Thursday, December 27, 2018

About Sister Wendy (1930-2018) - nun, art critic and unlikely TV star

"Sister Wendy" as she was universally known - a.k.a. Sister Wendy Beckett, variously described as a broadcaster, art historian, art critic, consecrated virgin and hermit - died yesterday age 88 at her home and sanctuary at the Carmelite Monastery in Quidenham in Norfolk.

For those not familiar with her, she was a very unlikely star of television who presented programmes about painting and paintings in the 1990s - which became very popular due to her extremely lucid commentary.

In fact their popularity is marked and repeated by the way in which tributes are being written about her yesterday and today.

Her particular talent was to succeed in making art accessible to a lot of people
Unlike a number of presenters who need both 'scripting' and 'editing' (I speak as one who has watched individuals speak about art on screen and in person!), she was capable of walking into a room and just standing in front of a painting and talking about it - unscripted and unprompted, in a way which made complete sense to most people.

Her programmes were the most successful arts programmes made by the BBC since “Civilisation,” the art historian Kenneth Clark’s landmark 1969 documentaries.

Episode 8 of the The Story of Painting
Sister Wendy - in front of Monet's paintings of waterlilies at L'Orangerie
- talking about her experience of the paintings and how Monet painted them
Two of her most memorable programmes were for the BBC
  • Sister Wendy’s Odyssey (1992) 
  • Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting (1996) - which was a series (see below for more)
"Sister Wendy's programmes were so popular that they often drew a 25% share of the British viewing audience." obituary
Sister Wendy, as she was known to her viewers, was a nun who for two decades before becoming a television presenter had lived a contemplative life in a caravan parked in the grounds of a monastery. It was this apparent incongruity, allied to her love of painting, her refusal to indulge in the esoteric jargon and remote theories of art criticism, and the obvious reverence in which she held her subject, that transformed Sister Wendy into one of the more unlikely icons of 1990s television The Telegraph Obituary
In 1997, the New York Times described her as
"a sometime hermit who is fast on her way to becoming the most unlikely and famous art critic in the history of television"
Ten years later, in 2007, I inadvertently stood next to Sister Wendy at an exhibition of Renoir Landscapes at the National Gallery - and only realised who she was when I heard her inimitable voice explaining about the painting to her companion. She was a little frail even then and had an escort with her.

  • a video of her 17 minute interview with Charlie Rose. She made three appearances in total on 3 October 1997; 18 November 1997 and 19 September 2000
  • links to more videos of her work
  • an awful lot of obituaries - from around the world (below)
  • links to some of the books she wrote or was associated with

Sister Wendy and the story of painting

Sister Wendy had a first class brain but studied art through looking at paintings and reading books. Nobody ever told her what to think. Her lucidity was first recognised at Oxford University where she received a Congratulatory First Class degree in English literature. The latter is a rare distinction which is described thus
"a highly unusual honor in which the examining professors ask no questions about the candidate's written work but simply stand and applaud"
It appears we have Delia Smith to thank for her contribution to art on television and the story of painting. The Guardian obituary tells the following
Her caravan in the grounds of the Carmel was small, cold and basic, but was crammed with postcards and calendars of works of art. Starting in the early 80s, she began to put down on paper – often in close type, squeezed onto the back of a recycled luggage label – her thoughts about paintings that she had only ever seen in reproduction. A visitor to the Carmel, the cook and devout Catholic Delia Smith, was so impressed by Sister Wendy’s writing that in the late 80s she persuaded the Catholic Herald newspaper to publish them as a weekly series. It led in turn to an appearance on a TV arts show and eventually to five major series, scripted and presented by “one-take-Wendy”, as she was known to directors.

She narrated the following documentaries

Friday, December 21, 2018

How to be an artist - can you have rules?

I've often heard it said that you're an artist when you've learned enough about the rules to be able to break them.

The question then becomes "What are the rules for how to be an artist?"

