Monday, April 29, 2019

Commission an artist: 'Home is where the Art Is' (Episodes 11-15)

This post is about 
  • my overall conclusions about Home Is Where The Art Is 
  • information and links about the artists participating in Episodes 11-15.
If you want to find out the details of artists who participated in the first two weeks see below for the links to previous posts.

In general, the series has been a real education in terms of the client's perspective
  • Overall some of the artwork during the course of the series has been simply stunning and very professional. By way of contrast, some of it has been distinctly amateurish.  
  • I've been amazed to find that both domestic and corporate clients can really like artwork which fails (from my perspective) to demonstrate any real skill or talent.  My view - and I'm entitled to it - is that what is considered to be quality art varies depending on your experience of looking at art and your perspective (likes and dislikes)
  • I'm wondering how many other people are like me and ended up, over the series as a whole, quite bemused by some of the choices of both artists and artwork. 
  • Notwithstanding commissions are always about personal choice and there is no right or wrong if it makes the client happy.
The process of looking for the links has also clearly demonstrated how vital marketing and social media is for selling art and commissions
  • the extent to which some artists fail to design websites with commission clients in mind
  • why some people can make an income from commissions. This seems to correlate strongly with being organised and/or better at marketing and/or social media and/or getting the artwork out and shown wherever - including on BBC1!
I also discovered a few things in the final week of Home Is Where The Art Is
  • One enterprising artist who participated in the programme has set up a Home Is Where The Art Is Facebook Page to promote the work of those participating. However that's going to be a lot of help to those artists who participated without a website or Facebook Page. One wonders who people are intended to contact them....
  • Next - some of the artists produced work for the commissions based on other work they had done previously. Now this is quite a common approach used by some artists - and one which is often used for clients who have a tight budget. However I'd hesitate before calling it "bespoke" unless it was unique in every respect and only available to that client. Of course it's quite different if the client requests "one like that but tailored to our preferences for colours / things which are important to us".

Finally - some other individuals have also documented the details. But my posts remain the most comprehensive! :) 
  • below are website and social media links for the artists who participated in Episodes 11-15 in week 3
  • contact details are embedded in the artist's name
  • commissions details are provided if self evident

Commission an Artist (Episodes 11-15)

This is about the artists with a name in the end credits of Home Is Where the Art Is (Episodes 11-15). 

It follows on from my previous three posts

Episode 11

Location: South Lake District
Commission: up to £500
Budget: a piece of art to celebrate their recent move, and in particular to thank their children
Media represented: metal sculpture; glass or watercolour painting
Outcome: BOTH pieces were bought

Both artists sold their commissioned artworks.
The Artists in Episode 11 were:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

London Original Print Fair and A Buyer's Guide to Prints

Yesterday I went to the 34th London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of ArtsHIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all those who like fine art prints. I've been in previous years and enjoy:
  • the fact I can see fine art prints by leading artists past and present
  • view a lot of work by people I've never seen before - and I always come away with new 'names of artists to follow'
This is an annual event around about this time of year at the RA - who have got a massive space for the exhibition and a lot of printmakers among their members.

Tickets are £12 (on the website0 and concessions are available.
  • Half-price tickets for National Art Pass.
  • RA Friends receive free entry.
The fair is on 25-28th April 2019 i.e. started on Thursday and is also on today and tomorrow (10am – 6pm). 

I took "himself" (free entry on my Friends card!) who declared he was very pleasantly surprised - and interested - and would have stayed much longer if he didn't have to go and catch a train for a prior commitment.

I came away with A Buyer's Guide to Prints by Helen Rosslyn (a prints and drawings specialist and a Director and the Organiser of the London Original Print Fair) which was published by the Royal Academy of Arts last September. It's got good explanations of all the various types of prints and technical terms plus useful notes on what to expect from a printmaker, how to frame them and answers to a number of frequently asked questions by actual and potential collectors of fine art prints.

All for £9.99 which makes it affordable as well as useful and accessible!

What does it look like

I've uploaded a bunch of photos to my Facebook Page - see London Original Print Fair 2019 - if you want to see the scale and nature of this art fair for printmakers and fine art print lovers. Below are a few of the pics I took.

Which artists can you see 

The printmaking artists being exhibited by the various stands at the fair include Brueghel, Cranach, Hogarth, Monet, Whistler, Picasso, Matisse, Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth, Roy Lichtenstein, Lucien Freud, Louise Bourgeois, Victor Pasmore - and more from the past.

