Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Call for Entries - 5th Derwent Art Prize 2020

This is an overview of the Derwent Art Prize and how to enter this international art competition which
  • focuses on those who create artworks created in pencil or coloured pencils, pastel, graphite and/or charcoal
  • has £12.5k in prizes
  • PLUS two exhibitions of selected artworks in London and Paris.

Below are SUMMARY details of
  • the history of the Derwent Art Prize (and the brand name)
  • the exhibition details, prizes and selectors for the Derwent Art Prize 2020
  • how to enter - what you need to know and do to enter - the most important one of which is that entries must be received by 17th February 2020
In addition, all artists entering the Derwent Art Prize 2020 will be eligible to a 15% discount on all Derwent products(shipping not included).
  • This code will be sent to all applicants once the competition deadline has closed on 17 February 2020 
  • It will be valid from 18 February to 31 March 2020.  Please refer to website (www.derwentart.com) for products and our Terms & Conditions and for delivery information.

The History of the Derwent Art Prize

Derwent Art Prize at the Mall Galleries in 2018

The Derwent Art Prize was conceived in 2012.
The Derwent Art Prize aims to reward excellence by showcasing the very best 2D & 3D artworks created in pencil or coloured pencil as well as water soluble, pastel, graphite and charcoal by British and International artists.
BELOW are my blog posts covering the Derwent Art Prize in its first four outings. You can see the sort of work that was submitted and got selected in both the posts about the selected artists and those reviewing the exhibition.

4th Derwent Art Prize 2018

1278 artists from 64 different countries submitted a total of 3,299 artworks and 57 were selected for the exhibition.

3rd Derwent Art Prize 2016

2nd Derwent Art Prize 2014

1st Derwent Art Prize 2013

About Derwent and the Cumberland Pencil Company

The Art Prize carries the "Derwent" brand name of the Cumberland Pencil Company who in turn are part of ACCO (formerly Rexel).
  • The Cumberland Pencil Company was created in 1916 
  • The first Derwent colour pencil was introduced in 1938.
  • In 2008, the Cumberland Pencil Company left the old pencil factory in Keswick and moved to its new Pencil Factory on a site at Lillyhall, Workington.
  • The Derwent Pencil Museum maintains a presence in Keswick, where pencils first started being made in 1832 - after graphite was found in Borrowdale in the 1500s.
Derwent is very active in relation to other exhibitions besides this prize. It

Derwent Art Prize Exhibition and Prizes and Selectors

Artworks in the Derwent Art Prize Exhibition in 2018

The Exhibition

This year for the first time, selected works will also be displayed in France. Around 80 selected artworks will be on display at the following venues and dates

The Prizes

Prizes valued at £12,500 will be awarded to entries selected for the exhibition at the Private View at Gallery@OXO, London.

This year there are two Young Artist Prizes for entrants under 25.

The prizes are as follows:
  • First Prize £4,000 plus a year’s supply of Derwent products (Up to a monthly value of £50 - including postage)
  • Second Prize £2,000
  • Young Artist First Prize (For artists under 25 years) £4,000 *
  • Young Artist Second Prize (For artists under 25 years) £2,000
  • People’s Choice Award £500
In addition, all the First and Second prize winners will receive a special box of Derwent Lightfast Pencils. These pencils are resistant to prolonged colour change ensuring artwork will not fade for up to 100 years under museum conditions.

The Selectors

This year’s entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of selectors comprising of an artist, a critic and a curator

Artworks in the Derwent Art Prize Exhibition in 2018

How to Enter

Who can enter

  • Entries are invited from international artists

What can you enter

  • Artists may only enter once, with a maximum of 6 images.

How to enter

Information about the Derwent Art Prize
These are the links to:
The Derwent Art Prize has a

Online Entry

The Submission

Artists are required to submit the following:
  • The completed online entry form
  • Images of up to 6 recent works, in digital format (jpg, max. 2MB file size)
  • A non-refundable application fee

Entry fees

  • The entry fee is £15 for the first work and £5 for each additional work - which is very reasonable!
  • Artists under 25 years of age will pay £5 per work.


  • Monday 17 February 2020 (5pm GMT) - Deadline for entry
  • Monday 2 March  - Artists notified of selectors' decision
  • 6 - 17 April - Delivery of work (to Art Moves of Chelsea)
  • Friday 17 April - Delivery of work (in person to Art Moves of Chelsea, 10am-5pm GMT)
  • 22 April - 4 May 2020 - Exhibition opens to public at the Gallery@OXO in London
  • 12 - 17 May 2020 - Exhibition open in 20 rue Saint Claude in Paris, France

Monday, January 20, 2020

Hockney on Van Gogh and The Joy of Nature

I came across this video of David Hockney talking about Van Gogh and the pleasure of landscape painting. 

