Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 - Prizewinners & Exhibition

Next week the exhibition for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 opens at the Mall Galleries - as do two other exhibitions (see the end of this post). This post is about:

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019
  • the prizewinners
  • selected artists
  • exhibition details

PLUS: Other Exhibitions this week at the Mall Galleries (17 September 2019 to 22 September 2019)

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 - Prizewinners

The prizewinners were announced in the Sunday Times on 1 September 2019. You can see images and details of the artist and painting below

First Prize (£8,000):  Leo Davey

Leo Davey won the £8,000 First prize with a very unusual and creative painting which looks very much as if it demonstrates great skill in the use of wet in wet and glazes.

Always really nice to see the first prize in this competition being awarded to a medium which cannot be emulated by any other when the painter is skilled!

Condensation by Leo Davey

© Leo Davey
The image of a child in the shower, drawing lines in the glass, showcases both the artist’s clear skill and a taste for the off-kilter. The child is left genderless on purpose; not everything in the composition is in sync. “It gives a sense of unease,” says the 41-year-old artist
Sunday Times Art Section 1 September 2019
Leo Davey lives and works in his home town of Minehead in West Somerset where he has both his studio and a gallery.

Leo studied at Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. He now  where he has his studio/gallery. His subjects and styles and ways of painting vary a lot.
From the meticulous to the abstract, Leo refuses to settle on any particular genre of painting and continues to explore and develop ways of seeing and defining his landscapes through his works. (his website bio)
He's been selected for The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2012, 13, 14 and 17 and won the competition's Smith and Williamson Cityscape prize in 2015. His work has also been selected for the exhibitions by the Royal West Academy, Royal Watercolour Society, and Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour.

Second Prize (£3,000): Aidan Potts

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Why did my painting not get selected?

One of the questions which artists who submit paintings to art competitions want to know is
"Why did my painting not get selected"

This post:
  • makes a suggestion to those running open exhibitions and art competitions
  • tells you what you can do to find out why your artwork did not make the grade

Dear art organisations - charge a fee!

I know why art organisations do not provide feedback on selection. 
  • Far too many entries and far too little time. 
  • There is absolutely no way that 100% of entries are going to get feedback on why they didn't get chosen.

However, what I don't understand is why organisations which, in general, say they are supportive and encouraging in relation to emerging and young artists do not find some way to provide feedback.

For example - they could
  • charge a realistic fee for the time required for somebody to review an artwork and highlight some of the reasons why it did not make the cut - via email.  
  • differentiate fee costs by age. For example such a fee might differentiate between:
    • emerging artists under 30
    • artists aged 30+

Such a fee could be
  • designed to be income-generating i.e. providing the organisation with income if artists were prepared to contribute feedback for free
  • self-financing i.e. sufficient to pay somebody to take time out from their normal work to provide feedback.

Just a thought!  However you already have competition......

Would you like me to help?

Contact me - I already charge a fee for feedback!

See below for details or see my web page Would you like me to help (in the ABOUT section on my Art Business Info for Artists website - where you can also read more about me and what qualifies me to comment.)
I'm not in this for the money - I want to help people make a difference to their lives and careers.
banner for my "Would you like me to help?" page

What I can offer

In the absence of anybody else providing feedback to aspiring artists, I've started a service which allows aspiring artists - of whatever age - to engage me to get feedback on their art
I've provided formal (fee-paying) and informal business advice to artists for a significant period and have seen a number of them go on to make significant achievements as a result
Those who were astute enough to find my Would you like me to help page on my website have already been getting that advice!

In fact I was sat at Kings Place yesterday afternoon, after viewing the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Exhibition, talking with two young ladies who are both aspiring young artists who have both won prizes. They are serious about their art, are undertaking further studies and both are entering open exhibitions and art competitions - and wanted advice.  One had heard me talk previously and deemed me good value!

They came up with the great idea of them both meeting to talk with me about their art and finding out more about how to get selected - and sharing the fee for my time!

I can offer advice on various matters - including how to improve your chances of getting selected for an art competition or open exhibition.

My advice on art competitions can cover a variety of matters - including:
  • why their entry did not get selected - I'm happy to highlight likely reasons
  • whether their artwork is suitable for a specific exhibition  - i.e. Is it good enough? 
  • which art competitions and open exhibitions to target with artwork - sometimes the problem is that artists are entering the wrong exhibitions / competitions
  • how to make it more likely their artwork will get selected - LOTS of practical matters to attend to which can help give you the best chance
Mind you I always counsel people to take a look at this paragraph in the How does it work and what will it cost? section BEFORE engaging me for an assignment.
I will warn you that my style is to be honest and direct.
  • If you're somebody who only wants warm words of encouragement and nothing else then I may not be the right person to help you.
  • However if you prefer a style which is honest and does not 'sugar coat' then I might be what you need.

