Saturday, November 30, 2019

Why I'm not reviewing the ROI and RMS Exhibitions - yet!

The short answer is that it's very definitely not for the want of wanting to travel into London to see the annual exhibitions of:
at the Mall Galleries this week and next - until 1pm on Sunday 8th December.

The longer answer is I've been kiboshed by my duff ankle yet again. Earlier this month a Consultant Radiologist at Barts Hospital gave my ankle an ultrasound and announced I had three bits of bone floating free in my right ankle.  I looked at the picture - they looked rather big and rather sharp to me. They probably account for why I keep suffering from extreme pain and immobility i.e. I have to stop walking. I knew from the last lot of scans in 2016 that I had one bone fragment in my ankle due to my osteoarthritis (it had broken off). It would seem that the increasing rate of problems with my ankle is almost certainly due to the increased number of slivers of bone which are in places they shouldn't be.

Being on my feet for much of the evening at the PV of a new exhibition last week finished off my ankle for this week. Hence why I have not yet visited these two exhibitions which I always love to visit.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Shopping this morning was OK for the first half and not OK for the second half - which suggests that a trip into the Mall Galleries might have to wait a bit longer still. I hope to get there at some point next week.

More about the 2019 Annual Exhibitions

Mall Galleries pages with details of each exhibition are below

Below are some links to those who would like to visit or catch up on who has done will in the prizes and news of demonstrations

Royal Institute of Oil Painters

The Mall Galleries website includes a virtual exhibition of the work in the show. Just scroll down this page to see most of the works in the exhibition.

ROI 2019 prizewinners on the ROI website is a news item about the winners of the prizes at their exhibition - with images of the winning paintings - one of which is pictured above.

White Peonies in a Green Bowl by Linda Alexander ROI SBA
Winner of the The Alan Gourley Memorial Award
Oil on linen, 42cm x 42cm
(Currently in the ROI Exhibition at the Mall Galleries)

The ROI Art Event Evening will be held on 3 December 2019, 6:00pm to 8:30pm - however the event is now sold out.

Royal Society of Miniature Painters Sculptors and Gravers 2019

This page on the RMS website details the awards made to artists as a result of artwork exhibited in the 2019 Annual Exhibition.

I'm very pleased to see that Dorian Radu, an artist who has been a client of mine is amongst the prizewinners. I thought his painting skills might be well suited to the demands of the RMS - where paintings are limited to not bigger than 4.5" x 6" (11.5 x 15cm) - and recommended their open exhibition to him!

The RMS have member artists demonstrating on the following days.
  • Sun. 1st December - Marian Tumelty VPRMS - A composition of natural objects in watercolour on vellum.
  • Mon. 2nd December - Paul Eaton VPRMS - Sculpture using investment casting wax to create original sculpture, using low voltage soldering iron and various stainless-steel carving tools
  • Tues. 3rd December - Alison Griffin RMS - A Conservatory interior scene in acrylic, on board
  • Wed. 4th December - Carole Flanders VPRMS - A Dog in water mixable oils, on paper
  • Thurs. 5th December - Michael Coe RMS - Portrait on vellum, in watercolour
  • Fri. 6th December - Barbara Valentine RMS - Still Life in watercolour, on ivorine.
  • Sat. 7th December - Helen White RMS - Medieval inspired designs in watercolour, on vellum

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Review: Semi-Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 at Cromarty Firth

You know how I like to draw out the themes in Landscape Artist of the Year....?

Well it struck me as I watched the Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 Semi Final very late on Tuesday evening, after getting in at 10am from a Private View, that it seems to be an absolute given that......

The location for Landscape Artist of the Year Semi-Final

....MUST be:
  1. very different
  2. include huge and difficult structures
  3. Accompanied by water - and reflections

Previous Locations

Hence the locations for the previous semi-finals
  • 2018 - Felixstowe Docks - painting a container port with very big cranes and ships and stacks of containers (see Review: Semi-Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - Felixstowe Docks)
  • 2017: Castle Farm in Kent (the exception which proves the rule - given what happened the next year) - painting enormous fields of lavender 
  • 2016: Margate Harbour - painting views of the harbour
  • 2015: Potters Fields Park in central London - painting Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the City of London
Get the nature of the challenge. Sort the wheat from the chaff. A big challenge means a cracking final? etc etc etc

Well the semi-final for 2019 topped Felixstowe in my book.

The Location

Anybody doing their research in advance based on the very broad information you get as to location would NEVER EVER have deduced that some oil derricks and platforms had been brought into the Cromarty Firth for maintenance.

I googled the location on Google Maps when I heard it was there - for my post about Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - Heats and Semi-Final Locations - and there was nothing! I worked out the location for the pods on Marine Terrace and was spot on - but there was NOTHING to look at other than rather a lot of water, some distant hills and awful lot of sky!

