Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Call for Entries: £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2020 + NEW Prize

The John Moores Painting Prize is a PAINTING competition 
  • This week it opened for entries for the 2021 exhibition
  • The deadline for an entry is 24 March 2020
  • It's open to all UK-based artists working with paint. 
  • It culminates in an exhibition next year at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool  (19 September 2020 - 14 February 2021)
The exhibition has consistently helped to raise the profile of the artists and in particular to further the careers of its winners

Its named after the sponsor of the prize, Sir John Moores (1896 – 1993) and was originally intended as a one-off!

It's now a biennial event and this will be the 31st exhibition in 60 years - since its launch in 1957.

You can view the previous winners of the John Moores Painting Prize on the past exhibitions page on the website They include:

Criteria for assessment - and how anonymity is maintained

The original aims of John Moores were:
'To give Merseyside the chance to see an exhibition of painting and sculpture embracing the best and most vital work being done today throughout the country'
'To encourage contemporary artists, particularly the young and progressive'
Now the aim is
Supporting artists from all over the UK – whether they’re undiscovered, emerging or established in their careers – the prize provides a platform for artists to inspire, disrupt and challenge the British painting art scene today.
Hence the competition aims to support artists who paint. There are two important criteria:
  • all entries are judged anonymously
  • to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK
and after that it's whatever the members of the jury care to place an emphasis on.

In terms of "anonymous entry and judging" this competition is much more thorough than most. During the Stage 1 Review of the digital images the process is completely anonymous
  • all artists are allocated a unique entry number
  • jurors are not given the names of the artists
  • jurors are only provided with information about the title, size and medium of the painting

The Jury

The Jury changes with every exhibition. They are selected and appointed by the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust and National Museums Liverpool.
Members have included artists, writers, art critics, broadcasters, curators and musicians.
They are
  • Michelle Williams Gamaker - an artist with moving image and performance. Plus Lecturer on the BA Fine Art programme at Goldsmiths and is Chair of Trustees of the visual arts organisation Pavilion in Leeds.
  • Jennifer Higgie - Editor-at-large of frieze magazine. She has been a judge of the Paul Hamlyn Award and the Turner Prize, as well as a member of the selection panel for the British artist at the Venice Biennale and the advisory boards of Arts Council England, the Contemporary Art Society and the Imperial War Museum Art Commissions Committee. (which is when I start to think about the "usual suspects")
  • Gu Wenda, an artist born in Shanghai. Wenda has lived and worked in both New York and Shanghai since 1988. Celebrated for merging traditional ink painting and experimental installations.
  • Hurvin Anderson, a painter whose work explores spaces occupied by Caribbean immigrants, which function as sites for both social gatherings and economic enterprise. Has exhibited extensively and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2017.
  • Alison Goldfrapp is a British-based artist. Fine art, music and photography have played an equally vital role in her creative expression. Alison was chosen as the first ‘Performer as Curator’ for The Lowry, Salford, for her “remarkable synthesis of music and visual imagery”.
I make that two painters - for a painting competition!
The number of works entered has always been high: consistently over 1,000, frequently over 2,000 and for John Moores 25 (2008), a record 3,322 entries. The jury's task is therefore a large one, with judging taking several days.
I've always wondered whether the composition of the Jury is intrinsically linked to and limited by the number of people with other relevant expertise who can take off a number of days to judge a painting competition!


All paintings included in the exhibition are eligible for a prize. This year there is also a NEW prize.

The jury will select a final shortlist of five paintings and award the prizes.
  • First Prize: a cash prize of £25,000 and a solo display at the Walker Art Gallery.
  • four prizes for the other shortlisted artists of £2,500
  • a NEW £2,500 Emerging Artist Prize plus premium Winsor and Newton art materials of the same value. This is open to:
    • open to recent graduates, who are within two years of graduation, and 
    • students who are currently in their final year of a UK-based arts-related course, degree (eg. BA, MA, PhD) or alternative learning programme.
There is also a Visitors’ Choice prize of £2,018, voted for by visitors to the exhibition at the Walker and awarded towards the end of the exhibition period.

Call for Entries

Who can enter?

Artists who MUST
  • be aged 18 years or over on 24 March 2020
  • living or professionally based in the UK or are UK-based (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. It does not include the Republic of Ireland).
In addition:
  • An artist or collaborative artists may only submit a maximum of one work in total.
  • Artists can use a pseudonym or exhibiting name, but must use the same name throughout the registration and competition process.
  • Any artist found to have entered more than one painting using more than one name will be deemed in breach of the Prize’s conditions of entry and will have all their entries disqualified. 

Eligible to exhibit

You can submit only one entry per artist. Multiple entries under the same or under different names are not allowed.

