Sunday, June 30, 2019

Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - Heats and Semi-Final Locations

A follow up on my earlier post about Wildcard Artists wanted for Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - this time focusing on
  • the Heats which have taken place - with pics wetting our appetites for the broadcast in the Autumn!
  • the Heats next Wednesday and Thursday - and where to go if you want to watch
  • the LOCATION of the Semi Final!

HEAT 1 & 2: Herstmonceux, East Sussex

Looks like I got it precisely right for the two locations at Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux certainly featured on the first day

and it looks like it was Herstmonceux Castle on the second day

HEATS 3 & 4: Plymouth, Devon

I also guessed right that a likely location for the second set of Heats was Plymouth Hoe

although I'm not sure it was quite the weather they wanted on at least one of the days

HEATS 5 & 6: Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 are filming two of the competition heats NEXT WEEK - on the banks of the River Tyne in Gateshead

They've also told us the location

Venue: HMS Calliope, next to Baltic Square, NE8 2BE.
Dates: Wednesday 3rd July and Thursday 4th July.
Hours: 10am - 6pm

You're invited to join the filming on those days to soak up the atmosphere and support the artists - anytime between 10am and 6pm

Don't forget to let us know on social media what it looks like!

The Semi-Final

I can also tell you that the semi-final will be somewhere at Cromarty, Nr Inverness in Scotland. Which makes for a long hike for those who want to watch!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Winslow Homer and the development of marine art

For fans of Winslow Homer - and those who love making or viewing paintings of the sea 

In August two exhibitions about Winslow Homer (1836-1910) open in Massachusetts
Below I also look at 
  • Seaside Art Colonies - created by artists who love to paint the seas and the coast; and 
  • some of the sketches I made while visiting places associated with well-known artists who live or lived in New England - including the Prout's Neck Home of Winslow Homer.

Homer at the Beach: A Marine Painter’s Journey, 1869-1880 - at Cape Ann Museum

This is an exploration of the marine paintings of the renowned American artist Winslow Homer - and how he developed as a marine painter.

The exhibition includes 50 original works and will include loans from some 40 public and private collections.  
In 1869, Winslow Homer (1836–1910) exhibited his first picture of the sea. He was an ambitious New York illustrator — not yet recognized as an artist — and freshly back from France. Over the next 11 years, Homer’s journey would take him to a variety of marine destinations, from New Jersey to Maine, but especially — and repeatedly — to Gloucester and other parts of Cape Ann.
It was on Cape Ann that Homer made his first watercolors and where he discovered his calling: to be a marine artist. And it was in Gloucester in 1880, at the end of these 11 years, where he enjoyed the most productive season of his life, composing more than 100 watercolors of astonishing beauty. Homer’s journey forever changed his life and the art of his country.
Venue: Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA (c.45 minutes northeast of Boston)
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10am. to 5pm Sundays from 1-4pm
Admission: $12.00 adults, $10.00 Cape Ann residents, seniors and students. Youth (under 18) and Museum members are free.

Winslow Homer: Eyewitness at Harvard University Art Museums

His work as an artist-correspondent, enabled Homer to develop habits of seeing and pictorial strategies that informed his work in other media.
During the Civil War (1861–1865), American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910) served as a correspondent for Harper’s. His sketches of soldiers, both in battle on the front lines and in quieter moments back at camp, were reproduced to accompany the journal’s accounts of the conflict. Homer worked for Harper’s just as new technologies were making it possible to rapidly reproduce newsworthy images on a large scale. Working together with Harper’s editors and engravers, he employed a range of pictorial strategies to reassure skeptical readers that his illustrations were not fabrications, but eyewitness observations “drawn on the spot.”
Venue: University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Dates: August 31, 2019 - January 5, 2020
Hours: daily, 10am–5pm (closed on major holidays)
Admission: Adults, $15; seniors (65+), $13

Seaside art colonies

In the past many marine painters have set up home in a place by the seas that they liked to paint - and ended up living in what became a seaside art colony!

This is my blog post about Seaside Art Colonies - in the UK and USA  which provides a summary listing of seaside art colonies around the UK and USA - and also lists the artists associated with them.