Contemporary artists include: David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Peter Blake, Norman Ackroyd (everywhere!), Chris Orr, Paula Rego, Mick Rooney, David Shrigley, Anita Klein, Adam Dant et al.

Which galleries are exhibiting

This page on their website provide links to the explanations of each stand at the 2019 Fair.

The galleries which impressed me include:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Landscape Artist of the Year goes BIG!

Those of us who do not have Sky TV have been watching the Artist of the Year programmes on computers tablets and smartphones - in my case - an iMac and iPad Pro. Every time I wanted to watch it BIG I had to sit at my desk and watch it on my iMac.


As of this afternoon, I am now looking forward to watching Landscape Artist of the Year on my television!

The Now TV Stick instruction leaflet

That's because this afternoon I collected my brand new FREE Now TV Stick from the Sorting Office and installed it - after a false start on my TV.

I've been recommending people who don't have Sky to watch via Now TV - and I'm now suggesting for those who have already subscribed to Now TV (Entertainment Pass)
  • you also get hold of a Now TV Stick FOR FREE and 
  • get it installed before Landscape Artist of the Year starts.
If you already have a Now TV account you probably got an email this month offering you the FREE Stick. All you have to do is find the email and then send off for it.

Then install it!

It works if you have a television with HDMI slots which is connected to the internet.

I found the instructions a little opaque but finally figured it out. However I thought I'd make a note of what I did - and then thought I might as well share it with others who will be doing the same. Hence this post.

After I'd checked I'd got HDMI slots free - this is where the iPhone comes in handy when you don't want to turn the TV round.

checking my HDMI slots via a photo!
My stick wouldn't work with the "plug into your TV's USB slot" but worked fine one when I used the cable to plug into the power plug instead to power it (little white light winks on the stick when it's plugged in and powered up).

Then I just went to the AV button and selected the HDMI slot it was plugged into - and off we went through the installation.
  • First you have to pair your Now TV remote control with the TV - which seems to go pretty smoothly so long as you point it at the TV
  • Then you have to make a connection with your wifi - first choose the correct wifi network to joint - and then insert the wifi password! (Latter was the longest bit of the whole process!)
  • Next to get a connection to Now TV you must insert a code. The code will come up on the television screen - and then you need to go to to insert it. Make sure you've logged into your Now TV account in order to put in the code. 
  • Ignore the stuff about vouchers and passes if you already have one
  • Then basically it's getting the stick updated with the various apps
  • and before you know it you're starting at the normal Now TV screen on your television screen rather than your computer or tablet.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pricing a Watercolour & RI Annual Exhibition Metrics

The annual exhibition by the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours is the largest exhibition of watercolour paintings in the UK every year. 

It's also on for a decent length of time so it seemed very suitable to test my theory on pricing art prior to writing up of my proposed blog post on how artists are pricing themselves out of sales (COMING SOON)

This post covers the exhibition metrics (relevant performance data) for the 2019 Annual Exhibition:
  • how open is this open exhibition - the ratio of members to non-members
  • how well watercolour artwork has sold - with specific reference to price bands.

An Open Annual Exhibition

This is a proper OPEN EXHIBITION - and I recommend it to aspiring artists working in watercolours.
  • 411 artworks were exhibited. Of these
    • 249 are members (61% of artists)
    • 162 are non-members (39%). 
  • 166 artists exhibited. Of these:
    • 50 were members (of the current total of 53 members)
    • 4 were deceased members
    • 112 were non-members selected from the open entry
The average number of paintings hung were
  • Members: 4.9 paintings
  • Deceased members: 1 painting each
  • Non-members: 1.4 paintings
    • Most non-members have just one and sometimes two paintings in the exhibition. 
    • Only those who have applied to be a candidate for membership have more than two paintings in the exhibition
It's also an exhibition which had c. 7,000 visitors and hence a huge number of people looking at paintings during the course of the exhibition.  Mind you I think a lot aspire to be in the exhibition! 

Pricing a Watercolour 

One of the reasons why I'm going to write about pricing is I like to see artists do well - and sell their art.You can read more about pricing on my Art Business Info website - see
I often see excellent artworks in exhibitions at the Mall Galleries (both art competitions and art societies) entered by those who were selected from the Open Entry which do not sell.

