Sunday, October 21, 2018

Visit the Society of Wildlife Artists 55th Annual Exhibition for FREE

Visit the upcoming 2018 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries and, as well as opportunities to view and buy the artwork on display you can also:
  • meet the artists, 
  • ask questions and 
  • have your portfolio reviewed
Every year I say that the Society of Wildlife Artists has one of the best and most consistent records of a top quality art show at the Mall Galleries - of diverse subject matter and a variety of media for paintings, drawings, fine art prints and sculpture.
The Society aims with this exhibition to further an awareness of the importance of conservation in order to maintain the variety of the world’s ecosystems and its wildlife.
If you're very keen on wildlife art and want to see top quality art, you want to make a date to see the 55th SWLA Annual Exhibition 2018 at the Mall Galleries between 25th October and 4th November 10am to 5pm (closes at 1pm on final day)

John Threlfall SWLA Here's Trouble
The exhibition includes over 350 catalogued works plus unframed project work in the Out of the Frame room. You can 
  • see more examples of the artwork on display below
  • find out about events and opportunities to meet the artists below

A Bonus

Admission is normally £4, £3 concessions, 50% off with National Art Pass, Free to Friends of Mall Galleries, SWLA Friends and under 18s
HOWEVER If you mention this blog "Making A Mark" at the front desk, you and a friend can visit The Natural Eye: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition for FREE - instead of the normal £8 admission for two people.

Show them this blog post - and this offer

Examples of the type of artwork on display

Below are examples of paintings, fine art prints and sculpture - in different media. You can also view the Online Catalogue (via Issuu)

Carry Akroyd SWLA Winter Thrushes heading home

Harriet Mead PSWLA  Leaf rake Pike

Matt Underwood SWLA Magnolia

Simon Griffiths SWLA Roe Buck 1

Simon Turvey SWLA Badgers
Bruce Pearson SWLA Polar Bear

Meet the Artists

There will be a member artist available most days to answer questions.
On 25th October
  • at 12.30 pm there will be an informal talk by Jill Moger SWLA about her extraordinary ceramic sculpture of a hydrothermal vent. Jill will chat about what Hydrothermal vents are and the life forms that thrive on and around them and give an insight into how she went about creating the piece
  • at 2.30 pm Harriet Mead PSWLA will give a short informal tour of the show
On 26th October Kittie Jones SWLA will be happy to discuss artist’s portfolios

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The last day of Michael Jackson at the NPG

Tomorrow is the last day of the Michael Jackson - On The Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Jackson by Warhol
This landmark exhibition explores the influence of Michael Jackson on some of the leading names in contemporary art, spanning several generations of artists across all media. Curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, our summer exhibition has opened to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on 29 August 2018).
Essentially it's an exhibition about the artwork about his image by contemporary artists of today
Since Andy Warhol first used his image in 1982, Jackson has become the most depicted cultural figure in visual art by an extraordinary array of leading contemporary artists.
I finally went to see it during the week (after the PV for Taylor Wessing - of which more tomorrow)

There were a very few artworks I thought had merit. The Warhols were good. I liked the leather jacket covered in tiny cutlery.

I wasn't sure whether this painting by Kehinde Wiley had merit - I wasn't a fan of the painting - or 'the painting'.

Michael Jackson portrait by Kehinde Wiley
The majority felt and looked tacky - and you need to bear in mind I took no photos of those - except from a distance....

Paintings of Michael Jackson
I guess it's a generational thing - or maybe a celebrity thing?

The entrance to another gallery
What was very noticeable was the exhibition was pretty empty, which seemed a bit off.

Apparently, I was told, it's been really busy with young people at the weekends.

I think the thing that annoyed me the most is that this is the Exhibition that took over the Gallery in which the BP Portrait is normally held - so that the BP got bumped into a gallery which did not suit it and is too small for the number of visitors that exhibition gets

By way of contrast, this is the Gallery that normally houses the BP - and it was EMPTY!

Instead of the BP Portrait Award....

