Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 at Loch Fyne

I felt for the artists, presenters and the judges as I watched the opening of Episode 3 of the Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 series - filmed by Storyvault Films for Sky Arts.

Episode 3 Pod Participants line up for the results of their plein air painting endeavours
After three weeks of blazing sunshine, they ran into what Scotland does best - a dreich during a heatwave i.e. mist and steady fine rain which absolutely drenches.

So there were LOTS of umbrellas in this episode - and one even found its way into a painting by one of the pod participants.

The wildcard participants - around the corner from the Pods
Below you can read about:
  • the location
  • the artists
  • my commentary. 
  • Learning Points: The themes I identified this week's episode are:
    • Dealing with a lot of landscape and changing weather
    • Knowing what format works best
    • Knowing what to leave out and when to stop
    • The importance of a sense of place
    • The need to lick your websites and social media into shape
  • the shortlist
  • the winners - of the Heat and the Wildcard entry
Warning if you continue to read but have not yet watched this episode you will find out who won!

As an aside - one of the very curious things is that Landscape Artist of the Year seems to have died on social media. I always look every week to see if I can find any of the artists and it's now proving more and more difficult!

The Location: Loch Fyne

The pods were set up in front of that universal phenomena - the Indian Restaurant - in Inverary on the western shore of Loch Fynea sea loch off the Firth of Clyde which is the longest one in Scotland (i.e. some 40 miles long).  Prior to the D Day Landings in 1945 it had been home to a base which trained a quarter of a million troops for the landings.

The day started with steady rain coupled with a low mist - and this was the view for some of the artists in the pods!

The initial view from the pods

The pods in the morning - in front of the Indian Restaurant - looking out at the above view

The Wildcard contestants around the corner and next to the war memorial - after the rain stopped

The Artists

Some 1,600 applications were whittled down to 48 for the Heats and these are the latest batch of artists to get their every move recorded by camera.

BELOW are some mini profiles of each of the pod participants - with links to their websites embedded in their names and links to Facebook and Instagram where obvious. I'm always bemused about the distinctions between the professional and amateur artists.

PS There's a point at which you know you've got the right Facebook account by looking at the faces of people who have already participated in LAOTY in the friends! ;)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Society of Wildlife Artists 55th Annual Exhibition

The Natural Eye 2018 - Feature wall of the Annual Exhibition of Society of Wildlife Artists
I hate it when I've downloaded my thoughts about an exhibition onto paper - and then start to write the review and can't find the notes!  Written in the exhibition they're fresh and spontaneous. Trying to resurrect the thoughts after I've written them down does not always work...


However I have now found my notes of my visit to the SWLA Exhibition last Friday - in my shopping bag in among the receipts and the evening paper from last Friday!  So that's the end of notes on paper and next time my formal red Exhibition Notes Moleskine is back in action as the repository of all my thoughts on an exhibition!

So what did I think?

View of the SWLA Exhibition in the Threadneedle gallery 
featuring Old Man of the Woods, Bronze by Nick Bibby

Well first of all, the 2018 annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries is emphatically not an exhibition of photorealistic artwork.

That's not to say detail is not observed or that technique is confined to the gestural as opposed to the precise.

Instead the emphasis is very much on seeing, observing over time and portraying the vitality of the wildlife in their natural habitat.

There is LOTS of emphasis on movement - particularly of sea birds. Indeed there are lots of very vigorous paintings in the Threadneedle space.

Paintings created from studies of birds at visits to Bass Rock and St Abb's Head
Threadneedle Space

There's also a lot of emphasis on colour - although the works in the Threadneedle Space tended more towards the blue/grey cold end of the colour spectrum (see above) with warmer tones prevailing in the main gallery.  I like the fact that there is both complete truth about colour from some artists while others like to push the boundaries and make their art "pop" off the wall!

View of the Main Gallery
This year I particularly enjoyed the two very colourful collages produced by Carry Ackroyd - (Fox on the Prowl and Swans on the River) - on the end wall of the main gallery. (see top image)

Smaller prints in the North Gallery
There is a huge emphasis on wildlife found in the UK and Europe rather than "wildlife if Africa and Asia". the latter while present does not take over the show - with big cats and elephants everywhere.

Indeed where the wildlife from other countries is included this year I found it somewhat unusual. Hence the major exhibition of the Urban Black Kites of Delhi - which was very impressive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Awards - Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2018

This is about
The exhibition is on at the Mall Galleries until 4th November 10am to 5pm (closes at 1pm on final day)

I'm visiting two hospitals tomorrow(!) so my review of the exhibition may also be a little late in the day.