It was made by the Van Gogh Museum for an exhibition they had last year called Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature
From 1 March (2019), the colossal works of David Hockney will be on display in the Netherlands. For the first time, this spectacular exhibition offers an extensive and colourful exploration of the common ground between the work of Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney.
So sad that nobody thought it might be a good idea to repeat it in the UK!

This is an essay about the two painters Hockney - Van Gogh Two Painters, One Love. The juxtapositions of two paintings - one by each of them - as you work your way through is fascinating.

compare and contrast paintings of landscapes by Van Gogh and Hockney

BELOW is a video of Hockney commenting on the works and words of Van Gogh - and his own work.
He's the first great colourist
He saw more than other people. He saw space very clearly

Do read this review of the exhibition Hockney-Van Gogh exhibition is ‘a tame, though colourful, bit of fluff’ for an example of art critic who needs a stern talking to. Turns out he's held some pretty influential positions - but not in relation to anything like the paintings produced by Van Gogh or Hockney! [UPDATE: Turns out he's journalist who now adds a middle initial T into his articles because he's not the same man as the one with had all the positions with galleries!]

There's a much better one published in the New York Times David Hockney Loves Van Gogh. This Exhibition Shows Why which draws some interesting comparisons in terms of the way they have both worked.

This is MY Review: David Hockney RA - A Bigger Picture - about the humongous exhibition of landscape drawings and paintings and film that Hockney had at the Royal Academy in 2012

Sunday, January 19, 2020

J.M.W Turner and The Vaughan Bequest

Every January you can see watercolour paintings by JMW Turner for free at:
  • the Scottish National Gallery - Turner in January 1-31 January 2020
  • Print Gallery, The National Gallery of Ireland - Turner the Visionary 1-31 January 2020 - 31 watercolours and drawings by J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851)

J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), The Doge's Palace and Piazzetta, Venice, c.1840.
Image © National Gallery of Ireland

This is due to The Vaughan Bequest. The paintings and sketches were bequeathed to the Galleries in 1900 by an English collector Henry Vaughan (1809–99) - see below
The Vaughan Bequest at the National Gallery of Ireland is a representative collection of Turner’s work on paper. Highly finished works, engraved for various print series, hang alongside evocative sketches from his annual tours of Switzerland and Italy. This collection, tracing the artist’s development, reveals his experimental style and enthusiasm for landscape.
Two paintings by Turner of Edinburgh
(left) Joseph Mallord William Turner Edinburgh from Calton Hill about 1819
(right) Joseph Mallord William Turner Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh about 1819

In this video, Charlotte Topsfield, Senior Curator of British Drawings and Prints at the Scottish National Gallery, discusses the work of JMW Turner and his connections to Scotland.

The Vaughan Bequest 

Most people think that most of JMW Turner's artwork forms part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. This at the time (and since) was was the largest ever donation of works of art to the National Gallery. It includes around 30,000 sketches and watercolours, including 300 sketchbooks.

However a considerable number of watercolours also reside at the National Galleries in Scotland and Ireland due to Henry Vaughan (1809-1899) a bachelor and generous Victorian collector of art.

Vaughan's father has carried on a successful business as a hat manufacturer in Southwark and in due course made a fortune. This allowed Vaughan to indulge his love of watercolours. He met Turner in the 1840s and over time he developed a large collection of watercolour drawings, sketches and paintings by Turner which covered his entire career as an artist. When Vaughan died in 1899 he split the collection of Turner Watercolours in his collection and left them to the National Galleries of Scotland and Ireland and a number of other museums and galleries across Britain.

The reason why the exhibition are held in January is because Vaughan was aware of the need to protect watercolours from the damage which can be caused to both paint and paper by too much exposure to light.

Hence his will stipulated that the watercolours be ‘exhibited to the public all at one time free of charge during the month of January’.  At all other times the watercolours are to be kept accessible to viewers.

SEE AND READ MORE about Turner's Watercolours 

Where you can see Turner's artwork

The Turner Society maintains a list of all the larger collections in public museums and galleries throughout the world

In Tate Britain a selection of Turner watercolours is always on view but it must be stressed that other galleries do not usually have their Turner watercolours and prints on display. Appointments to see them should always be made in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
In the UK, these include:
  • The British Museum in London 
  • Tate Britain in London (which houses almost all the Turner Bequest: including over 20,000 watercolours and drawings - many of the latter contained in the 300 or so sketchbooks)
  • The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin (36 watercolours and drawings)
  • The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh (
  • The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff (17 watercolours)
  • The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (c. 100 Turner watercolours and drawings - mainly from the Ruskin Bequest) - the Ashmolean has only recently started to digitize its collection and the quality of the digital images is excellent.