If you're interested why not have a READ of:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

More Wayne Thibaud: "This for you is my world to look at"

Where to see more about Wayne Thiebaud

Add caption

For me this is a bit of a click and salivate post!  In all honesty written entirely for me - for looking at from time to time - rather than sharing with any of you - but you can look too! ;)
discusses drawings versus prints, the audacity of the artist’s vocation — and why he doesn’t believe in ‘the idea of success’
"my work is not showing off, not grandiose, - human things..."
"This for you is my world to look at" - Wayne Thiebaud
Thumbnails of Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud
Though Thiebaud is most often grouped with the Pop art movement for his subject matter, the artist considers himself “just an old fashioned painter,” and “not a card carrying Pop artist.” He remains best known for his still lifes of confections—sometimes painted from his own memories—which he considers interpretations of “Americanness.” In his works, objects and their shadows are characteristically outlined in multiple colors, creating a visual effect Thiebaud calls akin to vibration.
  • Wikipedia as per usual provides a useful overview of his life and work. According to one line - 
he apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios drawing "in-betweens" of Goofy, Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket at a rate of $14 a week
In a contemporary art world enthralled with such stunts as Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, Thiebaud is wonderfully ungimmicky.
I think I like him because 
  • he's both ordinary and original, 
  • of the optical mixing he does (which I also do), 
  • of his strong emphasis on line - which I like a lot, 
  • his ability to be figurative and abstract at the same time
  • and the fact that when he paints his paint is LUSH! His lush cream pies also sold for $4 million!
There are other affinities? Did I mention I have been known to go round sketching food (and people eating and drinking) - a lot?!

and finally......

Did you know Wayne Thiebaud is 98 years old? (he was born on 15 November 1920!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wayne Thiebaud working on etchings (video)

Below is a rather good short video about Wayne Thiebaud working on etchings.  The video was made by the Crown Point Press, based in Hawthorne Street in San Francisco. (They have some impressive clients!)

Worth a watch.

This is the link to the exhibition referenced in the video

I've found more good stuff about Thiebaud online but if I stop to process and organise it nothing will get posted!

Monday, September 09, 2019

Review of a critique of an art society exhibition

What happens when somebody reviews an art society exhibition as if it was a "proper art exhibition" i.e. using the same sort of criteria as might be used for any other sort of art exhibition in the area?

This post is generic in nature - in terms of conclusions - but does take one example to highlight the sort of issues that can arise.

Brea Gallery shows off what the Colored Pencil Society of America can do is a magazine review of the 27th Annual International Exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America at the City of Brea Art Gallery, 1 Civic Center, Brea, CA (July 31–September 13, 2019).

It's written by a chap who has written for the Orange County Weekly for the last 8 years as its art critic.

I supposed the best way of summarising his review is he's called it as he sees it.

That's not the way some of colored pencil artists see it who have responded by commenting on his review - worth a read!

They diverge between those that
  • welcome a contribution to the ongoing debate about the use of photographs by CP artists
  • one lady who is not averse to slinging insults around - not realising that Google picks up on comments as well as websites and that her name is now forever irretrievably associated with her comments!
  • some who criticise the reviewer for not understanding the medium of colored pencils. For example.....
Mr Barton, You should be ashamed of yourself, given the ignorant nonsense you’ve written here about this medium, these artists, and art in general, frankly. Did you interview a single artist, or even leaf through a copy of “Colored Pencil” magazine? Your level of ignorance is astounding.
I do remember another CPSA exhibition where the independent Juror did provide feedback afterwards about the show as a whole - and mentioned a lot of aspects highlighted in this review. It didn't go down well that time either. However it does say something about the extent to which coloured pencil artwork has moved on in the last decade or so if the same sort of comments are still being made by independent individuals who have studied the artwork.

Interestingly, some of those who commented got stuck on some of the earlier comments and appear to have completely missed the last paragraph.
For the future, the process of work such as this needs to be demystified. Art historians and critics, including myself, usually do little to shed light on how work is created, focusing mostly on the materials used or the feelings we have when looking at it. Focusing solely on the ideas is a primarily selfish, insular thing satisfying only the person writing about it, when opening up the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears behind the art should be our goal.
Images (in cropped format)
of some of the artworks
winning awards in the exhibition
You can see more photos of the prizewinners on Facebook and more of the pics in the rest of the exhibition on the Brea Gallery Instagram account

A Making A Mark perspective

I'm really not having a go at CPSA or its members in particular here. The issues for me are essentially generic - other than to highlight that it's interesting that some common criticisms from an independent perspective of this type of artwork are still the same as they were more than a decade ago.