Society of Wildlife Artists - The Awards 2018

NEW The Terravesta Prize: £2,000 for the best work exhibited

The "Hyrdrothermal Vent", measuring in excess of 6 feer high, made by Jill Moger is a quite extraordinary work - I've never ever seen anything quite like it. It's explained in the catalogue for the exhibition.

A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in the earth's surface which typically form underwater along the ridges of tectonic plates which are diverging. Geothermally heated water issues from the vent. The assortment of animals surrounding them are referred to as hydrothermal vent communities.

Winner of the Terravesta Prize
Jill Moger SWLA, Hydrothermal vent

Mixed media: stoneware & ceramic183 x 102 cm

Although reptiles and amphibians predominate as Jill Moger's subject matter, she has created sculptures of many other wild animals. She is particularly drawn to the variety of life on and around the world's coral reefs and has been creating a series of work on this theme. Coral reefs are seriously endangered due to global warming and pollution and Jill believes that artists can help to highlight this impending disaster through their work.
Jill Moger is a self taught artist. She was a Vice President for Sculpture of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers from 2009 to 2013. She exhibits annually with the Society of Wildlife Artists and the Royal Miniature Society and at galleries specialising in wildlife art around the UK.


Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award (£1,000 plus Swarovski equipment)

The Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award
Andrew Haslen SWLA
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Linocut (edition of 75, 9 available)
One of my favourite artists won one of the top awards.

Andrew Haslen was born in Essex in 1953. He lives in Suffolk, has a life-long love of nature and is totally self-taught. He was elected member of the Society of Wildlife Artists in 1988. He has been selected six times to exhibit at Birds in Art exhibition, Leigh Yawkey Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA.


Mascot Media 'Nature in Print' Award

Mascot Media Ltd 'Nature' in Print' Award
Julia Manning, Artist, Returning Tide (Shetland)
Wood cut | 60x70cm image size |Edition of 25
This is the first time that Mascot Media have sponsored a prize.
For the first time, we made an award at a show we've been attending for almost 30 years. The Mascot Media 'Nature in Print' award was for 'the most original, unusual or effective interpretation of the natural world using traditional printmaking techniques'. We chose a large woodcut by Somerset-based artist Julia Manning entitled 'Returning Tide', which features curlew over Shetland. We hope to feature this image and other of Julia's prints in the forthcoming 'Wings Over Water' book, due next May. 
Julia Manning lives in Somerset and has been a painter/printmaker for 40 years. She is a member of The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Somerset Printmakers, The Society of Wildlife Artists and of The Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. She has work in a number of prestigious collections.

Facebook Page:

The RSPB 'Love Nature' Award

Kittie Jones Artist, Feeding Curlew
Winner of the RSPB 'Love Nature' Award
There are a huge number of paintings, prints and sculptures of birds at this exhibition every year.  This one came top this year!

Kittie Jones is a fine artist based in Edinburgh. She graduated from Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University in 2008. She works from her studio at Coburg House Art Studios in Leith and regularly exhibits around the UK. Kittie was elected as a professional member of the Society of Wildlife Artists in 2016.
Facebook Page:

Dry Red Press Printmakers's Award

Dry Red Press Award
Carry Akroyd SWLA, Windhover

One of my favourite painter/printmakers who works in a variety of printmaking approaches.


Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award

Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award
Esther Tyson RCA, Winter Sparrow
oil (Sold)
"For her masterful painting skill; her awareness that, in Nature, the ordinary is as important as the exotic; for her commitment to conservation-and-people projects around the world, and especially for painting sparrows!"Steve Harris, Birdscapes Gallery
Esther Tyson lives in Matlock, Derbyshire. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2003 and now combines a studio with observational outdoor practice. Esther has been involved in projects within the UK and Worldwide, working alongside organisations such as Birdlife International (Nepal, Vultures), BTO (Senegal/Norfolk, Migration), DKM (Turkey), Esther Benjamin Trust (Nepal), Free the Bears (Phnom Penh), FFI (Cambodia), Salford Council (Salford), Royal Parks (London), SWLA, Natural History Museum (the Big Draw).