Examples of Turner Watercolours in the Ashmolean's Online Collection
Examples of Turner Watercolours in the Whitworth Gallery's Online Catalogue

In the USA, these include:
  • Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut (a large number of watercolours)
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art (the second largest collection in the USA of Turner watercolours, drawings and prints, - mostly from the collection of Kurt Pantzer (1892–1979). 

Articles about The Vaughan Bequest collections

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 starts on....

The new series of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 starts on Sky Arts on Tuesday 21st January 8pm. Below are details of:
  • the dates for the televised episodes
  • the commission
  • reminders of the deadlines for entries for
    • Portrait Artist of the Year 2021
    • Landscape Artist of the Year 2020
    • dates of the current Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 exhibition

PAOTY 2020 at the Battersea Arts Centre
- and this happens to be the Heat I attended
and I know precisely who the artist in the centre is who has her back to us! :)

The sitters in the first episode on 21 January are Asa Butterfield, Micky Flanagan and Anjli Mohindra.

PAOTY Episodes

The backs of all the people watching the painters in the Semi Final of PAOTY 2020
- photographed last year by me at Battersea Arts Centre

Working on the basis that all episodes run consecutively, there will be
  • eight heats/episodes with nine artists in each heat - every Tuesday starting on 21st January
  • followed by a Semi Final of eight Artists on 17th March; and
  • a Final of three artists at the National Portrait Gallery on 24th March
  • Plus a final programme where the winning artist shows us how he or she tackled the commission (see below)
I sat watching the Series Trailer Video BELOW to see how many bits were from the heat I attended and whether I recognised any of the artists who got to the Semi Final or Final which I also attended. (Any 'revealing' photos of artists and sitters are sat safe on my hard drive until the episodes have aired!)

PAOTY Series Trailer from Storyvault Films on Vimeo.

The Commission

The winner of PAOTY 2020 will get be awarded a commission valued at £10,000 to paint Nile Rodgers - the American record producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger and guitarist and founder of Chic - for the Royal Albert Hall!

Which sounds a pretty fabulous idea and certainly explains one thing I noted about the heat I watched!


Portrait Artist of the Year 2021

The deadline for entries is Friday 7th February 2020
See Call for Entries: Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 for more details

You can watch the heats for this at Battersea Arts Centre on weekdays only between 24th March - 2nd April (ie. excluding the weekend).

Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 Exhibition

This exhibition is now on in London. Finalists from this series are exhibiting their paintings from the competition
Register your interest to attend the exhibition at skyartslandscape@clarendonfineart.com (020 7499 0947)

Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 

The closing date for entries is 17th April 2020
See for more details in  Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Making A Mark achieves 5 MILLION visits!

Making A Mark recently received its 5 millionth visit!

When you've spent most of the last year noting the the number of visitors to your blog is edging ever close to 5 million visitors, you feel pretty stupid when it zips past the 5 million mark and you didn't even notice!!

Making A Mark is also coming up to 15 MILLION PAGEVIEWS and I'm now determined not to miss that one!

5 Million unique visits between January 2006 and January 2020

So this is the chart of how Making A Mark achieved 5 million visits from both first-time and returning visitors.

It took five years to get the millionth visitor in April 2011 - see Making A Mark notches up 1 million visits.  

At that time these were the most popular blog posts
Here are ten of the most popular posts those million visits have been to:
  1. 10 Tips for How to Sketch People
  2. Van Gogh: Drawing media and techniques
  3. Composition - Principles of Design
  4. Composition - The Elements of Design
  5. Colour Schemes: Split Complementaries, Triads and Tetrads
  6. What is a still life?
  7. The influence of Japanese Art
  8. Which sketchbook?
  9. Flowers in Art... and Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  10. Major Art Competitions in the UK 2011 - a timetable
Back in April last year I wrote a blog post about how I managed to get to 1 million visitors a lot faster with my new website Botanical Art and Artists.

See 11 tips for how to get 1 million website visitors quickly for the explanation of how. It's my belief that traffic has arrived much faster because the site is a lot more focused and 'niche' compared to Making A Mark.

