Thursday, May 09, 2019

Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2019

This post is about the artists behind the 44 portraits selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition opens to the public on 13 June 2019 and admission is free (see details at the end).

Ruminating Man by Frances Bell

As always this post takes rather longer (hours and hours!) to write than usual and that's why it's being published today and not yesterday as indicated on Monday.

At the end there is a BIG TIP for those aspiring to enter in 2020 and beyond....

Selection Process


The competition is open to all artists aged 18 and over from around the world.

In 2019:
  • 2,538 artists submitted a portrait as a digital image to the BP Portrait Award 2018. (2,667 artists in 2018)
  • from 84 countries (minus 4 countries compared to 2018).
  • Of these 290 (11%) made it through the first stage assessment and got to hand deliver or courier their actual portrait for viewing by the Judging Panel.
  • Of these just 44 (1.7%) have been selected for this prestigious annual exhibition - which will be seen by more than 250,000 people
In terms of geography, out of the 44 selected artists from all over the world
  • 19 portraits (43%) came from the UK - England, Scotland and Northern Ireland (52% in 2018) 
  • 25 portraits (57%) came from 81 other countries (48% in 2018)
Key changes in statistics include
  • a very significant reduction on the number (50+) which have been selected in the past (eg 55 portraits in 2012)
  • a very significant reduction in the number of selected portraits by UK artists
  • an apparently big increase in artists who have never had their work selected for the exhibition before
Effectively this means that over time, the number of UK artists being selected for this competition has more of less halved.  

It's now very much an international competition - not a UK one.

Selected Artists (and statistics)


Below are short profiles of the selected artists. Links in their names are to their websites. (Note that almost every artist has a website )

The artists are ordered according to 
  • their country of origin and
  • the number of artists that hail from each country highlighted
Artists are welcome to send me images of selected portraits and/or photos of them with their portrait - and they will be added into this post.

I'm still trying to work out the statistics. Below I've got one artist without a country (although I suspect it's Colombia) - and numbers that don't tie in with the press release. There seem to be more Americans and fewer Brits.

UK (19 artists)


England (15)
  • Jane Beharrell - a painter of figures and still life. She's from Hull, but is now based in Beverley, East Yorkshire. First time in the BP.
  • Frances Bell RP SWA (see her portrait at the top of this post) Facebook Page A full time professional portrait and landscape painter and elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2018 (and her work can be seen at the RP Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries from tomorrow). Born in Cambridge in 1983, and raised in Suffolk and now basw in Northumberland. Studied portraiture at the Charles. H. Cecil Studios in 2001 for 3 years, and then taught sporadically at the Charles Cecil studios for a further 7 summers. She has exhibited widely and internationally and won a number of prizes.  In 2019, one of her paintings was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Portrait Society of America in this years International competition.
Frances Bell with her portrait of Ruminating Man.

  • Frances Borden Won 2nd prize in 1998 - In 2019 selected for both the BP and the Ruth Borchard Portrait Prize. Studied art at Chelsea College of Art & Design - BA (Hons) Fine Art (Painting) (1993 to 1996). Regularly selected for exhibitions by other art competitions and previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000,  and 2016  
  • Simon Thomas Braiden - Born 1971. He's a self-taught artist who is a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Art. His work has been seen in exhibitions in Manchester, Buxton and London. self taught artist born in Manchester in 1971. Early Flemish painting and 20th Century Modern Realist painting have been his main influences. He has exhibited extensively throughout the UK in both private and public galleries. Previously selected in 2018 - when I interviewed him for BP Portrait Award 2018 - Artists with their paintings
  • Bridget Cox - b. 1951. A practising artist currently living in Cumbria. Trained at the Carlisle College of Art and Design and the University of Ulster, Belfast BA(Hons) painting. Her paintings are in private and public collections in the UK, Ireland and France.  Her portrait titled ‘Chinese Cloth’ is of Hilary Linton of Brampton
  • Vanessa Garwood - Born in Israel 1982, Vanessa studied painting and sculpture for three years at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence.  Now she lives and works in west London. Also selected for BP Portrait Award 2018 Facebook Page 
  • Emma Hopkins - Shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019 - see 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist
  • Tedi Lena - studied at CASS and successfully completed Undergraduate program in Fine Art and got my result 95%. July 2018 Awarded Degree of Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours London Metropolitan University. Painted Frank Bowling for the exhibition. Leading an Exhibition Tour on 28 June
  • Jeff Midghall - Graduated with BA (Hons) Fine Art, Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury, UK in 1997. Possibly based somewhere in France?