Facebook Page:

The Ian Langford Field Sketches Award

The Ian Langford Field Sketches Award
sketchbooks by John Steel

In 2005, John Steel retired after 23 years working for Northumberland National Park as a ranger in the Cheviot Hills and latterly as park species and habitats officer.
"During my work there was always the opportunity to observe and increase my knowledge and awareness of plants and animals. All my work is field-based. I like to get habitats correct and I spend a tremendous amount of time in the field. I never fail to find something of interest, even in the worst weather." The Journal
Website: none
Sponsor: Obituary

WildArt 2018 (competition for those aged under 19)

WildArt2018 Age group Winners (left to right)
under 8 category: Rosa Smith
2-12 category - Clara Thorp
13-18 category - Katie Bryan

Richard Richardson Award - Katie Bryan

The Artists at the Exhibition next week

The artists are

You can get into the exhibition for free by mentioning "Making A Mark" at the front desk - see
Visit the Society of Wildlife Artists 55th Annual Exhibition for FREE

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018

Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 was filmed at Viking Bay at Broadstairs in Kent in June 2018.

Below you can find:
  • more about the professional and amateur artists participating in this heat
  • my commentary on the heat and review of the programme
  • more learning points for future contestants
  • where you can view the exhibition associated with Landscape artist of the Year
Pods on Viking beach at Broadstairs
EITHER they were up incredibly early OR the public don't frequent the beach when it's grey!

This episode had me really wondering why Storyvault Films doesn't do a better job of checking whether people have ever painted plein air before.

The joy of this series comes from watching people who can paint plein air and produce a decent painting at the end of it. The more who can do it the more pleasurable the episode is.

It didn't take too long to suss out this episode was going to be very different from the one last week.

There are six heats - and two were painted at each location. So it's clear that whatever order they are filmed in is not the order they are presented in - otherwise we'd be having Heat 2 of Fountains Abbey this week.

In this instance Episode 2 was actually Heat 4!

[NOTE: At the end there's an update from the Heat Winner about some of the points raised in this post]

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Call for Entries: Royal Society of Portrait Painters 128th Annual Exhibition (2019)

The Call for digital entries for the next annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters has opened

Part of last year's annual exhibition - in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries
Portrait Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) at their Annual Exhibition 2019. The deadline for entries is Friday 18 January 2019, 12 noon.
The RP seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture.

This is a very prestigious International OPEN Exhibition which any serious portrait painter should think very seriously about entering due to 
  • the high quality of the non-members exhibits; and
  • the scope to attract commissions for future portraits.
Below you can find:
  • Exhibition Details 
  • Prizes & Awards - The exhibition includes some high value prizes and awards, open to all participating artists 
  • Your chances of getting exhibited
  • WHY you SHOULD enter the exhibition if you are a serious portrait painter 
  • Summary of the Call for Entries
    Smaller paintings and drawings mainly from the open entry in the 2018 Exhibition

    2019 Annual OPEN Exhibition

    • Venue: Mall Galleries, the Mall London SW1 - across all three galleries due to its size.
    • Dates: The exhibition lasts just over two weeks
      • Opens: Thursday 9th May 2019 
      • Closes at 5pm on Friday 24th May 2019 
    • Hours: Open to the public every day from 10am - 5pm 
    Entry to the RP Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
    Entry to the RP Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries

    2019 Prizes

    Winner of the Ondaatje Prize 2018
    Mette by James Hague
    The exhibition includes several prizes and awards, open to all participating artists.
    The prizes (in order of value) include:
    • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal - awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
    • The de Laszlo Foundation Award: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
    • The RP Award: a £2,000 prize for portraiture 
      • All works shown in the Annual Exhibition will be eligible. 
      • winner will be the artist whose work best represents the year's chosen theme - Skin'. 
      • The judges will be looking for new / interesting / surprising / engaging interpretations of the idea of ‘Skin’ within the parameters of portraiture. 
    • The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium
    Em and Bruno by Anna Pinkster

    Reasons why you should enter the RP's annual exhibition

    Monday, October 22, 2018

    The RP's top five portrait artists 2018

    Want to know which portrait painters have attracted the most commission enquiries in 2018?

    The Commissions Consultant at the Mall Galleries - who works with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (aka RP) - recently published her annual post about the portrait artists attracting the most enquiries about commissions during the annual exhibition (and - but I'm guessing - during the course of the year).

    I also took a look back at the artists listed between 2015 and 2018.

    It's interesting to see how favourites have changed (and not) over time because it reveals:
    • which portrait painters are perennial favourites
    • how a higher profile for portraiture - or change in subject matter / style - can affect the rankings
    • why websites matter
    In turn, this provides information for those interested in portrait painting as to the preferences of the most important people i.e. the clients with the money who can afford to commission a painting for what will be a not insignificant amount of money.

    So - first the rankings and then my commentary on what I think this tells you.

    Plus something important to know for those wanting to place a commission - at the end!