The 11 Tips (explained in the post) were:
1. Make your website very focused
2. Make every webpage very specific - make it a niche within a niche
3. Make every title very specific in terms of its topic
4. Provide a short summary of what each page contains at the top.
5. Make navigation very easy
6. Have a plan for how your website will develop
7. Use statistics to guide development
8. People look at images and read words - but really they scan both!
9. Write about what you know
10. Refresh and update a website regularly (use a blog)
11. Do link to relevant other websites - and encourage them to link back

The Making A Mark Story

Below are the number of blog Posts I wrote while triggering 5 million visits. Apparently I've written nearly 4,400 blog posts!  That's a lot of words - but I'm not going to start counting those!
► 2019 (174)
► 2018 (206)
► 2017 (191)
► 2016 (180)
► 2015 (218)
► 2014 (221)
► 2013 (275)
► 2012 (304)
► 2011 (288)
► 2010 (307)
► 2009 (310)
► 2008 (358)
► 2007 (393)
► 2006 (348)
I started out writing virtually every day - for three years.

Then started having one day a week off. I producing around about 300 posts each year or very nearly 6 blog posts a week. This continued (apart from when I was on holiday) until I started to write my book in 2014. 

Output dropped off while I wrote the book

It continued at the lower level of around 200 blog posts a year. Now I aim for between 3-4 blog posts a week on Making A Mark - but it's sometimes less and sometimes more.

So about half the output - but retaining about two thirds of the traffic. 

The lovely thing about having a very old blog - people come back for your archives as much as your new content. (You can access any of the old posts via the side column - using archives or keywords)

The reason for the reduced output on Making A Mark is because, after finishing my book, I developed two new "spinoff" websites in 2015 - which covered topics previously featured on Making A Mark 
So the blog posts related to those topics tended to go to the new sites and the traffic went with them - and then grew again on the new sites!  

In total, the visits I now get each year are as follows
  • Making A Mark - nudges towards 400k visitors a year.  
  • Botanical Art and Artists - over 500k visits a year
  • Art Business Info for Artists - approx. 200 k visits a year
Which means I'm now generating more than 1 million visits each year on all my sites!  Which I like to think requires rather more effort and is a little more meaningful than showing people pics on Instagram!

However I had no idea I was busting through the 1,000,000 visits a year benchmark until I sat down to write this post!  I'm feeling quite overcome!

I've still not got used to being recognised as I walk around London and visit art galleries - with the frequent exclamation of "You're Making A Mark!!!" - but it's always lovely to meet readers so please continue to say Hello if you spot me!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

LAST CALL - Annual Open Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The deadline for the Call for digital entries for the annual exhibition in 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters is Friday 17 January 2020, 12 noon.

You've got just over 3 days left to complete your entry.

One of the prizewinners in 2019 is on the left

For some reason this Call for Entries escaped my "to do" list created by sitting down and creating draft posts for calls for entries. It must have been the next one after I did the last lot!

This is an OPEN exhibition which any serious portrait painter should think very seriously about entering due to the high quality of the non-members exhibits and the scope to attract commissions for future portraits.
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture. The Society welcomes paintings, drawings and original prints.
Below you can find:
  • reasons why you SHOULD enter the exhibition if you are a serious portrait painter
  • a review of the chances of getting exhibited
  • summary details about the exhibition including....
  • details of the prizes - which are one very good reason why this exhibition is worth entering
  • summary of "how to enter"
Corner of the Main Gallery in 2019

Reasons why you should enter the RP's annual exhibition

For those wondering why they should submit an entry to this exhibition, take a look at the following.

Entry is digital

  • You only need to go to the expense of framing and transport if invited to progress to the second stage of selection.

The Importance of Exhibitions to Portrait Commissions

Some significant prizes

A prestigious exhibition and an Online Exhibition

  • This is a very prestigious exhibition. It fills all three galleries at the Mall Galleries on the Mall in London.
  • The exhibition is also put online so it can be seen all over the world. 

Why it compares favourably to the BP Portrait

  • ALL works selected for exhibition from the Open Entry are chosen by practising professional portrait artists who are full members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. There are no administrators, sponsors, gallerists, art critics or other such √©minence grise who get a say on what gets hung.
  • See my 2016 blog post Comparison of the RSPP Open and BP Portrait Award Competition which analysed the similarities and differences and concluded that more artists should submit to this Open Exhibition. I've no reason to change my opinion.
.....while I had felt in previous years that this exhibition has started to improve (see Review: Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2017 and Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!), the exhibition last year felt rather as if it had returned to a more traditional exhibition - with corporate portraits of too many men in grey suits.
It felt a bit like it had backtracked to previous exhibitions about which I've been a tad critical in the past.
plus the hang was rather odd
"stuffed shirts" next to "Skin" does seem incongruous and makes for a very curious juxtaposition - which can create a feeling of visual confusion.

