 
ARTISTS 
Artist Name, Artist Name, Artist Name, 
Artist Name, Artist Name, Artist Name  
PAINTINGS, PRINTS, TEXTILES AND 3D WORKS 
followed by dates, venue etc. 
The artist who was absent on that day, objects to this as she does not like the listing of the type of artwork which will be exhibited & says she has never seen an exhibition listing 4 methods of work.

Her preferred title is ‘Contemporary Mixed Media Art Exhibition.’

I’ve always understood the term ‘mixed media’ is used in reference to specific artworks that are produced using a mixture of media. I haven’t understood it to be used when describing an Art Exhibition because artists have used different media from each other......

I’m not sure that “Joe Public’ will understand the subtleties of mixed media when describing a local exhibition but by listing what type of work is being exhibited they will get a better idea of what is being exhibited.

I would like to also take the opportunity to thank you for your very interesting pertinent blog,

name
This was my response - which basically ignores the thing they don't agree on and tackles the issue they've not addressed.

Dear name 
You are arguing over something of no interest to the general public 
You want to minimise the words and fight over the image you are using to promote the show.

People will notice the image far more than they will notice words - make it a good one which will wet their interest 
The only words you need are:
  • art show
  • venue
  • date
  • times
that's it! 
If you like have a smaller line down the bottom listing the artists - but don't obscure the image! 
Katherine
I also sent a link to this Guardian slideshow of posters by Tom Eckersley, who was one of the foremost poster designers and graphic communicators of the last century and also taught design.

Here's a couple of composite images which give a sense of the ratio of great image to words used by Tom Eckersley.

Notice how you can detect clues of what they are about without being able to read the words?
That's what a great art exhibition poster / publicity should do too!





The next argument is obviously about whose artwork to use.....

To which my reply might be - why does it need to be anybody's artwork if you can come up with a great graphic design?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The response to the Obama Portraits

I found the whole unveiling of the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherrald and the subsequent reaction to be quite fascinating.

The first official presidential portraits of an African American President and his First Lady by African American artists generated quite a 'response'.

Barack Obama, born 1961,  Forty-fourth president, 2009–2017
by Kehinde Wiley
It's like everybody is suddenly a portrait expert.

Plus there all these overtones and messages apparently embedded into the portraits

It felt a bit as if one could almost do a sociological analysis of America based on how people responded.

So I've done a round-up of some of the articles that were published and tried to categorise them. Interspersed by some of the comments made at the ceremony.

One of the interesting things is how the art journals have been pushed to one side in Google rankings by all the major newsprint publications who were all desperate to have a view, or two or three....

Start with this one - Presidential portraits: from Washington to Obama – in pictures - which provides a visual record of the portraits of past presidents - to provide some context!
You do wonder at the state of portraiture in the USA when looking at these portraits prior to the Obamas

Plusthe Unveiling Ceremony - if you care to watch. Speeches towards the end are interesting.



The Obamas chose Wiley and Sherald after considering portfolios of some 20 artists. The Obamas interviewed a few at the White House, but ultimately decided on the two contemporary portraitists with whom they each felt a connection. Both artists’ work shows a commitment to making portraits of people who have traditionally been marginalized. Time

How different is this?!!!


Why are they so different from what has gone before? (leaving aside how boring some of the 
portrait artists are who have painted past portraits of Presidents!)

One thing is certain - Presidential Portraiture will never be quite the same again. I can't wait for the next one ;)
I think the question could be asked the other way round. How come all previous portraits have been so anodyne and just plain boring!
The image is a striking departure from the staid presentation of many of the other 43 Presidents in the “America’s Presidents” exhibit. And for that reason, it feels like an essential addition to American history. Time
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
born 1964, Born Chicago, Illinois
by Amy Sherrald

What's the meaning behind the portrait?

What do the flowers mean? What does the dress mean? What influenced the portraits. There's a mix of questions and a mix of answers....
The flora in the portrait represent the stations of Obama’s scattered personal and ancestral past—blue lilies for Kenya; jasmine for Hawaii; chrysanthemums for Chicago

Judgements on the Portraits

What I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege President Obama
If you think I'm making a big deal of this here's an example of articles about past portraits of former Presidents

How to see the portraits


I think one thing people have forgotten to comment on is just how many people are likely to come and view these portraits. I think there will be another batch of articles some way down the line commenting on how many visitors they have generated. Then the interesting question will be is it because of who they are - or because of how they were painted - or because of who painted them or all of those factors bundled up together. I vote for the latter!
  • Former President Barack Obama's portrait is in the America's Presidents gallery on the museum's second floor. 
  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama's portrait is featured in the Recent Acquisitions gallery on the museum's first floor.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: Episode 5 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

This week, I return to making comments about people painting portraits on television, after having posted my own credentials for Drawing People last week after the last review of the Portrait Artist of the Year series.