My photo of the sign about the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester
I've made a bit of an effort to visit these in the past and at the time of writing the post....
To date my list includes: Newlyn, Lamorna, St Ives, Walberswick, Kirkcudbright, Chelsea, Monterey, Carmel, Gloucester and Cape Ann - plus others whose names escape me - although I suspect they're probably places like Prout's Neck which are associated with only one artist

New England: my marine sketches & New England artists

Back in 2006, I made various journeys across New England to visit and sketch at places associated with artists.


This was my post about Winslow Homer's home at Prout's Neck and the beach near his home.

Scarborough Beach, Prout's Neck, Maine
- with Winslow Homer's home in the background (I think)
8" x 10" pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Wyeths are associated with Maine too


The tree without a name
9" x 12", coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I also visited Rocky Neck (on the periphery of Gloucester), the oldest working art colony in the USA and Rockport.


Tuesday 19th September - "The grass is greener in Vermont" (1 sketch) - this is about my visit with Bert Dodson, author of Keys to Drawing, in his studio - when he was working through proofs for his second book Drawing with Imagination - strategies for creativity.

How much nerve does it take to sketch a man who writes books about drawing!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Bixby Bridge, Highway 1 and Big Little Lies

We've started to watch Big Little Lies - and I love the opening sequence which includes the Bixby Bridge. I'm afraid I bounce up and down at the beginning of every episode as the Bixby Bridge comes into view, all the while exclaiming "I've been there - that's Bixby Bridge. I stopped there. I drew that!"

Maritime Inversion, - Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
8" x 12", coloured pencils on Arches

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

In July 2006 - on a trip around California, Arizona and New Mexico, my third 'big trip' involved flying to San Francisco, picking up a Chrysler PT Cruiser and then, after a short stop in Monterey, driving at a fairly leisurely pace all the down Highway 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway - from San Francisco to San Diego - all on my own! Something in excess of 550 miles.

This road is almost next to the coast and it follows the coastline - with views of the Pacific Ocean en route - almost all the way down

I'd planned to sketch the views from the Highway as I progressed - and post about my travels in my sketchbook blog "Travels with my Sketchbook".

What I hadn't planned on was the marine inversion due to the heatwave which was taking place inland. Having experienced the 100 degree heat while crossing deserts earlier in the trip, I'd looked forward to it being cooler - but would have preferred cooler with more sun!

Which explains why my sketch (below) and then the more developed drawing above both feature the low-lying cloud of a marine inversion - where the cold sea meets the very hot land.

Bixby Bridge, Pacific Coast Highway
8" x 10", Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
4.50pm on 28 July 2006
You can see what the weather was like in the layby where I parked just north of the bridge - grey, grey and more grey!

This is the Bixby Bridge - as seen in the opening credits of Big Little Lies

Below is the rest of my third "big trip"

Road Trip #3 - Pacific Coast Highway Trip from San Francisco to San Diego

San Francisco to San Diego along the Pacific Coast Highway (26th July - 30th July 2006)
(link goes to a Google Map)
On this trip I found out that the marine inversions on the coast tend to accompany very high temperatures inland!
As well as sketching details, my posts also include details of
  • routes I travelled
  • places I stayed and/or visited
  • descriptions of places where I ate meals (which often became the subjects for sketches)
  • PLUS places to buy art supplies .
What's been the best road trip + sketching that you've done? Answers to my Facebook Page

Friday, June 21, 2019

Portrait Artist of the Year comes to Channel 4

For all those who missed it first time around....

Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 (Series 5) comes to Channel 4 tomorrow at 5pm

As a reminder here are all my blog posts about the series written after each episode. 
Each one contains
  • profiles of each artist
  • my observations about the episode and learning lessons for those wanting to have a go in future. For the most part observations are around themes within the series as a whole as opposed to specifically referencing any one sitter(s) in an Episode. 
  • comments on what the judges liked and did not like.
A number of participants have commented to me on how useful they have found my blog posts about the series. Watch the series, read my reviews and observations and make your own mind up!
Painting portraits under glass
The set-up in the glass atrium at the Wallace Collection in the very hot summer of 2018

Proper profiles for participating artists

YET AGAIN No name credits for the artistsBefore I start I just want to note AGAIN that the people at the core of each programme - the artists - who really make it happen do NOT have any name credit at the end of the programme. This is just plain WRONG. Everybody else is completely superfluous without the artists! Review: Episode 1 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2019
I'm very pleased to say that - very probably as a result of my vociferous online campaign for programmes and television producers to identify their artists PROPERLY by name - the website for Portrait Artist of the Year now has profiles for each of of the artist - with

Portrait Artist of the Year 2019: Series 5 - The Episodes 

This series was filmed in the Spring/early summer of 2018 (remember how hot it was?) and was broadcast starting in January this year.

The location is the Restaurant space under the Glass Roof at the Wallace Collection (it closed while the series was filmed). Of course this means we have the equivalent of plein air portrait painting - with the light changing all the time and the area becoming so hot that it affected artists' painting materials, Which probably explains why in April this year we all went down to the Battersea Arts Centre for the filming of Series 6! No more problems with light or too much heat!

A view of the set in Episode 1 - to be broadcast on Saturday 22 June at 5pm

It was a big relief when we got to the Final and I could finally publish my photos taken at the Final which I watched at the National Portrait Gallery in June 2018!

  • the Episode Headings have the names of the sitters
  • READ my Reviews of each episode - but BEWARE obviously the links to the review means that you will find out the names of those shortlisted and the names of the winners - so decide for yourself whether you prefer to watch before or after you read the reviews. 
  • My reviews also include 
    • Observations about learning points
    • what the Judges liked and did not like about various portraits 

  • My blog posts are NOT short - probably best to get a nice hot drink and find a chair... ;)
  • Every post tells you who gets shortlisted and who wins the heat. However I'm not going to tell if you read my review in advance and then surprise your family with astute comments as you watch the programme..... ;) 
  • You MUST stop reading after Episode 8 if you want to be surprised by how people do in the Final and the Semi-Final - because I do name names!

I have to say I actually enjoyed watching episodes MORE the second time around when I knew who had won because I could look more carefully at what was going on - and saw and heard more as a result.

Your choice!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

RIP Charles Reid (1937 - 2019)

The extraordinary and incomparable watercolour painter and art instructor Charles Reid died on 1st June 2019.

I'm sure all of us who were fans of him all have our own memories of "our connections" with Charles Reid - even if we never ever met him.

These are mine.....

When I first got interested in art again - as a much-needed creative diversion from number-crunching (after the long slog through my first degree at Cambridge and then the exams for my accountancy qualification) -  one of the very first painting instructors who appealed to me was Charles Reid.

I'd spend hours in the art shops salivating over the watercolour paints and then spent what seemed like forever sat in the book section pouring over the latest brilliant art instruction book from Watson Guptill in the USA - trying to decide what I could afford to buy - paints or books or paint and books - and it was invariably the latter.

One of the artist/authors I loved best of all was Charles Reid. He just connected like no other art instructor at that time.

I never became a good watercolour painter, preferring dry media to wet, but my eyes were opened to art-making while reading his books.

I absolutely loved his washy way of watercolour painting which had sensational colours and glazes and blurs and mixes on the page. I bemoan endlessly the fact I so very rarely see paintings by a master painter who celebrated the attributes of watercolour in exhibitions of watercolour painting today.

I was awe-struck by the fact he left his watercolours drip down the page and was totally unphased by it. He left his graphite sketch included in the final work - for all to see. Surely this was breaking the laws of "proper painting"?

In time I came to see him very much as the contemporary successor to John Singer Sargent.

Somebody who always painted from what he could see and was always concerned with the effect he was trying to achieve.

recent images on his Instagram account - with that very memorable self-portrait in the middle
Who remembers the:
  • continuous line drawing?
  • the "big blur"?
  • the emphasis on seeing shapes and values as they presented themselves - and not as your brain tried to tell you they were?
  • highlighting the value of the backlit subject?
  • even more emphasis on the importance of edges - and "the lost and found"?
  • the focus on mixing interesting darks - on the palette and on the page - and the avoidance of black
  • and always always always - looking for connections and relationships within your subject - in line, mass, colour and tone... ?
What I liked about him was this teaching (in his books) was always very informal - and at the same time very thoughtful and considered - a bit like his paintings.