My reason for commenting is more about the need for artists to understand that if and when you put your art "out there" - via an exhibition or a website - then

  • people will make their own assessment and think what they think 
  • sometimes they will say what they think - and 
  • sometimes they will maybe even WRITE what they think.

Here's my take on it.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Lucian Freud - new books and exhibitions (Autumn 2019)

More on the famous painter Lucian Freud - this blog post covers

  • two books - about his plants and early life
  • two book reviews - of the latter
  • an article in today's Observer by William Feaver his biographer 
  • a talk at The London Library by William Feaver on 24th October, and 
  • an exhibition of self-portraits at the Royal Academy of Arts opening 27 October 

In fact a perfect surfeit for Lucian Freud fans!

Lucian Freud Herbarium

Lucian Freud's Herbarium by Giovanni Aloi - Published last week by Prestel
Yesterday I received a copy of Lucian Freud Herbarium from the publishers.

I've long been a HUGE fan of Freud's paintings of plants. The book reveals that's painted a lot more than I've seen and includes some of my absolute favourites - of which more when I review it on my Botanical Art and Artists News blog later this week

UK Book Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Prestel (5 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 379138533X
  • ISBN-13: 978-3791385334
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 2.3 x 31.4 cm

The Lives of Lucian Freud by William Feaver

I've been waiting since Lucian Freud died and the announcement that William Feaver would be publishing his biography for news of the book's publication.

Well it arrived last week - and it's not book but books - with a series title of The Lives of Lucian Freud. The subtitle for this first volume changes between the UK and the USA. In the UK it's called "Youth" and in the USA, I think they reflected on the fact it takes him up to the age of 50(!) and they've sub-titled it "The Restless Years".

We now have the first edition of what is obviously going to be a work of multiple volumes - and I have an addition to my birthday present list for "he who must not be bored".

Here are two reviews of the book:
UK Cover

I've not seen it, I can't tell you anything about it - but do know that it's:
  • based on very many discussions between Lucian Freud and William Feaver (on most days) since 
  • full of the "voice of Freud" - which is unsurprising given the tale of how he gathered his material - revealed in the article below.
BUY THIS BOOK (UK)  The Lives of Lucian Freud Youth from Amazon UK:

UK Book Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (5 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408850931
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408850930
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 6.6 x 24.1 cm
USA Cover
ORDER THIS BOOK (USA)The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922-1968 from

USA Book Details
  • Hardcover
  • Pages: 704 Pages 
  • Product Dimensions:  6-1/4" x 9-1/4"
  • ISBN 9780525657521
  • Published by Knopf / Penguin Random House
  • Publication date: Oct 29, 2019
  • Price: $40.00

UPDATE: After finishing and publishing the blog post I learned (from the FT) that there is also a THIRD new book - of photographs of Lucian Freud - due to be published next week titled Lucian Freud: A Life Edited by Mark Holborn and David Dawson.

There's a great article about it on the FT - Looking at Lucian Freud: photographic portraits of the artist - with LOTS of photos!

Book Details

  • Lucian Freud: A Life - ORDER/BUY from Amazon UK | from
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; 1 edition (12 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714877530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714877532
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 3.6 x 36.3 cm
  • Price: £150 | $200

Article by William Feaver (his biographer)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: ‘I was Lucian Freud’s spare pair of eyes’ by William Feaver  | The Observer 8 September 2019

This is an absolutely fascinating article which tells the story of how Feaver first met Freud and how come he's writing his "authorised" biography - in the sense that he was banned by Freud of publishing anything in his lifetime - but could do after he was dead.

I guess it is also something of a taster for the first volume of Feaver's biography of Freud which was published last week.

I've saved it for reading again and referencing it in the future.

William Feaver on the Lives of Lucian Freud

Based on the above article, I've also just booked my ticket for the talk by William Feaver at the London Library on 24th October (6.45pm - to 8.30pm)

Check out Eventbrite for more details
William Feaver on the Lives of Lucian Freud 
Date: Thu, 24 October 2019
Time: 18:45 – 20:30 BST
Location: The London Library, 14 Saint James's Square, London SW1Y 4LG

Non-members are £15 per ticket

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits

This autumn there is an exhibition of self portraits by Lucian Freud at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Crop of "Self Portrait, Reflection" (2002) Lucian Freud
I have on my iMac a wonderful folder full of the photos I took at the press preview for the retrospective exhibition of portraits by Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012.

As an exhibition it had the major advantage of:
  • having been organised in close collaboration with the late Lucian Freud (these sort of exhibitions take years to come to fruition) 
  • focusing on paintings of the artist's lovers, friends and family, referred to by Freud as the 'people in my life' - as well as self-portraits
  • including 130 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before.