Apart from the area at the end where there was an audio visual installation of German born fans singing the songs - track by track - from Thriller.

The Candice Brietz installation comprises videos of fans singing the songs in a booth in a professional sound studio accompanied by the individual sound recording of that person - meaning it really did sound like they were singing in front of you. It was quite unnerving how in sync with the songs they heard. I assumed there must be a backing track which we didn't hear.

I liked it - it proved to be very seductive - and it was one of the things I did like.
Candice Breitz's Vimeo Channel is worth a look.

Candice Britetz - King Part II
By way of contrast on the whole I found the exhibition very odd. Some of it stimulated feelings of quite strong dislike. Like the constant repeats of the same songs.....

It certainly didn't feel anything like the Michael Jackson I grew up with.

It felt rather more like a lot of artists using his persona / image to riff their artworks - and make money.  Vultures was the metaphor which sprang to mind

If you want to make your own mind up you have one day left!

Dr Bendor Grosvenor has made up his mind - and spoke it on Twitter

The lucky people of Paris, Bonn and Finland will get the exhibition next.

Future tour dates for Michael Jackson - On The Wall

As I came out, I was reminded of the very marked contrast with the extraordinarily successful exhibition about Pink Floyd at the V&A - and all their visual media and art developed around the group, the albums and the concert tours.

Packed from end to end - mostly with people of every generation - and I visited three times.....

(see Pink Floyd's Fabulous Mortal Remains at the V&A and "The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains" at the V&A Museum in 2017 )

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year

The Landscape Artist of the Year competition and television series hosted by Sky Arts television kicked off this week in a spectacular setting.

To round off what feels a bit like "Making A Mark does Plein Air Week" I've got below:
  • an overview of how to view the series
  • a note of how to enter next year's competition
  • a review of Episode 1 - at glorious Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire - including mini profiles of the artists and links to their websites and LOTS of Learning Points!
  • plus lots of references to past blog posts and tips about plein air painting at the end!
The landscape pods in front of the ruins of Fountains Abbey

Episodes - Heats, Semi-Final and Final

This is the fourth series of the show, which is produced for Sky Arts by London and Glasgow-based independent production company Storyvault Films. The audience for the programme has grown with every series to date.

You can view Season 4 and the episodes relating to the Heats, Semi-Final and Final each week
  • on Tuesday evening at 8pm on Sky Arts
  • anytime you like using the NOW TV app to watch on a mobile device (which is what I do - see the post at the end about how to do this)
  • PLUS if you get Now TV you can watch ALL the episodes from Seasons 1, 2 and 3!
The locations for the various episodes which follow Episode 1 are as follows - together with the dates of the first broadcast on Sky Arts

The Heats

These involve eight artists - a mix of professional and amateur - and some 50 wildcard entries painting nearby
  • Tuesday 23rd October - Viking Bay 
  • Tuesday 30th October - Loch Fyne 
  • Tuesday 6th November - Studley Royal 
  • Tuesday 13th November - Broadstairs Beach 
  • Tuesday 20th November - Inveraray Castle 

Semi Final

This comprises the winners of the Heats
  • Tuesday 27th November - (Semi Final) - Felixstowe Port 


If it sticks to the recipe, this should be the best three from the Semi-Final
  • Tuesday 4th December Double-bill - (Final) Greenwich Park and The Winner's Film

The prize for the winner this year is a prestigious commission from the Imperial War Museum to create an artwork to tie in with the centenary of the 1918 armistice.

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019

Some 1,600 artists entered for the 2018 competition - and they were whittled down to just 48 artists competing across six heats.

Want to compete next year? You might want to follow my reviews where I try to analyse:
  • who got selected for the heats and why
  • why people win a heat
  • what created a barrier to winning a heat
You can find details of how to enter Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - but you have until 11th May 2019 to submit your entry

I'd STRONGLY RECOMMEND you watch this series first - and read my blog posts!

Episode 1 - Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018

I covered the judges, presenters and how to watch this programme in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 starts tonight earlier this week - so I'm not going to repeat myself.