I also see paintings by members which are 'adorning the wall' but not selling because they are overpriced for the venue and the audience.

The reason excellent artworks do not sell, in my view, is primarily down to how they've been priced.

This section considers three aspects
  • the number of artworks sold in each price range - analysed between member and non-member artworks
  • pricing lessons for artists selected via the open entry
  • observations on member artist sales

Number of artworks sold in each price range

To start trying to explain my theories on pricing (which I've held for some time) I decided to test them by monitoring all sales being recorded on the Mall Galleries website for all those paintings which had a digital image on the website.

I did three checks
  • after the preview and the first couple of days of being open to sales IN THE GALLERY (which is the period when most sales are generally made). These sales also included all those sales made online before the exhibition opened.
  • a week later 
  • on the final day
There were quite a lot of sales at the beginning and, interestingly, more sales in the final week than I was expecting towards the end - but sales slowed in the middle of the exhibition.

All the paintings I liked and expected to sell sold - bar a couple (however they may have sold but were not online or not updated online).

All the paintings I knew were overpriced did not sell.  

In total 76 paintings sold - 49 by members and 27 by open entrants.  
The chart below records sales results for 60 sales recorded online (33 by members and 27 by non-members).

Chart of all sales recorded online at the RI Annual Exhibition 2019
  • Two thirds of sold paintings by members and ALL the sold paintings by non-members are included in the above chart
  • Non-members dominate the under £500 category. (Members often overprice their small paintings!)
  • Above £500 RI members typically dominated sales
  • Two-thirds of the 60 sales I recorded sold for less than £1,000 - 19 by RI members and 20 by non-members
  • Sales priced above £1,500 drop dramatically as a percentage of the total.
  • Very few paintings sell for more than £3,000 - unless they have a strong following and/or fans with a big wallet.
  • £1,500 is a significant price hurdle for watercolours - Three women and one man who all sold well all kept their prices below £1,500.

Pricing lessons for selected artists via the open entry

Key points:
  • Inexperienced artists who are ignorant of market prices often overprice. 
  • Most non-members' paintings sell for less than £1,000
  • Very few watercolour artists sell paintings for more than £3,000 at the Mall Galleries. Those that do have a strong following and/or paint excellent large watercolours
  • Watercolours in general cannot compete with the price of oil paintings and should be priced accordingly. 

Issues for pricing:
  • Unfamiliarity with the exhibition affects pricing. This is an exhibition which attracts entries from all over the country. However not every artist who enters via the open entry has been to the exhibition previously. It's very probably the case that most have not analysed pricing and sales. In addition, seeing overpriced paintings in exhibitions can lead people to think this is the price for this type of painting in this type of market. However the only prices worth taking note of are those associated with paintings which sell.
  • Inexperience and ignorance can be addressed. You can gauge prices and learn about markets for specific types of paintings by visiting an exhibition near the end and making a note of what does sell - and what doesn't.  Now you can even monitor as I did via the online version of the exhibition - so there's now no excuse for provincial and parochial "pricing blindness". 
  • The mythical "London premium" is often used by provincial artists. They loading their prices with "a London premium" of their choosing which has generally been arrived at after inadequate market research. These artists generally don't sell. 
  • Those who aspire to be members will not impress if they do not sell.
  • Artists should always keep their prices more or less consistent wherever they are selling.
  • The acrylic confusion: One of the issues that causes confusion in watercolour exhibitions is when painters in water colours who use acrylic paints price their watercolours more like oil paintings. However an exhibition of watercolours attracts collectors who pay watercolour prices. 

Member artist sales

Key points:
  • Members would be well advised to look at how those artists who sell well price their art (see below)
  • Those who sold well know their market/followers and did not over price
  • All stayed below a threshold price - rather than pricing just above it
  • The number of sales sales drop dramatically above £1,500 - except for those with a strong following

RI Members who sold well were:
  • Lilias August (still life collections) - 3 paintings + silent auction painting
  • Vasha Bhatia (realistic architectural paintings of prominent / important buildings) - 4 paintings
  • Lisa Graa Jensen (fantasised landscapes) - 3 paintings
  • Rosa Sepple (large / expensive fantasy maritime painting) - 1 painting
  • Ian Sidaway (graphic stylised trees in landscapes) - 3 paintings
  • Shirley Trevena (loosely painted unconventional floral still lifes) - 4 paintings
  • Geoffrey Wynne (colourful paintings of international scenes) - 3 paintings
I only realised at the end that the Mall Galleries website only hosted virtual images of some two thirds of sales of member artworks in the exhibition. Presumably this is because some members failed to supply a digital image of their artwork to the organisers of the virtual online exhibition.