  • a new or recent work, preferably created since 1 January 2019.
  • wholly or partly executed in any painted medium.
  • overall size must not exceed 3m by 3.75m
  • paintings do not have to be framed
  • BUT they must be designed to hang on or be fixed to a wall.
  • available for purchase from Stage 2 through to the end of the exhibition period.
  • the original work of the artist (or artists if a joint or collaborative work). The competition terms and conditions are very precise as to what they mean
The work that you submit should be of your own origination and you should hold all moral and intellectual property rights in that work. If, however, your work does recognisably reference the work of another artist (for example if your painting is a copy of a photograph or painting by a known individual, or is from a known online or archival source), you must have obtained the necessary copyright permissions and credit lines and paid any fees due. The resolution of any such unresolved issues discovered by the organiser will become the responsibility of the artist, including any fees due.
Work which is ineligible
  • video works 
You can only enter online.

If shortlisted for Stage 2 the painting MUST be
  • the same work as that submitted as an image at Stage 1
  • be available for Stage 2 of the competition and, if selected, for the duration of the exhibition itself.
In terms of dimensions the painting MUST be:
  • When packed for transport, must measure no more than 3m x 3.75m.
  • When unpacked, must project no more than 0.5m from the wall.
  • If made up of more than one piece, such as a diptych or triptych, must be no larger overall than 3m x 3.75m x 0.5m when displayed on a wall.

Entry Fee

  • £30 inclusive of VAT (non-refundable). Payment should be made online by debit/credit card. The entry fee is non-refundable.

Timeline and Deadline for Entries

There are three main stages: Call for Entries, Stage 1 and Stage 2.
Registration and Submission of a digital image of the painting have the same deadline.

Call for Entries - registration and payment

  • This is the portal to the Registration Form for the 2018 Competition
  • Registration and payment of the fee online MUST be completed no later than 12 noon on Monday 13 November 2017
  • You will be sent a link to your email address to complete your entry. You will be able to review your entry before payment and submission.
  • the unique entry number is only allocated to an artist once this stage has been completed

Stage 1 - Submission of Image

The first stage of selection is entirely based on the image submitted.
It is important that the quality of the digital image best reflects the submitted work. The first stage of selection is entirely based on the image submitted.
  • You must submit an image(s) of the work AND complete the online form - using the unique entry number 
    • Your completed entry must be received by 12 noon on Tuesday 24 March 2020 
    • Digital images of the submitted work must be JPEGS between 2MB - 5MB in size and a minimum of 1000 x 1000 pixels. 
    • One image showing the complete painting must be submitted (A). An optional second image, showing a detail of the work, may be submitted (B). 
    • The image(s) of the painting must not be manipulated in any way and must be of the painting entered. Substitutes cannot be accepted and will invalidate the entry.
  • The jury then views and discusses all the entries from the digital image submitted - and shortlists entries 
  • Artists are notified as soon as possible after the Stage 1 selection about whether they have been selected for Stage 2.

Stage 2 - Delivery of shortlisted painting
  • Shortlisted artists are invited to transport their shortlisted painting to one of six depots around the UK
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: the painting must be EXACTLY THE SAME - as the painting submitted via digital image. If it is different it will be disqualified
  • The exhibition organisers arrange the transport of paintings to Liverpool for judging.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: you are advised to arrange insurance
  • Each painting is viewed and discussed individually by the jurors who then select the works for the final exhibition.
    • This process remains anonymous
    • Jurors are not given the names of the artists but have access to the following information: title, size and medium.
    • However, in addition and on request, they have access to the artists’ statements about their work (but not their biographical information).
  • Jurors also decide the prize-winners.
  • all SELECTED paintings are subject to a commercial agreement
  • when you enter, you agree (as part of the Commercial Agreement) that IF YOUR PAINTING IS SELECTED YOU:
    • give the Licensee the right to manufacture and sell merchandise (in such forms as it chooses) representing the artwork within the retail outlets at National Museums Liverpool including its online store - subject to agreement to be faithful to the work. The artist agrees to waive any royalty rights for the duration of the period quoted in the agreement.
    • accept that if shortlisted the submitted artwork must be available for sale for the duration of the exhibition and that the Walker Art Gallery, if it requests to do so, is given first option to purchase that work.
    • accept that if selected for the exhibition any sale of the exhibited artwork during the exhibition period will be exclusively undertaken by the Licensee and must not be reserved for sale or sold by any other means.



The John Moores Painting Prize 2020 Exhibition will be on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from 19 September 2020 - 14 February 2021

More about the John Moores Painting Prize

The John Moores Painting Prize 2018 Exhibition will be on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from Saturday 14 July to Sunday 18 November 2018.





Monday, February 17, 2020

Insurance Policies for Art Teachers

I've developed a new resource page about Insurance for Art Teachers.

Do you teach art? Or have you ever thought about teaching art outside a state school setting?
Was insurance one of the things you thought about when planning your first workshop or art class?

It almost certainly wasn't - and yet developing independent art classes - in your own home, in the student's home or on third party premises can be a very risky business - and the liability very often lies with you. If you're not properly covered by insurance your personal assets could be 'at risk'.