The top down view of the set up in the atrium at the Wallace Collection
This is a review of Episode 5 of Portrait Artist of the Year by Sky Arts - and brought to me via the Now TV app (see blog post at the end for how)

You can see links at the end to my reviews of the first four episodes.


The Professionals

Five professional artists participated this week
  • Phan Phan Duc (spelling?) - I can't find anything online but I may have got the spelling wrong
  • Lizet Dingemans - born in Helmond, the Netherlands. Studied Fine Art at Angel Academy in Florence. Continued her studies at a student at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA). Now a full time artist and art teacher
  • Sarah Hope - Lives in Newport in Pembrokeshire.  She has a degree in fine art and returned to art 10 years ago after bringing up her family.  in 2017 she was one of the Artists & Illustrators Magazine ‘Artists of the Year 2017’ Prize Winners. This is her blog post about the day itself and what she did next - which was basically use her coloured pencil drawing to create an oil painting of Fiona Shaw.
  • Lee Fether - I thought her work looked familiar and looking at her website it's because I've seen it before! She has a design degree from Central School of Art and Design and was selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2009 and 2011.
  • Richard Kitson - clever man - he's got his self portrait and the logo for Portrait Artist of the Year on the home page of his website! He's got a degree in Fine Art. Currently he paints, draws and makes etchings in his studio in Barnsley - and he's got his first solo exhibition of his portraits at the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley opening on 14th April.

The Amateurs


Four amateur artists testing their skills were
  • Georgia Palomba - from Prestatyn in North Wales. She lists herself on Pinterest as "fine art student, boxer, pole dancer". She's studying fine art at Kingston University.
  • Liam Dunne - apparently no website but he posts his art on his Twitter account
  • Jonathan Stockley - very succinct bio on his website "Born in Wokingham, England. Raised in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.  Living in Coatbridge, Scotland and currently working as a Modelmaker in Newcastle upon Tyne, with drawing in my spare time" Having started out as a pet artist who has progressed to doing proper portraits of people - but from photographs.
  • Corinne Pierre - Originally comes from Guyana (British Guiana South America). She obtained a BA in Illustration at Bristol Art School. She now lives in Gloucestershire.

Survey of the self-portraits


Survey of the self-portraits
Note the variation in sizes of the self-portraits submitted.  Of course the impact of the dimensions will have been greatly diminished when viewed online - which is how selection is made for the Heats. This is the first time the Judges have seen the self-portraits "in the flesh" as it were.

You can get a sense of scale by looking at hwo big they look relative to the size of the presenters and judges!

Frank made an interesting comment about it being a bit like dating apps where you see the photo online and now you get to meet the person for real - and asked which of the painters did they want to meet. It's an interesting question. This is the first time you get to create an impression. Does the way you design your self-portrait and then render it make a difference to your chances of selection? I would suggest that it does - but also that viewers should listen carefully to WHAT it is about the portrait that impresses.

Sitters


The sitters this week were
  • Elizabeth McGovern of Downton Abbey fame, 
  • Harry Potter's aunt - the film star and theatre actress Fiona Shaw and 
  • Paralympic gold medalist Kadeena Cox.

Discussions and Observations


What's in a portrait



I often discuss the question of what impresses judges in terms of portraits produced for competitions.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 10th Exhibition

This is the last week of the exhibition of the The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 at the Mall Galleries. If you've not yet been it's definitely worth visiting.

Preview/Awards Night - The Columbia Threadneedle Award 2018
To my mind it's one of the better exhibitions in the history of the prize
Visitors to the exhibition also get to decide who to vote for The Visitors’ Choice Award, a further prize worth £10,000 to the winning artist. The Visitors’ Choice Award winner will be announced at the end of the exhibition.

I wrote as the exhibition opened about the shortlisted artists and the winner Ana Schmidt wins Threadneedle Prize 2018

This post is about the exhibition itself. The exhibition is on until 1pm on 7 February 2018, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1.  It's open daily 10am to 5pm and admission is free.