So I'm guessing there were some rather surprised artists when they turned up at the pods - and looked at what was in front of them!

the village of Cromarty with the pods on Marine Terrace
- looking out to the oil platforms in the middle of the Cromarty Firth

Who knew they were going to be painting extremely peculiar vertical structures sat in the middle of the firth?

The thing is they weren't in front of them. The cameras zoom in but eyes don't. They were quite a long way away and while they had lots of detail you'd need ace eyesight to see it all.

The weather

  • Next they almost had every kind of weather in one day. This can be a major challenge for anybody who is not an experienced plein air painter.
  • When they were setting up they couldn't even see the subject properly (how many times has that happened in this series?). 
what the oil platforms looked like at the beginning of the day
  • The wind was blowing - as one might expect of a maritime location adjacent to the North Sea in north east Scotland! 
  • Finally they were needing the white umbrellas to stop the glare on the painting because of the very bright sun!

The Artists

The Artists were all the Heat Winners plus the chosen artist from the Wildcard Winners

The Semi Finalists lining up to hear which three are to become Finalists

4 Professionals

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Call for Entries: Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour 208th Exhibition in 2020

The Call for Entries for the 208th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries in London in April 2020 opened while I was in the USA - hence the very late post on this blog of the call for entries information! For some reason I'd got it into my head I'd already posted it! But I hadn't - so this is it!
The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours seeks the best in contemporary watercolour and watermedia painting
The deadline for entries to this exhibition - which is open to international artists - is 12 noon (in London) on Friday 3 January 2020.
The RI Call for Entries image for 2020

Below you will find:
  • Summary of RI History and key metrics from last year's exhibition  (see Pricing a Watercolour & RI Annual Exhibition Metrics)
    • a brief review of the history of the RI and why it is different to the RWS
    • exhibition metrics for the last exhibition in 2019 - which provides a very solid reason why this is an exhibition worth exhibiting in - and at the same time provides some very clear guidance on pricing
  • Call for Entries 2020 unpicked 
    • about the exhibition
    • terms and conditions
    • who can submit an entry
    • what sort of artwork can be submitted
    • Prizes & Awards - The exhibition includes several prizes and awards, open to all participating artists

About the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

The RI started as a group, called the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, who broke away from the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) in 1807.  The latter had broken away from the Royal Academy of Arts due to its failure to consider watercolour painting as a serious medium.

The RI, under whatever name, has always shown the work of non-members alongside that of members. Unlike the RWS which has a seperate competition and exhibition for non-members (see
Call for Entries: RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2020).

This means that from the very first selection of an artwork for the exhibition, it's having to be hung alongside work by members - and hence it needs to be a very good standard!

Website -
Facebook - -

Exhibition Metrics for the RI Annual Exhibition in 2019

I can do no better than repeat what I said in my blog post when reviewing the metrics and pricing in last year's exhibition (see Pricing a Watercolour & RI Annual Exhibition Metrics)
This is a proper OPEN EXHIBITION - and I recommend it to aspiring artists working in watercolours.......It's 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 this exhibition!
This is a summary of the exhibition metrics for the annual exhibition in 2019.  It's worth bearing in mind when deciding how many works to submit and why it's very important to submit your best work.
  • 411 artworks were exhibited. Of these
    • 249 are by members (61% of artists)
    • 162 are by 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 as follows
  • 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
BELOW is my chart of how paintings sold last year in the different price ranges. It's my conviction that more would be sold if we could lose the sometimes very silly pricing by people who have not got track record of selling at that price in London

Those submitting paintings for the 2020 exhibition would do well to keep the profile of this chart in mind when filling in their prices on the submission form.
Bottom line:
  • if you're painting small and pricing above £1,000 you better be certain you have a track record
  • if you're painting larger paintings you need to have a jolly good reason to price above £2,000 - and that includes members.
Frankly I only don't expect artists to get silly ideas. I expect to see people pricing at a level which they know their paintings sell at. Otherwise you're depriving wallspace from somebody who could paint an equally good painting and sell it!

You can review my past blog posts about this annual exhibition (2007-2018) at the end of this post.

some smaller works in the Main Gallery

What you can submit 

Acceptable media: Watercolour or water-soluble mediums including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) painted on paper or paper based support.
  • Number: You can submit a maximum of six works - of which a maximum of four works selected. Typically it's candidates for membership who submit a large number of paintings. Note the metrics summarised above re the number likely to be chosen from those submitting via the open.
  • Media: Artwork in watercolour or water-soluble mediums, including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) are eligible for exhibition.
  • Support: MUST be painted or a paper or paper-based support (I still think they should also include vellum which is a very traditional support for watercolour painting)
  • Size: Works must not be larger than 2.4m high and 1.5m wide. (NOTE: There is no minimum size!)
  • Age: Works must have been completed within the last two years
  • Exhibition: Works should NOT have been previously shown in London.
  • Price: The minimum price is £350 (to include commission @ 45% + VAT).

