Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NEW DEADLINE for Landscape Artist of the Year 2020: Friday 29th May

The deadline for entries to Landscape Artist of the Year has been changed. You have until 5pm Friday 29th May to submit a late entry.

What Inverary Castle should have looked like in Heat 6 in 2018
(they had grey skies instead!)

Sky Arts is still planning to go ahead with the Heats around the UK. It is presumably aided by the fact each artist will be in their own pod and the entire Heat is filmed outdoors (which is a much less risky place) - and thus complies with the Coronavirus Guidance.

I wrote a guideline to the Call for Entries back in December - see Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 to which needs adding the following changes earlier calls for entries or from previous years:
  • DEADLINE for entries has been changed from 17th April 2020 to 5pm on the Friday 29th May (i.e. you have two days left!)
  • To take part as a Wild Card, this year you MUST first apply for the main competition in order to be eligible (i.e. no turning up on the day)
By the way - the deadline has usually been extended and reiterations of calls for entries made each year. I think in order to winkle out those artists who really should apply and who are more than good enough!

What follows a reminder of what artwork is eligible as a submission

Artists are selected to attend the heats based on the artwork submitted as part of the entry.
The Landscape Entry submitted must be a painting of a landscape vista, and can be produced in any material excluding photography, video, sculpture and all forms of digital media. Collage and mixed media works are all allowed. The work may be abstract or expressive as long as it is recognisably a representation of a landscape that has been produced within the last five years. It should be a maximum of 1220 x 914 mm (48” x 36”).
Sky Arts has some advice about how to photograph your art

Images of landscape paintings that are eligible for submission are defined as follows:
  • MUST be a painting of a landscape vista
  • MAY be may be abstract or expressive
  • MUST be recognisable as a representation of a landscape
  • MAY be produced in any media - including collage and mixed media works - except those not allowed
  • MUST NOT include photography, video, sculpture and all forms of digital media.
  • MUST be produced in the last five years.
  • MUST be no bigger than 1220 x 914 mm (48” x 36”) unframed
  • MUST each have a file size of at least 800 KB and ideally no more than 1.5MB.
  • Additional Work(s) of Art submitted can be any size, and can also be in any material other than photography, video, sculpture or any form of digital media.

My Reviews of Previous Heats in 2018 and 2019

To help you have a think about whether you want to enter - why not take a look at my reviews of the last two years - which includes lots of pics

Or better still watch the last two years in a major binge on Now TV - where all episodes are available

2019: SERIES 5


Below you can find
  • the link to my review
  • THEMES for each of my reviews are highlighted under the link for each review of the episode
  • links to blog posts written by the participants - always very helpful!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Does Portrait Artist of the Year ignore older artists?

Is Portrait Artist of the Year failing to reflect the diversity agenda by being ageist?
Or do older people just not enter art competitions - because they think they'll be ignored?


I received a very interesting letter the SKY Portrait Artist of the Year competition recently - which I am reproducing below
Dear Katherine. 
I don't know if you are the right person to approach, but I was directed to your e-address when looking for information on the website detailing how to enter the SKY Portrait Artist of the Year competition. My wife (aged 70) is an enthusiastic and ( I think) talented painter but has been put off entering the competition as the average age of the contestants is clearly around thirty, and the median age mid-twenties.

On the website in which you feature, it makes a point of saying 
We do not cast for characters – instead, our expert judges select participants based purely on the quality of their submission artwork. 
I find it incredible ( in the true sense of the word) that of the tens of thousands of entries the expert judges must receive and judge 'purely on merit', those considered worthy of appearing on the programme all happen to lie within such a limited and specific age range. It is even more puzzling as painting is one of the nation's most favoured post-retirement hobbies/activities . Obviously there is a puzzle here. If the programme were to be called Young Portrait Artist of the Year, that would explain all, of course.