However, for me the most important thing was that his instruction wasn't about watercolour painting and 'how to paint' at all.

When I went to pull some of my Charles Reid books off my bookshelves I was amazed to find that absolutely none of them were in the watercolour section!  In fact I'd say I was panicking at that point!!!

They were of course elsewhere - on my composition and design shelves - and sitting with the other books in related subject matter.

That's because he was about so much more than about how to paint in watercolours or oil.

Below you can see the covers of just three of my books. I guess the most recent editions now have different covers.

I can't find my copy of Painting what you want to see (right) - but that's also a great book

I'd like to pay tribute to what he taught me by encouraging you to seek out these books if you've not read them previously - and have a good read - and then start applying his tips in your practice.

I rarely see them in bookshops anymore - more's the pity - but you can still find them all online.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2019

Last Thursday, I attended the Private View of the New English Art Club's Annual Exhibition 2019 - however the PV was so well attended and the galleries so packed that I was unable to get an impression of the artwork as a whole. I could see paintings - but couldn't stand back from many or see the whole - and how it "hung together".

photograph taken from the end of the main gallery, during the speeches at 6pm
So I decided to make a return visit - not being aware that I would be suffering the equivalent of "exhibition jetlag" by the weekend! (It's been very, very busy for three weeks!) So I went back again yesterday, with a fresh eye, and this is my review of the exhibition.

Key points are:
  • 385 paintings, prints and drawings in the exhibition by members and (to be counted) artists selected from the open entry. Of these 
    • 300 were by 82 members, 
    • 8 were by 6 members of other FBA societies and 
    • 77 were by 66 artists via the open entry
    • more about metrics at the end
  • Sales look reasonably good. I counted 43 sales (11%) yesterday - with a few members selling more than one painting.
Melissa Scott-Miller (paintings in the centre) is selling well - surprise surprise! ;) 
  • The President of NEAC stated very clearly at the opening of the exhibition that this is emphatically NOT an open exhibition. It's an annual exhibition by members and the vast majority of artwork is by members and although lots want to exhibit and be members only a very few are chosen each year. There is space for a small numbers of other artists to exhibit alongside members and candidates. More commentary on this below.
  • It's a patchy exhibition - some parts and some artists excel while others are nondescript. I will explain below...
  • It's sad to see so many paintings by very senior members who are well past their best. 
  • Most is quite traditional ("impressionistic") and there's very little that is very contemporary - in terms of subject matter, media and style.  That might well be something to do with the ratio of members to open work and the average age of members....
The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition is a chance to experience the very best in figurative, observational and painterly work in the UK.

It showcases paintings, drawings and prints from its elected members alongside work by emerging artists whose ethos reflects its own: informed by the visual world and personal interpretation; and underpinned by drawing. Mall Galleries Introduction
  • Some of the artists selected via the Open have been "emerging" for very many years(!) and are respected members of other FBA Societies. It doesn't leave much room for genuinely new art by genuinely new artists. I think the rationale behind the exhibition needs a rethink as to scope.
The exhibition continues across all three galleries at the Mall Galleries until 22nd June 2019. 

You can also see all the works online by scrolling down this page on the Mall Galleries website. Note that if you click the link it takes you to a page where you can express an interest in purchasing a work (and the Mall Galleries operates the Own Art Scheme meaning you can pay over 10 months)

NEAC 2019 - Main Gallery
Main Gallery - near end wall
NEAC 2019 - Main Gallery near the Cafe
NEAC 2019 - Threadneedle Space
NEAC 2019 - North Gallery and the monochrome walls
The New English Art Club (NEAC) was founded in London in 1886 as an exhibiting society by artists influenced by impressionism and whose work was rejected by the conservative Royal Academy.....Initially avant-garde, the NEAC quickly became increasingly conservative.....It still exists, now preserving the impressionist tradition.New English Art Club | Tate