How to Submit

The process works as follows
  • READ the general terms and conditions
  • READ the specific entry requirements
  • REGISTER for digital submission - if you have never entered before
  • SUBMIT: Login to the Open Exhibition Entry website
    • Pre-selection is based on online entries and associated digital images
    • You need to complete the form, pay the fee and upload images of work and submit your entry ONLINE prior to the deadline (3 January 2020 - 12 noon).
    • [Note: Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB]
    • Notification of Pre-selection - Friday 10 January, 12 noon (Log in to to see if your work has been pre-selected)
    • Deliver pre-selected entries to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD for final selection on Saturday 8th February 2020, 10am to 5pm
    • take away all your packaging (the Gallery cannot pack and send back)
    • actual work viewed by a Panel of Artist Members of the RI
    • Notification of Acceptance Tuesday 11 February 2020, 12 noon- via checking this page to see if your entry number is listed
    • Collect work not accepted for exhibition from Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD on Thursday 13 February, 10am – 5pm
    • The selectors' decisions are final and no feedback is offered.

Timeline for Open Entries - Summary of Key Dates

These are the key dates for all those wishing to submit work to this open exhibition.
  • Submission opens: Monday 1 October 2019, 12 noon 
  • Submission closes: Friday 3 January 2020, 12 noon
  • Pre-selection notification: Friday 10 January 2020, 12 noon [Log in to see if your work has been pre-selected]
  • Receiving Day (if pre-selected only): Saturday 8 February 2020, 10am - 5pm
  • Acceptance notification: Tuesday 11 February 2020, 12 noon
  • Collection of unaccepted work: Thursday 13 February 2020, 10am - 5pm
  • Exhibition open: Thursday 2 April, 10am to 5pm (however the exhibition is closed all day on Easter Sunday, 12 April)
  • Exhibition closes: Friday 17 April, 1pm
  • Collection of unsold work: Thursday 23 April, 10am to 5pm

International Entrants

Artists from outside the UK may need to register for VAT, please check with HM Revenue and Customs:
Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier. Many artists use Picture Post as they offer a packing and delivery service for our exhibitions (we do not accept any liability for their services). Picture Post - Tel: 0044 (0)1302 711011 / Mobile: 07833 450788 / Email:
Candidates Wall in the Threadneedle Space

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

This is an organisation that has worked hard to generate sponsorship for the very many prizes. So if you want your CV to include an award from an exhibition take a look at the ones below.

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including the following - split between cash prizes, awards of art materials and other prizes.

Cash Prizes

  • The Winsor & Newton Award: £3,000
  • The Winsor & Newton Product Prize: £1,000 worth of Winsor & Newton art materials
  • The Leathersellers' Prize: £1,000 awarded by The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers to an artist aged between 18 and 30 years old
  • NEW The President’s Choice Award: An award of £750 for the most deserving work in the exhibition, donated by a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) and judged by the President of the RI, Rosa Sepple
  • The Matt Bruce RI Memorial Award: An award of £500 for what is considered the most outstanding use of light and colour in a watercolour
  • The Baohong Artists' Watercolour Paper Prizes: Two prizes of £250 each, awarded to a member and non-member for excellence
  • The Chaoshan Watercolour Award: £250 awarded by Chinese artist, Professor Li Xiaocheng, for the best classically inspired watercolour
  • The Neil Meacher RI Watercolour Award: An award of £250 for an outstanding watercolour
  • The Richard Plincke RI Prize for Colour: An award of £250 for creative use of colour

Art Supplies Prizes

  • The Cass Art Prize: A prize of £200 of art supplies from Cass Art, awarded to a work demonstrating the most innovative use of colour
  • The Escoda Barcelona Award: A set of Escoda's finest brushes for an outstanding landscape painting
  • The Frank Herring Easel Award: An easel presented for an outstanding work in the exhibition by Frank Herring & Sons
  • The James Fletcher-Watson RI Memorial Award: £500 for the best use of watercolour in the exhibition
  • The John Purcell Paper Prize: Paper to the value of £100 awarded to a work chosen by John Purcell
  • The Schmincke Prize: A Horadam Aquarell Artists’ Watercolours set to an outstanding exhibitor.

Other Prizes

  • The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award: A certificate of commendation for an outstanding work chosen by the art critic and broadcaster Anthony J Lester
  • The Debra Manifold RI Memorial Award: Presented by the Linda Blackstone Gallery, an award for the most innovative work in the exhibition
  • The Dry Red Press Award: The winning work will be published as a greeting card in the Dry Red Press 'Prize Winners' range, with royalties from the sale of the cards going to the artist
  • The Megan Fitzoliver Brush Award: A trophy, named The Pipe Fish, awarded for a work that most inspires a connection with the natural world.