Can you clear this mystery up for me or point me in the right direction to enquire?
I and I believe millions of potential viewers would be shocked and saddened to think that a programme series based on examining, analysing, exploring and interpreting all aspects of a creative activity which by definition abhors restrictive and unthinking prejudice in any form were to limit entry to a certain telegenic age group and am sure you would agree. 
Thanks so much for your kind attention. 
G
I think G raises an interesting aspect of DIVERSITY - namely ageism - which, in my opinion,

  • often gets completely ignored by those who make television programmes, 
  • sometimes because those making the programmes may made be younger people living in cosmopolitan areas (often in the south) which don't have an age profile which reflects the country as a whole. 
However 15% of the total population of the UK is over 70 and a lot are very active.

Older People on Portrait Artist of the Year



Sky Arts is very good at reflecting the wider population in terms of the conventional groups of people who tend to be identified around a diversity agenda eg BAME / LGBTQ / Disabilities.


In my opinion, PAOTY is NOT as good at paying the same sort of attention to older people - except in relation to inviting them to be a sitter (which is actually as arduous a task as being a portrait artist if done properly!).

For example, I have noticed:
  • a change in the age profile over time - I have to say that it very much seemed to me that the people involved in the competition this year appeared overall to be were very much younger than they had been in previous years. I'm not sure why. New bod sat on the casting desk doing the initial sift?
  • what seems like a preference for selecting younger artists about to make the grade. There seems to me to be a tendency on the part of the Judges to try and make sure they give at least one younger artist the benefit of the career stepping stone represented by being in the Final. Indeed I'd suggest they've sometimes done this in my opinion at the expense of older and more able artists.
Would it be too much to ask that at least 1 person in every heat was an older person (eg over the age of 65)?




Older People and painting


I'm well aware that painting is a HUGELY popular activity for older people. 

Indeed it's an activity that very many take up for the first time after retirement - because it's the first time they've ever had enough  time to spend on studying and then practising their skills.


Anybody who has ever been on a painting course or holiday will be very familiar with the age profile of those who typically choose to spend both time and money on developing their knowledge and skills in painting.  I started going on painting holidays in my mid 30s and for some years was well aware that I was the baby of the group by some decades!

I well remember going to Bali back in the early 90s with an 83 year old called Joan who put the rest of us to shame as she was up before breakfast every day and had completed her first landscape painting before she sat down to breakfast - and she was good!  I think she averaged about three - four paintings every day of the fortnight we were there - and nothing phased her.

Interestingly she was symbolic for me of the older person who wants to pack as much as they can in to whatever time they have left and hence when they "go for it" they REALLY "go for it"!

So, by way of another example, some of the stalwarts of the pensioner artists brigade are people who lug heavy kit around all over the country while plein air painting - out in the fields and in the back of beyond.  I have an older friend in her 70s who lives in a very rural area of New Mexico who is plein painting all over the state and also travelling inter state for prestigious plein air paintouts!

I very much think any notion that older people would have neither the stamina nor the fitness to paint for four hours over a very long day should be revisited if this is the reason why older people are not chosen.

I have to say my personal theory is that it maybe older people do not apply when they should do i.e.

  • there are not enough older people making the grade 
  • because not enough apply who could make the grade!

Maybe the solution rests in:

  • Sky Arts taking a broader perspective on diversity
  • More older painters "having a go" and sending in an entry form together with a really good self-portrait!

Monday, May 25, 2020

What makes a good portrait and the importance of the artist-sitter relationship

Kathleen Soriano has provided a couple of short talks on Portrait Artist of the Week which I think are relevant to all those thinking about participating in Portrait Artist of the Year in future
  • The first, last week, was about what makes for a good portrait
  • the second, yesterday, was the artist sitter relationship

Below is a summary of the main points she made while she spoke to camera - with some additional notes from me.

What Makes for Good Portrait?


Still from Sky TV Live Portrait Artist of the Week 10th May

She highlighted six key elements in "Kathleen's Six Steps" (which you can listen to yourself in the Sky Art Live Video AT 1: 21: 20) - and cited examples of particular portraits and artists to amplify what she means

1. A really well thought through composition


This should be:
  • a perfect fit with your sitter
  • what does the sitter's presence / body / character say to you
  • how can you place and frame what you see 

The key point here is that the artist has thought about how to place the sitter on the support - and why.