The NEW PAGE on my Art Business Info for Artists website covers:
  • Insurance Risks for Teachers
  • No Insurance - what can happen
  • Do you need insurance to run an art class?
  • UK Insurance Policies for Art Teachers
In due course, I aim to identify insurance policies specifically designated for art teachers elsewhere in the world - and for this is I need your help. 

Please use the form at the bottom of the page to tell me:

  • the country you live in
  • the name of the insurance provider
  • the name of the policy
  • a URL link to the policy
  • details of the type of specific cover it provides for
    • art teachers or
    • art classes
    • which country

More about Insurance for Artists

This page adds to my current resources which are:

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Pricing a Pastel and Pastel Society Annual Exhibition Metrics

The annual exhibition by the Pastel Society is the largest exhibition of artwork in pastels and other dry media in the UK every year.

The Pastel Society Private View

I reviewed the exhibition 10 days ago - see 121st Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society

Following on from my review of other annual exhibitions by national art society last year - and the closure of the exhibition earlier today - I'm now going to review below the exhibition metrics (relevant performance data) for the 2020 Annual Exhibition:
  • how open is this open exhibition - the ratio of members to non-members
  • how well pastel artwork has sold - with specific reference to price bands
But first the prizewinners.

I didn't get back to the exhibition, because I acquired a cold and spent most of last week sneezing repeatedly and going through boxes of tissues. With the current scare re the coronavirus I decided I'd rather not be heckled for looking as if I might infect people - even if it was only a cold.

(NOTE: Metrics - I apply a standard system of measurement to all the annual exhibitions I review)


The Mall Galleries has done an excellent review of the Pastel Society Prizewinners on its blog - which includes large images of the artworks.

An Open Annual Exhibition

Malcolm Taylor sold three artworks - two of which are in this photo

Those aspiring to exhibit at the Pastel Society in 2021 should be reassured that this is a proper OPEN EXHIBITION
  • 282 artworks were exhibited. Of these
    • 170 are members (60% of artists)
    • 112 are non-members (40%).
  • 128 artists exhibited. Of these:
    • 44 were members (34%)
    • 1 was a deceased member
    • 84 were non-members selected from the open entry (66%)

The one thing I find quite odd is that the total number of works exhibited in the same three galleris at the Mall Galleries is well below the number exhibited (for example) by the RI (which exhibited 411 artworks by 166 artists in April 2019).

I think once the Pastel Society have reviewed the sales figures in relation to price and size, they might want to think long and hard about whether next year's exhibition might be bigger - with maybe more smaller paintings.

I recommend this exhibition to all those aspiring artists working in dry media - bearing in mind that it's not just about pastels.  It's also very evident that works across a range of subject matter and styles can sell well - if priced to sell.

ALL ARTWORKS (including those by members) are reviewed by the selection jury.

The average number of paintings hung in this exhibition were
  • Members: 3.9 paintings (not every member submits the 5 they are entitled to submit and not all get all works hung)
  • Deceased member: 1 painting
  • Non-members: 1.3 paintings
    • Most non-members have just one and sometimes two paintings in the exhibition.
    • Those who have applied to be a candidate for membership often have more than two paintings in the exhibition - and I suspect those who would be considered as a candidate if they'd only get round to applying!
    • The implication for those applying to get work hung in this exhibition is that they MUST submit their BEST work - and two works might be the optimum number of works to submit (if not previously selected)

Sales at the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition

I'm going to start by saying I'm absolutely convinced that sales during the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2020 were undoubtedly reduced due to the absolutely appalling weather we have been having - which will in turn have reduced the numbers wanting to leave home and make the effort to travel to London for the exhibition.

Plus the fact that both Storn Chiara and Storm Dennis chose to arrive at the weekends!!!  This weekend there were a record number of flood warnings and alerts in England, according to John Curtin, the Environment Agency's head of floods and coastal management.

It's really bad luck for any art society when you get very bad weather during an exhibition - but to get it both weekends is really unfair!

Number of artworks sold in each price range

In total 62 paintings sold - 33 (53%) by members and 29 (47%) by open entrants.

The chart below records sales results for 62 sales recorded online at midday today on the Pastel Society website and the Mall Galleries website. I'm not 100% sure that all artworks listed in the catalogue were also listed on the website but my sample check indicated that they were and the numbers between catalogue and website also seemed to correlate.

Number of artworks sold by price range - pale blue = non-members

By way of a preamble, it probably goes without saying - but I'm going to reiterate this very important point - that DRY MEDIA drawings and paintings - like watercolours - typically sell for less than oil paintings.

Unless they look incredibly like oil paintings and are presented without a mat. So you need to bear this in mind when looking at the figures below.

I've number-crunched all the sales on my Excel spreadsheet and these are the sales metrics worth highlighting

My conclusions are:

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Banksy Valentine for Bristol

I don't think Banksy has sent us a Valentine before.