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 exhibitiona notion of how big the paintings are that get selected via the open entrya 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, November 25, 2019

Call for Entries: RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2020

This post is about the Call for Entries for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2020. It covers

  • my preamble and commentary about what I'd like to see this competition achieve
  • the prizes and the judges
  • what the RWS want to see
    • who can enter
    • how to enter
    • the exhibition
The deadline is Monday 13 January 2020, 11.59pm


I've been very ambivalent about this competition in recent years.

I honestly didn't feel like I could recommend it when it became dominated by what appeared to be type of 'heavily contemporary / very loose mark-making / totally non figurative' paintings by artists who aspire to be hung in contemporary art galleries - but never will because their artwork never sells. That was during the era of the last President. Things have turned a corner with the current President.

There again, it's still seems to be a very long way short of finding replacements for some of the very talented and skilled painters in watercolour who have been members in the past. I'm still looking for the next Leslie Worth - who could sometimes make me feel as if he could paint like Turner - while I linger over his paintings every time they come up in the secondary market of the art fair.

For a commentary on some of the very significant issues associated with this competition in the recent past this post about the 2017 Call for Entries

You can see for yourself the artworks selected for the 2019 exhibition, held in March 2019, on the RWS website and make your own mind up.  There is still to my way of thinking too few paintings which evidence that the artist can actually draw accurately or exploit watercolour in the way it deserves to be exploited - bt maybe this year will be different!

Interestingly when I put the name of the competition into Google I get relatively very few responses compared to the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition - about a third of the number for the latter. That suggests marketing the competition could be improved.

Prizes and Judges

None of the prizes are huge but there are a lot of them.


Cash Prizes

  • David Gluck Memorial Award: £750 Cash Prize
  • RWS Award: £500 Cash Prize
  • David Gluck & RWS Award: £250 Cash Prize

RWS non-cash prizes

  • RWS Young Artist Award: Guest Membership to the RWS for 2 years to an artist under the age of 35 on 1st October 2019. This allows allowing the winner(s) to exhibit in all Society exhibitions at Bankside Gallery for this period
  • RWS Publicity Prize: Your selected work on exhibition printed publicity material
  • RWS Social Media Prize: Feature on @royalwatercoloursociety Instagram. (To qualify for the RWS Social Media Prize you must have your own Instagram account.)

Sponsored Prizes - publicity 

  • The Cass Art Solo Show Award: The opportunity for a solo exhibition of your work in a Cass Art store space
  • The Artist Prize: Feature article in The Artist & Leisure Painter Magazine
  • Dry Red Press Prize: The opportunity to have your artwork published on a greetings card

Sponsored Prizes - cash

  • Insight Art School Prize: £250 cash
  • Cotswold Mounts Prize: £125 cash

Sponsored Prizes - art materials

  • Schmincke Prize: Schmincke Horadam Painting Box (Value £300)
  • St Cuthbert’s Mill Paper Prize: £150 worth of paper
  • Winsor & Newton Prize: Professional Water Colour Bamboo Coffret
  • Daler Rowney Art Materials Prize: Daler Rowney art materials
  • Seawhite Art Materials Prize: Seawhite art materials

Sponsored Prizes - studio time

  • The Heatherley’s Open Studio Prize: Five days worth of studio time at The Heatherley School of Fine Art 

Sponsored Prizes - Other

  • Leon Restaurants Prize: Food & Drink Vouchers (Really? This is a painting competition not a kiddies event!)

The Judging Panel 

Interestingly, the number of Judges has been reduced from last year - now down to 5.

Independent Members

  • Tim Sayer | Journalist & Art Collector - a retired BBC Radio 4 a former BBC Radio 4 News journalist and prolific art collector for over 50 years. He specialises in abstract but says his collection consists of "just about everything except performance and video art". He and his wife have pledged their entire collection of more than 400 works - ceramics, sculptures, paintings and works on paper, as well as a significant library of books - to The Hepworth Wakefield in their will. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Art and Philanthropy in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2017.
  • Kristian Day | Independent Gallerist & Curator - this is an article about him

RWS Members

The links below are to the page of their works on their websites
  • Jill Leman PRWS RBA - The first female President in the history of the society. Mainly paints still life - in a manner somewhere inbetween Mary Fedden and her husband Martin Leman
  • Jim Hunter RWS Junior Vice President (abstracted colour blocky paintings in watercolour and acrylic)
  • June Berry RWS NEAC Hon RE RWA - One of my favourite painters - and I own one of her paintings! She's a figurative artist with a wonderful sense of colour and a relaxed way with mark making which never ever suggests sloppiness. She finds her subject matter in the everyday people in her everyday surroundings - and in her memories of things past. There's quite a lot of past - she has shown regularly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition since 1951!!!

