Thursday, June 14, 2018

BP Portrait Award 2018 - Artists with their paintings

This is about some of the artists whose paintings are included in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition which opened to the public today at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The purpose of this post is to provide
  • an insight into the age, education and experience of the artist and something of the story behind the painting. Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs, others are starting out on their careers and some have been working as portrait painters for some time.
  • an idea of the size of portraits selected for the exhibition - by including the portrait painter next to their painting!
You can see all the paintings selected for the exhibition online on the webpage dedicated to the BP Portrait Award Exhibitors

You can see them all in person while they are being displayed at the following venues during 2018/19:
NEXT! My next blog post will include a video interview with the winner of the BP Portrait Award 2018

Artists with their Paintings

The artists whose photographs are included below are most of those present at the Press View yesterday morning - who had their label on view! (I tend to assume you are staff if you don't have a visible label.)

My photographs are some of the fastest portraits I create each year given the time available to meet, greet and take a photo and learn something of their painting!
The painters in this post are from Europe and the USA with the following countries being represented: England, Scotland, France, Germany, Poland and the USA although interestingly the artists include two artists born in Italy and one born in Australia!

I'm still trying to work out how come Brighton University got so many of its graduates into this year's exhibition - starting with the winner!

You can read more about the artists selected for the exhibition in Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2018

The photographs of the main prizewinners with their portraits are contained in Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018

UK and Europe

UK - England

Alastair Adams b.1969

Bruce Robinson, Writer and Director
oil on board
© Alastair Adam
Alastair Adams is a Past President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (the youngest in the history of the RP). He was previously selected for this exhibition in 1995.

He studied at Hugh Baird College, Bootle and Leicester Polytechnic and started painting portraits in the mid 90s and became a member of the RP in 2002. He now works as a full time professional portrait painter working to commission rather than exhibitions e.g. Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to paint a portrait of Tony Blair. His work is held in numerous collections and has been seen in the exhibitions of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters(1996 - 2018).

His portrait is of Bruce Robinson, an English director and screenwriter. He wrote and directed the loosely autobiographical cult classic 'Withnail and I' and wrote the screenplay for The Killing Fields. Adams met Robinson at an event in 2017 to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of his film Withnail and I and asked if he would sit for a portrait. The sittings to make initial studies and reference photographs took place over two days at Robinson’s home.

Oliver Bedeman (b.1985)

Tom Bedeman
reverse oil on glass
© Oliver Bedeman
Oliver Bedeman is a figurative painter who is based in Oxfordshire.  He has previously been selected for The Threadneedle Prize in 2016 and 2018.

He graduated from Brighton University in 2007 with a degree in Fine Art Painting. He then did the Postgraduate Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School (where he won the Lady Rothermere Award) and the following year (2007-8) he was then the Artist-in-Residence, Royal Drawing School.

The portrait is of the artist’s brother, Tom - and he works in REVERSE in oil on GLASS! Oliver says:
‘Tom is my older brother and I have sought to capture our relationship: ever evolving and complicated. The technique of reverse oil painting on glass means you have to work in reverse, beginning with the highlights and eyelashes. The oil dries quickly on glass, so the face has to be painted in one sitting and with only small adjustments later'
In October, he has a solo exhibition"Silhouettes" at The Fine Art Society, London.
[Note: The little known technique Oliver used for his painting is also called Reverse Glass Painting (also known as Verre Églomisé or 'Hinterglasmalerei'. The shadow is created by the paint on the glass and the gap between the glass and the backboard. The painting is also affected by the colour of the glass]

Simon Thomas Braiden b.1971

Portrait of a Girl (Becky)
Oil on Panel
©  Simon Thomas Braiden
Simon Thomas Braiden is a self-taught artist. He's a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Art and his work has been seen in exhibitions in Manchester, Buxton and London. He entered the BP for the first time in 2017 but considers this year was the first time he hoped his entry might stand a chance of being selected.

The portrait is of Becky, an artist’s model who first agreed to sit for Braiden in April 2017. She is a complete stranger who he first met when out walking with his mother. He was very taken with the ethereal and enigmatic nature of her face. The portrait began with a series of sketches in which the fundamental questions of the composition were resolved.

Braiden says:
‘The painting attempts to portray the ambivalence experienced by a young person in negotiating the transition from adolescence to adulthood.’

Jamie Coreth (b.1989)

Broken Bodies
oil on linen
©  Jamie Coreth
Jamie Coreth won the BP Young Artist Award 2016 with a painting of his father who is a sculptor. He's been very busy with commissions ever since.

He was brought up in Dorset and Wiltshire and gained a BA (Hons) degree in archaeology and anthropology at Keble College, Oxford. He then switched his focus to art studies at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) and the Florence Academy of Art. His work has been seen in group exhibitions in London.

He seems to be making a habit of painting sculptors for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition. This time his portrait is of his friend Mark Jackson, a sculptor who was formerly a soldier in the Parachute Regiment. A severe injury involving broken bones ended his time in the army and led to a decision to become a sculptor. Painted at night under artificial light, Coreth says:
‘He casts his shadow over an old clay figurative sculpture, which appropriately was cracked across the hips and across the heart.’