It was an amazing exhibition - and one which has remained inside my memory.

Hence I'm rather puzzled as to why the Royal Academy of Arts is hosting a second exhibition - within 7 years of the first.

However I do suppose its focus on his self-portraits does provide some sort of justification.....
When asked if he was a good model for himself Freud replied, “No, I don’t accept the information that I get when I look at myself, that’s where the trouble starts”.
.....were it not for the view of Lucian Freud that all or most of his paintings were, in effect, autobiographical
'My work was purely autobiographical. It is about myself and my surroundings. It is an attempt at a record. I work from people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know.'

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits is at the Royal Academy, London, 27 October to 26 January 2020

Interestingly if you put "Lucian Freud portraits" into Google, the NPG microsite for their exhibition (see above link) outranks the RA Exhibitions microsite!

Friday, September 06, 2019

The world record mass paintout in Cornwall

Last Sunday over 1,000 plein air painters turned up to form an almost continuous line of painters on the Cornish coastline between Land's End and Sennen.

It looks like it was an AMAZING event!

The Line of Plein Air Painters from Land's End to Sennen in Cornwall

Courtesy of Anthony Garratt

It was the first ever mass plein air painting event in the UK organised by the Art For Good initiative pioneered by Anthony Garratt with Newlyn School of Art.
The Art for Good initiative is a new series of mass painting installations for environmental causes
Hence the painters were also aiming to raise money to preserve National Trust footpath between Land’s End and Sennen in Cornwall from erosion (due to the number of visitors to the area).
All participants will stand an equal distance apart and the reverse of their painting panels will be painted pink so that from an aerial perspective, they form a continuous dotted line when held above the participants heads; the denotation of a footpath on an OS Map
They certainly succeeded in raising the profile of both the path and the event as it got covered by the BBC News on Sunday where there was some splendid video of all the painters.

This footage is hard to believe - do watch - my jaw DROPPED (and I'd already seen some footage of the event on the BBC News)

I've taken the liberty of scouring Facebook for photos which could be embedded of the event, the artists and the paintings they produced and have included links to every Facebook account or Page beneath the image.

Some of the artists and their paintings

Now for pics of some of the artists - and their paintings!  They look great!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

BBC remuneration of artists in TV series under scrutiny

Regular readers of this blog will know I've been banging on about the total disrespect shown for artists appearing in television series - particularly on the BBC and Sky Arts - for some time.
I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the television programmes which use professional people as their "reality stars" and yet fail to give them any credit and/or pay them. Home is Where the Art is: Series 2 - Call for Artists
My one woman campaign seems to have generated some change - and benefits - for artists appearing on television

....and now a reporter from a major broadsheet newspaper is also interested - in the remuneration of artists who appear in a BBC series!

BBC Broadcasting House (headquarters) in London W1

Since I started highlighting the issue - in particular the total lack of named credits for artists appearing in programmes - we've seen some changes.

Series 5 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Series 5 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 (initially aired on Sky and subsequently on Channel 4) had all the names of all the artists participating in each Heat/Episode on the production company's website before the series finished - see Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 - Find out more about this series artists (see an example for four of the artists in Episode 1 below). 

The website profile provided links to both their social media sites and their website - and I sometimes wonder whether all my hard work looking for all the names and those links paid off for somebody putting those profiles together! ;) It certainly made it a lot easier in relation to spelling names correctly as the series progressed!

Note the links to the artist's website and social media accounts on these new artists' profiles
- and why you need a website before going on TV!

I'm claiming this as a win because so far as I am aware nothing of this sort had ever been done before I started to comment on the lack of named credits for the artists participating in the programme. Plus I'm pretty sure it wasn't there at the beginning of the series. So maybe somebody read my comments? ;)

We just need to get the production company commissioned by Sky Arts to include the names of ALL the artists in the end credits of every "Artist of the Year" programme - whether Portrait or Landscape - and my work will be done! :)

The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts

My second success was "The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts".  

As I indicated in The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts - Episode 1 and The Artisans without a credit on Arts and Crafts House (which generated a HUGE number of visits to my blog)
I am getting very tired of the people who genuinely make the programme i.e. the people making things whether it's paintings or crafts - having their names left out of the press releases, the credits at the end of the programme and in general receiving very little formal recognition. 
I can only assume one of two things
  • EITHER the union for people who appear on television must have an absolute stranglehold on the bosses and refuse to allow the participants to enjoy the same benefits as those who hold union cards
  • OR the bosses buying and/or making the programme are not prepared to pay the going rate for others who would normally appear on such programmes. I gather from various people that the amounts they get paid are nominal in the extreme! To me this is simply unacceptable.
It's treating artists and craftspeople as commodities and not as people or professionals. Worse still, it treats them as anonymous nonentities who don't deserve a named credit when the credits roll at the end. Every other professional working on the programme is listed EXCEPT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING THINGS ON THE PROGRAMME! 