The Open Exhibition

If the NEAC Annual Exhibition is NOT an open exhibition then the Mall Galleries needs urgently to change the heading on its website to say "Open Exhibitions and NEAC" - and to rethink its Terms and Conditions.  If Open means it is only "open to other artists" then it's essential that the artists submitting via the Open Entry need a better definition of what chances of success they can expect
6.1 Our open submission exhibitions are open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU. FBA Terms and Conditions
otherwise it will get in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority with respect to what is advertised and what is delivered.  I recommend a read of the following and in particular the sections on misleading communications.
UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) is the rule book for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications (marketing communications).
Maybe the issue is that which I have referenced previously - that there is no open, transparent and explicit statement of "what is an open exhibition" and clarity about what those who enter can expect about the number of works which will be accepted via the open entry (i.e. are they wasting their entry fees?)

We need much better feedback for those who enter - for every exhibition - as to:
  • how many artists entered
  • how many artworks were entered
  • how many artworks were selected by how many artists 
  • average number of open artworks hung per artist from the open entry
Artists (including other FBA artists) can then make an intelligent decision about whether to enter and if so, how many artworks to enter.

For more on this topic see my commentary and charts about on Exhibition Metrics at the end.

The Selection and the Hang

When I'm visiting an exhibition I always ask people I meet what they think of the exhibition and get their views before they know mine. So in offering some views below I take comfort from the fact that I know I was not alone.....

Monday, June 17, 2019

F&W Media Bankruptcy Protection UPDATE re SALES of Artist Network, Wet Canvas & North Light Books

An update for those who have had, in the past, a connection with Wet Canvas.  
SALES of assets have taken place.

How much Artists Network sold for
- and the relative status of "Crafts" and "Art" should anybody be in any doubt


The Debtors continue to operate their businesses and manage their properties as debtors in possession pursuant to sections 1107 and 1108 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Debtors have filed a motion seeking joint administration of the Chapter 11 Cases pursuant to Rule 1015(b) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. 
  • On 7th June the CEO announced that the Books Division had been sold and that the Random House/Penguin bid had been selected as the winning bid and was due to be ratified in court last Monday (June 10th)
  • On 13th June, an auction was held in Wilmington and the Communities Division was sold in separate lots. 
  • On 17th June (today), documents were filed, which seem to me to say that the sales are approved subject to certain conditions. (but bear in mind I'm ignorant of USA bankruptcy law) 
It remains to be seen what will happen to the art books, art magazines and communities and forums relating to artists - and the royalties due to authors.

Below are more details about the sale of the two divisions - and how come my name ended up in the Court documents!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

BP Portrait Award 2019: Artists with their paintings

If your portrait gets selected for the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, you can expect the following might happen
  • your portrait will be seen by over 200,000 people visiting the exhibition - and more around the UK over the next 12 months
  • your CV will be very much enhanced by selection for this prestigious exhibition - which very much helps when trying to interest other galleries in your work
  • your website will get enquiries for portrait commissions - (assuming you have one and it provides decent information about commissions!)
  • you get photographed with your painting for this blog post!
What follows is my annual post about Artists with their Paintings

BP Portrait Award Exhibition - Porter Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Artists with their Paintings

You saw photographs of the prizewinners with their paintings in my previous post Charlie Shaffer wins BP Portrait Award 2019

The purpose of this post is to provide
  • an insight into the age, education and experience of the artist and something of the story behind the painting. Not all artists are experienced and/or professional - a number are enthusiastic amateurs, others are starting out on their careers and some have been working as portrait painters for some time.
  • an idea of the size of portraits selected for the exhibition - by including the portrait painter next to their painting (where feasible)!
The artists included below are those who 
  • attended the Press View 
  • AND I managed to spot and ask them to be photographed with their paintings. (Artlist Labels are very helpful!). It therefore excludes those who were unable to make the trip.

