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.


Marcus © Vanessa Garwood

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. Her work has been seen in group and solo exhibitions in London and was previously selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2006 and 2018. She also works as a trustee for the charity, Dramatic Need, which builds art centres in sub-Saharan Africa.

The portrait is of Marcus, a professional model, and is one of a series of life-sized male nude portraits on which Garwood is working. She says that her series is about the female gaze, but also:
‘a celebration of male beauty in a time where we are inundated with often quite negative and over sexualised imagery of the nude.’
Dr Ronx © Sarah Jane Moon

Sarah Jane Moon - b. 1982 in New Zealand. She is a painter 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 her work has been seen internationally in the exhibitions Queer Art(ists) Now (2017, 2018), the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2011, 2014–16) and the Adam Portraiture Award at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery.
The portrait is of the artist’s friend Ronx, who is known for dressing in suits and carefully-selected trainers. Ronx works as an Emergency Medicine Doctor and is known to audiences from CBBC’s Operation Ouch! Ronx is respected for her active commitment to presenting a positive role model for BAME youth, and especially those from the LGBTQI community.

Sarah Jane is also a teacher and is teaching for a week on Skyros Island in Greece (20th - 27th July), a Figure Painting Masterclass at the Art Academy in London (5th - 9th August), a Weekend Workshop at the National Portrait Gallery (10th & 11th August) and an Introduction to Oil Painting Course at Heatherleys (12th - 16th August). (More details)

Passion Fruit © Luis Ruocco

Luis Ruocco - an Italian artist born in Naples in 1974 who is living in a very quiet suburb of London and working as an art teacher. Her portraits and short films have been seen in solo exhibitions in Naples and London and in group exhibitions including the Chelsea Art Society Annual Open Art Exhibition (2015–7).

The portrait is of Samila, the mother of a friend of the artist’s daughter. She agreed to sit for her portrait and the session lasted about 90 minutes. Ruocco had always had the impression that despite her calm and orderly exterior that communicates strength to the outside world, Samilia’s interior life is complex and vibrant, as she says: ‘like a passion fruit’.

I am very passionate about people that’s why I am deeply interested in portraits. I see the human figure in different ways. I can paint the very emotional side of the persona focusing on her soul using deep red and blue colors.

Aunty Therese © Gandee Vasan- with Aunty Therese!
Gandee Vasan - b. 1962 and based in London. He is a photographer with an honours degree in fine art (painting). He won the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Prize for a Young Artist in 1985, leading to a commission to paint Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockdale for the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspapermakers. He spent ten years creating conceptual images for advertising in London and Amsterdam and worked at Getty Images. Vasan’s photographic work has been seen in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005 and 2012.  He is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in Computer Graphics and Illustration.

The portrait is of the Irish aunt of the artist’s wife, who lives in Canada. It was completed in one sitting of about 6–8 hours and the artist’s aim was to capture her ‘indomitable spirit’ and energy as a gift for her family.

UK - Northern Ireland 


Untitled (November) © Daniel Nelis - with Andrea
Daniel Nelis - b. 1990 and grew up in a rural area of Donegal. Gained a BA (Hons) Fine Art: Painting and Drawing from Ulster University, Belfast before studying for an Art and Design PGCE course. His work has been seen in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Ulster Academy (2011, 2013–18). He won the Royal Ulster Academy Portrait Prize in 2015 and was the Ulster Artist of the Year (2009). This is an interview with Daniel Nelis

The portrait is of the artist’s partner, Andrea, and was made at home in Donegal in a series of sittings over the winter of 2017-8. Nelis says:
‘These still moments of quiet contemplation that are of greatest interest in my work, those moments of intense reflection in the vivid reality of the present.’
  • Website: none
  • Social Media: none

Europe - France


Openings © Thomas Ehretsmann
Acrylic on wood panel 48 x 48cm (2014-2018)

Thomas Ehretsmann - Won 2nd Prize in 2017 and also selected in 2016. He has also twice won the Society of Illustrators of New York Gold Medal.

Born in 1974 and grew up in Thann, in Alsace in France. Studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg. He started his career as a comic book artist in 1998 and subsequently he moved into illustration. 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.

For portrait painting Thomas works in acrylic but paints very slowly using a very small hatching mark - as if using egg tempera. See my Interview with Thomas Ehretsmann (BP Portrait Award 2017 2rd Prize).

Europe - Germany


My Skin is Black My Collar is White © Fakhri Bohang

Fakhri Bohang - born in Indonesia in 1988. Now lives and works in Köln, Germany. His work has been seen in numerous group exhibitions in Germany, Spain and Bulgaria and in the UK at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition, 2016.