  • Keith Milow - born 1945 in London, grew up in Baldock, Hertfordshire, lived in New York City and Amsterdam, now lives in London. He is an abstract sculptor, as well as a painter and printmaker.  (Note artwork online makes no sense in terms of portraiture!)
  • Sarah Jane Moon - Sarah Jane comes from New Zealand and is a painter and printmaker who specialises in portraiture and figurative painting and explores identity, sexuality and gender presentation. In New Zealand she graduated in 2003 with BA - Art History, English Literature, Japanese Victoria University of Wellington and in 2007 BA (Hons) Visual Arts Theory University of Western Australia, Perth. After coming to the UK she studied for Diploma in Portrait Painting at The Heatherley School of Fine Art, London, UK (where she now teaches regularly). She has exhibited extensively and regularly been selected for the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

    Dr Ronx by Sarah Jane Moon

    • Luis Ruoccoan Italian artist based in a very quiet suburb of London.
    • Charlie Schaffer Shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019 - see 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist
    • Gandee Vasan - Based in London. Photographer with a degree in fine art and currently undertaking post graduate studies in Computer Graphics and Illustration. He spent ten years creating conceptual images for advertising in London and Amsterdam and worked at Getty Images. Prior to that, he was an award winning portrait painter (Exhibited in BP in 2005?)
    • Nigel Whittaker - No bio details on the website. Saatchi Art reveals that he lives in Birmingham and is self-taught after being asked to leave Bournville Art School, Birmingham. First time in the BP.
    Nigel Whitaker | Instagram


    Scotland (3)
    • Jennifer Anderson - a Scottish painter of portraits and figurative art with an interesting artist's statement about her approach to making her art. Born in Glasgow; grew up in rural Stirlingshire. Attended Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. Graduated in 1997, age 21, with a first class honours degree in fine art painting. Currently lives and works in the West End of Glasgow. Has exhibited internationally and won a number of awards. Previously selected for the BP Portrait in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2009 and Lynn Painter Stainers in 2008 and 2009. Exhibited by Beaux Arts Bath and Cameron Contemporary Art and various other galleries. I'm only surprised that we've not seen more of her work in the last decade.
    • Steven Higginson - a full-time, self-employed artist based in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland and working from a home studio. In 2014, he graduated with BA (hons) in Fine Art (Painting and Drawing) from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art, Dundee. His work spans landscapes, city scenes, portraiture and still life, all painted in his distinctive photo-realistic style. He has sold and exhibited his paintings and prints for over ten years and has collectors all over the world. He is a prolific exhibitor in Scotland and he is a first time exhibitor at the BP Portrait - and also his first exhibition outside Scotland.
    • Elaine Speirs - born in Johannesburg and moved to Paisley as a child. Trained at Edinburgh College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London.  A regular exhibitor at the RSA, with VSA, and at the SSA, she has also exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London. 
    Northern Ireland (1)
    • Daniel Nelis - b. 1990 and grew up in a rural area of Donegal. BA (Hons) Fine Art: Painting and Drawing. Won the Royal Ulster Academy Portrait Prize in 2015. Studied Art and Design PGCE course at Ulster University.  This is an interview with Daniel Nelis

    United States (10 artists)