Instead we'll get straight into the episode

The Location

The location for Episode 1 is Fountains Abbey one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England.  I well remember being completely overwhelmed by it when I visited it. It's absolutely HUGE and it's surrounded by water and trees and a large expanses of flat ground. Making it an absolute ideal location for a competition like this!

Fountains Abbey
You can read more about what happened in the four hundred years between it being founded and when it was ruined following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII on Wikipedia

What it must have felt like to the competitors is anybody's guess. It's quite nerve-wracking enough painting live for a television show without also being confronted with such an imposing structure!

Learning Points

The key for me - in the context of a location like this - was about what they chose to do - which demonstrated their talent and provided them with a view which they could also finish in the four hours they have to paint.

In a sense you could tell very early on who might get to the end and win the heat - by how they started. If you don't know who won, just review those early profiles of the artists and see what they tell you about their ability to deliver.

For me, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that judging a competition like this is not unlike interview people for a job - where you can find yourself making early decisions about candidates based on what they wear and how they walk through the door and greet you. Early impressions count for a LOT!

The Artists 

In the listing below:
  • a link to the the artist's website is embedded in their name - for those wanting to know the standard of work by artists who get selected
  • links to their social media follows - should you wish to follow them

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review - Inaugural exhibition of British Plein Air Painters

This is a review of the inaugural exhibition by British Plein Air Painters at the Menier Gallery, 51 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU. 
It is the first exhibition by the newly formed collective British Plein Air and promises to be one the most exciting exhibitions to be held in 2018.
The exhibition comprises over 200 paintings for sale by 27 leading plein air artists in the UK - including David Curtis and Trevor Chamberlain, Pete Brown, Adebanji Alade and Haidee-jo Summers.  All work is for sale during the show and can be viewed on their artists page.

Most of the British Plein Air Painters participating in their exhibition
Last night I went to the Private View and this post is about what I thought about the exhibition and the exhibiting artists

The exhibition continues until 4pm on Saturday 20th October.


Back in 2006, one of the very first blog posts on this blog (age 4 months) was about a listing of Plein Air Painting Organisations. It contained the following
Why is it that so many art societies in the UK seem to be so dedicated to limiting their activities to having demonstrations or talks with slides or painting a still life indoors or social get togethers rather than arranging plein air events/expeditions? It can't be the weather - as we only need to go and look at some of the photos of the weather some of our north american artist friends paint in! Maybe we need a focus or a network for plein air activity in the UK? It's not as if it isn't happening - it's just not happening on a website near me - whinge now officially over!!! Maybe somebody will prove me wrong...........please?
We now have the answer! See the end for more information.

What I liked about the British Plein Air Painters Exhibition

The best things about the exhibition were that....
  • it was an exhibition about British plein air painting, 
  • all the paintings were done from observation and 
  • there were absolutely no paintings which were copying photographs!
Each painting featured will have its origins based outside; some will have been finished on site and some finished in the studio. Every painting strives to capture the essence of the landscape in which it is based. 
As such it demonstrated the very wide variety of styles and approaches to painting landscapes from observation - and it was a pleasure to look at much of the work on display.

It was also great to walk into an exhibition which was already sporting red dots on many paintings - and it was great to see people walking out the door with the paintings they bought.

Both the new group and this exhibition provide a platform for plein air painting which has been very much lacking in the UK in recent times. (see Foreword above)

To me, from what I've seen so far, in terms of the creation of this new group; their website and social media presence and having an exhibition to show what they can do - all serve to indicate great things to come.

Especially given their commitment to paint-outs and the fact they got very nearly 100 people coming to their paint out in St James Park last week! (See Capturing the Moment - plein air paint out in St James's Park)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 starts tonight

Tonight, the brand new series of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 begins at 8pm on Sky Arts.

Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell


In subsequent weeks, the programmes will be at different locations around the UK
  • Tuesday 23rd October - Viking Bay 
  • Tuesday 30th October - Loch Fyne 
  • Tuesday 6th November - Studley Royal 
  • Tuesday 13th November - Broadstairs Beach (I bottled on the idea of driving down to weatch this heat - due to the intense sunshine and heat! see Heats of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018)
  • Tuesday 20th November - Inveraray Castle 
  • Tuesday 27th November - (Semi Final) - Felixstowe Port 
  • Tuesday 4th December Double-bill - (Final) Greenwich Park and The Winner's Film

Watch via Now TV

If you don't have Sky then you can watch via the Now TV app - see my previous post
How to watch Sky Arts - Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 without subscribing to Sky! The same principle applies to this series.


It's the usual three judges Kathleen Soriano, Tai Shan Schierenberg and Kate Bryan

You can find out here what the judges are looking for


As we already know, Frank Skinner is not be joining Joan Bakewell as the presenters (see Frank has gone and Sky still wants more Landscape Artists) and has been replaced by British actor, Stephen Mangan.
(Mangan is) best known for his performances both in the theatre and on screen, including starring roles in the BAFTA Award winning Green Wing and the British/American television comedy series, Episodes. 
He joins the Sky Arts shows fresh from his critically acclaimed performance in The Birthday Party at the Harold Pinter Theatre and as production is under way for the 2018 series of Landscape Artist of the Year and for the 2019 series of Portrait Artist of the Year.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: 73rd Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists

The 72rd exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists is in all three galleries of the Mall Galleries until 5pm on Saturday 20th October 2018.

The exhibition contains just over 400 artworks comprising paintings drawings and prints in a variety of media plus sculpture and 3D artworks. The dominant colour of the exhibition is a blue turquoise punctuated by greys and red/oranges.
The Royal Society of Marine Artists is the focal point for much of Britain's finest contemporary marine art, and many of the country's leading marine artists are elected Members of the Society.
I've been trying to make a video of the exhibition post hard disc crash - but it looks like I need to get on with (1) updating my operating system to make it worthwhile to (2) upgrade to the latest video software - so that (3) I can make videos. At the moment I'm limited to imovie on my iPhone - but you can see two quick videos of the exhibition on my Facebook Page.

The stand-out artist for me is a non member called Pete Nance from East Looe in Cornwall (originally from the Isles of Scilly).  His panoramic paintings of harbours - particularly Polperro - are absolutely outstanding.
  • Sadly he does not have a website - although he does have a Facebook Account (but not an FB Page) and is a member of Liskerrett Artists. If he did have a website he'd be getting lots of enquiries about his artwork. 
  • Unusually for an Open Entrant, he had all four paintings accepted for the exhibition.
  • Unsurprisingly he won two of the awards. 
  • Surprisingly he's NOT a candidate for membership although to my mind he's an absolute shoe-in should he apply.  I'm hoping the RSMA will encourage him to apply.
Paintings by Pete Nance

Apart from Pete's paintings, the painting I that appealed to me the most was a very quiet watercolour painting of  dawn on a the Truro river.  It's very much the sort of painting I'd like to see more of in art competition like the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition - where the properties and pleasures of watercolour are clear to see.

Dawn, Malpas Reach, Cornwall by Keith Noble RSMA
watercolour £950
Paul Banning's unusual aerial perspective in his watercolour painting Cabanes du Salaison, France also appealed.

Watercolour paintings by Paul Banning RSMA
I noticed LOTS of waves this year.

I also noted what I think might be the first digital photomontage in this exhibition. I noted last year how it is never afraid to allow submissions in various media.

Seascape 69 by Clair Gill
Digital photomontage £450
Below are photos of the exhibition.

Threadneedle Space

North Galleries


Prizewinners are listed below - together with their paintings. You can see the awards being presented to the artists on the RSMA website (and well done to the RSMA for actually getting award winners on their website promptly together with good photographs of the presentation)

The prizes were dominated by wins by the non-members - which is always good to see for those who submit work via the open entry.