This is a pity - because like other prominent galleries - a number of sales took place in advance of the exhibition opening.

However members cannot sell their artwork to people viewing online if their artwork is not online!

It appeared to me that a significant number of members had no sales - including artists who have sold regularly in the past. However I can only be certain about that for those artists who had ALL their artworks online - and not all did.

Pricing / sales lessons for art societies and galleries

Clearly there's a lot of artists who need an education on pricing for exhibitions at the Mall Galleries - and that notion may well include art society members as well as non-members.

I think there's a case for art societies to act more like the David Shepherd Foundation's Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition.
  • That exhibition aims to raise funds for charity (conservation of wild animals) 
  • Consequently it also aims to maximise sales. 
  • It therefore reserves the right to suggest an artist revises their price to make it more likely to sell. 
  • As I understand it the way it works is if the artist won't budge then the artwork may not be exhibited.
I'd suggest serious consideration is given by FBA societies to the introduction of an EXTRA FILTER  (i.e. Is the price realistic?) when selecting artwork for an open exhibition - and the society should challenge artists as to whether this is a price they have achieved in the past.

Introducing a "price check" for realism may net more sales - and more commission even if the artworks are priced lower.

After all an over-priced artwork that does not sell is a net loss to:
  • a gallery which loses on commission through no sale - and the opportunity cost of selling other artwork which might well sell
  • an art society which wants to help artists in general to do well
  • an artist who has paid for transport, framing etc 
  • an artist's career. It's all very well seeing selection for a national art society exhibition as a pathway to getting a gallery - but all galleries are interested in (after they have assessed whether your art makes the grade / fills a gap) is whether or not you are already generating sales i.e. are people interested in your work when it is realistically priced!
Pricing to sell is a really good strategy for a long term career.

In terms of overall sales I think the Mall Galleries could promote the Own Art scheme better. The majority of those attending exhibitions are people who want to buy art if it is affordable.

I think if more people realised they could buy art for 10 equal payments then more people would buy art.


How to Price Art - on my art business info website - includes the following topics:
Plus don't forget to complete the poll about pricing. Note you are not alone if you need to learn more about pricing.

The Poll on my website

ARCHIVE: RI Annual Exhibition 2007-2018

The purpose of this video isn't to give you an in-depth view of all the paintings so much as to give you:an idea of the overall size of the exhibition
a notion of how big the paintings are that get selected via the open entry
a view of the paintings that were selected this year

This exhibition has always been very popular with the provincial art societies whose members arrive in droves - on coaches!




Monday, April 22, 2019

Commission an artist: 'Home is where the Art Is' (Episodes 6-10)

This is about the artists with a name in the end credits of Home Is Where the Art Is (Episodes 6-10). It follows on from my previous two posts
I've worked out what the credits in the end credits of each programme are about. They all seem to relate to all the OTHER professional artists whose artwork is on the walls of the homes of the buyer!

Ironic or what?

I'm actually quite getting into it as a programme - in part because it offers a real insight into the reasons why people commission artwork.

However I'm not getting any better at guessing which artists the client will pick.  Nor working out why they love artwork which I think is awful!

That said there is some excellent artwork on last week's programmes - but not all of it ended up in the clients' homes.

Commission an Artist (Episodes 6-10)

This is how the BBC describes the programme.
"Home Is Where The Art Is" is inspired by the real world trend of commissioning artwork. Rather than spending money on ‘off the shelf’ pieces from the high street this series will show how accessible and easy it is to commission local artists to create beautiful, bespoke art for the home.
As last week, links to websites and key social media are provided.
  • If the website has a commissions page this is included.
  • Contact links are embedded in the name


Episode 6

Location: Oxfordshire
Commission: an uplifting legacy piece celebrating the joy of life (for a couple where the husband had a terminal diagnosis) - and nothing muted
Budget: up to £1,000
Locations: identified throughout the home
Media represented: metal sculpture, painting, textile art
Outcome: both works made by the metal sculptor and textile artist were purchased

The Artists in Episode 6 were:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Portrait Artist of the Year: 2019 Exhibition Tour & 2020 Semi-Final

This is about

  • where you can see an exhibition of portraits painted during the Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 competition by the Heat Winners and Finalists - which is touring the UK during April, May and June
  • how to see the Semi-Final for Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 (I'm going!)