In a way it's a representation of all the 2,537 artists from 84 countries around the world who submitted work for the show and the 20 UK artists and 24 International Artists who whose work was selected for the exhibition

The artists are organised by the country where they live at present - although that is not always the country where they were born

The narrative below includes LARGE PICS - but you have to 
  • click the pic to see the large version - to see the larger version
  • click the link below the narrative - to go to the artist's website. 
Details of where you can see the exhibition are at the end of the post - together with the same post in previous years (2015-2018)

Click the images to see a LARGER VERSION

UK - England

Rumination © Frances Bell
Frances Bell RP SWA is a full time professional portrait and landscape painter. In 2018 she was elected to membership of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2018. Born in Cambridge in 1983, and raised in Suffolk, she is now based in Northumberland.  She 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. Her work has been seen in numerous group exhibitions including those of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2005–18) and the Society of Women Artists (2018). She was previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2012.  In 2019, one of her paintings was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Portrait Society of America in this years International competition.

The portrait is of the artist’s friend, Edd, who has sat for her on previous occasions and seemed to be a good choice for a life-size portrait. Bell was keen to capture a period of intense thought, and Edd’s recently cut hair and full beard suggested a philosophical air to her.

Chinese Cloth © Bridget Cox

Bridget Cox - b. 1951. A practising artist currently living in Cumbria. Trained at the Carlisle College of Art and Design and graduated with BA (Hons) degree in fine art (painting) from the University of Ulster, Belfast. Her work has been seen in solo exhibitions at Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle; Queen’s University, Belfast and the Clifden Arts Festival, Co. Galway, Ireland. Her paintings are in private and public collections in the UK, Ireland and France and are listed on the Art UK website.
Her portrait titled ‘Chinese Cloth’ is of the artist's friend. Hilary Linton of Brampton. She has sat for the artist on a number of occasions. This has allowed Cox to shift her emphasis from the depiction of the external to the internal life. The complex tones were augmented by Cox who says:
‘I chose the wearing of the hat to emphasise the shape of Hillary’s head and for the interplay of colour and texture within the image.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


My apologies to those waiting for further blog posts about the BP Portrait Award 2019.

Unfortunately I've got website issues which need addressing sooner rather than later
PLUS I'm a tad pooped from a week involving one Awards ceremony, three Private or Press views for three different exhibitions - on successive days - and a lengthy visit to the Hospital for tests. All of which also seemed to involve rain!

So normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Further posts will cover:
  • Artists with their Paintings
  • A 20 minute very articulate video interview with Charlie Shaffer, winner of the BP Portrait Award 2019 First Prize
  • A review of the exhibition
Below is a nice pic of the  BP Portrait/Travel Award prizewinners minus the First Prizewinner
Left to right:
  • Massimiliano Pironti - 3rd prize (Italy)
  • Emma Hopkins - Young Artist (UK);
  • Carl-Martin Sandvold - 2nd prize (Norway);
  • Manu Kaur Saluja - BP Travel Award (USA)
Massimiliano's portrait of his grandmother is in the background

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Charlie Shaffer wins BP Portrait Award 2019

Charlie Schaffer has won the prestigious first prize in the BP Portrait Award 2019 for Imara in her Winter Coat, a portrait of his close friend.
Charlie Shaffer with his portrait and award for first prize in the BP Portrait Award 2019
Imara in her Winter Coat

(1200mm x 900mm, oil on canvas)

BP Portrait Award - First Prize: Charlie Shaffer

He received the £35,000 cheque for first prize last night from Sandi Toksvig, the guest presenter, at the Awards Ceremony for the BP Portrait Award 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.  He won £35,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist)

The portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday 13 June when the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition opens to the public. Admission to the exhibition is free.

Charlie Shaffer with (left) Bob Dudley CEO of BP, Sandi Toksvig and right Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Chair of the Judges and Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London

His portrait beat 2,538 submissions from 84 countries.

The portrait: His model is an English Literature student who he met after moving permanently to Brighton. Sittings for the portrait took place over four months. The whole point about the winter coat is that she needed to wear something really warm to cope with sitting in his studio’s cold conditions.

Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal composition and the subject’s similar attire.