This one - of a young girl using a catapult to send lots of plastic red flowers and petals - appeared yesterday in the Barton Hill area of Bristol yesterday - but there was nothing on Banksy's instagram account - which is how he confirms that a work is by him.

However this morning in the early hours this post appeared on his Instagram account.

He's now got nearly 1.3 million likes in 19 hours which is not bad going.

Meanwhile the people in the house on which it appeared are trying to work out how to preserve it....

More about this.....

As usual, news of a new Banksy has gone global - here are just a few of the references to it.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: Episode 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020

This is a review of Episode 4 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 - filmed at the Battersea Arts Centre last April.

View of the Heat which became Episode 4 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020

Episode 4: The Artists, Self-portraits and Sitters

The Artists sat outside Battersea Arts Centre (for a photo op!)
As always links to
Do watch the videos - it's an eye-opener even for those who have already watched the programme

    All the artists lined up waiting to hear which three are going to get shortlisted

    The professional artists

    The professional artists are:
    It sounded like my idea of hell. Contestants got just four hours to paint a celebrity on camera – whilst being gawped at by members of the public. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of having my process seen. I almost never share work in progress shots on social media, and I dislike even one person watching me sketch or paint. I hate the idea of ‘timed creativity’ and generally work in a very slow, angst-filled way. Anyone who interrupts me risks a paintbrush in an orifice. Yet I enjoyed the show as a viewer, and there was still part of me that just wondered what would happen if I masked my doubts and tried it. It looked, on some level, fun.
    • Christopher Hanson (Instagram) - currently based in South London and Wolverhampton in the west Midlands. Trained in traditional painting. Spent several years as a art tutor VIDEO
    • Eleanor Johnson (Instagram) - based in London, UK (b.1994). She graduated from University College London with a BA in History of Art in 2017 and is currently undertaking an MA in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School. Won the Young Artist Award at the Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition in 2018 (I KNEW she looked familar!). VIDEO
    Her work considers the intangible zone between absence and presence – both visually, physically and psychologically. (her about page)
    • Lee Rotherforth (Facebook | Instagram) - A professional artist working on the east coast of North Yorkshire - based in Saltburn on Sea. Inspired by Turner, Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent. Predominantly a commission based painter focusing on portraiture and animal portraiture (he paints wonderful dogs!) and teaching art to people in Cleveland and Teesside. He often incorporates found objects into his art. VIDEO
    • Christine Roychowdhury - an artist living and working in Aberdeen, Scotland. Studied Art at Goldsmiths College, London. VIDEO

    The amateur artists

    The amateur artists are:
    • Jenny Campbell (Instagram) - a student support assistant from Bedfordshire. She's teaching herself to paint by copying other artists and she's a Tai fangirl. This is her selfportraitVIDEO
    • Ross Macauley (Instagram)- born in Canda and now lives in Glasgow and works in a bookshop. His self portrait was in the BP Portrait Award in 2017 (when he also featured on my blog in my annual artists with their paintings post) and he also made it to the semi-final in 2017 - when he was painting in oils. This time he used oil pastels (which must be much easier to move around!). He's also regularly exhibited with RSA Open Exhibition and Scottish Portrait Awards. I have to say I prefer his oil paintings. VIDEO
    • John Meredith (no website or social media). Originally from Crickhowell, he now lives in Allt-Yr-Yn, Newport in Wales. He's a retired art teacher (Risca Comprehensive School) and amateur artist. He likes drawing using graphite and has indulged his love of sketching in his retirement. This is a local news article about him and his artwork. VIDEO
    • Eilidh Smith (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) Lives on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. She has developed a very stylised abstracted way of painting people using her iphone as a reference (which I think might mean she could also be using an app to get the abstracted nature of the features). She works as an Admin Assistant. VIDEO
    The artists are all competing to win a £10,000 commission to paint Nile Rodgers for the Albert Hall - although none of them knew this when they painted in the Heats last year.

    The self portraits

    • There were two monochrome and seven coloured self-portraits.
    • One was huge and another was one of the smallest I've ever seen submitted - both made it to the shortlist, but for different reasons
    • In terms of what artists attempted, there was:
      • one x head
      • four x head and shoulders / upper torso
      • two x Head and torso plus (although one was a bit mangled!)
      • one x body + dog!

    The Sitters

    The sitters in this heat were:

    Wednesday, February 12, 2020

    About Liam O'Farrell and his amazing paintings

    One of the very nice things that happens from time to time is that artists that I feature on my blog sometimes write to me to tell me what has happened to them and their artwork.

     One such is Liam O'Farrell who wrote to me today.

    I've seen his paintings in a number of recent exhibitions and very much like his combination of really excellent painting of architecture and people. His paintings manage to be both accurate and yet somewhat stylised. It's a very neat combination - recording contemporary life.

    Last summer I featured his painting of the Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery which was selected for the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2019. I had it in my section about The Best of the Open Entry and other art I liked
    Artwork I liked included paintings which did not look like the paintings of members or provided a new spin on old topics. I periodically lament that not enough people record buildings, events and the contemporary environment - as very many painters did in the past.