Your chances of getting exhibited: Exhibition Metrics

Things you need to know - based on the works by non-members hung in the 2019 exhibition

Monday, January 13, 2020

Third series of The Great Pottery Throw Down on Channel 4

Last week there must have been a lot of people who were very pleased to find out that Series 3 of The Great Pottery Throw Down has started - this time on Channel 4.

I'm not intending to write about it - apart from this post - but will be watching.

Below is a short intro to the new series - highlighting the changes and where to find out more.

Middleport Pottery in Stoke on Trent is the venue for the Great Pottery Showdown

I've no idea why BBC shut the series down. It struck me as rather successful. However the great thing about having independent production companies produce such shows is that they can try and pitch elsewhere if the BBC won't recommission.

The channel of choice seems to be Channel 4 (which of course, like the BBC, is publicly owned) - probably because the company which makes (Love Productions) also makes The Great British Bake Off which also transferred to Channel 4.

Which makes me ponder whether the axing of Pottery Throw Down was more to do with who made it than whether or not it was popular......

The format seems to be virtually identical with a few changes
  • there are now 12 potters instead of 10 - which explains why the studio looks a tad more crowded
  • the presenter has changed. It's now Melanie Sykes rather than Sara Cox. She's a good host who seems to strike the right sort of tone.
  • the sexual innuendo remains intact (!) This episode it was pulling the clay to make handles....
  • one of the Judges has changed
Did you know we are not allowed to meet the potters before we start filming? ......The reason for not being able to meet the potters is very real and very credible: conflict of interest. If we were to meet them and felt more akin to some more than others we might favour their work more before even seeing it. The underlying and fundamental theme of the show is ‘the clay’ and what they do with it. It’s that simple! Keith Brymer Jones

The Studio where they work - with the Drying Room at the back

The Potters

It appears that the bulk of the potters are amateurs with a noted bias towards the younger end of the age range (i.e. two-thirds are under 35.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

TIPS for entries to the 2020 RA Summer Exhibition

This is a longer Guide to the Call for Entries for the 2020 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. I gave a brief summary of what you need to do in RA Summer Exhibition 2020: Call for Entries (SHORT version)

I used to do a detailed long guide to how to enter but I'm not convinced people read it. (If you want to read last year's take a look at my detailed guide last year (but ignore the 12,000 entries bit- they dropped that without telling anybody!)

This post covers background advice and tips relating:
  • The Largest Open Exhibition
  • Observations on the Selection and Hanging Committee
  • TIPS for Submission
  • Photography Matters
  • Pricing and Selling 
The VERY Overcrowded Entrance to the Exhibition
left me wondering whether the Health and Safety People has been asked to comment.....

The Largest Open Exhibition

This is the largest open exhibition in the world. A huge number of artworks get hung or displayed in the exhibition.

Consequently the curation is critical to the success of the exhibition.  I confess I really notice the difference each year based on who curated it and who was on the Selection and Hanging Committee. The exhibitions oscillate between marvellous and boring - with quite a lot of tedium and rather too few gems.

Last year was just weird. It felt like the least curated exhibition ever. In the end I was so bored by last year's exhibition that I walked out before the end, did not go back and did not write a blog post about it. I do however have a stack of photos - but I keep reminding myself I only photographed what I liked and not the complete mishmash inbetween.

On the other hand the RA reckons they had their best ever sales last year. I'd like to know whether that best ever relates to number of sales or value of sales. Whichever I suspect a vast number of sales are accounted for by the fine art prints which are often very affordable and popular artworks have many red dots!

See more about Pricing and Selling below.

Sarah Rogers - Sleeping Mouse (not 2019)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all Printmakers

I very much recommend this exhibition to all those people who are skilled fine art printmakers - particularly those who work in series and sell at affordable prices (under £1,000). 

There are a lot of people who visit and try to buy an artwork from the Summer Exhibition and they invariably, for budget reasons, choose a print.

Take a look at the prints which were exhibited last year - and also take a look at their pricing and don't get silly. Overpriced prints do not sell whereas reasonably priced ones just walk off the walls. I always do a calculation every year in relation to some of the prints of what the value of the print has been in terms of the sales achieved.

For example, the one below - on the day I visited - had netted gross sales (of the framed print @ £560 on display and other unframed original prints @ £450) of £11,380 - and bear in mind it's one of a series of four with different views of London. People do like to collect....

Richmond Park - etching by Mychael Barrett (part of a series)
One of my favourite prints in 2019

I sometimes wonder why the RA don't do a separate shorter exhibition just for the fine art printmakers - but based on the same principles as the Summer Exhibition.  They would sell enormous numbers of prints if they did.

