Monday, March 18, 2019

Review - Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019 - and pricing issues

the bottom half of the prizewinning painting by Jennifer McRae 
This is about the recent Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize Exhibition. It covers:
  • the prizewinners
  • the nature of the artwork selected
  • the artwork I liked
  • pricing of artwork
You can still see all the artwork in the virtual exhibition on the website - except you don't get a sense of size - and some were very big and some were very small.


The wall of Lynn Painter-Stainers Prizewinners 2019

First Prize (£20,000 and a Gold Medal): 

Jennifer McRae, Past, present, future: tracing the female line (2018), £16,000

I was fairly cockahoop having said in my blog post about selected artists last week
Terrific contemporary figurative painting! This is who I'd give the LPS Award too. Jennifer McRae never ever disappoints.
Seeing it in the exhibition, I was even more impressed with it.

The concept behind it - of three generations in one painting - and the utter clutter of the artist's working surface (see top of post) were both a joy to behold.  What I like about Jennifer mcRae's portraits - and I've admired a few in the past few years - is that she's never averse to the subject who looks straight out of the canvas - right at you!

Plus everything always feels quite natural - as if you've just walked through a door in her home (or the home of her sitters). There are very few portrait artists who can pull that off and I can only imagine it's something to do with the mindset of how she approaches her portrait painting.

Second Prize (£4,000) 

Lara Cobden, The Winterkeeper's Cabin (2018), £2,500

UPDATE: Many apologies to Lara Cobden - as I omitted commenting of her painting by mistake before publishing!

I kept getting a feeling before I saw it that is was somewhere heading into Peter Doig territory in terms of enigma and mystery - but not quite in terms of painterliness - although it's very well painted.  The painting certainly did not disappoint on viewing and I can well imagine that it was one of those which stuck in the brains of judges - which is what I always think a prizewinning painting should do.

Young Artist Award (£4,000) - For an artist who is 25 years of age or under: 

Ewan White, No.7 (2018)

It's really good to see young artists tackling scenes involving a group of figures - a subject which is ignored by very many portrait artists. This domestic subject has a curious perspective but reminded me of some of the narrative paintings of the past.

Brian Botting Prize (£5,000) - for an outstanding representation of the human figure

Charlie Schaffer, Preston (2018), NFS

I was extremely impressed with this portrait painting - and particularly liked the technique in relation to to the mark-making which you can see in the crop of detail below.  To me it's the type of portrait I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see in the BP Portrait Award.

The Daphne Todd Prize: £2,000

James Lloyd - in my room

James Lloyd has a habit of winning prizes with self-portraits of painting in his studio! (See James Lloyd wins The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture 2008)

Selected artwork

I thought it a better exhibition than last year - and I LOVED the hang on the end wall - particularly the three central paintings.

The end wall of the main gallery at the Mall Galleries
Subject matter is a wide range of figurative/ representational work - portraits, landscapes - involving every sort of view and still life.

It may have been my imagination but I thought there were noticeably more monochrome works than in previous years. It struck me that there is no artwork prize for a monochrome work in any of the art competitions I cover - and that maybe that could be addressed by this prize or another in future. After all - monochrome is very popular with some art collectors.

I was in two minds as to whether the monochrome might have had more impact if grouped together - as I've seen done in other exhibitions of late - or balancing the intensely colourful paintings in the exhibition - as below.

Two well known artists - Jeanette Barnes and Emma Howorth
(well known as in I don't need to reference the catalogue!)
(Left) Jeanette Barnes, New York Cable Cars
(right) Emma Haworth, Last Day of Summer
I did notice that some paintings had quite different colours to the digital image. I do think there needs to be quality assurance on this matter when the artworks arrive. If what attracts you initially is one image, then that's what should turn up.

I noticed because there was one particular painting I was looking forward to seeing in person - and it greatly disappointed on the wall.

Small works on the mezzanine wall

The Artwork I liked

1919 (2018) by Tomas Clayton
I've featured Tomas Clayton's paintings before - and will do so again. The painting is technically very refined - however it is the subject matter and the untold story behind the painting which grabs the attention at least as much as his competence in painting.

I loved this painting of a myriad of colours in pots at the Moroccan Tanneries by Ian Hargreaves. Both the subject, the perspective, the crop and the composition - including workmen - kept me entranced. I'd have given it a prize.

Ian Hargreaves, Moroccan Tanneries (2018)
I love the elderly dog painted by Sally Muir - who has a lot more dogs paintings on her website. I don't normally like animal paintings much in shows like this - but then they're not normally painted as this one was. Plus he engaged the eye by staring straight at me. You can't beat a direct gaze....

Sally Muir, Elderly dog (2018)

Pricing of artwork

Most of the pricing was completely crackers - way, way too high. I visited on the Wednesday of the first week and then went back on the Thursday before the exhibition closed on the Sunday of the second week. The sales were:

  • minimal (I think I counted 10)
  • 70% were priced £1,000 or less with just 3 paintings @ £1,800, £2,250 and £3,400
  • barely changed from the Wednesday of Week 1 to Thursday of Week 2.
  • none of the sales were large
  • some of the pricing was incomprehensible
Three of the sales were on this wall next to the cafe area(extreme left) Tom Down Nomad (2018) £800
(second from right) Ian Robinson, Golden Hands Magazines (2018) £2,250
(extreme right) Austin Cole, Tokyo Fishmarket warehouse 3 (2018) £380 - this is a fine art print
One of the reasons to enter an art competition is to get selected to enhance your CV so you interest a gallery in making you one of the gallery artists.

However what galleries are interested in are artists whose artwork sells. Hence if you put high prices on your artwork and it doesn't sell, then it's much less impressive to those keeping an eye on "up and coming artists" - as well as "artists who've been around for a bit".

I'm going to talk about pricing more in another longer post - but suffice to say that I am 100% certain that the level of sales - and what sold - were influenced by the pricing - and those who were hung and didn't sell may well need to have a long hard think about their pricing strategy.

Oddly, today I turned up the catalogue for this competition in 2007. I'll be using it to review the change in pricing in this competition.

More about the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize (2008-2019)

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