Portrait Artist of the Year: 2019 Exhibition Tour

If you've been following the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019, you'll doubtless be interested in seeing the exhibition which is at the following venues


  • Clarendon Gallery 46 Dover Street, London, W1S 4FF - until Wednesday 24th April 2019 (Monday - Saturday 9.00am - 6.00pm; Sunday Closed) - you'll need to query Easter Monday with them direct. They ask you to register your interest to attend the exhibition at - but I think they're only concerned about numbers.


Thereafter, exhibitions are limited to 2 days at weekends - so be sure to make a date in your diaries!


They do in fact have Galleries further north than Chester and Nottingham but the tour does not extend that far

Portrait Artist of the Year 2020: Semi-Final

At the end of this month - on 30th April 2019 - you can see the Semi-Final of the Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 - in which all the Heat Winners will be participating.

The image above tells you what you need to know - and 
DO NOT GO if you don't want to know who won which Heat - before it is televised! 
I know some of you don't like unexpected surprises!

I can however tell you that I watched every episode of the Heats for 2019 even though I already knew who was in the Final - because I watched it last June! It didn't make any difference whatsoever to my enjoyment of watching the programmes - including the Semi-Final. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Duncan Shoosmith is Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

Last night Duncan Shoosmith won the Final of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 

Paintings in the competition by Duncan Shoosmith (left to right) Self Portrait, Jodie Comer, Laura Linney (in the Final) Courtney Pine, Dame Cleo Laine (Commission for the Final)
The Final was actually held at the National Portrait Gallery on 13th June 2018.

This was the day after the announcement of the BP Portrait Award - which is how come I noticed the Judges were in the Building the next day as the winner and I went to use the lifts to find a quiet place for an interview!  After the interview and lunch I went in search of where they were filming the final - and my first guess turned out to be correct.  You can see the photos I took in an album on my Facebook Page Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 FINAL - of which more later

This post contains
  • commentary on the themes of the Final
  • observations on the Finals Process 
  • points you in the direction of pictures of what the Final actually looks like from the artists' perspective. 
  • where to read more if you're interested in applying in future years
The Prize for winning the competition is a £10,000 commission. This year the commission was to paint Tom Jones for the National Museum of Wales. So a not insignificant prize and a not insignificant sitter to paint for posterity.

The Three Finalists

Sara, Tom and Duncan outside the National Portrait Gallery - doing their walk for the camera

The three finalists were:
  • Sara Lavelle (Twitter | Instagram) - video - Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Distinction) at Falmouth University and then went on to study Illustration BA (Hons) at the University of Brighton (and got a First Class Degree). As a final year graduate she had only recently taken up painting. Now based in London.
  • Tom Mead (Facebook / Instagram) - video - Always nice to see a website which includes evidence that the artist goes to life class and can draw from life! Currently doing a BA degree in Painting at the University of Arts (Wimbledon). He creates paintings with a multifaceted perspective on individuals which suggest movement. Loves to paint in acrylic. These are Tom's paintings in the competition.
  • Duncan Shoosmith (Facebook/ Twitter / Instagram) - video - based in Wiltshire; combines painting at home in his garage with looking after his three young children. He does great portraits of kids if you take a look at his website!
One of the themes within the programme was of the old professional versus the two young cubs metaphorically snapping at his heels or as someone put it 'youth ganging up on old age'. It's certainly the case that the only painter who was professional or had any experience was Duncan Shoosmith. After last year's final one might have taken this to mean that he could be written off - and that youth and innovation would win through.

Comments from the Judges at the beginning suggested that what they particularly liked about these three portrait painters is that they all come at portraiture from their own unique angle.  
  • Duncan has his own bold and structural way of painting based on intense observation from life
  • Tom has a unique and fragmented style which suggests movement
  • Sara paints without a plan and finds her way to the end image and has a luminous way of painting skin
They were very pleased with the three they had chosen.


One of the themes within the programme concerned the stress and nervous energy associated with a Final. The suggestion from the Judges was that the artists live off their nerves and that this is a good thing.  From the comments of the artists, they recognised that nerves were natural in the context of the Final but that they'd prefer if they felt a bit more relaxed.