2. A good sitter artist relationship


For Kathleen, she feels strongly that
  • both artist and sitter need to work at forging a connection
  • the artist really needs to understand the attitude of the sitter
  • if both are communicating and working together then a better portrait tends to be the result

She highlighted a couple of women sitters who had both turned up having obviously thought beforehand what to wear and how to pose.

Rachel Hunter chose a very difficult pose - and held it throughout the sitting

More on this below - and why I think Kathleen ended up in near hysterical laughter yesterday morning!

3. A good set of props


Kathleen likes a bit of narrative, a bit of story telling within a portrait. The props provide context, to tell a story about the sitter.

The story telling needs to say something about the essence of the sitter - something which goes beyond the lines on their faces or the shadows which the light creates

the ballerina Lauren Cuthbertson painted by Luis Morris
in the context of her ballet shoes and strapping on her feet

In relation to Portrait Artist of the Year, the irrelevant backdrops seem to me to act as a counterpoint to this notion.

However props in the self-portrait submission do have a point and can play a very useful part.

4. Likeness


"We need a likeness"

Kathleen acknowledges that one of the conventions of what is a good portrait is that a good likeness should be achieved.

However she also highlighted that for some artists it's also important to convey their sense of likeness in the unique way they paint. She cited Francis Bacon as an example.

(MaM: However Bacon said a "A picture should be a recreation of an event rather than an illustration of an object")

5. Sense of Humanity


We are people looking at pictures of other people - we need a sense of connection

She highlighted Duncan Shoosmith's portrait for Cleo Laine for a really strong sense of life

Cleo Laine by Duncan Shoosmith (commission for Final of PAOTY 2019)

6. Surprises!


She would really like to see something new, fresh and unique in terms of how people approach contemporary portraiture

crop of commissioned portrait of Nile Rogers for Royal Albert Hall by Christabel Blackburn

By way of example, Kathleen highlighted the freshness of approach of Christabel Blackburn to portraiture.

The Artist Sitter Relationship


Yesterday Kathleen Soriano tackled the Artist-Sitter Relationship. (Portrait Artist of the Week 1:23:??) I couldn't quite work out where it starts in seconds but it's straight after the contribution from PAOTY Artists re lockdown.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Covid-19 #13: Cancellations and Refunds



I've heard various very interesting stories about what has happened in relation to negotiations on cancellations and refunds arising from all those events cancelled in the context of the Coronavirus Pandemic.  For example:
  • art fairs 
  • art events 
  • art exhibitions 
  • open exhibitions / art competitions 
  • art courses / workshops etc 
I'm proposing to do a blog post about this. I'm very interested in the perspectives of both organisers and customers - basically anybody who paid money before the lockdown and has now either got their money back following cancellation of the event or looks likely to lose what they've paid out - and why that has happened.

I'm particularly interested in learning points which can be shared with others

My aim is to provide some learning points and in doing so I shall be highlighting case studies and examples of
  • good practice - both organiser and customer happy
  • poor practice - either organiser and/or customer unhappy
  • bad practice - illegal practices (usually relating to contract law) requiring court action to get appropriate recompense (with the terms and conditions of the 'event' and any insurance cover)
Please message me via 
if you have had to either:
  1. work out what to do if organising an event / exhibition / whatever - plus
    • what advice you got and 
    • what you you did in the end
  2. asked for a refund and 
    • either got one (quickly or otherwise)
    • or not got one - and what reasons you were given as to any failure to do so
    • what action you took as a result - if any.
AND whether

  • you will be taking out better insurance 
  • and/or reading the small print much more closely in future!