    Top Portrait Artists in 2018

    see and my review of the RP annual exhibition in 2018 - Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!
    The latter includes the heading Very few stuffed shirts and lots more women! 
    The fuddy duddy factor was seriously reduced!

    A Price Guide for Commission fees is listed below for each artist - as listed on the RP website. These always exclude expenses such as frame and the artist's travel and accommodation for sittings.
    Commissions start at £8,000 for a 20×16 inches portrait in oils.
    Former President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Alastair exhibited three portraits of eminent women at this year’s exhibition. 
    Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!

    Professor Julia Black, Interim Director of the London School of Economics 2016 - 2017,
    and Pro-Director for Research
    Alastair Adams PPRP
    Oil, 134 x 85 cm, NFS
    He generated the most enquiries in the year in which a portrait of his was also selected for the BP Portrait Exhibition.  He became a member of the RP in 2002 and Hon Treasurer 2005. In 2008 was made President, the youngest in the Society’s history. In 2011, Alastair was also commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in London, to paint Tony Blair for their permanent collection. I suspect his three paintings of women of importance in the annual RP exhibition also contributed to his success with queries this year. I particularly liked his portrait of Professor Julia Black of the LSE - and I'm thinking a lot of other women would have done likewise. He also has a very accessible website with nice large images of his portraits.

    I do wonder whether his name coming up first in the RP's lists of portrait painters accepting commissions also makes a difference....

    Paul Brason RP (
    Commissions start at £7,500 for a 12" x 8" portrait in oil.

    Brason is a perennial favourite - and he's the ONLY one to be identified as a top five portrait artist in the last three years. He was also a a finalist in The National Portrait Gallery’s Annual Portrait Awards from 1980 to 1993. Do look at his impeccable drawings as well as his paintings! He is an excellent draughtsman and master of tone and colour such that he looks like he's painting very accurately whereas he actually simplifies quite a lot but represents what he paints very well. (Check out his paintings of garlic to see what I mean). He also keeps backgrounds simple, plain and unfussy. His subjects look animated rather than stuffed shirts. His self portrait suggests that we need to look to Piero della Francesca (1415-1492) for inspiration and influence on his style. Overall I can well understand why he's very popular amongst those wanting to commission a portrait.
    Paul’s commissions have included HRH Prince Philip, Earl Spencer, Sir Roy Strong and may notable figures from the Arts and Academia.
    PS I also LOVE his drawings of children!

    David Cobley RP NEAC
    Commissions start at 20 x 16 inches £8,500 for a single portrait in oil.

    Swifts Forever
    David Cobley RP NEAC

    Oil, 104 x 142 cm, NFS
    Elected to the RP in 1997.Two portraits in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery. He's been selected for various prestigious art competitions and won a number of awards. In career terms he morphed from being an illustrator into painting portraits on commission - and other paintings (figurative/still lives/interiors). His portraits vary quite a bit in terms of perspective and palette and - I'm guessing - he likes to change the nature of the portrait for the individual who is being painting

    Commissions for single portrait in oil start at 20 x 16 inches £6,000

    Vice President of the RP (2002-2008). Well known for being one of the few who paint families - painting her sitters in their homes and also painting children and family dogs - with one dog being included for free! (It's always struck me that liking dogs or cats and being able to paint family pets is a pretty useful asset for a professional portrait painter!) She has also painted royalty and painted a number of commissions for various schools and colleges.  She also paints interiors of homes.  Her paintings has a very clear painterly style which - I'm guessing - people will either love (or not).

    The de Laszlo Family
    Susan Ryder RP NEAC
    Oil, 111 x 127, NFS

    Commission for a single portrait in oil starts at 20 x 16 inches £8,000. 

    His Self Portrait entry was used to advertise the 1998 BP Portrait Award which helped to establish his reputation as a portrait painter. Elected a member of the RP in 2016. Has painted over 100 commissioned portraits for corporate and private clients.  Strong on suit, shirt and tie portraits. his corporate clients tend to be academic institutions of one form or another. Won the Changing Faces Prize in 2012 for a particularly effective portrait of a young girl with an obvious facial disfigurement. It was both frank and respectful - and I thought it was excellent.

    NOTE: Mark Roscoe uses a Flash website. While a popular format some years ago, most browsers have moved away from Flash as a standard and Apple has never liked it which means it's unlikely that the website will be viewed by many using Apple devices. It's a point worth noting by anybody who is using Flash for their website. The lack of a specific URL for individual portraits also means it's impossible to share a portrait you particularly like.

    Top Portrait Painters 2017

    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)