According to Jerry Saltz, there are 33 rules for making art - see How to Be an Artist - 33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively).
There are 33 rules — and they really are all you need to know to make a life for yourself in art. Or 34, if you count “Always be nice, generous, and open with others and take good care of your teeth.” And No. 35: “Fake it till you make it.”
Just to be clear, Jerry Saltz is not actually an artist. He wrote an article in 2017 called My Life As a Failed Artist Decades after giving up the dream for good, an art critic returns to the work he’d devoted his life to, then abandoned — but never really forgot. By Jerry Saltz

Jerry Saltz, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in commentary,
taken at the Pulitzer Prize ceremony in NYC
Wikimedia Creative Commons
Nothing so straightforward. He's an art critic.

Specifically, he's the art critic of the New York Magazine - and this is a link to his most recent articles which he writes for Vulture, which is the culture section of that Magazine.

He also won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018 - so not just any old art critic!

Jerry Saltz' 33 rules for 'how to be an artist'

Anyway - here are his 33 rules. The full explanation for each one comes in his article which I recommend you read

Bottom line - it's a good read!  Whether you agree with all of it or not - and the images used for the article are also excellent - not least those where he emulates Cindy Sherman! (see below for his Warhol, Dali and Frida Kahlo impersonations)

However let's also be clear these are rules stated as Lessons - and some include exercises and most include imperatives.

In fact, I have no problem with the thrust of the article being Lessons. It's the notion that these are "rules" which causes me to pause. I'm left wondering if an Editor thought of a better title for the article?

I found myself nodding in agreement with quite a lot of what he has to say. I think if you've tried being a serious artist or know people who have you'll recognise those truths.
....over the years, I’ve found myself giving the same bits of advice. Most of them were simply gleaned from looking at art, then looking some more. Others from listening to artists talk about their work and their struggles.
Some of it I think has to be said by somebody who is not an artist because sometimes only the truth of 'what is' can be said by somebody who been very close to the art world without being an artist.

Read them as LESSONS and not rules...  Rules are made so you can break them - when you're a real artist.

Step One: You Are a Total Amateur
  • Lesson 1: Don’t Be Embarrassed
  • Lesson 2: “Tell your own story and you will be interesting.” — Louise Bourgeois
  • Lesson 3: Feel Free to Imitate
  • Lesson 4: Art Is Not About Understanding. Or Mastery.
  • Lesson 5: Work, Work, Work
Step Two: How to Actually Begin - An instruction manual for the studio
  • Lesson 6: Start With a Pencil
  • Lesson 7: Develop Forms of Practice
  • Lesson 8: Now, Redefine Skill
  • Lesson 9: “Embed thought in material.” — Roberta Smith
  • Lesson 10: Find Your Own Voice
  • Lesson 11: Listen to the Crazy Voices in Your Head
  • Lesson 12: Know What You Hate
  • Lesson 13: Scavenge
Step Three: Learn How to Think Like an Artist - This is the fun part.
  • Lesson 14: Compare Cats and Dogs
  • Lesson 15: Understand That Art Is Not Just for Looking At
  • Lesson 16: Learn the Difference Between Subject Matter and Content
  • Lesson 17: See As Much As You Can
  • Lesson 18: All Art Is Identity Art!
  • Lesson 19: All Art Was Once Contemporary Art
Step Four: Enter the Art World - A guide to the snake pit.
  • Lesson 20: Accept That You Will Likely Be Poor
  • Lesson 21: Define Success
  • Lesson 22: It Takes Only a Few People to Make a Career
  • Lesson 23: Learn to Write
Step Five: Survive the Art World - Psychic strategies for dealing with the ugliness (inside and out).
  • Lesson 24: Artists Must Be Vampires
  • Lesson 25: Learn to Deal With Rejection
  • Lesson 26: Make an Enemy of Envy
  • Lesson 27: Having a Family Is Fine
Step Six: Attain Galactic Brain
  • Lesson 28: What You Don’t Like Is As Important As What You Do Like
  • Lesson 29: Art Is a Form of Knowing Yourself
  • Lesson 30: “Artists do not own the meaning of their work.” — Roberta Smith
  • Lesson 31: All Art Is Subjective
  • Lesson 32: You Must Prize Vulnerability
  • Lesson 33: Be Delusional
I'll be inserting a link to this article to the soon to the STARTING OUT Tips for an Emerging Artist page of the Practice Section of my Art Business Info for Artists website - not least because it's one of the more realistic articles I've read about the fact being an artists is emphatically NOT all about the art!