The portrait is of the artist’s friend, Papise. The portrait is part of an ongoing project to portray sitters with a variety of cultural backgrounds in a style similar to the photographic formats preferred for identity documents. Bohang is interested in the amount of information about a sitter’s identity than can be drawn from such a restricted composition.

Europe - Netherlands


Father with Partner © Marco Krauwinkel
Oil on linen 80 x 110 cm | 2018
Marco Krauwinkel - born 1980 in the Netherlands. Marco is self-taught and began to study the painting methods and techniques of the Old Masters after visiting the Rijksmuseum in 2013. At the beginning of 2018 he gave up his teaching job and became a full-time artist. First time in the BP.
It's a very formal and well painted portrait painting. It's also one which is most unusual in the sense that it captures two partners who happen to be both men. The arm across the shoulder and the hand on the knee are there but aren't what you first notice as the faces capture your attention.

The purpose of the painting was to capture his father Peter (on the right) with his current partner (on the left). Marco took a risk when painting the portrait due to the family tensions between his mother and the two men. However the painting of the portrait and capturing the nature of the relationship between the two men proved to be a revelation for his mother who began to acknowledge the depth of feeling between the two men. Family members also started to accept each other for who they really are.

Girl without Pearl Earring (top)
© Bas Nijenhuis

Bas Nijenhuis - A Dutch figurative painter who studied Painting at Klassieke Academie voor Schilderkunst. He also has an MA degree in psychology at the Klassieke Academie voor Schilderkunst, Groningen

His portrait is titled "'Girl without pearl earring'". It's of Fareda, a young woman who has albinism who Nijenhuis first saw on the street and approached to ask if she would sit for her portrait. Like much of his work, this portrait references and reinterprets traditional Dutch art, such as in the use here of an antique frame.

His work has been published in numerous magazines and periodicals in the Netherlands and exhibitions including Pictura Groningen (2017) and Kunst und Cultuur, Assen (2018). This is his first time in the BP.

I'm very critical of the way a number of smaller portraits have been hung. It is neither possible to view the painting properly nor for the artist to be photographed next to their painting - as happened in this instance. Bas is a tall man and his portrait is hung some feet above the top of his head!!
This is his painting

Girl without pearl earring by Bas Nijenhuisoil on panel 60 x 40 cm


Europe - Spain


Aurelio © Iván Chacón

Iván Chacón (b.1989) undertook a BA degree in fine arts, followed by an MA in painting at the University of the Basque Country. His work was selected for the Hotel Carlton, Bilbao painting prize in 2014, going on to win first prize in 2015. He has had a solo exhibition in Bilbao.

The portrait is of the artist’s relative, Aurelio, who Chacón was inspired to paint after watching him taking part in a family conversation over Christmas. Chacón realised that rather than searching for a subject, he should simply paint what was in front of him and was keen to capture the confidence in Aurelio’s expression and gestures.
  • Website: ?
  • Social Media: ?

Ninety Years
© Miguel Angel Oyarbide

Miguel Angel Oyarbide - b.1954 and based in Madrid Spain. His art training comprised working as an assistant to the sculptor Francisco Espinós, followed by formal training in painting at the Superior School of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid for which he was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  He has paintings in the permanent collections of Museo Nacional de Dibujo (Huesca), Ubeda City Hall (Jaén), Royal Heritage Site of San Fernando de Henares (Madrid), Museo de Toral de los Guzmanes (León), Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Azuaga (Badajoz), and Cultural Heritage of Caja de Ávila.

He mainly paints rather nice landscapes. His paintings have exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions in his native Spain and are held in private and public collections.
His painting of the artist’s mother, Margot, and commemorates her 90th birthday.
‘Her facial expression and hands serve as a metaphor for her life, marked by the Spanish Civil War, exile and severe scarcity of resources, but bringing up six children with love and compassion.’
I think he ought to paint more portraits as it is an excellent portrait painting of an older lady.

Just the head of his mother aged 90 - by Miguel Angel Oyarbide

Europe - Sweden


Smoke Break © Ola Sarri - with Hanna

Ola Sarri -  b. 1980. A Swedish figurative and portrait artist who is largely self-trained and who prefers to paint in oil. His studio is just outside Båstad, next to a nature reserve on Bjärehalvön in Skåne. He generally works to commission for private collections and organisations. His work has also been seen in group, juried and solo exhibitions Sweden.
The portrait is of the artist’s partner, Hanna, whom he has painted several times in the course of their relationship. He says:
‘I wanted to convey self-confidence and mindfulness. I aimed for a simple and clear statement, so with minimal instructions, I let Hanna fall into a comfortable yet firm pose... a moment of peace and quiet, nothing more, nothing less.’