    The USA maintains its track record of 8 artists selected for the exhibition.
    • Denis Dalesio - b.1991 Stamford, Connecticut. Currently is working and living in Norwalk, Connecticut. Graduated 2016 with B.F.A from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. First time in the BP.
    • David Eichenberg - Won 3rd Prize in 2010. He lives in Toldeo, Ohio and graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in sculpture and painting in 1998. In 2009, he was a Finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 at the Smithsonian.
    • Kyle Hooper - born in Milton, MA in 1985. Attended the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. First time in the BP.
    • Brendan H Johnston - (b.1984, New York City) a young painter and sculptor dedicated to representational fine art. Graduated from McGill University with a Major in Art History and Humanities. Lives in New York City and teaches at the Grand Central Atelier. First time in the BP.
    • Karen Kaapcke - Facebook Page - Studied Painting at Arts Students League of NY. Has won a number of awards. Numerous exhibitions in and around New York and Connecticut since 1995. In 2012 she won First Place, Portrait Society of America: Self Portrait. This is an Artists Network Artist of the Month interview. She has a painterly approach and creates interesting compositions. First time in the BP.



    • Scott Lancashire born: 1952;  Oberlin, Ohio; Based in Boulder, Colorado. University of Wyoming (BS 1974); Arizona State University (B. Arch 1979). Licensed architect (Colorado). First time in the BP.
    • Tina Oršolić Dalessio - Facebook - a figurative painter born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia. She graduated from Florence Academy of Art in June 2018. Her portrait is her Final Project at the Florence Academy of Art. First time in the BP. (Wife of Mark Dalessio)



    • Helen Robinson - based in Brooklyn, NY. Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Art History at Vanderbilt University (2013). Has a studio in Brooklyn. Her paintings are all derived from photographs and studies and are mostly documentary in style. 
    • Manu Saluja - Facebook - Studied with John Frederick Murray privately and at the School of Visual Arts, receiving her BFA in 1997. MFA in Painting from the New York Academy of Art. Currently adjunct faculty in their Continuing Studies Department. She also teaches drawing and painting at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art.


    • Natalie Voelker - Facebook - Graduated 2000 with a BFA from the University of Wisconsin. Currently works out of Albuquerque, NM. First time in the BP.


    Australia (2 artists)


    • Fiona White - Born in Melbourne and based in Sydney. Her work tackles issues at the forefront of international political discourse. She has been has been a finalist in various exhibitions and awards within Australia and internationally.
    • ?

    France (2 artists)


    • Didier Altmeyer - Born 1958 in Paris. Studied Fine Art at university in Paris. A Past Chairman of the French Artists Copyright Society (ADAGP). Paints a range of subjects - including nudes.
    • Thomas Ehretsmann - Won 2nd Prize in 2017 and also selected in 2016. Born in 1974 and grew up in Thann, in Alsace in France. Studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg. Worked as an illustrator for magazines and publishers, notably Elle Magazine for seven years as well as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and various european and american books and journal. Works in acrylic but paints using a very small hatching mark as if using egg tempera. See my Interview with Thomas Ehretsmann (BP Portrait Award 2017 2rd Prize).

    'Openings' by Thomas Ehretsmann
    acrylic on wood panel 48 x 48cm (2014-2018)


    Ireland (2 artists)

    • David Booth Born in 1986 in Dublin, Ireland. Received his BFA in 2009 from the Institute of Technology Carlow. Currently lives and works in Dublin. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. This is an interview with him. First time in the BP.
    (Note - Other Irish artist is Northern Irish i.e. UK)


    Spain (2 artists)

    • Iván Chacón - a Spanish painter from Bilbao, born in 1989
    Portrait of Aurelio (2019) by Iván Chacón (Spain)oil on canvas, 106 x 90 cm
    One of those pieces of advice was.....
    Paint more than a head - demonstrate you can do commissions involving hands! Remember the first prize winner may be offered a commission. If you paint hands you put yourself in a stronger position to stand out and impress the judges with your skills. Also you will note that recently commissioned portraits added to the NPG collection very often have heads/upper torsos/hands. You may well enhance your chances by demonstrating an ability to paint more than a head.
    Looks like some people read that advice. Now scroll back through the pics in this post and review how few 'heads only' there are and how many portraits have a minimum of the upper torso - with hands!  If you want to enter next year I'd start practising hands now....

    REFERENCE

    BP Portrait Award 2019

    Previous Years

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