Friday, May 22, 2020

UPDATE: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020 - small works

For those wanting to support a cause but not necessarily spend a lot of money you can do as I do most years and spend £60 on a sketch produced for Wildlife Artist of the Year

This is the link to where you can see the Sketch for Wildlife Series 2020
Each postcard is 6”x 4” in size and on sale for £60 with 100% being donated to David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF).
It's an excellent way of raising funds - and getting artwork on display and names of artists known without and framing or the work taking up too much space. It's used by very many good causes as a way of buying art - and you often don't get to find out the artist until you've bought the piece (which is not the case this year - where the sale is taking place online

My postcard art purchases 



Below you can see my monochrome series of previous purchases.

I have three absolute rules for my small wildlife works purchases which are:
  • they must literally be postcard size i.e. 6 x 4inches or 15 x 10cm (i.e. 148 x 105 mm) so they can be framed easily and inexpensively (and not all those in the sketches gallery this year are - which is a pity)
  • there has to be some sort of thoughtful aesthetic to them - and to be honest the gallery this year is dominated by the very literal 
  • I also require skill in the use of media - preferably monochrome - which means graphite, charcoal or pastel - or a monochromatic fine art print. 
The monochrome theme has grown over time and I now stick to it on the basis of if I want to hang them together in the future I'd like them to look good together - and I'm a fan of monochrome.
These are three I've bought in the past - framed in the little white standard art postcard box frames which I always used to buy from the National Portrait Gallery - which means they stand on their edge on a bookshelf.
  • The top one is the shadow of a sting ray zooming through the picture plane - which I really liked because it conveyed the speed of movement as well as the way it swims. It's by Tim Reeves - whose website I cannot find online.
  • Bottom left was my first - and is a graphite drawing of a worm cast - and I bought it because it is so unusual. I love artists who find beauty in the most unusual things. This is by somebody called Sara ? - but I can't work out her surname and she hasn't labelled it on signed on the back as well (see How to sign ​a painting, drawing or fine art print)
  • Bottom right is At Dusk which depicts a very simple and subtle murmuration of starlings by Simon Conolly. This is a motif I see regularly at the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibitions. Simon is actually a sculptor - who specialises in birds in flight and I'm guessing this may have started as a sketch for a new work. I was rather pleased to snaffle this one as a postcard. 



My post card sized art from previous Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibitions

The display of Postcard Art at Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015 at the Mall Galleries
- which is when I bought the piece by Simon Connolly
(third column from the right, third row down)


PS The Online Exhibition of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020 is now public - for viewing.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Covid-19 #12: Meet the Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal post lockdown

Neil Mendoza has today been appointed as the new Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal by the Government's Culture Secretary.

In effect he is the man tasked with reviving the UK's cultural sector post lockdown.

Why should you be interested?
You might be want to think how much planning is going to focus on the "traditional way of doing things" and "all the normal suspects" as opposed to who really needs to be represented at the table.

I suspect we're going to get a response 
  • very much focused on large organisations and 
  • NOT one focused in any way on people who are self-employed within the sector

Why do we need a Commissioner?


Our local, regional and national institutions have been trailblazers in coming up with innovative ways to reach audiences during the lockdown. Our focus now turns to paving the way for the reopening of the country’s cultural hubs including theatres, galleries, museums and entertainment venues, when it is safe to do so.Culture Secretary - Oliver Dowding

What is a Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal?


Apparently the Commissioner will:
  • provide an expert and independent voice to the government
  • advise on how UK culture and heritage can begin the road to recovery from the pandemic
Culture and creativity will be vital to rebuilding communities across the country and in sustaining our international standing as a creative nation. Helping the sector to reopen is a priority for the Arts Council and I very much look forward to working with Neil in support of the aims of the Taskforce.Sir Nicholas Serota

Who is Neil Mendoza?