What happened next!

Some of the artists who appeared on the programme wrote to me after that blog post and asked if they could quote my blog post. They then went to the production company who made the programme and told them they were not satisfied about the lack of named credits on the end credits - and showed them what I had said.  The programme makers then approached the BBC to make a change - and by the next week their names were all on the end credits of Episode 2!
[ UPDATE: see also my other posts. I'm very pleased to tell you that the artisans wrote to the producers of the programme about the lack of name credit - quoting my blog post - and by the second episode, they'd got their name credit at the end of the programme!
The Artisans without a credit on Arts and Crafts House The Artisans #2 - Stephen Winstanley, Niamh Wimperis and Rod Hughes ]
So it's not as if the BBC is wholly averse to end credits for arts and crafts people!

Home Is Where The Art Is

The MAJOR exception for me was "Home Is Where The Art Is" - the first series of which aired in the Spring of this year.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

The War Artists of World War II

80 years ago today, on 3rd September 1939, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, forming the Allies within the context of World War II.

Battle of Britain by Paul Nash
An abstracted aerial view of a wide flat landscape including the mouth of a river.
Above the sky is full of aircraft contrails and smoke plumes, while to the upper right aircraft are flying in formation
Last night, on BBC4 (10pm) there was a rerun of a Culture Show Special made in 2010 about
Alastair Sooke explores the often overlooked history of the wartime art boom, meetingBlitz survivors, factory workers and Land Girls who became the subject of paintings, talks to contemporary artists about the challenges of creating work in conflict zones and considers how the images produced during the `People's War' laid the groundwork for a modern understanding of what art should be.
It reminded me of some of the exhibitions at the time of the 60th anniversary of the start of World War Two.

Portraits by Dame Laura Knight

I highly recommend a viewing of the programme. It was very good - particularly in relation to:
  • the role played by Kenneth Clarke, the Director of the National Gallery played in relation to:
    • moving the National Gallery collection to a disused slate mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog in north Wales
    • setting up and chairing the War Artists' Advisory Committee
    • persuading the government to employ official war artists in considerable numbers.
    • buying artwork produced by soldiers
    • he ended up with 6,000 works of art which were displayed around the UK at the end of the war
  • the emphasis on the art being about the war and reaching out to and engaging with people
  • insight into the approach and practices of various of the war artists - using those who had witnessed working at the time
The designated "official war artists" included in the programme included Edward Ardizzone, Paul and John Nash, Mervyn Peake, John Piper and Graham Sutherland - and Ardizzone, Paul Nash, Piper and Sutherland feature in the programme

War Artists on full-time salaried contracts
Artists employed on short-term contracts such as Laura Knight, L. S. Lowry, Henry Moore and Stanley Spencer are also included in the programme

Dame Laura Knight - War Artist
(left to right) The Dock at Nuremberg, charcoal study of the British prosecutor David Maxwell Fyfe
Ruby Loftus screwing a breech ring and Switch Works© The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, 2013
It was noted that lots of the artists produced quite traditional (boring) 'war art' while those left to produce whatever they saw fit produced some amazing work - from Henry Moore's Blitz Sketchbooks of people sleeping in the Underground to Paul Nash's Battle of Britain and Totes Meer and Stanley Spencer's paintings of Ship Building on the Clyde
In May 1940 WAAC sent Spencer to the Lithgows Shipyard in Port Glasgow on the River Clyde to depict the civilians at work there. Spencer became fascinated by what he saw and sent WAAC proposals for a scheme involving up to sixty-four canvases displayed on all four sides of a room.[38] WAAC agreed to a more modest series of up to eleven canvases, some of which would be up to six metres long. Wikipedia - Stanley Spencer

Totes Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-1 Paul Nash 1889-1946
Tate Britain
Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946
The painting which I always remember - but did not feature in the programme is Leonard Rosoman's painting of the wall collapsing on two firemen during the Blitz.

House Collapsing on two Firemen, Shoe Lane, London EC4
copyright Leonard Rosoman

Related posts

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Brexit #1: Do or Die?