Awards won by members

The R K Burt Canson Prize: Peter Cronin RSMA
Morning Sun watercolour £950

The Kenneth Denton Award: James Bartholomew RSMA

Awards won by non-members

Pete Nance won two awards.

The Artist Magazine Award: Pete Nance
The Artist Magazine Award: Pete Nance
(All Works - this one is Sunlight on water, Polperro £3,950)
The Charles Pears AwardWinner: Pete Nance

The Charles Pears AwardWinner: Pete Nance
Reflections, Polperro Harbour £4,750
The Derek Gardner Award: Maarten Platje
The Derek Gardner Award: Maarten Platje 
The Clipper Ship Sir Lancelot passing South Foreland
Martin also won the The Classic Boat Award

The Russell and Chapple Prize: Claire Paul 
Sea near Cancale - acrylic and charcoal £700

The RSMA New Generation Award: Frances Bell RP
Readers may remember that Frances Bell was elected to membership of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - and was featured earlier this year on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. She also paints animals extremely well!  Personally I think she should be submitting her marine landscapes.

The Baltic Exchange Award: David Atkins
The Sea at Portland Bill £3,850

The Sea Pictures Gallery Award: Henrietta Graham 
Newlyn Fish Market £8,000
I'm more familiar with seeing Henrietta painting chefs. Seems as if she may have moved on to painting those who supply the raw materials for chefs.....

The Topbond Marine Award: Winner: Tony Feld
Portslade Dock Crane £1,200
The technique used for differentiating colours reminded me of the 'Posterize' filer in Photoshop

I can't find the winner of The Winsor and Newton Oil Prize in my photos - however that might be because I have a particular aversion to heavy black frames and this one had one of those.

The winner was Lucinda Storm and she certainly has a nice website and I found the pic on the Mall Galleries Instagram!

Candidates for Membership

The route to membership of the RSMA is via the open entry and being selected for exhibition.
Most of the candidates for membership had their artwork on one wall in the Threadneedle Space.

The candidate who impressed me was Tony Williams. His two low key and close cropped paintings were both very unusual and outstanding.

Two paintings by Tony Williams
I'll be back to update this post as I sat on the tube going home counting numbers of artists and numbers of paintings in terms of members and non-members - but still need to crunch and compare - and I'm now off to another exhibition.....

If thinking of applying for this exhibition next year, below you can find:

  • this year's call for entries
  • reviews of annual exhibitions in previous years.

Archive of posts about past annual exhibitions

2016: Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2016
2015: Review: 70th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Marine Artists
2014: Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists - Review
2013: Review: Royal Society of Marine Artists - 68th Annual Exhibition
2012: Review: 2012 Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists
2011: Review: Royal Society of Marine Artists - Annual Exhibition 2011
2010: REVIEW: Royal Society of Marine Artists - 65th Annual Exhibition
2007: Celebrating the sea with the Royal Society of Marine Artists

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Capturing the Moment - plein air paint out in St James's Park

Today was a plein air "paint out" day in St James's Park organised by the British Plein Air Painters as a preliminary to their first annual exhibition at the Menier Gallery next week (16-20 October 2018).  This was the second paint out - with the first having been held last month.

a plein air painting box - home made in plywood by Paul Franks
- with some very nifty features!
Some 90 painters attended the event - and when I turned up later afternoon (after other commitments) I found painters scattered all over the park.

The events are FREE and all levels of ability are welcome.

Below are some of the painters with their paintings. Most are not in the exhibition at the Menier Gallery - but I'm guessing some will be in future!

Keep an eye on the events page of British Plein Air Painters for more paint out days

Details of the exhibition
Both David Bachman and Mo Teeuw are going to be exhibiting in the exhibition at the Menier Gallery.  David is a professional plein air landscape painter. Mo is a professional artist, experienced tutor and the author of Painting Clouds and Skies in Oils (Crowood Press 2017)

David Bachman painting the lake in St James Park and Buckingham Palace from the bridge

Mo Teeow captures Horseguards Parade at the end of the lake in St James's Park
Over the bridge I found a number of artists who had enjoyed the day's painting in the sunshine.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Watch video of Banksy 'Girl with a balloon' being shredded after selling for $1 million+

Banksy has the last laugh.
  • Sotheby's Auction gavel comes down on "Girl with a Balloon" after it sells for over $1 million
  • An alarm goes off inside frame - also made by Banksy
  • The painting starts to drop down and comes out shredded into strips!
Banksy posted on Instagram....