Why the judges liked it:
  • admired the mannerist style of this portrait
  • considered it had a strong sense of a living presence
‘the skilful depiction of a combination of several different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly contemporary.’
About Charlie Shaffer: Born in London in 1992, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art. He has also won the Brian Botting Prize ‘for an outstanding representation of the human figure’ three times.

This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms unique and intense relationships.

Charlie looked a tad shellshocked while accepting his award and didn't really smile until he met back up with his partner - when he relaxed!

Charlie Shaffer smiles - with his partner at last night's Awards ceremony

BP Portrait Award - Second Prize: Carl-Martin Sandvold

Friday, June 07, 2019

A Botanical Art Bonaza - in England, Scotland and Ireland

Making A Mark has been quiet for the past week because I've been diligently writing blog posts about juried open botanical art exhibitions opening in England, Scotland and Ireland - at the same time(!) - on my Botanical Art and Artists News blog

Here's a summary - with some pics - of what's going on in London, Edinburgh and Dublin right now!

ENGLAND: Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists (SBA)

the end wall display in the Main Gallery at the Mall Galleries

To date I've written the following posts about "Plantae" the 2019 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists which is an international exhibition with 431 artworks by c.190 botanical artists

It's on at the Mall Galleries until 1pm on Sunday 9th June - with demonstrations of botanical artwork in coloured pencil (today) and painting on vellum (tomorrow).

It's the SBA's first time at the Mall Galleries. Everybody participating and regular visitors are very impressed with the environment and wonderful lighting and how good the artwork looks. Plus the Manager of the Mall Galleries told me on Tuesday night that he knew it was going to be good but it's actually much better!
Winner of the Joyce Cuming Presentation Plate
The Secret World of Potatoes by Lidiya Doukhnevitch (watercolour £1,500)

Coming up next is
  • a post about those artists who were awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit - which was judged by Lucy T Smith, who illustrates plants for Kew Gardens.  (These are artists who get judged on science as well as art!)
  • finally, the fourth post will be a review of the exhibition as a whole and a commentary on its move to the Mall Galleries. I've been asking people what they think about the new environment.
Incidentally, the SBA raised the bar considerably by putting their exhibition catalogue online and including images of ALL the artwork in the show.

SCOTLAND: Annual Exhibition of Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT)

BISCOT is an acronym for "Botanical Images Scotia". It's annual exhibition of contemporary botanical illustration which
  • promotes excellence in botanical painting and illustration.
  • gives both national and international artists an opportunity to exhibit in Edinburgh and presents new and original botanical work.
Each exhibitor creates a display of SIX artworks - and the exhibition is open to and attracts international entrants. In this respect BISCOT is the Scottish equivalent of the RHS Botanical Art Show in London - and is regarded as the top show in Scotland in terms of awards and prestige.

The BISCOT Exhibition is held annually at
  • Gardening Scotland (sponsored by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society) (31 May - 2 June)
  • the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) - John Hope Gateway (5-20 June 2019)​

Sansanee Deekrajang (Thailand) won a BISCOT Gold Medal and Best in Show for her Exhibit of Tropical Palms

BISCOT Medal Winners 2019 is about those artists who won their medals a week ago at the Annual BISCOT Exhibition at the Gardening Scotland show at the Ingliston Showground in Edinburgh

This week the exhibition transferred to the John Hope Gateway at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) where it continues until the 20th June.

I'll be writing another post about this exhibition as it contains a new category - which is the newly launched RBGE Florilegium (see below)

IRELAND: Annual Botanical and Floral Exhibition at Bloom

Iris “Red Rum”” by Siobhan Larkin
Last week Ireland's premier juried botanical art exhibition, the 7th Annual ​​Exhibition of Botanical and Floral Art in Bloom opened at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre in Phoenix Park, Dublin - where it remains until the end of June 2019.

Bloom 2019 - Botanical Art Medal Winners is about the award winners in the botanical art side of the Bloom show. Medals for this show are awarded just for one work.

I'm really hoping that at some point Bloom will upgrade to the same type and standard of exhibition as the RHS and BISCOT which both require exhibits of six paintings by each exhibiting artist - and medal judgements are made about the six paintings as a whole.