This was the set-up for the Final. You may just be able to spot the olive green chair for the sitter underneath the very big painting - and the ACRES of space between easels and sitter.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Restoration of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - how to donate

This is about ways to donate if you feel strongly that you would like to contribute to the restoration of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

Yesterday evening, I wrote about The Destruction of Notre Dame - only the stone will remain and posted my photos of Notre Dame from my visit in 2009 on my Facebook Page

Today my mind turns to the future - and the restoration and how it will be funded. I contributed to the Fund for rebuilding of the Glasgow Art School after their dreadful fire and will also be contributing to the restoration of Notre Dame.

The spire of Notre Dame burning before it collapsed through the vaulted stone ceiling of the cathedral

Contributions are going to be of three types:
  • practical - those who can provide space and equipment and IT for what will be a massive project
  • expert - people who can actually contribute to the work of restoration
  • financial - those who can fund the actual restoration and rebuilding works
Below are details of 
  • pledges by the French
  • the official organisation funding the restoration prior to the fire
  • different organisations accepting charitable contributions from American taxpayers

Pledges by the French

Various French billionaires and French companies have pledged huge sums currently totalling €600 million (£520 million / $677 million) At present there's a bit of what seems like status-based arm-flexing going on amongst French companies in terms of pledges being made!
  • €200 million (£172.7m) 
    • Bernard Arnault's family / his LVMH luxury goods group 
    • L'Oreal, the Bettencourt Meyers family / Bettencourt Schueller Foundation
  • €100 million
    • French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault 
    • French oil and gas company Total
The Louvre will be providing a home for the artworks and artifacts rescued from the building.

Friends of Notre-Dame: This is the official organisation that has raised money for the restoration that was underway.
  • This is the donation page on its website. Apparently more than €2 million (£1.7m) has been raised in less than 24 hours for the rebuild through an official website.
  • It pre-dates the fire, was already helping to fund the restoration and has offices in both France and the USA. 
  • The website explains the curious arrangements which led to this situation - and why President Macron was so very prominent at the fire last night!
As a result of a French law passed in 1905, the cathedral became the property of the French State but its use is dedicated exclusively to the Roman Catholic rite. Entrance is free of charge. It is classified as a French Historic Monument.
As owner and project manager, the French Ministry of Culture is responsible for regular maintenance, repairs and renovation of the building. Up unto this point all work was financed by the French State. But because of budgetary changes the State no longer wishes to assume the burden of financing desperately needed repairs. For this reason the Archbishop of Paris, in concert with the Diocese of Paris, have created the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris.
My recommendation would be to donate direct to the organisation already set up for the purposes of restoring the cathedral.

The Rose Window in the South Transept (2009) which is now very dirty but appears to have survived

Support from International Sources


  • The U.S. branch of the Friends of Notre-Dame (see above) is a 501c3 public charity, making all gifts tax-deductible for U.S. contributors.
  • The New York-based French Heritage Society has launched a Notre-Dame Fire Restoration Fund. It is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization and donations are tax-deductible for American taxpayers. Its eleven chapters in the U.S. and one in Paris have supported the restoration of nearly 600 buildings and gardens since 1982.
Guided by the belief that the most enduring expression of a culture is to pass on its highest achievements, French Heritage Society is dedicated to protecting the French architectural and cultural legacy both in France and the United States, with emphasis on raising funds for preservation, restoration and education.
  • Basilica of the National Shrine (Washington, D.C): Those Americans who prefer to contribute via the Catholic church need to note that the largest Roman Catholic church in North America has launched its own fundraising campaign. 
  • Apple has indicated it intends to support the restoration.


I'm unclear what is being set up in the UK to help fund the restoration. I imagine this might be led by the Church and the Cardinal of Westminster - but who knows?


As you can imagine various small projects have been set up to fund the restoration on Go Fund Me. However you can be assured that Go Fund Me will be making very sure that the funds will not be released by Go Fund Me until confirmation has been received that transfers will be made to the right people.
“Since the news broke last night, hundreds of campaigns have been launched by people wanting help rebuild Notre Dame. As ever on GoFundMe, we are in full control of funds until we are absolutely sure that they will get to the right place,”
communications manager John Coventry

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Destruction of Notre Dame - only the stone will remain

The Destruction of Notre Dame
It's absolutely tragic watching a huge and very fierce fire burning in Notre-Dame de Paris which is gutting the building. 