I'm going to start writing periodic posts which either provide:
  • pointers on things to think about re. Brexit
  • feedback on what seems to be happening / changing (or not) post 31 October - should that be the eventual "do or die" date!
This is prompted by the fact I wrote
  • detailed commentaries on the art economy back in 2008 - and periodically thereafter - as went into recession post the banking crisis and the subsequent impact on the wider economy and people's lives.
  • a post commenting on a question about Brexit last week in the Facebook Art Fair Buddies Group
This was the gist of the question. There's a bit more to it - but in essence this is the conundrum many people are facing
Does anyone have any ideas of how a No Deal Brexit is likely to affect us as artists and crafters who make a living selling to the public?
Here's what I had to say - revised for the opportunity to format on Blogger - and the opportunity to add in more reflections.

Posts will either be on this blog and/or on my Art Business Info. News Blog - which you can subscribe to. Probably bigger ones on this one - and smaller updates on the other blog.


The emphasis is emphatically

  • NOT going to be on the politics 
  • it'll be about 
    • how to meet the challenge of Brexit for your art business and 
    • how to share what works and 
    • how to solve problems.
Comments will remain switched off on this blog - however Facebook posts linking to posts about Brexit do provide an opportunity for practical comments ONLY (political comments will be deleted).

What it's like in the art market during a recession

photograph of a hurricane - lots of turbulence in the atmosphere and scope to blow people and structures off their feet

I wrote quite a bit about the art economy during the recession following 2008.

BASIC FACTS are that
  1. Uncertainty causes people to tighten their metaphorical money belts - and they put buying discretionary goods like art on pause. It lasted a long time.  We've seen some evidence of that already.
  2. Those who are well off are mostly unaffected and continue to buy - at Christies and Sothebys - as before. Hence if you are pitching at the wealthy you probably have less to worry about.
  3. If a lot of people lose their jobs then there's a very big dip in disposable income and buying art and galleries start closing, often with little notice (and a lot did, mainly because they weren't run very well as businesses and hadn't made adjustments for a recession). 
    • My guess would be that the less well run art fairs will go under fast - so I'd exercise caution over bookings and deposits - and 
    • Check the status of 
      • organisations running art fairs and/or 
      • any other organisation you place big money orders with and 
      • the track record of the people involved 
    • (the official information available in relation to Companies is a wonderful thing! You can look at the people involved with specific companies and see how many directorships they have for previously dissolved companies)
  4. Many artists started to focus more on making more affordable art for those who were prepared to risk spending on discretionary non-essential items
  5. Artists with no business plans nor understanding of how their cash flows work typically end up having have to take other jobs (if they don't have one already) - IF they can get one - because they're in the same boat as everybody else looking to get income from employment
  6. The climb back to 'business as usual' can be long and slow if it's a deep recession.
  7. Artists who got burned learn to make sure that 
    • they have enough to keep going when sales are lean - and 
    • when to make essential changes to how they do business
If you're a tiny business without an adequate cash reserve then whatever the state of the economy it always pays to have some steady bread and butter income which pays the bills coming in. Brexit has got nothing to do with it.

There are any number of things which can happen which can cause problems - and some people have no inkling just how big some problems can be and you still get by.....somehow....
Speaks the woman who well remembers paying 18% mortgage interest rate at the start of her mortgage! (my comment on the thread about why a lot of the challenges are not dissimilar to other challenges we confront and survive)

What will it be like after Brexit?

Here are some more thoughts and reflections about what makes a difference when the going gets tough.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings as Visual Knowledge

The Royal Drawing School sent out an email this morning which focuses on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
Inspired by Autumn Term course, Life Drawing and Anatomy: Mechanics of the Human Form, we have drawn from the fields of science and art to bring together articles, art works, exhibitions and lectures that will open the mind to the world of anatomical drawing...
It included a link to a Lecture - Martin Kemp - Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings as Visual Knowledge - which the art historian Martin Kemp gave at the Royal Drawing School in 2015. This is available to listen to - for free - via Soundcloud. It's an hour and 24 minutes long and it won't surprise you to know I've not listened to it all as yet!

Click the link below to enjoy the lecture. Unfortunately you'll have to imagine the drawings or try and identify them online while you listen
He never draws solutions..... Drawing for him is an act of exploration, of invention of analysis all simultaneously. 

In addition there is a Lecture in October

Exhibiting Leonardo da Vinci across the UK

Lecture by Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust
Venue: Royal Drawing School Shoreditch,
Date: Wednesday 9th October,
Start time: 6.45pm

This talk will discuss the purpose of Leonardo’s drawings, and the experience of curating a nationwide exhibition of these drawings for a mass audience.

About Martin Clayton 

  • Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust. 
  • Studied Natural Sciences and the History of Art at Cambridge
  • Has worked in the Print Room at Windsor Castle since 1990. 
  • He has curated many exhibitions on the drawings in the Royal Collection, including the works of Poussin, Canaletto, Raphael, Castiglione, and especially those of Leonardo da Vinci.