But maybe that needs to be a different show - linked to and partnered with a Horticultural Society or Botanic Garden. It will almost certainly need to be in a different venue

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Arts + All Museums Salary Transparency 2019 - a spreadsheet reveals all

A spreadsheet Arts + All Museums Salary Transparency 2019 was put online and started circulating amongst staff in art museums and galleries last Friday morning (31 May 2019). 

It seeks to record the salaries of different workers in art galleries and museums around the world.

It has taken off and is now approaching warp speed! On June 3 Hyperallergic said it had 660 entries. I looked this morning and checked how many had completed it and it now has over 1800 entries meaning it has tripled in size in less than 3 days - suggesting future growth, as it goes intercontinental, will be exponential.

The data it provides includes
  • name of gallery or museum
  • role
  • Department
  • City
  • Country
  • Starting Salary
  • Year of Starting Salary
  • Current (2019) or Ending Salary
  • Hourly / permanent / or contingent employment
  • In part time how many hours per week
  • Benefits?
  • Year this salary was current
  • Years of experience at time of current salary listed
  • parental leave 
and these are some of the people who are recording their salaries

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Tate in the UK

Most of the data to date currently comes from the USA - but is expanding to include people in other countries - and will continue to do so long as it is shared within personal networks.

Also note that some museums are named by type and broad location whereas others are completely transparent and name their employer.

It's now locked in terms of inputting data BUT can be updated
We've locked the Excel sheet below so that the data remains intact. New entries are still very welcome, using the Google Form link above. These are always anonymous. They will be uploaded to the sheet below once every 24 hrs.
If you have any Qs or concerns, email
Being locked means that the frozen pane does not seem to work - meaning that the row containing the column headings disappears off screen which is somewhat irritating - but I'm sure they'll fix that when they work out how to lock cells rather than the whole sheet.

Who started it

Here's some of the news coverage so far and some of the reasons why it came about
Michelle Millar Fisher—an assistant curator of European decorative arts and design at PMA and previously a staffer at MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim—created the document and posted it to her Instagram page, where she wrote: “A few years ago, thinking about transparency and the multi-vectored gaps in pay, I started sharing my salaries for each job I’ve had, from nannying to curating, every time I give a career talk. . . . Please contribute if you can.” Fisher told Artnews that she was inspired to make the spreadsheet after writer-curator Kimberly Drew disclosed previous salaries she earned at the Met, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and other institutions. Art Workers Circulate Public Spreadsheet to Promote SalaryTransparency, Reveal pay gaps | Art Forum

Fisher said she and her colleagues had been inspired to discuss their salaries after hearing Kimberly Drew describe how much she was paid when she held positions at the Met, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and other institutions, and that their survey comes in advance of a similar one to be conducted by POWarts later this year. “I disclosed [my salary] to my colleagues who are of different salary levels, in different institutions,” Fisher said. “In disclosing it, they said it was a really useful thing to share.” ‘It’s Helpful to Know All Scales’: Online Spreadsheet Discloses Museum Workers’ Salaries - References to Museum Salary Surveys and further information and guides | Art News

I think the response it is getting is very likely to be instigated by those who have also looked at some of the salaries quoted for some of the top people in the organisation (see TAB 2: Top Staff Salaries) and then become outraged at the massive differentials between the top and lower down the organisation
The pay for these prestigious positions may be lower than you expectMuseum Workers Share Their Salaries and Urge Industry-Wide Reform | Hyperallergic
PS Somebody from Hyperallergic participated and indicated it's $100 per article!
Fisher added, in an email to artnet News, that the contributors are from beyond art museums, and are weighing in from science and other museums, as well as from commercial galleries. That was the intention all along, she says, adding “it is completely open to all who identify with this field,” including some international participants who have already contributed. How Much Do Museum Employees Actually Make? A Tell-All Google Spreadsheet Is Now Making the Rounds - Can a new salary spreadsheet be used as a bargaining chip? artnet news

References to further Museum Salary Surveys and other relevant information

Interestingly one of the tabs provides links to other resources related to Salaries in Museums and I'm copying them below