How to submit an entry

First off you need to read and reread the Guidelines for Entry very carefully.

Artists who run into problems are generally those who have not taken the trouble to read the small print.

Who can enter

The Royal Watercolour Society’s annual competition is open to all artists except RWS Members - so long as they are aged 18 or over on Tuesday 1st October 2019

What you can enter

In terms of MEDIA the rules are as follows - they have three goes are defining what is OK.
Any painting in watercolour, acrylic, gouache, ink, any other water-based media or a combination 
Work made in any water-based medium on a paper support is eligible: this includes gouache, acrylic, ink, pigment, watercolour or a mixed media piece containing any of this list.
all water-based media including (but not limited to) watercolour, acrylic, ink, gouache, and mixed media pieces featuring not water-based materials as long as a water-based media is included.
Note media is water-based and not water-soluble. Try finding a definition of "water-based" that is not tautological!  My definition is that it excludes all oils, solvents, resins and volatile organic compounds i.e. the paint remains watersoluble - but I doubt if that would satisfy the rWS!

All work should be on a paper support i.e. paper, cardboard, etc (not canvas, wood, plastic or any other surface) 

: No prints, copies, reproductions or photographs are eligible

STYLE: There are no limitations on style or subject matter 

SIZE: Framed works must not exceed 200 x 200cm

DATES: The painting must have been completed sometime during the previous 4 years (2019, 2018, 2017 or 2016)

ORIGINALITY: The work must have been made by the artist submitting it.

NUMBER:  A maximum of 6 paintings may be submitted - for a fee of £15 per work. There are reductions on multiple submissions.

FOR SALE: All work must be for sale. Note that:
  • The Gallery levies a commission of 40% + VAT on picture sales. 
  • You will be notified of sales by email shortly after they occur 
  • You will receive the balance due within six weeks of the end of the exhibition

How to enter

This is the ENTRY FORM.

The competition opened for entries last month.

Works for the exhibition are selected from digital images
  • The deadline for submission of your digital entries is Monday 13 January 2020, 11.59pm
  • Round 1: You enter a digital image(s) of your artwork 
    • There are detailed guidelines eg . For guidance and advice on how to photograph your artwork, please watch the video here.
    •  The jpg image file does not exceed 3MB (minimum of 1MB)
  • Results of Round 1: A list of paintings selected for the exhibition will be published on the RWS website on Thursday 23 January.
    • You then have just over a month to get your selected work framed and couriered or transported to London. So know who your framer and courier is and check that they're free and can deliver for you!
  • Round 2: (reducing the long list to a shortlist) deliver artwork to Bankside Gallery on Sunday 1st or Monday 2nd March, 11am-5pm DO READ ALL THE SMALL PRINT!
    • you or your representative will need to submit your art in a frame to the Bankside Gallery (and take away all packaging material). Delivery of framed paintings is to Bankside Gallery on Sunday 1 or Monday 2 March, 11am-5pm. Paintings may not be delivered on any other date.
Work will not be accepted if delivered by Royal Mail, FedEx, DHL etc, or by taxi as they do not have specialist art insurance nor are they able to unwrap works and remove packaging. 
Only professional Art Couriers should be used. We recommend: Picture Post ( / 07833 450 788) Art Moves of Chelsea ( / 020 7352 7492) South Hams Express ( / 01803 551368 / 07502041139) 
    • Poorly presented paintings or works that differ significantly from the photograph that was entered will not be accepted.
    • They will also be checking size - remember framed paintings must not exceed 200cm x 200cm. 
    • For your work to be insured against theft under Bankside Gallery insurance, your paintings must be framed, glazed and fitted with mirror plates.

Fees for entry are comparable with open exhibitions of national art societies.
  • The fee for entry at £15 for each of the first two artworks submitted.
    • Fees are then discounted by as more works are submitted (see the Application Pack for details) i.e. 6 works cost £65 to enter
  • Students in higher education (who can produce a valid student card i.e. bring it with you!) can submit up to 3 works for £5.
  • This is comparable to the £18 per artwork charged for the open exhibitions of the other national art societies exhibiting at the Mall Galleries - and is significantly less than the fees charged for the prestigious art competitions with major prizes.
  • This is the pdf file for the Frequently Asked Questions.

The Exhibition

The exhibition will be held at the Bankside Gallery (next to Tate Modern) between Friday 6th and Wednesday 18 March 2020.