What are your "rules" or "lessons" for being an artist? (Answers on my (public) Facebook Page please)

More about Jerry Saltz

His social media sites are worth following....

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2019 - Call for Entries

The deadline for the call for entries for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2019 is Monday 14 January.

  • I've been ambivalent about this competition in recent years (2012-2017). 
  • However the change of president seems to have resulted in something of a change in the type of artwork selected for this exhibition.

That said I think it's now very much time for a change in the type of artwork submitted. All those who stayed away during the 'heavily contemporary / non figurative' part of the RWS life cycle can now re-emerge and engage with this watercolour competition again.

This post is about the Call for Entries for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2019. It covers
  • my preamble and commentary about what I'd like to see this competition achieve
  • what the RWS want to see 
    • the prizes
    • the judges
    • who can enter
    • how to enter
    • the exhibition
For a commentary on some of the very significant issues associated with this competition in the recent past my post about last year's Call for Entries

What I want to see 

What I want to see coming forward in OPEN watercolour competitions like these - in the future - are:
  • Firstly - some potential candidates to follow in the footsteps of the great watercolour painters that we have lost in recent years - such as Leslie Worth (1923-2009) (Google Images) and David Prentice (1936-2014) (Google Images) who produced emphatically contemporary figurative works while at the same time being complete masters of their medium and hugely impressive.
  • Second - some "WOW!" paintings in watercolour. I've seen "Wow!" paintings in watercolour in this competition in the dim and distant past and I've seen "Wow!" watercolour paintings in other open competitions and juried exhibitions. I don't mean "kapow" paintings of the "in your face" variety. I mean the ones that just stop you in your tracks and just make you stare because you didn't realise you could do that with watercolour. Leslie Worth did it for me on a number of occasions - as did David Prentice - which is why I miss their skills and competence and vision so very much.
  • Third I want to see an exhibition of paintings by artists who know how apply, move and remove pigments suspended in water - BEFORE and AFTER application - NOT a refuge for painters using polymers!!!
What I really don't want to see is paintings by artists who don't understand ALL the fabulous properties of traditional watercolour (e.g. people who create mud) and who can't paint.

You can see the artworks selected for the 2018 exhibition on the RWS website. Some of it is extremely unexciting and I'm guessing did not walk off the walls....

Which is WHY you need to do your bit and enter your work!  Preferably by people who know how to make watercolour sing....

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2019
- What the RWS want to see 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Do artists have to pay tax on art prizes?

Do artists have to pay tax on the value of art prizes?

An art prize might feel like a windfall but, in fact - and tax law, artists generally have to pay tax on their value.

This post explains about:
  • my new page Tax on art awards and prize money which references 
    • links to tax requirements in different countries
    • why a distinction is drawn between professional and amateur artists
  •  the general principles about tax as applied to art prizes
  • Tax on art awards and prizes by different countries - specifically the UK, Ireland and Germany; the USA and Canada and Australia
NEW PAGE: Tax on art awards and prize money

Tax Tips for Artists on my Art Business Info for Artists website now has a number of sub-pages (see the end). One new one - at the top of the tax menu - relates to Tax on art awards and prize money.

Below is a summary of the information on that page - although none of the information below is specific to a particular country.

Tax principles re prizes

Most countries have more of less the same law which they apply to certain professions. Artists are one such profession.

The basic principle is that - for certain professions - it's a relatively normal and accepted practice to earn income by applying for art competitions and winning prizes. Indeed some artists will win prizes with a financial value on a regular basis - even if you personally don't!

Hence the income from such prizes is counted, as a matter of principle, as part of the overall income of an artist.

However there is A BIG "IF".

This basic principle only holds good for professional artists i.e. if the usual measures used by the taxman to determine whether or not an individual is trading also apply.