    The Tate & Lyle Sugar Refinery, London by Liam O'Farrell

    One artist who is very much about recording the present or the recent past is Liam O'Farrell - who paints in oil and watercolour but is fundamentally all about the drawing. I love his tiny people and the fact he can recreate past urban landscapes.
    Liam wrote to correct me and to say that this is in fact a contemporary view. I've never seen this view of the Refinery and was convinced it was from the past. However after much comparison between Google Maps and the painting I now understand how he managed to achieve this particular view and paint it! See if you can work it out - it's clever!
    Thames Refinery is the largest sugar refinery in the EU and one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of 1.2million tonnes per annum. Tate & Lyle website
    I gather from Liam that the painting did not sell at the exhibition. However it was subsequently bought by Tate & Lyle and now hangs in their Boardroom!

    Another of his paintings Denmark Street (Tin pan Alley) London (2017) was selected for the (last) Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019.

    Denmark Street (Tin pan Alley) London (2017) by Liam O'Farrell

    I rather liked this - especially given I could not work out how he achieved his perspective.

    He explained in his email to me today that he'd written a blog post about the painting An oil painting of Denmark Street London - in which he explained about he came to sketch the scene and also the people he saw during a warm afternoon in June as he drew the buildings
    Liam's approach to his oil paintings is as follows
    My oil paintings are generally built up from on-site sketches, colour notes and even photographs if a particular reference is needed, such as a plant shape or shadows. These are then composed together on board and finally painted in the studio, often over a period of weeks.
    On his website you can also see his:
    He's a big fan of Markets and Allotments! 

    His paintings have also featured in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

    This to my mind is one of the best "about me" artist statements I've ever read - as an explanation of what he likes and draws and paints.
    Most of us are not really that trendy, confident, super rich or deliciously attractive. Most of the world is also like that. Even in spectacular locations such as Venice, if you scratch the surface the same ordinary people are there too. They just happen to be on holiday. I like to look again at all the things we can so easily miss, and celebrate them.
    Of course I am not unique in this movement. Stanley Spencer, LS Lowry and Alfred Wallis were masters of it and this is just my small contribution.

    Tuesday, February 11, 2020

    How to find an art gallery for your art

    This is a checklist of questions for how to find an Art Gallery which provides a good fit for both your artwork and your achievements to date - and offers you good prospects.

    I saw a query today on Facebook from somebody who was looking for suggestions of suitable art galleries for his art.

    I provided a short cut answer. This is the longer version.

    Interior of an art gallery in Chelsea

    How to find an art gallery 

    It's worth doing your homework and looking at the options and opportunities - and the competition.

    A suggested approach and checklist

    Here's my suggested approach and checklist of questions - which is based on my preference for finding out as much as you can BEFORE you have a conversation or email them.

    How to find an art gallery in your area

    Make a list of art galleries near you 
    • Go to Google Maps
    • Put your address in to get a starting point
    • now add add "art gallery" to the "nearby" search button
    • this will generate flags with a palette icon of all the art galleries near your home
    • you can also add "art galleries" and this will generate a different list - of those with 'Galleries' in their name
    • the number of galleries will vary depending on what you call your location (eg your local village / town / county / region etc)

    Monday, February 10, 2020

    How Banksy retains control

    There is an absolutely fascinating article in the New York Times - Banksy Is a Control Freak. But He Can’t Control His Legacy - which unpicks the business model Banksy uses to remain in control of his brand.

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND artists read it as it's a very useful way of demonstrating ways in which artists can retain control over the copyright of their own artwork if marketing and selling direct to the public.
    Banksy’s rise and rise is the result of years of meticulous control of his message, his market and, most importantly, his mystique.
    Below I've attempted to summarise what actions Banksy has taken to control the market for his artwork - including:
    • Pest Control
    • Gross Domestic Product
    • Bbay
    It looks simpler than it is - and a lot of it is entirely to do with how the law works.


    In summary, he has created a wonderful system for keeping scams and fraud under control
    (i.e. avoiding the awful Andy Warhol problem)

    Gross Domestic Product - the website and shop created to regulate rip-offs of Banksy's Trademark.

    Sale of originals

    Banksy has no gallery representing him. Instead, he sells NEW original works for million dollar multiples to selected private collectors.

    These sales help fund his big projects - which keep his "name in the frame".

    Trade Mark without Text

    This is the formal documentation of his trademark.

    Subsequently he was challenged in court - which led to various developments described below.

    Friday, February 07, 2020

    121st Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society

    I visited the The Pastel Society's 121st Annual Exhibition earlier this week for the Private View. It is currently on display in all the galleries at the Mall Galleries,  The Mall, London SW1
    • It's open every day 10am to 5pm (closes 3pm on final day) until 16 February
    • Admission is £5
    • HOWEVER you can have FREE ENTRY for Two to the exhibition  (normal price £10) if, as regular readers, you quote "Making A Mark" to the people at the Gallery Desk at the entrance.
    I'm probably going back tomorrow afternoon to see which paintings and drawings won prizes which were announced just before I left on Tuesday. More of these anon.