Neil Mendoza
Wikipedia describes Neil Mendoza as
a British entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist.
Neil Mendoza has had a career building businesses in the creative and finance sectors.
He is currently:
  • the Provost of Oriel College, Oxford
  • a Non-Executive Director at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (since 2016)
  • the Chair of The Landmark Trust - a UK charity dedicated to saving buildings of historical importance
  • the Illuminated River Foundation - a large art commission project to light London’s bridges
  • a Director of Bookmark Content  (worth checking out if you want to know more about digital marketing of content)
Previous roles included
He led the Mendoza Review of Museums in England (2017). (see The Mendoza Review: an independent review of museums in England PDF, 2.08MB, 110 pages). It looked at
  • what the national infrastructure for museums is and what it could and should be; 
  • the museums sponsored directly by government; and 
  • the challenges and opportunities for all of England’s museums. 
  • It made recommendations across the following areas:
    • Adapting to today’s funding environment
    • Growing and diversifying audiences
    • Dynamic collection curation and management
    • Contributing to placemaking and local priorities
    • Delivering cultural education
    • Working in museums: Developing leaders with appropriate skills & Diversifying the workforce
    • Digital capacity and innovation
    • Working international
I haven't looked at this in any detail but I do know from a career spent working for and with government that it's very unlikely for people to change their mind on what they think is important if they published a report in the last five years!

This is his Twitter account - should you feel the need to tell him what his new priorities need to be

What happens next?


The government press release announces that planning for how various economic sectors which are currently closed can be reopened safely

There are five sectors and task forces in the roadmap to rebuild Britain.

 These are:
  • Recreation and leisure, 
  • Pubs and restaurants, 
  • Non-essential retail, 
  • Places of worship, and 
  • International aviation
The first of those taskforces - Recreation and Leisure - is being established by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This will be supported by working groups which include:
  • the entertainment and events group
  • sport, 
  • museums and galleries, 
  • heritage, 
  • tourism and 
  • libraries.
I can't see any recognition of the impact of coronavirus on the self-employed - such as freelance professional artists and illustrators.
The Entertainment and Events Working Group will
bringing together representatives from around the country to develop advice and guidance on the reopening of cultural venues across the nation, helping to get employees back to work and audiences once again enjoying our thriving cultural sector.
It will include representatives from:
  • Royal Albert Hall, 
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet, 
  • Really Useful Group, 
  • One Dance UK, 
  • Cadogan Hall, 
  • Association of British Orchestras, 
  • Nimax, 
  • Leeds Playhouse and 
  • The Royal Opera House.

What I'd like to see an analysis of how those employed in the arts are split across the different sectors and the extent to which they are 
  • either employed by large organisations - the likes of which get a voice in these working groups
  • those who are self-employed - who are very often ignored by the government (witness the arrangements for how to support people's income when it took a lot of banging on tables to make the point that there are LOTS AND LOTS OF SELF-EMPLOYED PEOPLE!

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Artist Support Pledge

Matthew Burrows started the Artist Support Pledge on on the 16th March 2020 in response to the COVID19 pandemic. 


In the last two months it has:
  • become a global movement of support for artists and makers by other artists, makers and art collectors
  • generated 174,804 posts on Instagram (it had generated 175,277 posts by the time I finished this post!)
  • collected 41k followers on the Artist Support Pledge Instagram account

How the Artist Support Pledge works


The best ideas are always very simple - as this one is.



This is the HOW TO guide to participate in ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE anyone anywhere in the world can take part. 1. post your image/s on your Instagram account 2. If possible use the ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE logo and text (swipe to see) by reposting or using a screenshot. You can also cut and paste from my website (see link in bio). 3. give details of the work and price (no more than 200USD, 200GDP, 200 EURO or 20000JPY) 4. ask for anyone interested to DM you 5. add #artistsupportpledge NB: singular - one ‘s’ not two 6. follow the # 7. when you have sold $1000 worth of work fulfil the pledge and spend $200 on another artist/s work. 8. If in doubt do it in a spirit of generosity, that's all that matters A creative generosity creates a generous creativity 9. Stay connected for more opportunities by following @artistsupportpledge NB/ we DO NOT select work to be seen. You may not see your own work as there are so many images but others are seeing them. Text for posting below: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many artists around the world have found themselves without work, teaching, technical support, gallery work, exhibitions and sales have disappeared. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this stress @matthewburrowsstudio has instigated the #artistsupportpledge The concept is a simple one. You post images of your work to sell for no more than $200 (£200, €200, ¥20000) each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time you reach $1000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist's work for $200. So make a pledge and post your work with the #artistsupportpledge and follow the #. keep updated on news and further opportunities @artistsupportpledge Repost and tell your friends, colleagues and collectors. Stay well and live generously. #supportartists #covid19 #coronavirus #livegenerously #artistsupportpledge
A post shared by Artist Support Pledge (@artistsupportpledge) on