So if you need to do a tax return declaring your sole trader income then you will need to include prize money and the value of prizes as part if your normal professional - and taxable - receipts for your gross income.

Those artists who are declared amateurs, who win a small nominal prize at a local parochial art show for amateurs, do not need to declare such income. An amateur is allowed to consider such prize money to be a windfall.

Usually countries have a statement which allows artists to determine whether or not their activities and associated income are considered to be a hobby or a trade.
  • if you are an amateur with a hobby - you do NOT pay tax in nominal prize money - and neither can you claim any expenses
  • if you are a professional (even if it is not your full-time job):
    • you do pay tax on the financial value of all prizes and awards and 
    • you are allowed to claim all expenses relative to your trading income against tax (if allowable)
For more information and references to specific tax documents, manuals and statements see the page identified at the top of this post.

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Tax issues for organisations

In some countries, (e.g. the USA) the organisation responsible for paying out prize money may need to withhold tax if the prize goes to somebody who lives outside the USA. See the blog post for more explanation.

Since the income is considered to be earned income for professionals, the organisation providing the prize may also need to provide a tax certificate to artists as to the value of the prize.

It's not an area of tax law which is crystal clear (artists are generally ignored by tax law), however there are other professions and other aspects of income which suggests that those paying out are responsible for certifying what they have paid out.

I'm going to see if I can get clarification of the implications for organisations of:

  • what documentation they need to provide
  • how small a nominal prize needs to be to count as "amateur status"

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Alert - Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year

It's very nearly Christmas so by definition we start to get some silly programmes popping up.

On Tuesday 18th December, there is going to be a one-off special edition of Portrait Artist of the Year - for celebrities. I guess if you have an extremely popular programme it can only be so long before the celebrities want to be part of it too!

Participants in Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year
I've been trying to work out who's in it (and even why they are a celebrity!) for some days.

This is as far as I've got - so you can decide for yourself whether or not you're tempted.  The Judges and presenters are the usual suspects - as you can see above!
I've had a good look at the video trailer and it seems to me the split is as follows (after I waited long enough for somebody to remember to release something saying what it was about - and who was in it!).

Painter Participants

Painter Participants include:
  • Jim Moir (a.k.a. Vic Reeves) who has been painting and exhibiting for some time.

  • Maureen Lipman - the actress who paints using an iPad and "tells all" about what it was like on the programme (filmed this summer) in her Saga Interview. My money's on her!
(she) found painting against the clock was excruciating.
‘I thought it would be a piece of cake but I started badly, just like being in an exam,’ she says. ‘My heart was banging; I could feel this pounding in my vagus nerve. I got myself into a right state. I'm not good at being bad at things.’

  • Phill Jupitus - the comedian and panel game person - and cartoonist
  • Josie Long - stand-up comedian and cartoonist and new Mum - and owner of an unconventional website where you can see her cartoons
  • Joe Lycett - another comedian. Obviously musicians, actors and athletes can't paint....  but Joe can paint Boris on an egg!

Celebrity Sitters

The three sitters are:
  • Billy Howle - the actor (I've never heard of him - but I have watched him as Leonard Vole in Witness for the Prosecution)
  • Howard Jacobson - the novelist who has won the Booker Prize, wrote The History Man (who remembers that?) and describes himself apparently as a Jewish Jane Austen
  • Kanya King - the Mobo awards founder 
Here's the video trailer on Twitter....

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2019

If you are not afraid of painting in front of cameras AND lots of people (millions?) watching you paint a landscape for a television programme, you should consider applying to be in one of the pods for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 

If you are interested I suggest you read my blog post yesterday Learning Points from Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - a summary which also provides links to the various blog posts by those who participated in 2018.

Key Points

  • The deadline for submission of your digital entry is 11th May 2019 - and entries are now being accepted online.  Where an insufficient number of the entries received have satisfied the entry and judging criteria, the deadline might be extended - and I think this is when the programme-makers start actively looking for possibles.
  • You could win a £10,000 commission and £500 worth of art materials from Cass Art.
  • If you reach the semi-finals your artwork produced for the competition could be displayed in - and sold by - an art gallery in London.
Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 enter

How you are chosen to participate

A panel of Judges will review the Landscape Entry(s) and the Additional Works of Art from all the valid Competition entries and select the artists who will be invited to attend one of the Heats.
The Judges do NOT look at your website or your entry form - they only look at the works of art you submit in support of your application.