Samantha Fellows (b.1971)

Found Albert Crouching in the Kitchen
oil on panel
© Samantha Fellows
Samantha Fellows is a professional portrait artist who works in oils on a panel and on commission.

Earlier this year she appeared in Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2018, made the Heat shortlist and had her painting chosen by actor Kenneth Cranham. She graduated in Fine Art from Oregon State University in the USA. Her 'other life' involves working as a scenic painter (with a seperate website) painting 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.

She was previously selected for this exhibition in 2016.  I 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. She was most miffed this year because despite getting your Albert into the BP she failed to repeat her double whammy and did not get his brother into the Summer Exhibition and is currently not impressed with Grayson Perry! ;)

The portrait is of the artist’s nephew who had earlier decided not to participate in a more formal sitting together with his brother. Albert left to hide in the kitchen but was subsequently found by Fellows who wanted;
‘To capture his air of defiance, mixed with a classic look of cheekiness he so often expresses.’ 
He was being pretty unco-operative yesterday in terms of being photographed next to his portrait - but I got this one nearby!

Samantha Fellows and Albert at the BP Portrait Award Exhibition

Peter Field b.1976

Robert oil on panel
© Peter James Field
Peter James Field is an illustrator who is transitioning into becoming a fine artist. (I very much like the etchings of his that I see on his social media sites.)

He did a BA (Hons) degree in the history of art and architecture at UEA Norwich and then a BA (Hons) degree in illustration at the University of Brighton. His website amply illustrates the range of illustration and work - a lot of which is figurative in nature - and some very prestigious clients. His work has been seen in publications including Vanity Fair, The Times and Time Out magazine and his artwork has been shown in group and solo exhibitions in London, Brighton and Edinburgh.

The portrait is of Robert, a sitter Field met after placing an advert on a website appealing for artistic help. Twelve people responded, but Field says Robert intrigued him the most as:
‘He was a chatty, friendly guy – but as soon as he became silent, his face transformed into an attitude of seemingly concealed sadness and tragedy.’

John McCarthy (b.1960) 

Derek (I Am) 
Acrylic on panel
John McCarthy

John McCarthy was previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 1999, winning the Visitors’ Choice. He born in Essex and studied at St Martin's School of Art, London - for 9 weeks in 1996/7! His work has been seen in solo exhibitions in London and numerous group exhibitions. This is an article about him and his paintings of crumpled up photographic portraits

The portrait is of Derek, one of the young people with learning difficulties at the school where McCarthy works as a part-time art teaching assistant. The pupils had completed an exercise in which they made large-format paintings of their own eyes. McCarthy asked Derek, who is 16, if he would be interested in having his portrait painted in the same way, to which he readily agreed.

Liesel Thomas (b.1981)

Self Portrait 
oil on panel

© Leisel Thomas
Liesel Thomas undertook foundation studies at West Kent College, Tonbridge, followed by a BA (Hons) degree in fine art-painting at Slade School of Fine Art, London. Her work has been seen in group exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and Berlin and she undertook a residency at Takt Gallery, Berlin (2007).

Her self-portrait was made at her studion in her London home. She regarded is it as part of an exercise in adding creative brushwork to her otherwise hyperrealistic style.
‘Although I paint many portrait commissions, I hadn’t painted myself for about twenty years. I wanted it to be honest, and for the expression to be minimal, to convey no singular emotion.’

Neale Worley (b.1962)

oil on canvas
© Neale Worley
Neale Worley has previously been selected for this exhibition in 1992 and 1993 and is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. He has exhibited in the annual open exhibitions of national art societies and leading art competitions in the UK.

He has been commissioned to paint the past seven presidents of the CBI and HRH Prince of Wales for the Army Air Corps. He was the official Tour Artist with HRH The Prince of Wales to Pakistan 2006 and to the Middle East in 2013. He studied art at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy Schools.

Neale's portrait is of his daughter Ilea.
‘I wanted to capture the innocence of a 5-year-old looking out into the future. As a parent, one is always worried about the life that lies ahead for their child.’


Laura Nardo b.1971

LTR Team A
oil on canvas
© Laura Bardo
Laura Nardo gained a degree in fine arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, painting and drawing section. Her work has been seen in exhibitions in Venice and Udine. She continues to be a practicing artist, however she also works a Gallery Attendant at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

The portrait is of Vittorio, the artist’s colleague and friend. She says:
‘This painting is dedicated to the staff of the National Galleries of Scotland. Vittorio has spent a long career in the institution, always maintaining a positive attitude and giving a warm welcome to visitors. He sums up the care, endurance and passion of the Gallery’s staff.’


Rebecca Driffield b.1959

Claire Tomalin
oil on linen
© Rebecca Driffield 
Rebecca Driffield has been previously selected for this exhibition and was awarded the Second Prize in 1999.

She is an Australian artist who has made Paris her base since 1986.  She studied at Swinburne College of Art and Melbourne State College, Melbourne.  Sh exhibits internationally in galleries, art fairs and museums around the world and her paintings are in a number of permanent collections and many private collections in Europe, Australia, Russia, Cambodia and the USA.