Selection and Hanging Committee 2020: Observations

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Archives of British Art and Funding Opportunities at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

On trips around various art websites, I sometimes find some real goldmines of art history. Such as happened today when I came across the Archive Collections associated with British Art on the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art website

[PS The next blog post about the Summer Exhibition will be tomorrow - it's taking rather longer than I expected]

It's a bit of heaven for those who like researching British Art! Thus we have just a few examples....

Art Prizes

  • Hunting Art Prize - material relating to the Hunting Art Prizes (HAP) which ran from 1981 to 2005. Spot a young looking Lord Gowrie and Daphne Todd below

Art Critics

  • William Packer - relates to William Packer's work as an art critic and includes his copy for published articles of art criticism, mainly prior to editorial intervention.
  • Brian Sewell (1931 - 2015) - 70 boxes - which he had organised himself (and I assume "edited")
    • articles pertaining to art and the arts (boxlist 1)
    • a smaller group of materials concerning his writings on any other subject matter (boxlist 2).
    • material covers every other aspect of Sewell’s life, from childhood to death (boxlist 3).
Brian Sewell (1931 – 2015) was a British art historian, author, critic, and media personality. After graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art, he worked at Christie’s (1957-1967); as an independent dealer (1967-1980), and as a journalist, most notably for the Evening Standard (1984-2015).

Art Historians

  • Paul Opp√© - 34 boxes of material that reflects his work as an art historian, critic, museum official and art collector
He also inaugurated the study of British drawings as a scholarly pursuit.
  • Benedict Nicholson - archive comprises seventeen personal diaries, six folders of correspondence and a small amount of reference and research material.
Lionel Benedict Nicolson (1914–1978) was a British art historian and author. He was the elder son of authors Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. He was Deputy Surveyor of the King’s Pictures (1939-1947), serving in British Army Intelligence for the duration of the Second World War. He was editor of the Burlington Magazine (1947-1978). 

  • Roy Strong - 34 boxes containing research papers relating to Strong's publications and other research
Sir Roy Colin Strong (b.1935) is art historian, museum director, writer and broadcaster and landscape designer. He was Assistant Keeper (1959-1967), then Director (1967-1973) of the National Portrait Gallery and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum (1974-1987).


The Centre has a Funding Programme which supports scholarship, academic research and the dissemination of knowledge in the field of British art and architectural history from the medieval period to the present. Awards are made twice a year, in Spring and Autumn.
All supported topics must have a historical perspective and all applications must demonstrate that there is a substantial element of British art and/or architectural history to their project.
The next round of funding opportunities close on the 31 January 2020! 
In this round you can apply for:
  • Senior Fellowships
  • Mid Career Fellowships
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • Junior Fellowships
  • Rome Fellowship
  • Terra-PMC Fellowship
  • Research Support Grants
  • Event Support Grants

Where to find The Paul Mellon Centre for British Art

The Paul Mellon Centre for British Art can be found:

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

RA Summer Exhibition 2020: Call for Entries (SHORT version)

The Call for Entries for the Summer Exhibition 2020 at the Royal Academy of Arts was published yesterday - and this post should have been published yesterday as well but instead I was at the dentist having a complicated procedure!

I write a guide to the Summer Exhibition Call for Entries every year. Here is

  • This is the summary/short version (today) - for those who don't like long reads and 
  • You can read the long version (tomorrow) where I 
    • summarise my perspective on the call for entries and 
    • highlight all the aspects bits you might miss which might trip you up and waste your entry/money!

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2019 at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Photo © Royal Academy of Arts David Parry

Summer Exhibition - The Short Version

  1. If you've never entered before I recommend you read the long version too!
  2. You NEED TO READ carefully:
  3. Who can enter: any 
    • artist living or dead (or their representative)
    • artist collaborations
    • under your own name or a pseudonym
  4. How to enter - and get screened:
    • Register for an artist account and sign in (or sign into one you've previously registered)
    • Purchase an entry form one or two works, for a fee of £35 per work
    • Enter the details and upload digital images of the ORIGINAL artwork as per prescribed image limits
    • make sure your price takes account of both commission and VAT due to the RA if a work is sold
    • complete application, payment and upload prior to the deadline
  5. Deadline for Entries23:59 (GMT) on 17 February 2020 
  6. Results of Round 1 screening12 March- first round (digital images)
  7. Account Status re. your Entry moves through:
    • Submitted
    • Shortlisted OR Not selected
  8. Judges invite 4,000 artists to Stage 2 Judging - and to deliver actual work. You are sent an entry pack containing labels and barcodes to affix to it re. delivery of your artwork to the RA.
  9. Delivery of shortlisted works 
    • Architecture (Models and Wall-Based Works) 5 May 8am-5pm 
    • Artist’s Book, Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting, Photograph, Print Wednesday 6 May 8am – 7pm
    • Sculpture 7 May 10am-5pm 
  10. Results of Round 2 Judging of actual entries23 May- final round (shortlisted works)
  11. Attend Exhibition Varnishing Day Reception (on your own / no guests) Monday 1 June 2020
  12. 2020 Exhibition: 9 June — 16 August 2020
  13. Collect unselected artwork by 20 June 2020
  14. Handle any sales of your artwork - for duration of exhibition (i.e. why you MUST read the Guide to Selling)
  15. Collect exhibited but unsold work - between Saturday 22 August and Friday 11 September 2020. You MUST present the hard copy of the Removal Order issued by the RA to collect work or go home empty handed!