This is what the Judges have to say about the sort of landscapes they hope to see as submissions and during the course of the competition

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Learning Points from Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - a summary

This is a wrap-up summary of everything learned from the Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - interspersed with images from the Exhibition of the work by the semi-finalists in London (see the end for details of the exhibition)

This is the cover of the Flipbook about the Exhibition which you can find at the end of this post

Below I cover:
  • The Big Themes
  • The Artists - how to get chosen
  • The Locations - and choosing/editing what to paint
  • The Heats Process - learning points
  • What it was really like - from the perspective of both pod artists and wild card participants - LOTS of excellent learning points!
  • The Exhibition - Tour Locations and Dates
  • Links to previous blog posts - with summary of learning points contained in each
It's a bit long - especially if you reread the Heat Reviews - I highly recommend a hot drink or tipple of your choice and a comfy seat!

Tomorrow I'm going to do a post about entering Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - and I recommend that those planning to do so READ THIS POST FIRST!

The Big Themes

Over the course of the series I noticed several themes come through in terms of things Judges were looking for and why certain people did well.

Now we ALL need to remember that what we see is down to the Editors NOT the Judges and hence the messages being given off might not be those the Judges would want to emphasise - but these are the ones I noticed

Monday, December 10, 2018

Call for Entries - New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2019

The Call for Entries has gone out from the New English Art Club for its Annual Exhibition which will be held between the 14th and 22nd June 2019.
The New English Art Club seeks work which demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship Mall Galleries
The deadline for digital submissions is Friday 22 February 2019, 12 noon.

Below you can find
  • my commentary on the nature of this open exhibition
  • a review of the metrics associated with the annual exhibition in June 2017 - including the number of works selected from the open entry, the number of non-member artists who got to exhibit and the average number of artworks hung by a non-members.
  • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
One of the advantages of now having the NEAC Exhibition in June is it coincides with the first week of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts - and lots of people now travel to London to see both exhibitions!  In fact you can easily walk between the two!

The New English Art Club

This is how NEAC explains its purpose and remit as follows
The New English Art Club is an elected society of contemporary painters whose ethos resides in art informed by the visual world and personal interpretation.

Our Annual Exhibition is a showcase not only for its members but also for aspiring artists: with a history going back more than a hundred years, it is an opportunity for work to be seen alongside some of the best artists painting today, held at Mall Galleries in London.
While some in the past have tended to see it as a staging post to entry to the Royal Academy, for my part, I tend to think of it more as follows
"NEAC" is after all the set of initials that other FBA society members want to add on to their existing signature member status - probably because it was originally a spin-off from the RA. Review: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2018 #1
For information on how to become a member see the NEAC website - Artist Membership Application Process 

An annual exhibition under a NEW President

The NEAC website "Calls for Entries" to submit work to the annual exhibition.
This is an image of the Selection Panel in action
in the basement of Carlton House Terrace, in the room where artworks  are delivered 

While selection is by a panel of members, I'd expect a new President to set the tone for what he'd like to see happen. However, bear in mind when submitting work that there is a limit to how much time each work submitted can be viewed - and that this is the distance that most works are generally viewed from! (see the pic above)

There was a point when most of the Presidents of the FBA Societies were older than me - and now I'm older and many are younger! However, in recent times, there's been a bit of a sense at the moment of the "new guard" taking up the responsibilities of President from the "old guard".

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Review: ROI Annual Exhibition 2018 + commentary on pricing

This is my review of the 2018 annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, following on my from my initial impressions and prizewinners included in 126th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters

The feature end wall of the Main Gallery
This one includes:
  • statistics about the open entry for all those who submitted their oil paintings in the hope of getting them on the wall of the exhibition
  • some of the paintings I really liked in the exhibition - which feature throughout this post
  • artists who have done well in terms of selling their work
  • some of the things I liked less about the exhibition
  • commentary on sales and an idea for how to stimulate more sales in future

Thames at Richmond by the new President of the ROI Tim Benson PROI NEAC
oil 41x 36cm £1,500
I've been telling Tim Benson for ages that I really like his landscapes! Just need to persuade him to put them on his website too now.....