Her very tall painting is of the English author and journalist Claire Tomalin (see below). She had long admired Tomalin’s writing. Tomalin's biography of Charles Dickens prompted Rebecca to contact Tomalin to ask if she would sit for a portrait. She agreed, and the initial studies were made in her London house, surrounded by the books in her study.


Massimiliano Pironti (b. 1981)

A throne in the West
oil on panel
© Massimiliano Pironti
Massimiliano Pironti was born within metropolitan area of Rome but now lives in Germany. He has a strong urge to be involved in all things artistic. He's a professional actor, singer and dancer working in Europe - and at the same time he's also a largely self-taught artist who values his Italian heritage in terms of artwork of the Italian Old Masters (Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael). He's very much like to become a professional artist.  The duality of his bio on his website makes for interesting reading and just goes to show how much you can pack into a career if so minded!  You can see his paintings here

The model for his portrait is a dancer called Bathoni who he met while performing in a musical in Germany.  Pironti feels that her composure and the vivid blue of her jeans makes Bathoni appear:
‘Like a Renaissance Madonna for modern times.’
Massimiliano has the huge 'bonus' of having his portrait chosen as one of the feature portraits used for marketing purposes within the Gallery and around London.

Robert Seidel (b.1983)

Egg Tempera on canvas
© Robert Seidel
Robert Seidel won the BP Travel Award 2018. He proposes to travel along the route of the River Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes.  His rationale being that this river runs through ten of the countries which make up the EU.  He intends it to be a portrait of Europe now, looking at the similarities and the differences.

He was born in Berlin and now lines in Leipzig. He studied under Professor Neo Rauch at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. His work has been seen in solo and group exhibitions in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Recently he undertook an artistic residency at ESMoA, an "art laboratory" located in El Segundo, California. Seidel met David - the subject of his portrait - while he was in San Francisco. He first  observed David over several days on one of the piers in the city. He then asked if he would sit for a portrait, saying:
‘His character and the surrounding were special and I very much wanted to depict them.’  


Monika Polak b.1992

Mrs Anna Wojik
oil on fabric
© Monika Polak
Monika Polak is currently a PhD student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw where she graduated with an honours degree in fine arts in 2017. Her work has been seen in group exhibitions and competitions in Poland, Serbia and Spain.
Her portrait is of Mrs Anna Wojik who was celebrating her 100th birthday in a local restaurant when Monika met her for the first time.  Her personality engaged Monika's attention
‘bright, calm attitude, still with a twinkle in her eye’
Her face and hands 'pop' out from the vintage patterned fabric used for the support and replicated for her clothing - which effectively merges the foreground with the background.

Social Media:

North America


Gaela Erwin b. 1951.

Portrait of Neema Tambo
Oil on Panel
©  Gaela Irwin
Gaela is based in Louisville, Kentucky. undertook a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio followed by an MA at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.

Her aim is to create incisive self-portraits inspired by realism and Old Master paintings. She is a contemporary painter who works in both pastel and oil mediums. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in Louisville, Chicago and Cincinnati and in numerous group exhibitions in the USA and Europe.

Her portrait is of her friend Neema Tambo, a pharmacy student. Neema agreed to sit for two pastel portraits that were included in Erwin’s 2016 solo exhibition.  It was then agreed that they would continue and create an oil painting. The process took over a year to complete with sittings taking place in the artist’s studio, which receives natural daylight with a blue light in the morning.

Bernardo Siciliano b. 1969 (in Italy)

Vincent Desiderio
oil on canvas
© Bernardo Siciliano
Bernardo Siciliano was born in Italy but currently lives and works in New York. He is a self-taught artist - having been painting people since the age of 5 - and now teaches at the New York Academy of Art.

He is best known for his depictions of urban landscapes and nude figures. He has had regular solo exhibitions in Milan, Rome and New York since 1986 and His work can be seen at national and international art fairs.

The portrait is of Vincent Desiderio, a fellow teacher at New York Academy of Art, with whom Siciliano has taught over many years. Siciliano was inspired to make the portrait during a workshop that Vincent was giving and so the Academy studio and the life models for the class were incorporated into the composition.

It's a very arresting painting given its low key palette.  The change in colour from left to right - in terms of flesh and clothing and the fact nobody is looking at the painter engages the eye.  I enjoyed getting Vincent to fix his beady eye on Bernardo!

About the Awards and the Exhibition

The BP Portrait Award Exhibition is on display during 2018/19 at the following venues:

Previous posts about the BP Portrait Award 2018

Blogs Posts about Previous BP Portrait Exhibitions

BP Portrait Award 2017


BP Portrait Award 2016

BP Portrait Award 2015

    BP Portrait Award 2014

      BP Portrait Award 2013

        BP Portrait Award 2012

          BP Portrait Award 2011

          BP Portrait Award 2010

            BP Portrait Award 2009

            BP Portrait Award 2008 

              BP Portrait Award 2007

              More information

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