There will be a Private View and awarding of prizes at Bankside Gallery on Thursday 5 March, 6 - 8pm (by invitation only)

Past blog posts about the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition

See my blog posts below about some of the previous exhibitions below. These include gallery shots of works in the exhibition and links to the websites of prizewinning artists.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Gainsborough, Zoffany and Kew

This week I went to Kew twice - and did something I've been meaning to do for absolutely ages - tried to locate the plaque relating to a Botanick Painter to his Majesty" in the church near the entrance to Kew Gardens.

I am a perennial tracker down of places where artists have lived, painted and been buried. In this instance I visited St Anne's Church on Kew Green (latter links is the location on Google Maps)

St Anne's Church Kew Green 
- the path in the foreground leads down to the Herbarium in Kew Gardens where Bauer would have worked

My reason for visiting was that Francis (Franz) Bauer (1758 - 1840), who was the ''Botanick Painter to His Majesty' has a plaque inside the church.

What I didn't realise is that the church is also where two other important artists are buried - namely

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Review: Episode 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - Drake's Island

This my final review of the Heats of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019. Next week it's the semi-finals - and the week after that it's the Finals it's all over until next year!

The Location

The location was again Plymouth Ho! This time the artists had Smeaton's Tower lighthouse behind them and the view was of the picturesque west country coastline - including Drake's Island off the coast.  It also included the architecture of buildings along the Grand Parade and the small port in front of them.

View of the pods in Hoe Park on on Plymouth Ho!

It looks as if the sixth episode to be televised is actually Heat 3 - which had much better weather than the second heat on the following day - which was then broadcast as the first episode!

It also explains why Kate has made a reappearance as she's not yet in hospital having her baby - as she was in last week's episode!

The weather

The day was a huge challenge for painting in terms of weather. Starting off with a considerable amount of sea fog, very low and grey skies and lots of rain.

Then by midday the weather was improving - and by the end of the afternoon there was lots of blue sky and fluffy clouds

Beginning of the day - and about to start
Time to finish the paintings

Episode 6: The Artists 

5 Professional Artists

  • Pavel Isupov (Instagram) BA (Hons) Painting at Edinburgh College of Art 2015 – 2018. Has exhibited widely including at RSA New Contemporaries 2019. This is a link to his submission
  • Paula Mitchell  (Instagram) - a studio and plein air artist from Hampshire. BA Honours in Illustration from Portsmouth University. Professional career as a graphic illustrator alongside her work as an artist. Read about her experience of being invited to participate in the Heat
  • Tony Parsons  (Facebook | Instagram) - a full time artist who paints every day - with approximately half his paintings completed plein air. He frequently has paintings exhibited at the Mall Galleries He also drives the Brighton lifeboat!
  • Mike Skinner  (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) - Works as a freelance artist and designer in rural Gloucestershire and Central London. Has produced art on commission for architects, designers and commercial organisations for the last 15 years (He has an extremely nice page on his website of his paintings in situ). Has exhibited in the RA Summer Exhibition, prestigious art competitions and at a wide variety of venues.
  • Lisa Takahashi  (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) Got through to the semi-finals of the 2018 competition as the Wildcard Winner from the Heats. Over 10 years' experience in teaching linocut and painting

3 Amateur Artists

  • Emma Lord  (Facebook | Instagram) Most of her landscapes are based on her own photographs taken locally and are predominantly sky-scapes and landscapes in the Ribble Valley and Bowland
  • James Murch  (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) - based in Paignton in Devon. He's spent many years practising the classical approach to painting and sight size. He prefers to work entirely from life in front of the landscape he's painting - even if it involves several visits to complete a painting - as it did with his submission.
  • Steven Rigby  (Facebook) An accomplished watercolour artist who sketches all the time. I know little else about Steven as he doesn't have a website - but he shared this on Facebook.
Spoiler Alert. Can reveal this cos I know it won't be shown.All lined up in the sunshine next to our finished paintings. Irate director screams "It's bloody him again!!! Looking round to see who committed such a heinous crime, he had a word with the make up lady who then rushed over to myself and proceeded to swab my forehead with some sort of masking powder!!Not my proudest moment but such a fantastic time.
You can see videos of their work on - keep clicking more and look for series 5 Heat 3 as the prefix to the videos.

The Wildcard Artists

If tempted to apply for next year's wildcard slots, do remember a big umbrella is an essential item of equipment. Waterproof groundsheets and tents are even better!

more painting by Wildcard Artists in less than lovely weather!

Themes and Learning Points

I'm beginning to run out of new things to say!

Today, the themes are:
  • Submission paintings reflecting last year's venues
  • Which view to choose in bad weather?
  • Which medium to use in changing weather?
  • Lush oil and interesting brushwork
  • Hold back on the kitsch.
  • Not a lot of tablets.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Review: ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2019

This is my review of the 2019 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall galleries until 24 November 2019.  It contains four hundred and fifty-seven works by two hundred and eighteen artists.