Studies of the Foetus in the Womb.

Exhibitions re. Anatomy

Exhibition: Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing 

Venue: Queen's Gallery
Date: Finishes 13 October 2019
Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition brings together more than 200 of the Renaissance master's greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition of Leonardo's work in over 65 years. 

The Science Museum: Anatomy and Pathology Departmental Collection

These objects chart how our understanding of human anatomy has shifted over time. They include an important series of anatomical models, tools used to dissect and study the dead, and preserved human specimens including a large tattoo collection.

The London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus: BodyWorlds

BodyWorlds, curated by creative director Dr. Angelina Whalley, explores the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, locomotive and metabolic systems in more detail than has ever previously been possible, offering an unparalleled insight into the human body and how it works.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Art Education: Courses, Workshops and Talks at the V&A Academy

The V&A Academy provides courses, workshops and talks for Adult Learners at the Victoria and Albert MuseumThey are predominantly art history related and also focus on design and decorative art as well as fine art.  They also include professional development courses which may well have wider application to those involved in the business of art and design.

At this time of year people often start planning any courses they want to do over the winter months - hence his post!

If anybody wants to recommend any other venue for courses please contact me


The 2019–20 V&A Academy Course programme is our richest, most varied yet. Whether you’re looking for an inspiring weekend or an in-depth exploration of your favourite subject, we welcome all kinds of learners. You can expect exclusive lectures from V&A experts, hands-on sessions with museum objects, behind-the-scenes access and day trips to see history in context.
examples of some of the courses

They've recently published their V&A Academy 2019 - 20 Courses brochure PDF (3.1 mb)

Titles of Available Courses in 2019-20

The Courses vary from:

  • Year Courses 
    • these take place on one fixed day per week for three terms.  
    • Day tickets are available for some of the days in these courses. 
    • There are also optional visits to External Locations
  • Short Courses - often frequented by those who have retired.
    • in each of the Autumn, Spring and Summer Terms
    • typically 4, 8 or 10 week courses
    • some are in the evenings
  • Weekend Courses - unsurprisingly are on Saturday and Sundays making them accessible for those who work.
They also include professional development courses for those working in art galleries and museums or wanting to do so.  For example

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Films about artists - Mrs Lowry & Son

Those of us with northern roots will be interested to know that The Gala Premiere of Mrs Lowry & Son is next Tuesday 27 August 2019 at the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry in Salford.

The film is about the relationship between L. S. Lowry, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and his bed-ridden mother Elizabeth.  Timothy Spall plays Lowry and Vanessa Redgrave takes on the role of his mother, Elizabeth.

Below you can see view:
  • a trailer video of the film
  • a video of a Curator at the Lowry commenting on the paintings seen in the film
  • a video which compares the paintings with what the places look like now
  • where you can see LS Lowry Paintings - in art galleries, online and in my blog posts
  • where you can find out more on the dedicated social media sites
  • where you can see the film
  • PLUS Artists and Art on Film: my past blog posts

Monday, August 19, 2019

Films about artists - an Omnibus interview with Lucian Freud

The lovely thing about looking for past posts on this blog is I come across ones I've totally forgotten about....

....such as Lucian Freud - on film, in words and ink - which includes my efforts to draw him while he talks - and moves!
still from Lucian Freud on Omnibus by the BBC

It's well worthwhile highlighting the Omnibus interview with past master Lucian Freud conducted by jake Auerbach on the occasion of his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1988. That's over 30 years ago - when he was 66. (It's on BBC iPlayer which means that it can be seen by viewers in the UK only)

As Auerbach says on his own blog post The first one....
It is a filmed conversation with Lucian Freud recorded at the time of his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1988.

The filming took place during two early (6.30AM) sessions at the Gallery itself and was followed on each occasion by breakfast at the Quality Chop House (Quality Chop House)… which looked similar to today… if a little dirtier… but was then a cafe for the Royal Mail sorting staff from across the road; served great porridge and had fresh kippers from the down train from Scotland which arrived at Kings Cross station at 5.45 each morning.
Omnibus: Lucian Freud - available on iPlayer

More About Lucian Freud 

For those who want to know more about Lucian Freud, here is a list of past blog posts about him

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sculpture at Wisley 2019

Yesterday we went to RHS Wisley and found there is a Modern and Contemporary Sculpture Trail around the garden which includes works by Henry Moore.

The exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture around the 240 acre garden runs until 1 December 2019.
Sculpture at Wisley 2019 features the work of seminal 20th and 21st century artists: Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Phillip King, Henry Bruce and Philip Haas.
In addition - formally opening tomorrow - the Surrey Sculpture Society Trail has other works by more local artists and continues until 22nd September.