ROI 126th Annual Exhibition - Open Entry Metrics

I've made it my practice in recent times to include statistics relevant to all those endeavouring to exhibit in the annual open exhibitions of national art societies!

The idea is to show people what sort of chance they have of getting their work in the show

Below is a table of the numbers relating to this exhibition and below that I've summarised the key points

ROI 2018 Open Entry Exhibition statistics - for artists and artworks

750 artists submitted 1,900 artworks to the exhibition this year. Of these
  • 16% of artists got 10% of the artwork past the initial digital screening stage - and submitted work for final selection. 
  • 10% of the artists who submitted work have work hanging in the exhibition
  • Only 6% of the artwork submitted was selected for the exhibition
  • This suggests that quite a lot of artists submit a lot of artwork. 
The Good News - this is a competitive open entry but at least a third of the exhibition will be by artists and artwork from the open entry.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - the Final

I highly recommend that those who have viewed the FINAL of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 watch it again and LISTEN. 

The Judgement Process for Landscape Artist of the Year
I've become convinced with this series that there are lots of people who look at the pictures only (social media has got a lot to answer for!) and don't pay a lot of attention to what is being said.

The reason I say this is two fold - because:
  • while writing my blog posts I end up watching the programme about three times - and I'm always amazed at what I miss watching first time round. 
  • I see people making comments and asking questions on Facebook and Twitter and and I just sit there and think "did they open their ears as well as their eyes?". I end up wondering whether people were watching the same programme that I was watching. 
For example.....
Q. Just watched the final. Why did someone win who can't paint the actual view in front of them?
A (me) because people who are literal tend to think artists are ONLY people who can paint in a literal way - but not everybody thinks in a literal way.....
Q. But the winners picture didn't look anything like the view she may as well have sat at home and painted, it looked more like a beach but there was no beach in sight
A (me) You have just made my point for me. Watch it again and listen VERY CAREFULLY to the comments made by the Judges.
Now it's not that I'm suggesting that Judges always get it right. Goodness knows I've disagreed with the outcome of art competitions often enough.

However this is one of the few occasions in an art competition where
  • Judges actually EXPLAIN why they make a decision and WHY they think what they think of paintings. 
  • Which means there's a LOT OF GOOD POINTS that those aspiring to be artists can learn from what in this programme.
I'm not saying you have to agree with everything they say - and I don't - but it's always worth a LISTEN!

The Final 

The Location: Greenwich Park

The spot at the top of Greenwich Park - right on the Meridian - is one I know well (I live just behind those towers you can see) and I've also sketched from there as well.

This was my version - Greenwich Park Panorama - of "the big one" done during the Olympics (click for the bit bigger version!) when the arena for the show jumping was covering Jen's 'cross' on the grass. This is literally everything you can see from the exact same spot as they were for the Final (and I've edited a lot out of the foreground!) - minus the Equestrian Arena!  You can see Jen's "nice tree" just right of centre.

MY VERSION of The panoramic view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park
- complete with Equestrian Arena for the Olympics 2012
pen and ink and coloured pencils,
11" x 48" (3 double page spreads in A4 Moleskine Sketchboook)

The thing is if you're seeing it for the first time it is completely and utterly overwhelming. It takes a long time just to take it all in and work out what you're looking at.
"This view is awesome, daunting, challenging and basically quite frightening" Jen Gash
It's certainly not a landscape I would want to try and paint for a competition with a £10,000 prize - and complete in 4 hours.

It's emphatically one where you first need to answer 'What?' and 'Why?' as opposed to 'How?'

Monday, December 03, 2018

£35,000 BP Portrait Award 2019 - How to enter and how to improve your chances of being selected.