Sir Tim Rice likes pink!
UPDATE: I've rewritten this review re. the count of how many works can get in from the open entry. I know I read something somewhere that indicated a maximum of three works could be hung from the six from an open submission - but now can't find it! I've indicated which text is now deleted and new text is indicated in red.

The reality continues that it is absolutely impossible to detect which are open entries and which are invited artists. Hence the notion that 25% of this exhibition comes from the open entry is simply NOT VERIFIABLE.

Update #2: I'm advised that the metrics for the 2019 exhibition are now on the website although I was unable to find them earlier - because the figures are buried very deep in the archives - which one would not expect for an exhibition which is currently on display (i.e. wy not on the home page??). The figures quoted below reinforce my initial impression that the vast majority of the SERIES of works MUST be from invited artists!

In the 2019 exhibition 75% of the artists and 47% of the works are from the open submission. Painting and drawing make up over 48% of the works, mixed media and sculpture about 41%, printmaking about 7%, and photography about 4%

I tried to write an "in a nutshell" summary in the Mall Galleries while sat having a cup of tea but didn't succeed.  It went something likes this
  • a generally good exhibition - with some peaks and troughs
  • very disappointing that 3 of the 6 selectors chose less than half their exhibition from the open entry
  • exhibits are most impressive when they mix small works by different artists
  • Sir Tim Rice certainly likes pink, has chosen some interesting work and has by far the most winners
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah appears to have has produced the most "open" exhibition
  • Charlotte Hodes has hung her own work in her own exhibition!!! I was speechless - apart from the exclamation marks!
  • Gill Button prefers series doesn't seem to understand open exhibitions - or why this competition has an open entry.
  • Louis Wise's words in the catalogue belie what I see on his walls - and how come he's got three artists all with the same surname?
  • John Penrose's ability to hang an exhibition is self evident in the North Gallery - and he probably has the best exhibition of them all.  It was certainly the one which was easiest on my eye.
If you'd like to know more read on!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Call for Entries: Jackson's Painting Prize 2020

This is a bit of a different Call for Entries - as I got asked to be one of the Judges for this one! 

I have a bit of March next year marked up in my icalendar as "Judge Jacksons Painting Prize"!

Jackson's Painting Prize: Call for Entries

Jackson’s Painting Prize exists to recognise and appreciate original, 2-dimensional fine art works in any painting or drawing media.

I'm just going to carry on as I normally do - sharing the call for entries. This post looks at:
  • who can enter
  • what sort of artwork you can enter
  • why enter
  • how to enter (registration / timeline / digital images etc)
This is the link to Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020The deadline for entries is 4th March 2020.

Who can enter

Jackson’s Painting Prize is open to all artists of all abilities and at all ages.

UNLESS you or an immediate family member is an employee of Jackson’s Art Supplies

You can live anywhere.

What sort of artwork can you enter

Bear in mind this is a PAINTING PRIZE!

You can submit up to 5 paintings.

Artworks for the competition MUST be:
  • submitted by the artist who created it (i.e. no entries by your gallery, your best friend or your mother who thinks your painting is wonderful!)
  • your own intellectual property. i.e. do NOT submit any artwork that 
    • either directly copies other people’s work (this does not include artistic interpretations) 
    • or works that are made from a tutorial.
We take each submission and the information regarding it in good faith. We will not conduct any background checks unless we believe there are grounds for disqualification or we have been alerted by an additional party. Disclaimer

After that it's probably easier to say what CANNOT be entered
  • Printmaking, pure photography, computer generated or manipulated artwork and 3D sculptural works are NOT eligible for selection. 
  • Drawings or paintings of an inappropriate or offensive subject matter will be removed from the competition. 
  • artwork that has previously won a major competition 
  • artwork that has been extensively exhibited in any established galleries.
  • artwork that has been sold i.e. you must have access to the original / it must be in your possession
Jackson’s Art Supplies may ask for artworks to be sent for further inspection and consideration before or outside of longlist / shortlist / prize winning selection. The winning work must be available for viewing, if requested, and must be like the digital photo submission.
They may also ask for a photograph of you standing next to your painting.

If you want to gauge whether or not your artwork is suitable for this painting competition......

Shortlisted works in previous years

You can view the artworks listed for prizes in previous years of this painting competition on the following pages - plus those which were shortlisted on the following links
You can also see the 2019 shortlisted entries on their Instagram account for the competition

Why enter?