Coming up - The Long Version

Tomorrow I'll be posting the Long Version of the Call for Entries which will include:
  • commentary on the Summer Exhibition and reasons why it is/isn't a good idea to submit work to this open exhibition
  • observations about the Judges
  • tips and details you may miss about the process for entering your artwork into the largest open exhibition in the work.
This is particularly relevant to:
  • anybody who has not submitted before
  • anybody who is unclear about what ORIGINAL means
  • anybody who has not sent artwork to an open exhibition before
  • anybody who hasn't spotted that this open exhibition is different when it comes to sales
  • any international artist who hasn't spotted to the two major hurdles you must clear if you want artwork accepted for exhibition

Friday, January 03, 2020

Call for Entries: Portrait Artist of the Year 2021

The deadline for entries for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 is Friday 7th February 2020.  You have five weeks left to get your entry together.

If you want to enter this very popular art competition you need to be an artist who can cope with producing good portrait paintings in a short amount of time!

This post looks at:
  • the benefits of entering this competition and getting selected for a Heat
  • the benefits of winning the competition
  • the downside for those who enter without doing their research and prep first!
  • how to enter

The benefits of entering Portrait Artist of the Year 

The producers are looking for 72 artists to paint across 8 heats
The success of the show depends on the standard of the art produced, so from the outset the programme is a genuine celebration of good art and an intelligent, fascinating examination of the artistic process.


Heats for this particular competition are filmed in March and April 2020. However the programme will not be broadcast until early 2022.

Taking part in a heat means
  • being watched by LOTS of people - and gives you the opportunity to raise your profile if you impress those viewing with your portrait (PLUS you might be invited back for a second go)
  • facing a challenge you're unlikely to experience ever again
  • becoming part of a community of artists who've "got the 'I've been on PAOTY' T-shirt"
....artists who participate report that their experience was not only positive for their career in terms of the exposure, but also thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly useful for their artistic evolution.


The benefits include
  • the chance to win a £10,000 commission for a portrait of a well known figure for a major British institution - to be painted in a fairly short space of time.
  • £500 of art materials from Cass Art
  • you become a well known name - due to the fact that it's the most popular art programme on television - and there are LOTS of people watching!

The less wonderful side of entering

You may well come to regret entering IF
  • you fancied being on the box so you could tell all your friends about it BUT
    • you didn't do your homework (see my reviews of learning points at the bottom of this blog post)
    • you didn't practise in advance working to 3 hours (i.e. nobody gets 4 hours!)
    • your portrait was an absolute mess and looked really awful
  • you find out that:
    • being watched by LOTS of people at the Heat is really, really distracting
    • the camera teams and production team are more interested in making a television programme than letting you get on without any interruptions - or even sight of the sitter
    • having a meltdown because you can't cope / finish on time does not help you OR the other heat participants (although no footage will appear on tv)

Here's how to enter

This is a summary of:
  • WHO can enter Portrait Artist of the Year 2021
  • PROCESS: how the competition works
  • Plus TIPS on how to enhance your entry.
You can also follow Sky Arts’ Twitter and Facebook page for updates.

Who can enter

The Competition is open to all artists – amateur, professional or hobbyists - but there are some restrictions.
We do not cast for characters – instead, our expert judges select participants based purely on the quality of their submission artwork.
They may not cast for characters however the producers really do need to improve their screen out the obvious OTT self-publicists who create with "dramatic effect". There was one such in the 2019 Landscape Artists competition last year and it seriously undermined the credibility of the programme.

How about taking a look at websites before making the final selection? They tell you an awful lot about whether an artist is likely to make a good contribution or prove to be an utter distraction.