This is how the Artist Support Pledge works in terms of raising money for artists:

  • First of all you need to post an ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE logo and text to 
    • explain how the system works and 
    • alert people to the fact you are participating 
    • (The Instagram post above provides the detailed explanation) 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many artists around the world have found themselves without work, teaching, technical support, gallery work, exhibitions and sales have disappeared. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this stress @matthewburrowsstudio has instigated the #artistsupportpledgeThe concept is a simple one. You post images of your work to sell for no more than $200 (£200, €200, ¥20000) each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time you reach $1000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist's work for $200.
  • Artists post an image of their work, on their Instagram account which they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each (i.e. not including shipping). 
  • Make sure you include 
    • details of the work (eg media / size / original / print etc) and 
    • price (no more than 200USD, 200GDP, 200 EURO or 20000JPY)
    • you can price for less than £200
  • Add #artistsupportpledge  (NB: singular - one ‘s’ not two i.e. artist+support+pledge)
  • Follow #artistsupportpledge to see the work posted by other artists
  • Anyone can buy the work. 
  • Ask for anyone interested to DM you
  • Fulfil your pledge and buy another artist's work for £200 + delivery when you have made £1,000 in sales  (and, I suggest, have been paid!) i.e. sell £1,000 and net £800 + a new artwork for your collection!)
  • Keep updated on new opportunities and announcements @artistsupportpledge 

Other hashtags used by those participating are:

  • #supportartists 
  • #covid19 
  • #coronavirus 
  • #livegenerously

MY TIPS

  • PLEASE DO NOT post art if you're NOT a career artist whose livelihood is currently in jeopardy due to Coronavirus. There's way too much amateur art being posted by people who cannot possibly be paying their household and business bills through the sale of their art. That, to my mind, is just plain selfish and attention-seeking given the intention of this project is to support those self-employed professional artists who have lost their ability to earn their normal income e.g. from sales of exhibited paintings in art galleries and art fairs, teaching art to students and the normal sort of work which many professional artists engage in.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many artists have found themselves without work, teaching, technical support and gallery work. Exhibitions and sales have disappeared. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this stress I have instigated the ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE #artistsupportpledge (Matthew Burrows)
  • DO NOT be one of the very silly artists who uses the hashtag but doesn't follow the rules
  • DO NOT post "tat" and ask £200 - it devalues both the project and the pledge - and it also won't sell! I checked out all the artists I didn't know in the curated list below....
  • DO NOT use the #artistsupportpledge UNLESS you are participating properly. It's sadly become one of those generic hashtags which people include willy nilly!
  • DO calculate package and shipping costs before you post for different places e.g. UK only - you're likely to get more responses
  • DO post work for less than £200
    • Your artwork does not have to be valued at £200 
    • You have the option to sell more artworks for less money. 
    • This works particularly well for those selling prints

Who has contributed to the Artist Support Pledge?


Here are some of the artists and artworks which have been posted for the Art Support Pledge
I'm posting good quality artwork by those taking the pledge seriously.

Below I've identified five artists - and will do a curated collection of another five artists next week if you like the idea.

Gareth Reid - who won Portrait Artist of the Year in 2017 and was the portrait painter for Portrait Artist of the Week yesterday (on Facebook Live) was an early contributor. He is selling prints of his drawing.

He also provides an excellent example of how to detail your work on your post.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A&I Lockdown Drawing Challenge: Portraits

Artists & Illustrators Magazine in the UK is running a weekly Lockdown Drawing Challenge.
This one does not bring money prizes, nor does it get your work shown on television.