  • apart from the prizes - which are much better than most open exhibitions by national art societies 
    • Overall Winner £5,000
    • People's Choice Award: £1,000
    • Emerging Artist Award: £1,000
    • Category Winners: £500 x 6
  • IF YOU ARE SHORTLISTED (AND you live in the UK) you will have the chance of submitting your work to the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead (30 April - 3 May 2020)
    • The Affordable Art Fair team make the final selection.
    • the maximum size of artwork that can be hung at the Art Fair is 1.2metres
    • any artwork sent to be hung in the art fair must be ready to hang in an exhibition
  • there's also the marketing that Jackson's does for its exhibition and the artists that get selected. 

I only associate my name with companies that I like and have time for and Jackson's Art Materials is one of those. It also has one of the very best art materials blogs going and a sound social media presence online.

How to enter

You need to pay attention to:
  • registration (form filling)
  • the timeline for submissions, announcements and the exhibition
  • the various detailed requirements listed in 


You must register in order to submit an entry.

You can register to enter BEFORE the the exhibition opens for entries.

The user profile you need for the competition registration MUST be different to that you use for any account you may have with Jacksons.


  • Submission opens 2nd December 2019 (two weeks today)
  • Submission closes 4th March 2020
  • Longlist announced: 17th March 2020
  • Voting for the People's Choice starts: 17th March 2020 (and closes on 15th April 2020)
  • Shortlist announced: 7th April 2020
  • Category prizewinners announced: 14th April 2020
  • Emerging Artist and People's Choice prizewinners announced: 17th April 2020
  • Winner announced: 21st April 2020
  • Exhibition at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead - opens 29th April 2020

Digital images

Entry is via a digital entry - and there's a lot you need to consider before taking the photograph and submitting the image.
  • The maximum jpeg file size is 3MB. 
  • Images of artwork must be at least 1000px wide (with a resolution of at least 72px per inch). 
  • Please ensure that your image is the correct way up before submitting. 
  • Artwork with a copyright stamp or watermark on it will NOT be accepted. 
  • The image of the artwork should be 
    • a clear, high quality photograph 
    • it must NOT show any unnecessary or irrelevant content, such as frames, mounts, walls, tables or any other kind of background. 
  • The image should be 
    • an accurate representation of the art work, 
    • taken in bright natural light, 
    • as well as being of a high resolution for reproduction online.

Affordable Art Fair

  • all work submitted must be for sale
  • the maximum price i £6,000

The Judges

Judges for the 2020 exhibition
You can read more about the judges by clicking their photos on the competition section of the competition page. Links to their websites are embedded in their names below

The Judges for the Jacksons Painting Prize 2020 are:
and moi!
  • Katherine Tyrrell - Artist, Teacher & Writer (must do something about my disappearing eyebrows!)

Friday, November 15, 2019

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 - less submissions, more series and fewer photographers

There are four significant differences in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 - which has had an enthusiastic following in the past - which has wavered this year.
  • LESS photos were submitted this year (3,700) compared to the two previous years. That's a 17% reduction compared to 2018. However it's 35% down on two years ago. One has to ask what has happened?
    • 2018:  4,462; 
    • 2017:  5,717 
  • MORE series were selected for exhibition (13) - compared to 4 in 2018 and just 18 photos in 2017.
  • As a direct result of showing more series, FEWER photographers have had the opportunity to raise their profile for their photography in this leading photographic portrait competition and exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
    • 2019:  31 photographers - represents a reduction of 38%
    • 2018:  49 photographers
    • 2017:  50 photographers
  • the exhibition emphasises diversity - almost to the point where it dominates the exhibition
Finally, fewer photographic portraits were hung in the exhibition - just 55 compared to 57 in 2018 and 59 in 2017. This difference is less significant - but it is significant that artificial screens have had to be introduced into the Porter Gallery in order to hang the photographs properly. After all series require they are hung as a series!

However first the Prizes and then the Analysis.
The exhibition is on in the Porter Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 November 2019 – 16 February 2020. Unlike the BP Portrait Award this is not free entry and tickets are priced at
  • full price tickets from £6 with concessions from £5
  • £3 tickets for under 25s on Fridays
  • £3 tickets for concessions and over 60s Monday - Wednesday 10:00-11:00am
  • Free for members (that's me until the Gallery closes next year!)
at the press preview of the exhibition - with the photographers
Extra artificial walls in the Porter Gallery


This is a photography exhibition with a decent set of prizes - sponsored by Taylor Wessing.

First Prize (£15,000):
Gail and Beaux; Mom (our last one) from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin

It's always good to see an older person being the subject which has won a prize. I had a suspicion Pat Martin would be the winner of the First Prize when I saw he had two photos shortlisted for the prizes.

I loved the photo of Pat's mother wearing her chihuahua T shirt with her chihuahua Beaux - who now lives with Pat.

Pat Martin with Mom (our last one) and Gail and Beaux;  from the series Goldie (Mother)
This was a great series of photos (see below). Pat told me he finds he spends more time now photographing older people.