About The Columbia Threadneedle Exhibition 2018


The submission and the selection


  • It's the product of the selection of work from 4,118 submissions via the open entry - from 2,097 artists. 
  • Just 104 artworks by 95 artists were selected for the exhibition.
  • In percentage terms that's 2.5% of the artwork and 4.5% of the artists
  • The average number of works submitted were 1.96
  • Compared to 2016, the number of entries grew by 7.5% and the number of artists submitting work grew by 6.2% - so the competition remains an attractive proposition for figurative artists despite it now being a biennial.
You can read profiles and visit the websites of the artists who had work selected for the exhibition in my post Selected artists for Columbia Threadneedle Prize Exhibition 2018.


Media


Interestingly this exhibition is dominated by oil paintings - including some very large oil paintings.  I discovered this by using the menu selector for the online exhibition. Why is it that oil is seen as the media that must be used for art competitions?

(Left) Duff by Ruth MurrayOil on canvas, 210 x 150 cm £27,000
(Right) Shallows by Helen Flockhart, Oil on linen, 105 x 155 cm £15,000 [SOLD]
There were very few acrylic paintings - although one of them worn First Prize.

More positively, there are a significant number of very impressive works in monochrome - using graphite, charcoal and/or pen and ink - although some are on oil.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Final Call for Entries - Wildlife Artist of the Year 2018

The Final Call for Entries
This year's  Wildlife Artist of the Year 2018 exhibition will be the first year without David Shepherd (1931-2017) at the opening - but I'm absolutely sure it will be a really great exhibition - in his memory.

However you have just a few days left to get your digital entry in to this prestigious open competition - and have a chance of winning the £10,000 top prize for Wildlife Artist of the Year. 

This year for the first time there is NO LIMIT on the number of entries you can submit.

The closing time/date for digital entries is midnight on Monday 12th February 2018.

You're probably too late for postal entries as the closing time for them is 5pm on 12th February 2018.

The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries as usual however the timing has changed. It's one between 2nd - 6th May 2018. (Note this is much earlier than usual) with the PV on the 1st May.

Final Call for Entries

Well the first thing to say is your wildlife art better be good because this competition regularly receives top notch wildlife art from around the world!

Indeed simply getting selected for this exhibition is regarded as a big honour by many wildlife artists. 

DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year is a prestigious annual wildlife art competition. Founded by David Shepherd over 10 years ago, the competition attracts artists from all over the world and showcases some of the finest and most exciting wildlife art whilst at the same time raising vital awareness and funds for the endangered wildlife that DSWF works so hard to protect. Every entry, and proceeds from all sales, supports our work to that fight wildlife crime, protect endangered species, and engage local communities in Africa and Asia.

Prizes


The first prize is definitely worth winning and the category prizes are also very nice!
  • Overall Winner £10,000 cash prize & title ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year 2018’ 
  • Overall Runner-Up £1,000 cash prize. 
  • Remaining Category Winners £500 each.

So who can enter, what can you submit and what do you have to do?

Eligible Artists

Artists aged 17 years old and over - living anywhere in the world - are eligible to enter.

The competition is open to both amateur and professional artists and no distinction is made between them in terms of judging or prizes.


Eligible Art



The main conditions are as follows.
  • THERE IS NO MAXIMUM NUMBER OF ENTRIES - This is NEW for 2018. Previously there has been a maximum limit of five entries.
  • All media are eligible (EXCEPT photography). For example, the competition is very happy to receive artwork in media that includes oil, acrylic, watercolour, pencil, mixed media, bronze, plaster, wire, collage with styles encompassing traditional, abstract, monochrome, original prints* and many others .
* An original print is a print either in black or in colour, drawn from one or several plates, conceived and executed entirely by hand by the same artist, regardless of the technique employed, with the exclusion of any and all mechanical, digital or photomechanical processes. Every stage has been completed by hand by the artist. 
  • Entries must be completed by the entrant themselves
    • it must be their own original work. 
    • If a reference photo has been used, then the permission of the photographer is required (i.e. copyright issues are NOT allowed!)
  • Work must be completed in the last five years - hence artwork completed before 12th February 2013 CANNOT be entered.

Please note that in their Helpful Hints document the organisers state the following about the sort of artwork they are looking for and will rate highly.
The judges are looking for not only beautifully executed artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to interesting compositions with great characterisation, showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity. As well as showing an understanding of the subject, they are looking for a genuine love of paint. 
and
You can of course get your inspiration from a photograph or drawing, but be sure to make it your own interpretation of that image. Straight copies are not only breaching copyright but are judged to be unimaginative and dull. 