You can ONLY enter if YOU are:
  • aged 16 or over as at 16th October 2019
  • in good health
  • have been LEGALLY resident in the UK, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland for AT LEAST one year on 16th October 2019
  • the holder of a current valid passport.
You will, upon request, provide the Producer with supporting documentation in order to substantiate this, and will immediately notify the Producer of any change in Your immigration or residential status. Terms and Conditions ‘Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2021’
Those aged who are not yet 18 years old MUST ALSO have parents who provide:
  • written agreement to you entering
  • written consent to you being filmed prior to filming.
  • accompany you at all filming - or send a nominated adult. 
This is NOT a competition where your Mum, your best mate or your spouse can enter you without you knowing! People can help you with the entry process but it must be YOUR ENTRY. 

You are NOT able to enter if you have been a finalist or winner of ANY previous Artist of the Year competition run by Sky Arts (i.e. Portrait or Landscape).

How to enter

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Making A Mark - the 20 most popular blog posts in 2019

I've split the 20 most popular blog posts in 2019 between
  • those written in 2019
  • those written between 2006 and 2018 - which demonstrates just how much traffic some old posts can generate!
All posts are ranked according to the number of page views they generated - which are all in the thousands.  Some of those which have been around for some years get a lot more than those written in 2019 - I guess because they're referenced by various websites.

These posts are - unrelated to art competitions on television. To see these read yesterday's blog post The Most Popular Art Programmes on Television in 2019

Points to note:
  • Art Competitions and Open Exhibitions fall in and out of favour
  • Blog posts with global appeal with always get a bigger audience than those of interest just to a UK audience
  • "How To" posts about matters relating to art are always welcomed - and constantly referenced!

In 2019

I play a little game with myself and try to guess what might be in the top 10 It's surprising what I'd already forgotten - such as the death of Charles Reid or the fire at Notre Dame.....

1. Call for Entries: Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 

Although this is television related it's about the entry to this art competition and hence I'm treating it as any other Call for Entries post. What's so very interesting is that it beat the RA's Summer Exhibition post - and the Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2019 - which says rather a lot!

2. RA Summer Exhibition 2019: Call for 12,000 entries 

+ RA Summer Exhibition 2019 UPDATE + prediction re emphasis of selected work - one post in two parts. Plus it's worth also noting OFFICIAL: No 12,000 cap on entries to RA Summer Exhibition + dates change which is an an update on - and clarification of my original Call for Entries for the Summer Exhibition

3. Owner of Artist Network, Wet Canvas & North Light Books files for Bankruptcy 

I guess a global audience for this one helped a lot. This was major news for artists around the world who used one or more of their activities. I helped a couple of artists who had to file in Court in order to try and get their unpaid royalties for books they'd written for North Light. Plus I ended up names in one of the Court documents which was recording all the authors of books published by North Light!
This is the follow up post F&W Media Bankruptcy Protection UPDATE re SALES of Artist Network, Wet Canvas & North Light Books

4. Selected Artists and statistics - BP Portrait Award 2019

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

5. About Charlotte Johnson Wahl - artist and mother of Boris

Although a television programme, I'm including it here because it's more like a story about an artist. It's a retrospective of a retrospective exhibition by the woman who is mother of the man who is now Prime Minister - and who has continued to paint every day despite mental health issues and Parkinson's Disease. I watched it again recently and found it very rewarding to watch.

6. 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist

This is my Making A Mark analysis of this year's shortlisted portraits - and the artists who created them.

The portraits shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2019

7. RIP Charles Reid (1937 - 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. This post was about mine.....

8. Call for Entries: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2019 

Well done to the Society of Women Artists to be the first 'ordinary' national art society call for entries to be in this TOP 10 list. Women on top!

9. 10 Best Paintings in the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2019 

The 10 paintings in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 which impressed me. By which I mean
  • They caught my eye on my first turn around the gallery - from a distance of some 6 feet+.
  • Then kept it on my second go round - when I'm looking more closely at the paintings. 
  • Then survived the cull as I went around for the third time to work out my 10 best paintings!

10. The Destruction of Notre Dame - only the stone will remain

Many, many people in Paris and around the world watched as huge flames burst through what was the roof of Notre Dame and then watched it collapse. Both sides of the Seine were also lined with thousands of people watching the fire.

The Destruction of Notre Dame

In addition two of my Blog Pages remain perennially popular. These are:

PAST: posts from previous years (2006-2018)

Posts from previous years - unrelated to art on television - have proved to be perennially popular and some have almost taken on a life of their own!

Note that five of the ten are "how to" posts. If you write a good "how to" post about perennial topics it can be of value and generate traffic for very many years.