2019 will be the 40th year of the BP Portrait Award and the 30th year of its sponsorship by BP. It's grown in stature over time as the number of entries from around the world have increased. The entry for the BP Portrait Award 2019 will be no different.

This is my annual guide to the BP Portrait Award - it's somewhat encyclopedic (but I've been analysing this competition for well over a decade!)

  • great reasons for entering the BP Portrait Award 2019
  • how to give yourself a better chance than most with your entry
  • how to enter the competition - the deadline is 21 January 2019

Why you should enter the BP Portrait Award

1. You can change your life!

This is the sort of art competition / exhibition that changes people's careers and lives.  Just getting selected can be enough to get taken seriously and after that it's up to you.  If you are or aspire to be a serious portrait artist you need to think very seriously about entering the competition that in the past has been characterised as "the Oscars of Portraiture".

Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2018
Miriam Escofet with her mother and Miriam's portrait "An Angel at my Table"
- this could be YOU in 2019!

2. Awards

There's a £74,000 prize pot. If you win, you cash out of the competition as you won't be able to enter again. Ideally you get to win second or third prize before winning!
  • First Prize: A cash award of £35,000 with a commission valued at £7,000
  • Second Prize: £12,000
  • Third Prize: £10,000
  • BP Young Artist Award: £9,000 (All entrants aged between 18 and 30 will automatically be considered for both the BP Young Artist Award and the BP Portrait Award, but an individual cannot win both.)
  • BP Travel Award 2019: £8,000

3. International

This competition has serious international standing. It regularly attracts
  • over 2.5k entries annually from some 80+ countries all over the world 
  • about half the entries are from outside the UK
  • it also regularly has prizewinners from all over the world!

4. Audience

A HUGE number of people come to see this exhibition.
  • You could be an exhibition lasting several weeks for a major art prize in a major national art gallery right in the centre of London. 
  • Every year, this is one of the top exhibitions in the UK, regularly attracting more than 200k visitors to the exhibition - BEFORE it tours to other parts of the UK. 

5. Profile & Status

"Selected for the BP Portrait" is the sort of entry on your CV that galleries like to see! This is the competition that artists boast about being selected for - and galleries like to boast about your selection too!

6. Exposure

Your portrait painting could hang outside the National Portrait Gallery on a banner - or be on all the posters around the Underground and London!

The artworks chosen for the publicity materials are usually not those shortlisted. Consequently a few lucky artists each year will get seriously major exposure for their artwork via the publicity materials.

7. Marketing / Commissions

The point about the exhibition is to be in it - the prize is just a bonus

Being selected can be as big as winning a prize. The big thing about this exhibition is to get selected for the exhibition.

Benjamin Sullivan RP NEAC, the 2017 Winner of the BP Portrait Award is crystal clear that participation is everything
Ben emphasises in the video that the REALLY IMPORTANT important thing is to be included in the exhibition rather than win a prize. Winning a prize is a wonderful bonus but shouldn't be the aim. He says being in the exhibition over the years has given him lots of exposure and lots of commissions! 
Interview with Benjamin Sullivan, Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2017 - plus his BP portraits 2006-2016

It's one enormous shop window for those who want to accept commissions for painting portraits. It instantly raises your profile as somebody who has a serious claim to the title "portrait artist". However you need to have geared up for this in advance or else it's a wasted opportunity.

8. Have a great reason for visiting London

Many international artists choose to come to the previews and can be around for the events at the beginning of the exhibition.

9. Network and make lots of friends.

In 2014, David Kassan (Third Prizewinner 2014) suggested that the networking and friendships that painters make with fellow artists also exhibiting in the show are "unbeatable".

10. Get Interviewed by me!

I try to interview the BP Portrait Award Winners every year - and you can see the interviews - and the tips that past winners have to offer on my BP Portrait Award Playlist on my MakingAMark Videos YouTuBe Channel  (The one with Aleah Chapin in 2012 is now up to 142K views!)