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

and you can watch on the VIDEO made by Pierre Koukjian and also shared on Instagram

The incident has gone viral this morning.

Oddly the Sotheby's Twitter feed is silent!

Elsewhere accounts of what happened can be found as follows

Going, going gone.... but did Banksy get the last laugh?

Oddly enough, I think that since this is a unique event - and a first - that it will go down in art history and the value of the now destroyed artwork is probably a lot more than the buyer paid for it!

Friday, October 05, 2018

The art of watercolours AGAIN

A BBC4 programme this week Sheila Hancock brushes up: The art of watercolours - featured Sheila Hancock featured following a historical trail of watercolour painters.

This is about the programme - and some of the artists (Turner, Nash and Lady Canning) who travelled to paint in other countries which featured in it.

courtesy of BBC iplayer

A new programme NOT!

One might think it's a new programme - but it's not!

I know I was marvelling at how she had aged and then thought to check and realised that this is a repeat of a programme first aired in 2011.

What annoys me is that the information that it was first broadcast is way down the bottom of the page! There is nothing upfront to indicate this was a repeat - or a programme from their COLLECTION of curated documentaries from the past.

I don't mind seeing programmes again - or good documentaries that I missed first time. In fact I very often enjoy them more second time around. However I do dislike not realising that this is a programme I've already seen - because there is no indication it was a repeat.

But bloggers always keep track of what happened when!
Some us us even remember watching it the first time around - as I began to realise I had.  See
COMING SOON: The Art Of Travel – A History Of Watercolours With Sheila Hancock
It's so nice to see British watercolours at last getting an airing on television.  Looks like we're in for a bit of a "Grand Tour" 
She will travel through the Lake District and other parts of the UK, and through France and Italy to revel in the beauty of Venice and the Tuscany. Sheila will also concentrate on the paintings of famous artists such as Turner and Constable, whose watercolour works are often overlooked.
This programme will be a celebration of an art form at which amateurs excelled but in which leading artists, who boasted of their prowess in oils, often made their most personal and intimate works – thousands of which, to this day, remain hidden in gallery drawers for Sheila Hancock to unearth. 
A celebration of the rich yet largely untold story of British watercolour. Focusing especially on the work of amateur travelling painters of the 19th Century, Sheila Hancock will look closely at the technique of watercolour painting and the unique strengths of a portable medium as a means of record in the days before photography.

Bottom line - Sheila Hancock is now 85 years old - but would have been c.76ish when the film was made.

Anyway this is what the BBC had to say about it - this year!
Watercolours have always been the poor relation of oil painting. And yet the immediacy and freedom of painting in watercolours have made them the art of adventure and action - even war. It has been an art form the British have pioneered, at first celebrating the greatest landscapes of Europe and then recording the exotic beauty of the British Empire.
Sheila Hancock - an ardent fan of watercolours since her childhood, and whose father was an amateur watercolourist - sets out on a journey - from the glories of the Alps and the city of Venice to deepest India - as she traces the extraordinary story of professional and amateur watercolourists, and reveals some of the most beautiful and yet little-known pictures.
You can see all clips from Sheila Hancock Brushes Up: The Art of Watercolours (3)

I once went on a painting holiday in France - and followed the week when Sheila Hancock and John Thaw were there!

People mentioned in the programme

In terms of the people and items mentioned in the programme

Joseph Mallord William Turner
Venice: The Punta della Dogana, with the Zitelle in the Distance - Early Morning
1819 - Como and Venice Sketchbook
Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)
    Charlotte Canning00
    Hill Fort of Kot Kangra, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh by Charlotte Canning