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North America - USA


Theodore © Kyle Hooper
Kyle David 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. His work was selected for inclusion in the Guild of Boston Artists Annual Regional Juried Exhibition 2017. First time in the BP.
The portrait is of the artist’s 92-year-old grandfather, Theodore. The sittings took place while the two men shared breakfast on Sunday mornings and enjoyed each other’s company. Theodore died before the painting was completed, and although returning to subject was painful for Hooper, he was able to finish it from the oil studies and reference material he had made while they sat together.
Milo © Denis Dalesio

Denis Dalesio - b.1991 Stamford, Connecticut. Graduated 2016 with B.F.A from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. First time in the BP.
Currently is working and living in Norwalk, Connecticut and undertaking a Master of Fine Arts course at New York Academy of Art. His work has been seen in group exhibitions in the USA.
Denis Dalesio (b.1991) gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, CT, and is currently
The portrait is of the artist’s friend Milo, whom he met though Instagram. Dalesio says: ‘We quickly bonded over painting and became close friends despite living in two different countries. When we met in person, I decided to paint this portrait. I felt it would be interesting to scale it to the size and crop that I had become familiar to seeing him in online.’


The Poet © Tina Oršolic Dalessio

Tina Oršolić Dalessio - Facebook - a figurative painter born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia. (Wife of Mark Dalessio) First time in the BP. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Zagreb Law School, an LL.M. degree from the University of Michigan Law School and a PhD degree from the University of Maastricht, Faculty of Law. She gave up being a lawyer to become a painter and graduated from Florence Academy of Art in June 2018. Her portrait is her Final Project at the Florence Academy of Art.
Her portrait is on one of the banners on the outside of the NPG.
Arcus © Brendan H Johnston
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. His work has been seen in group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Paris. First time in the BP.

The portrait is of Jamaal, a fellow-artist and friend of Johnston. Jamaal agreed to sit for this portrait which was painted entirely from life. It was not until Johnston had difficulties completing the work that he put the red and cream striped jumper onto a mannequin and added it to finish the work.

He says of the subject:
‘his intellect, personality, and distinct features immediately captivated me’. 
On his Instagram he says
I started with a graphite and white chalk drawing on toned paper.
Once transferred to linen, I used a burnt umber oil wipe-out heightened with lead white.
The portrait was then completed before I thought of how to finish the painting. I composed a sweater on a mannequin and then finally added in an imagined landscape.
The picture was completed entirely from life. It was a really fun painting to compose. I thought for a long time about the tone of the painting before completing it.
Such a pity that this portrait has been hung so high for no good reason. It's completely impossible to actually get close to it to see the quality of the painting
You can see WIP images on his Facebook Page below

Dieja © Scott Lancashire
Scott Lancashire b.1952 in Oberlin Ohio. Currently based in Boulder, Colorado. First time in the BP.
He graduated with a BS degree from University of Wyoming (1974) and with degree in Architecture course at Arizona State University (1979). He is a licensed architect in the state of Colorado. His paintings have been seen in group exhibitions in Colorado and New Mexico.

His paintings are very focused on structure, form and tone and he has a sensitive approach to colour.

The portrait is of Dieja, a model and friend of the artist who has sat regularly for Lancashire over the past two years. Dieja is proud of her natural hairstyle, but on this occasion, unusually, she had wrapped it in a tight scarf. Lancashire was surprised at how this changed her expression and worked quickly to capture the transformation in a two-hour sitting.

[NOTE: I was just inside the front doors of the National Portrait Gallery, waiting in line to have my bag checked when I turned around. Scott was just behind and immediately said "You're Katherine". Scott wins the prize for the fastest time EVER for me being identified by an artist at an exhibition!]

Jenne © Manu Kaur Saluja

Manu Saluja - (b.1971) studied psychology before undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration at the 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.  Her work has been seen in solo exhibitions in the United States and Canada and in numerous group exhibitions including regular selection for the American Women Artists Juried Exhibition and the Portrait Society of America Award. She also teaches drawing and painting at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art.

The portrait is of Jenne, an artist’s model who through sitting for the artist on several occasions, has become a close friend of Saluja. The artist chose to paint her larger than life-size to convey her inner strength as she waits in the heat of Canal Street station on a hot summer day.

Manu Saluja won the BP Travel Award - of which more later

Website: http://www.manusaluja.com/
Social media: Facebook


The BP Portrait Award 2019 Exhibition and Tour 




The BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition will run at
  • the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Thursday 13 June to Sunday 20 October 2019 (Admission is free)
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (7 December 2019 to 22 March 2020) and
  • Ulster Museum, Belfast (April to June 2020).

Artists with their Paintings in Previous Years


Prior to this photos of artists with their paintings was combined with a review of the exhibition.