I've included images from both exhibitions below.  If you like sculpture, Wisley is well worth a visit in the near future while both Sculpture Trails are on.

Henry Moore

Draped Reclining Figure by Henry Moore
next to the Jellicoe Canal
Locking Piece by Henry Moore
next to the Lake
Large Standing Figure - Knife Edge 1976 by Henry Moore
in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden
This piece seems to have claimed by the kids as the Sculpture Play Park! It had kids around it all the time we were near it.

The pieces have been lent to the exhibition by the Henry Moore Foundation at Hoglands

(You can see more Henry Moore pieces at Hoglands in my blog post Sculpture in the garden at Hoglands, Perry Green and my Flickr set Henry Moore Sculptures, Hoglands, Perry Green)

Lynn Chadwick

Little Girl, I, II , III by Lynn Chadwick
in between the Walled Gardens and the Lake
Lynn Russell Chadwick, CBE RA (24 November 1914 – 25 April 2003) was an English sculptor and artist. He was known for his innovative bronze and steel sculptures of abstracted and expressive figures and animals.

Henry Bruce

There's a Giant's Chair by Henry Bruce at the top of the Mixed Borders Hill.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Paint Offs, Paint Outs and Quick Draws - in September 2019

A couple of events for those who like their plein air painting are coming up next month - in Bristol and on the Broads.
This is in addition to the normal plein air paint out days organised by the British Plein Air Painters during the summer

Inaugural Bristol Plein Air Paint Off

Central Bristol has a rich landscape ranging from the soft slopes of Brandon Park, the historical, industrial cranes and harbour, the modern architecture of Millenium Square and the traditional architecture of the cathedral and university, not to mention the iconic suspension bridge - a feast for "Plein Air" painters whatever their medium or practice may be.

Cass Arts Bristol @ 43-45 Park Street, Bristol - organiser, assembly point and exhibition holder

EVENT: Bristol Plein Air Paint Off

Jen Gash painting plein air this time last year - in the semi-finals

Who can take part

  • 50 places available (there are 35 left on the Eventbrite website as at the time of writing)
  • Minimum age for entering is 16 years. 
  • £10 entrance fee per person
  •  and it would be helpful for you to have a mobile phone so we can find you and visit you during the day!

What you have to do

  • bring your own supply of art materials, tools etc and lunch/drinks etc (Cass Art will be providing a discount for materials on the day, should you need further supplies!)
  • 9.30am  assemble at Cass Art Bristol43 - 45 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5NL
    • to register for a 10.30 start (i.e. time needed for paperwork etc.)
    • You will be given a unique entrant number
    • stickers will be applied to your intended supports
    • you'll also be given a waiver and a permission form for photos etc
    • provide your mobile phone number so that you can be located during the day
  • 10.30am start painting (maximum canvas size of 100cm square)
  • 3.30pm - finish painting. This gives you 5 hours painting time, in total. 
  • thereafter - gather at Cass Art for preliminary judging and shortlisting.
  • 3.30 and 5pm - paintings by 20 artists completed on stickered supports will be shortlisted for an exhibition during the following week
  • 5pm - collect your paintings if not shortlisted
PLEASE NOTE: Jen Gash and Cass Art are not responsible for participants safety and wellbeing. Please make sure you have sun screen, umbrellas, food etc and are able to take care of your own needs.


There will be prizes for the following categories:
  • Young Talent Award - 16 - 21 years, to be awarded at 5pm on the day
  • Cass Art Plein Air Award - overall winner to be awarded at 5pm on the day
  • Peoples Choice Award - to be decided following a public exhibition where members of the public can vote for their favourite piece.
Prizes and judges to be announced... but there will be some lovely things !

A Brush with the Broads

A fourth annual weekend of painting activity on the Norfolk Broads which seems to invade my Facebook feed once a year!

The Broads is a network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.
The lakes, known as broads, were formed by the flooding of peat workings
It's back after a break of two years having run in 2014, 2015, and 2016
A Brush with the Broads™ started as the dream of local artist, Linda H Matthews, to bring artists and collectors together in an area steeped in artistic inspiration and history, the Norfolk & Suffolk Broads.
For artists to inspire, socialise, learn from and compete with each other.

EVENT: A Brush with the Broads
  • Registration / Exhibition Space: change of location, to Hall Farm Cottages - a complex of self catering cottages in converted farm buildings.
  • Dates: Thu, 26 Sep 2019, 14:00 – Mon, 30 Sep 2019, 22:00 BST
  • Organised by: Linda H Matthews
  • Event Link (for Booking tickets): A Brush with the Broads™ 2019
  • Registration: Online and at Hall Farm Cottages