    It's a good exhibition whether or not you are a fan, as I am of dry media.

    A Table at Seven by Kitty Glavin
    Winner of the Pastel Society Young Artist Award
    Her work was created in oil pastels on several pieces of paper which were stick together
    and hung without a frame!
    Below you can find out:
    • how to view all the artworks online - both members, open entry and my photos
    • how you can meet individual artists in the gallery, and what talks and demos are happening during the remainder of the exhibition
    • my commentary about this exhibition and, if you like, review my past reviews of this exhibition!

    View all the works online

    You can view a folder of my photos of the exhibition on my Making A Mark Facebook Page (it's public - no need to be a member) - and you can see general views and images of the works I liked in this post.

    Some of my photos from the Private View
    You can also see artworks as follows

    Thursday, February 06, 2020

    Review: Episode 3 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020

    I watched the third episode of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year this morning having been occupied with Life Drawing Live on Tuesday night when it was broadcast. (Why do they always do the good art programmes at the same time?)

    What was unusual was that I realised right from the off that I was going to be watching the whole thing knowing who was the winner - having met the artist at the semi-final. It was interesting because having heard comments made by Judges about the heat winner's painting in the semi - and their reference back to the heat painting - I've been really interested since last April to see how the portrait was developed!!

    discussing the shortlist

    Episode 3: The Artists, Self-portraits and Sitters

    The artists lining up to hear who got shortlisted

    As always links to
    • the artist's website are embedded in their names.
    • their social media sites are also provided.

    The professional artists

    The professional artists are:
    • Cara Dunne (Facebook | Instagram) Completed her degree in Fine Art Painting and History of Art in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2016. Her chosen medium is oil paint on canvas or board. She also works in graphic design, illustration, film-making and social media management. Last year she did a project 27 Portraits in 27 days. In January she was exhibiting at The Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition 2020
    • Inge Du Plessis (Facebook | Instagram) This is a link to her self-portrait The Woman who Stood Still for Too Long (90 x 55cm) - about her turning 50. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa she moved to the UK in 2009 and now lives in Maidenhead in Berkshire. Completed a Fine Art Honours Degree and have been painting professionally since 1999 - after many years working as a cabinet maker and running her own design and manufacturing business. Previously participated in PAOTY 2016.
    • Owain Hunt (Facebook | Twitter | InstagramBorn in 1994, he is self taught, paints in his bedroom and developed his artistic practice whilst studying for degrees in Economics and History from the University of Bristol, reading, observing and experimenting between lectures. Since graduating in 2016 he has pursued a career as a painter, working to commission. Is currently showing a drawing in the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition which opened today at the Mall Galleries and will also be showing in the Royal Society of British Artists 2020 Show later. He's also very accomplished at marketing his profile to the press.
    • Mark H Lawrence (Facebook Instagram) Born in Edinburgh in 1968. Studied BA Fine Art (Hons) Grays School of Art, Aberdeen (1990-94); MA Fine Art at University of East London (2009-10);  PGDE Art & Design Secondary Education, The University of Edinburgh 2018. He currently teaches Art & Design in secondary education, and practices art in London. One of his double portraits was selected for the BP Portrait Exhibition 2018 - and I remember it well but I don't think I met him as he's not in my artists with their paintings post. 
    • Michael James Monaghan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) a Scottish artist and Celtic fan who lives and works in West Lothian. 
    • Neil O'Driscoll (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram- This is a link to his VERY different self portrait. He's a multidisciplinary artist based between Ireland and the UK with qualifications in art, crafts and film-making. Has worked between the fields of illustration and film for the past ten years, whilst expanding into video design for theatre. Currently based in Margate, Kent, Neil works largely from home and undertakes private commissions for illustration, portraiture and landscapes. He used pastels for the Heat
    • Michael Sheppard (Facebook | Instagram) - video - Graduated with a Fine Art Painting and Drawing degree from Northampton University in 2017 and subsequently an MA at Nottingham Trent University. He has autism and works in pen and ink and just switches off when he draws. Uses mj the art traveller as his brand name. I found this good interview with him.

    The amateur artists

    The amateur artists are:
    My entry was really last minute, I got it in right on the last day and I was panicking. I sent in one of my portraits, and I had to write a lot about myself and my art.

    The self portraits

    What marked out these self portraits was a couple of really unusual ones by Inge Du Plessis and Neil O'Driscoll. They both had a surreal, whimsical element to them.

    As usual a number of the portraits were nothing like the way people painted in the Heat - while others had a great deal of continuity.