Many, many people in Paris and around the world are watching as huge flames burst through what was the roof.  Both sides of the Seine are lined with thousands of people watching the fire.

very many people watching the sad scene
The spire and roof have already been lost. The vaulted roof was completed in 1208.

Le Monde's coverage has some truly devastating footage

  • 8.50pm - Saving Notre Dame is not certain according to the French Interior Ministry
  • They can't use water bombs as that makes collapse of the structure more likely
  • 9.15pm BBC reporting that it's being said in Paris that there is a distinct possibility the whole structure will collapse
  • TUESDAY 9.15am A French reporter in Paris is reporting that all the medieval stained glass in three of the Rose Windows has melted and done - except for the one above the Portal (main entrance) have gone - see the link to my photos below which include two photos of the Rose Windows
  • midday - it becomes apparent that the Rose Windows have not melted and appear to just be smoke damaged
  • 5.45pm: see Restoration of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - how to donate ]

The spire prior to its destruction
The Flèche or Spire of the Cathedral, which was destroyed in the April 2019 fire, was located over the transept and altar. The original spire was constructed in the 13th century, probably between 1220 and 1230. It was battered, weakened and bent by the wind over five centuries, and finally was removed in 1786. During the 19th century restoration, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc decided to recreate it, making a new version of oak covered with lead. The entire spire weighed 750 tons. Following Viollet-le-Duc's plans, the spire was surrounded by copper statues of the twelve Apostles, in four groups of three, one group at each point of the compass. Wikipedia
The spire has collapsed into the cathedral
Tons of dry wood in the timber rafters and tiles will have collapsed onto the thin vaulted roof
- which may also have been lost [Update: parts of the vaulting have been lost - presumably when the spire crashed]
The BBC has just said that the cathedral - on the Island where Paris began - will be devastated
  • the wooden parts of interior will be completely lost 
  • a number of priceless artefacts may not have been removed in time. 
  • the stained glass will also be lost due to the heat - it's already melting and it seems very likely all will be lost [UPDATE: The great Rose Windows of the Transepts have gone - the stained glass has melted]
It's possible that nothing will be left of this cathedral by the time the fire is put out.
[Update: The stone is still standing, the cathedral has its skeleton left and will be rebuilt]

You can see my photos of the cathedral (in 2009) on Facebook - which includes views of the interior.

Yet again, it's awful to see a major iconic building under renovation be destroyed by a fire.  The cause of the fire is not known - but it's reasonable to suppose it's something to do with the works.

From the other side of the Seine - before the spire went

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Commission an artist: 'Home is where the Art Is' (Episodes 1-5)

If you're interested in the artwork produced by artists pitching for a commission in the BBC's new afternoon show "Home Is Where the Art Is" you can find out below:
  • What their names are 
  • Links to their website and social media
  • Who they are and what they do
  • How to contact them
Patricia Lee (right) with the work commissioned by her client (left)
I wrote about the BBC's new show in Home Is Where the Art Is - needs a makeover! in which I highlighted some concerns. One of these was the absence of any name credit in text in the programme

For all those saying that the names are said in the programme so why do they need the credits?

Well a number of reasons:
  • to respect the work of professionals - just as the credits at the end of the programme respect the work of the people behind the scenes who make the programme
  • two of the three are unpaid - and providing a named credit is fair exchange for the many hours given for free to make content for the BBC. Otherwise it's the equivalent of working for free for the exposure - but without the exposure in terms of a name to enable people to find you!
  • the names might be said - but nobody spells them out. In the first week there are THREE artists where I had to keep replaying the segment to listen to the names again and again - and even then finally identified them using information from elsewhere in the programme (eg "Gallery Windermere paintings cattle" got one of them).
  • the BBC is hypocritical and ignores its own rules when it suits it - such as making sure it gets great guests on the Graham Norton show - because they are only there to promote their latest whatever - and always do!
I feel a letter to the Radio Times coming on.... ;)

PS I feel like making a plea for rather less chainsaw wood sculpting!

Commission an Artist 

Links to websites and key social media are provided.
  • If the website has a commissions page this is included. 
  • contact links are embedded in the name
It's really interesting to see the different way people approach providing information about commissions - and which are obviously more experienced at working to commission.