How to enter


The details of entry page on the website provides three documents (as pdf files)

Categories


Entries must be submitted to a category. The categories are:
  • Animal Behaviour: Showing a real understanding of animal behaviour, a sense of character, maybe something the judges may not have seen before.
  • Into the Blue: Illustrate the wonderful world of water, be it ocean, seashore, wetland, river or stream. 
  • Urban Wildlife: Entries can be in an urban style or depict the city life of animals and plants. Judges will be looking for both originality in the habitat as well as the contrast between wild and urban life. Vanishing Fast: Our vanishing world – it can be any species officially listed as endangered or threatened on the IUCN Red List – or any landscape that is at risk. 
  • Wings: The extraordinary variety of winged wildlife – birds and insects, in flight or at rest.
  • Earth’s Wild Beauty (including animals and landscapes in which they inhabit): The choice is yours! 
All categories are open to UK and international wildlife, landscapes, flora and fauna.
For all categories the judges are looking for....
not only beautifully executed original artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to compositions with great characterisation, showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity.

Method and cost of entry



Entries can be my post or online - however
  • all images submitted as an entry must be digital. Please NOTE that no allowance is made by the Judges for poor digital images or bad quality photographs. It's up to you to submit quality images.
  • all entries must reach the Foundation by 12th February 2018.
Your artwork should be submitted as a JPEG digital image via the digital entry form or should be burned to a CD. They require:
  • High resolution @300 dpi
  • minimum pixels of 2,200 pixels on the SMALLEST side
  • File size not exceeding 6MB.
  • all files must have an easily identifiable name eg you should use your surname followed by title of art artwork
Responsibilities of the artists
  • Note that delivery, collection, shipping costs and insurance are the responsibility of the artist.

What does it cost to enter


Entry costs vary depending on the status of the artist
  • normal entry fee: £25 
  • concessionary rate: £10 for DSWF members, 17-25 year olds and the over 60s.

How should I price my work?


  • All entries MUST be for sale. Do NOT enter anything you don't want sold as this exhibition aims to sell (so don't sell anything you have entered before the exhibition). 
  • All prices need to be realistic i.e. PRICED FOR SALE. This includes making your sale price appropriate for the exhibition and marketplace. This is not a vanity exhibition! Note that this competition is a bit different. Sale price will be negotiated with the artist but the final decision will be made by DSWF. That effectively means that if you enter your work and then put 
    • an outrageously high price on it so it won't sell - then DSWF can vary that so it will sell!
    • a low price on it - maybe because you don't know London prices - that DSWF can raise it so that it's consistent with prices asked for other work of the same quality in the exhibition.

Commission

There are three commission rates:
  • Sales proceeds for works exhibited at the exhibition are to be split 50/50 for sales made for the duration of the exhibition and for one month after. 
  • After one month, any sales made as a result of the continued promotion of the piece by DSWF will be split 70% artist and 30% DSWF
  • Sale proceeds resulting from commissions taken at the exhibition are to be split 70% artist and 30% DSWF. 

More about Wildlife Artist of the Year in previous years


Thursday, February 08, 2018

Drawing people

Given I've been commenting on other people painting portraits in my reviews of the Portrait Artist of the Year series, it occurred to me that maybe those who aren't aware of my background might think I had some nerve!

So I thought I'd better establish some credentials! 

I don't paint (I'm a "dry media" person) but I do draw.

I've also been drawing people for years.

Over the years I've also studied very many old master drawings - which is how come I like to hatch when I'm drawing in pen and ink and coloured pencil.

Plus I've commented on very many drawings and paintings of people by contemporary artists over the last 12 years as part of my reviews of exhibitions of portraiture eg the BP Portrait Award

A drawing in pen and ink in 45 minutes
no contour lines and no underdrawing
all hatching and eyeballing the model

Before my tenosynovitis in my drawing hand got bad (Don't EVER interview all day for two weeks non-stop!) I used to go to a weekly "Drawing a Head" class at the Princes Drawing School (now Royal Drawing School) - not so much for the tuition as having models to draw.