How to improve your chances of being selected for the exhibition

Why it's very unlikely you will be selected

The BP Portrait Award 2018 received 2,667 entries from 88 countries. Judged anonymously, 48 portraits were selected for the exhibition.
The chances of getting selected are remote! Just 1.8% of the entries were selected for the exhibition last year. So you need to:

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Painting at Greenwich - Wapping Style c 1956

I thought people might like to see a video I came across this week while looking to see what was available in terms of painting and Greenwich. (On Tuesday, the Final of Landscape Artist of the Year will be screened. The final takes place in Greenwich Park.)

It's a newsreel film of the Wapping Artists in 1956 by British PathΓ© - over 60 years ago - engaged in their favourite occupation - painting the River Thames. It looks as if this was preferably from a favourite public house which has a terrace allowing them to paint, puff on their pipes and quaff their chosen beverage.

The Wapping Group was established in 1946 and limited to 25 artists.
The Wapping Group of Artists was formally founded in 1946 and initially met to record the busy life of London’s dockland. Since then the Thames, the land either side of it, and the activity related to it have all undergone significant changes. As a result the group now meets to paint at venues anywhere between Henley and the Thames Estuary.
This is a page about their history on their website

This is a list of past members who will include the members painting in this film

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Exhibition - Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018

The Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 Exhibition - an exhibition of paintings by the semi-finalists of the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 is at the Mayfair branch of Clarendon Fine Art Gallery in Dover Street London between 7th - 15th December 2018 (near Green Park Tube).

The exhibition opens to the public three days after the Final - on the Meridian Line in Greenwich Park, London - is aired on Tuesday 4th December.

The exhibition will showcase three paintings from each of the eight finalists and including the winning landscape.

So I think that means
  • Semi-Finalists: submission, heat and semi-final paintings
  • Finalists: submission, heat, semi-final, challenge (i.e. the August at home painting) and final painting (I think!!)


THE Clarendon Gallery have made a Flipbook about the Exhibition - Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - and in that you can read about what the artists have to say about their art

In the 2019, the Exhibition will partner with the Whitewalls Gallery and tour as follows:
  • Whitewall Lichfield 5th - 6th Jan
  • Whitewall Manchester 19th - 20th Jan
  • Whitewall Leeds 26th - 27th Jan
  • Whitewall Birmingham 2nd - 3rd Feb
  • Whitewall Newcastle 9th - 10th Feb
  • Whitewall Milton Keynes 16th- 17th Feb
  • Whitewall Guildford 23rd- 24th Feb
The Private View is on Thursday 6th December - between 6.30pm and 8.30pm

You need to book a time slot!

Apparently last time they had an exhibition for Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 at the Wallace Collection absolutely hordes of people turned up!

(Although to be honest IMO if you have an exhibition in a public gallery you're going to get all the LAOTY fans AND all the visitors that day to the Wallace Collection so no wonder they had hordes!!)

So this time around, Sky Arts is quite keen to make sure people have a reasonable viewing experience. So the Clarendon Gallery will be having a pre-booked timed entry to the exhibition so as to keep numbers from peaking and the experience from becoming unpleasant.

So a bit like the popular exhibitions at the RA!
In order to enable everyone good viewing exhibition time, this year we have put in place a timed attendance. Please RSVP with all of your details and a date and time which you would like to attend.
I'm not sure the gallery has totally worked out how this works (see below for their links). The words say one thing and the links do another but hopefully it will be sorted soon.

Just send them a note to say you want to see the exhibition - and when you want to see it - to

The SEVEN semi-finalists are listed below. Links to their websites are embedded in their names and links to their social media sites are given where known.
  1. Carl Knibb (Facebook) - see Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year
  2. Paul Alcock (Facebook Instagram) - see Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018
  3. Brian Ramsey (Facebook | Instagram) see Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 at Loch Fyne (Loch Fyne, Scotland)
  4. Greg Mason (Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram) AND 
  5. Lucy Smallbone (Facebook | Instagram) - see Review: Episode 4 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - Studley Royal Water Garden
  6. Jen Gash (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) - see Review: Episode 5 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - Broadstairs Beach
  7. Allan Martin (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram)- see Review: Episode 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - Inveraray Castle
Who do you think is going to win? 
Comments on my Facebook Page please - as I've suspended them on here.