I'm going to be updating this listing each Sunday with all the artists from the episodes in the previous week.


Episode 1: 

Location: Burnley, Lancashire
Commission: a gift his wife - reflecting their love for their cottage and its social history
Budget: £200
Media: none specified
Media represented: Ceramics; wood sculpture, painting in mixed media
Outcome: bought the ceramic jug with flowers produced by Sally Toms

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Shortlist for Jackson's £5,000 Open Art Prize published

The shortlist of finalists for the Jackson's Open Art Prize (£5,000) are listed below.
The prize aims to celebrate exceptional artworks by artists at all stages of theirs careers

There's some admirable work included in the shortlist. This a link to images of the shortlisted artwork in 2019 - the names of the artists are below.

A selection of those shortlisted for the Prize
There are a number of Prizes worth £10,000 overall

  • Overall Winner of the Jackson's Art Prize - £5,000
  • People's Choice Award (of all the entries received) - £1,000 - Voting is now open
  • Emerging Artist Award - £1,000
  • 6 Category Prizes - £500 each
Bottom line - it's an Art Competition worth entering (see more details at the end)! 

Those shortlisted artists who choose to do so will submit their work for exhibition at the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead (9-12 May 2019)

This is a link to the longlist of artworks eligible for the People's Choice Awards

  • It's NOT in the least bit obvious but there are images on more than one page
  • I predict that all those NOT on the front page of each category will received fewer votes as a result

Names of shortlisted artists for Jackson's Open Art Prize

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Review: Semi-Final of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019

The Semi-Final Episode of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 was broadcast on Tuesday - and can still be watched via Now TV.

Portait artists painting Courtney Pine

The Semi Finalists

There were nine semifinalists - five men and four women.

These included six professional artists
  • EPISODE 1 - Geoff Harrison (Portraits website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - Stockport man (which greatly appealed to Stockport woman Joan Bakewell! Undergraduate degree in Fine Art Printmaking from the School of Art in Hull; lived in Japan for several years but now lives in London. He did an MA Japanese Studies at SOAS in 2009. Involved with anatomical painting and illustration and medical arts. Has had two residencies: Artist in Residence at Barts Pathology Museum at St. Bart's Hospital + Leverhulme residency at The Royal Veterinary College (see his paintings) He has also been shortlisted for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' Bulldog Bursary and long-listed for the BP Portrait Award. He produces portraits on commission - and schedules painting around looking after this children.
The Heat felt awesome just to be there.  But if you win something, you kind of get a taste for it and the stakes are higher 
The nine Semi Finalists

Three young amateur artists - who were all students at the time of the Semi Finals
and three amateur artists
  • EPISODE 3Sara Lavelle (Twitter | Instagram) - video - Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Distinction) at Falmouth University and then went on to study Illustration BA (Hons) at the University of Brighton. As a final year graduate she had only recently taken up painting. Now based in London.
  • EPISODE 7 Annie Lee (Annabella Lee) (Facebook/ Twitter / Instagram) - video - Took her art A Level a week after the heat. Now studying at Central Saint Martins. Spent an hour plotting features before starting to paint.
  • EPISODE 8 Tom Mead (Facebook / Instagram) - video - Always nice to see a website which includes evidence that the artist goes to life class and can draw from life! Currently doing a BA degree in Painting at the University of Arts (Wimbledon).  He creates paintings with a multifaceted perspective on individuals which suggest movement.  Loves to paint in acrylic.

What was different 

The semi-finals of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 gets underway

Another new venue

For PAOTY 2018 they were at the Cafe de Paris. These semi-finals were at the Hackney Round Chapel in Clapton.
It has such a strong sense of place. It's uplifting. It's got to influence our artists today Kathleen Soriano

One sitter not two

Last year, the semi-finalists were surprised to find they were painting not one but two models.

This year, they return to just one sitter - the jazz musician Courtenay Pine who brought his sax to keep him company.

I gather he turned four hours late which must have made some production people rather fraught - and the painters rather tired by the end of the day.  It certainly explains to me why the episode seemed curiously 'flat'. Maybe they'll be back to two sitters - just in case - next year (or maybe just one renowned for punctuality?)

What the Judges were looking for

We're looking for more narrative and more texture. We're going to have to get tougher with them Kate Bryan