There I used to "eyeball" the models and in TWO HOURS used to progress through a series of personal challenges which went a little way beyond drawing the head

Draw two people, full size, in graphite on a large sheet of paper


The interesting thing about drawing two models is getting the perspective right
and making them look as if they are actually sat in the chair (or on a cushion)

I always drew in the backgrounds as it gave me a scaffolding matrix
against which to measure off parts of the body!

Draw the models and the other artists

Then there was two models and the artists on the other side of the room......

I spent many weeks doing this until I decided I now needed the challenge of pen and ink.....

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Review: Episode 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

This is a review of Heat 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year - which this week saw six amateur artists and 3 professional artists

You can see links at the end to my reviews of the first three episodes.

Heat 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year


The Professionals


Three professional artists were:
  • Jamie Green (Instagram) - age 27, based in Manchester and a shortlisted contestant in 2017 - who who was back by virtue of viewers of Sky voting for him to be the artist they'd most like see again. He has a very strong style which I guess is "a bit like marmite".
  • Etha Gurak?? - an Eyptian by birth, who studied art and a professional artist in Cairo before getting married and coming to live in London 10 years ago. Her self-portrait took her 28 hours and she listened to an "inspiration playlist" while she painted which included 'Eye of the Tiger"
  • Jackie Edwards - Born in London to Irish parents, she now lives in Ireland. She studied art at Dun Laoghaire School of Art and Design. She's also been exhibiting in Ireland, the UK and Europe since 1989. She exhibited a stunning portrait of "The Artist's children" at the Royal Ulster Academy last year (see Putting on an Art Exhibition - Behind the Scenes at the Royal Ulster Academy)

The Amateurs


Six amateur artists brought their kit to the Wallace Collection. They were:
  • Olivia Crossman - uses pastel on canvas and has a somewhat unique technique to her work. She uses a palette knife to scratch at the pastel layers. Produced a very impressive self-portrait.  She had completed a Foundation Art Year at Camberwell College of Art - but was now pursuing a science degree (Biology at Imperial College) and hoped to combine the two.
  • Anna Kenneally - She recently completed a BA in Fine Art at Bath Spa University - which I think she means she was in her final year when she painted in Heat 4. Her paintings on her website have a strong narrative edge notwithstanding some are contemporary updates on paintings by past masters.  She did an Interview with Cass Arts back in 2016.  Her goal is becoming a professional artist.
  • Aret Shukovsky?? - Comes from Poland and now lives in Southampton. He placed an emphasis on wanting to get the drawing right
  • Lisa Puhlhofer (Facebook Page- Based in Suffolk, she is a former nurse. Between 2015 and 2017 she completed the Diploma Course at 2015-2017 Diploma in Portraiture Heatherley's School of Fine Art. Little did I know I was in the same room as Lisa just a few days ago - at the The Bankside Staff Show Private View 2018. I thought the hair looked vaguely familiar!
I took early retirement moved to Suffolk to free up the money I needed to go to college. I studied at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in Chelsea, because it was the only School which had a Portrait Diploma at the time, and I liked the idea of being taught by professional working artists.
  • Roy Goodman - A career in science - he now lives and works in Cornwall. After he took retirement he became a a painter and photographer. In 2007 he obtained an MA in the History of 20th Century Art from Falmouth University, followed by an MA in Photography from Plymouth University in 2012. He has a painting which has just reached Second Stage of the John Moores Painting Prize.  I'm not quite sure why he has himself down as an amateur portrait painter since he exhibits in galleries - however he mostly paints landscapes.
  • Sam Smith - A self-taught IT Manager from Hertfordshire who had only painted 7 portraits before - including his self-portrait. He learned how to paint from watching videos on YouTube! Just a little competition from a bloke of the same name to find his website! 
The sitters were:

Discussions and Observations


Using a grid to get the outline embedded


The commentary noted that 8 of the 9 artists were choosing to draw in the outline using pencil, while one eyeballed the sitter and dew using her paintbrush. Guess which one impressed the judges?

Gridded up two ways on the iPad
The use of an app on their ipads to get the drawing started and well placed on the support was also very ubiquitous. I can understand why people might do this if they are not confident drawing from life - but it does speak to a lack of experience in drawing from life.

It's been a bit of time since I went to a life class (or the one I used to go to at the Royal Drawing School - which was about drawing a head) - but I don't recall iPads in use for that purpose. Maybe they are now?

That said at least two of the portraits ruled themselves out because they had MAJOR errors of facial structure and proportion.  Can you tell which two I mean? At least one of the artists knows it....