    The Sitters

    The sitters in this heat were:
    • Len Goodman - ex-ballroom dancing world champion and the Head Judge of Strictly Come Dancing and is still the Head Judge of Dancing with the Stars (age 75)
    • Dame Harriet Walter - the actress - who was a stunning sitter and a woman who was not afraid to acknowledge her age (she's 69)
    • Tinie Tempah - a British rapper, singer, songwriter and entrepreneur - who had his bluetooth earphones in and fidgeted the whole time as he listened to music.

    The interior of the 

    Episode 3: Themes

    Smiling faces

    I remember when Sandy Nairne was Director of the National Portrait Gallery he commented - in response to criticisms about their new commissioned portrait of their new Patron (the Duchess of Cambridge - see Paul Emsley and the Duchess of Cambridge - two videos and a drawing) that you could probably count the number of portraits in the NPG of somebody smiling on the fingers of maybe one hand. That's because nobody can hold a smile for a life sitting - it's just far too painful. 

    So it was interesting that when Len asked whether they'd like him smiling and started to do so that nobody pointed out that he'd be unable to keep it going.  As I expected the smile came and went and came and went etc etc.

    Kathleen suggested matchsticks to prop up the grin.

    I know with absolute certainty any time I see a self portrait which contains somebody smiling, I'm  99.99% certain this has been painted from a photo rather than from life i.e. even an artist would give up on trying to paint themselves from life smiling!!

    Painting older people - and lines

    Wednesday, February 05, 2020

    Live Drawing Live - my results and conclusions

    I have to say Life Drawing Live flew by yesterday and the two hours were up in not time at all.

    You can see my results below with some quickie comments from me.

    Live Drawing Live - The programme on BBC4

    Here's what I think about the programme. In summary.......
    Shows promise if technologically challenged. Could do better.

    • good tutors - and nice to be able to see Daphne and Lachlan in a tutorial role rather than as Judges. I'd banged on at length about how the BBC needs to stop creating "gameshows for artists" and start focusing on its remit to educate as well as entertain and this went a long way to doing that
    • a bit like the Iowa Caucus one had the distinct impression they'd not tested all the link ups and technology before the show - except in isolation. When it came to bending under the pressure of real life and people sending in drawings the system crashed. 
    • Something went wrong with the curation of images. I need to watch it back but it seems to me as if the bulk of the images were coming from the various studios set up around the UK rather than from genuine images from the public who were al sat in front of their TVs EXCEPT
    • you couldn't draw yourself unless you had an extra feed which allowed you access to Pose Cam - and where was the access to information about that prior to the programme?

    • you couldn't watch the TV and draw at the same time and process your drawings to email them in.....
    So I drew from my Pose Cam on my iPad Pro with the audio off and watched the TV - but mainly listened to it.

    As somebody pointed out it might have been better to do it the other way round and have Pose Cam on your big screen and the programme on your tablet.

    The one thing I regret not doing is screen dumping the poses so I could have another go within the same timescales.

    PS IMO Diane Ali still can't draw..... I stopped watching after her hands.

    The programme is available on iPlayer for the next 28=9 days - but I'm unclear whether or not the Pose Cam will work given it was all live. Obviously you can ignore all the stuff about processing your drawings and sending them in.

    My drawings

    I haven't done any life drawings in ages, had just got in from the Pastel Society Private View and could barely move at all due to the problems with osteoarthritis and three pieces of bone fragments floating around in my ankle.

    So the notion of trying to find a range of things to draw with was out and, having got in at five to 8 o'clock I just grabbed the nearest A3 drawing pad and a graphite stick.

    Below (and above) is what I produced.

    During the first pose with the chap I was trying to work out what I needed to do to access Pose Cam i.e.
    • remember/find my BBC account login name and password
    • find the right website URL (where was the prompt running along the bottom of the picture when you needed it?)
    • then had to work out to get Pose Cam going.....
    • which left me with 5 minutes for the hands and feet pose
    I did think more than once that it would have been nice to have had more notice of this. I crawled all over the web on Friday before writing Views about the Nude and Life Drawing Live - on BBC next week and I saw absolutely nothing about Pose Cam and the need to log in!

    Monday, February 03, 2020

    Art from the BBC Archives - a retrospective

    The BBC has been having a rush of art to the BBC4 programme controller's brain. Moreover it is raiding the BBC Archives as a way of making television programmes about art while spending very little. Or as the programme makers put it
    Delving into the BBC Archives to reveal a colourful, surprising and rounded portrait of how television has chosen to portray the world’s most famous artists and artistic movements over the last 60 years.
    This post is about:
    • another new series of programmes about art - on Sunday night (which started last night)
    • a BBC Archives website Collection of various Art Programmes

    Art on the BBC

    The series or four programmes (4 x 60 minutes) about "Art on the BBC" comprise:
    Humans have been drawing nudes for almost 30,000 years. Kate Bryan explores six decades of BBC archive to discover how television has influenced our understanding of the nude.
    • 9nd February 2020: The Many Faces of Picasso - a television history of Picasso who the BBC term "the controversial godfather of modern art" - curated by David Dibosa (pictured) 
    • 16th February 2020: The personality of Michelangelo - curated by Sona Datta
    • 23rd February 2020: Constable - pushing the boundaries of landscape painting - with Rose Balston
    It follows on from a programme in 2018 (repeated in 2019) about The Genius of Leonardo. The video below gives you a sense of the approach of these programmes.

    ART ON THE BBC_THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO_CLIP1 from Alleycats Films on Vimeo.

    Art from the Archives - The Art Collection

    You can also go direct to a BBC Archives website Collection of various Art Programmes and view the various programmes from the Archives which are available to view on iPlayer.

    These include:
    • Omnibus: Lucian Freud (1988)  - I've watched this one and will no doubt view it again (Available for over a year)
    For over 40 years, the artist Lucian Freud has allowed his paintings to speak for themselves, but in this week's Omnibus he talks for the first time about his work and ambitions.

    'The greatest living realist painter' is critic Robert Hughes' description of Lucian Freud, whose major retrospective at London's Hayward Gallery earlier this year, brought together the paintings of a lifetime. The exhibition was seen as a revelation, just as it had been in Washington and Paris. 
    "The buildings always come before the figures"
    • Rossetti - Sex, Drugs and Oil Paint (2003) - Andrew Graham-Dixon considers the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the painter and poet who reinvented the Victorian ideal of female beauty... and who dug up his wife's coffin to retrieve poems he had buried with her. 
    available on iPlayer
    On July 9 London's Hayward Gallery becomes host to one of the largest exhibitions of Pop Art to be seen in this country. In the words of one of its exponents, Pop Art is ‘young, witty, sexy, glamorous, and big business’. It is an instant art form and has had instant success. Robert Hughes talks to leading pop artists in New York amid the ad-mass living that inspires their art. Artists featured include Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, George Segal and Andy Warhol. 

    Sunday, February 02, 2020

    Book Review: Notes from the Atelier by Julie Douglas

    This book review of Notes from the Atelier
    This coming Tuesday I am delighted that my studio will be part of the first live nation-wide life drawing session, on BBC4 with Lachlan GoudieJulie Douglas, Notes from The Atelier
    Notes from the Atelier by Julie Douglas
    Cover of Notes from the Atelier by Julie Douglas

    My book review is long overdue(!) Its publication coincided with a lot of other things going on and then it hit the pile of books to be reviewed. Having now reviewed it I'm only sorry I didn't do so earlier as I would have been recommending it to people!

    Notes from The Atelier is the first book by Julie Douglas, an award-winning designer, artist, illustrator - and art teacher who has been running her own Art School in Northern Ireland - comprising weekly classes and workshops - for over 25 years.

    I first got to know Julie via coloured pencil activities when her artwork kept winning major awards. Then in 2015 we met up for the first time when I went across to give a lecture for a Drawing Consortium she organised at Belfast University.  Last year we met up again the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year heat that she participated in and I was watching.

    When you read this book it's just like meeting up with Julie. It's very relaxed but very knowledgeable and informative with lots and lots of positivity and encouraging noises!  

    If you want to see what I mean watch the video!

    Let's DRAW! With Julie Douglas from Julie Douglas on Vimeo.

    Title: Notes from The Atelier


    The aim of this book is to provide practical steps to successful observation, drawing and painting. It places an emphasis on learning how to see as a stepping stone to being able to draw and paint effectively.

    The core of the book is 32 exercises which she has used with her Weekly Class - in other words
    • they're not only tried and tested but also refined as a result 
    • you get to see some of the artwork by her students - which means you can compare what you've produced to what her students in her weekly cass produced doing the exact same exercise.
    a double page spread about pencil shading and developing tonal values

    The book also contains LOTS of practical tips relating to art materials, drawing and painting practice and looking after your wellbeing which you draw and paint.

    I think it's really suitable for people who are complete beginners - as well as those looking to improve.

    Summary Review

    RECOMMENDED: This is an excellent book for somebody wanting to learn how to draw and paint but unable to get to a class. It's very stimulating and very accessible in the sense that, while reading it, it is exactly like having Julie in the room with you. Everything you need to know is articulated very clearly and in very clear steps. 

    Plus it has 45 x 5 star reviews on Amazon UK which are worth a read - and some nice reviews from other leading artist tutors
    You’ve inspired me to draw again! I haven't had time to read all of it (or even half - it's a big book!) but what I've read so far is WONDERFUL! I agree with everything you say, and I think you have a SUPER solid method of teaching here. : )I am very happy to recommend it.Carol Marine, Artist, USA
    I like the way the overall approach focuses on:
    • learning how to see being fundamental to being able to draw and paint well
    • drawing as underpinning competence in painting. 
    Examining options for cropping a complex still life involving light, dark and patterns

    The exercises are very clearly set out and cover a variety of media including:
    • graphite pencil
    • coloured pencils
    • charcoal
    • watercolour
    Others focus on specific approaches for particular subjects eg "Location Drawing" and "Drawing a Face."