Lockdown Drawing Challenge - Week 2: Portraits

This week's Lockdown Drawing Challenge relates to Portraits.
why not draw a member of your household from life, and if they won't sit for you, try drawing them while they watch TV or cook dinner.
  • Submit it using the form on the Challenge page (link above)
  • By 12 noon on Thursday 21 May. 
The A&I Team then select a a gallery of favourite works which are displayed in the A&I Lockdown Drawing Challenge Gallery.

The winner will be revealed on Friday 22 May, when we will also announce the theme for week three’s Lockdown Drawing Challenge.

Lockdown Drawing Challenge - Week 1: The Kitchen

Our first week’s theme is the ‘kitchen’, so why not sketch your family cooking together or raid the cupboards for still life inspiration?
I agree - it's a stand-out work based on observation with a commentary! Looks to me as it was either drawn on a digital tablet or was drawn in pen and ink and had hints of digital colour added later. Either way it's very effective.

"Right my loves, dinners ready" by Kayla Tomlinson


The winner of each challenge receives
  • a Faber-Castel sketching set worth £18, 
  • a three-month subscription to Portfolio Plus 
  • gets their work shared across our popular social media feeds and on the Artists & Illustrators website. (This is called "marketing" folks!)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition ONLINE in 2020

This year, the exhibition Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020, organised by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, will be open ONLINE a week today - from Thursday 21 May to Sunday 28 June.

  • 1,200 entries, from 53 countries have been received for the 2020 Exhibition 
  • 159 exceptional artworks were shortlisted for the exhibition.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be holding our Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition at Mall Galleries this year. The gallery is closed until further notice and is unlikely to reopen before the end of May.
view of artwork selected in the 2019 exhibition
Amendments are being made to the DSWF website to accommodate
  • an online gallery and 
  • point of sale system
The ONLINE EXHIBITION will:
  • enable you to you to view the exhibition of the 159 artworks - as if you were in the actual gallery
  • allow you to buy artwork from selected artists online - remembering that all artwork sold contributes 50% of the sale price to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
  • view the gallery of artworks from guest artists (including Mandy Shepherd, Emily Lamb and Jack Russell MBE), all of whom are donating between 50-100% of the sale price to DSWF.
  • open on 21 May and close on 28 June
DSWF says
As a charity which relies hugely on our events and supporters to fund our vital conservation work across Africa and Asia; I’m sure you can appreciate the effect the cancellation of physical exhibition might have on us and our ground-based conservation partners. We hope you will stand with us and support us as we deliver what we hope will be an extraordinary online offering for all involved.



The AWARDS Ceremony will also take place online. Tuesday 26 May. Register online to join live for the online Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 26 May from 7.30pm, when DSWF will be announcing the winners for Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020

Wildlife Artist of the Year was established by David Shepherd CBE FRSA (1931 – 2017) and embodies his vision for ‘The Art of Survival’ – using art for wildlife conservation. 
Internationally renowned, Wildlife Artist of the Year brings together a wide range of artists and art-lovers from all over the globe to celebrate our planet’s wildlife through some of the world’s most exciting and diverse wildlife art. 
Since the competition began in 2008, it has attracted more than 10,000 entries, raising more than £1.2m to fund David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s (DSWF) vital work.

re. Covid-19 and Purchases of Art


DSWF notes that it has a system in place for fulfilling art purchases. However delivery times may take up to 14 working days longer than normal due to restriction currently in place.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Virtual Tour: Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London

We might not be able to go to art galleries but we can view art on screen through Virtual Tours of an Art Gallery.

I'm going to be doing a future blog post listing of those places where you can view the art in the gallery online.

Virtual Tour of National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing


First up is a Virtual Tour of the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing 

This is where you can find the Gallery's collection of Early Renaissance paintings from 1200 to 1500.
Renaissance is the French word for rebirth and can be associated with the concern in Italy for recreating the achievements of Antiquity whose art was seen as supreme. Historians usually refer to two periods, the Early and the High Renaissance, the earlier period coinciding approximately with the 15th century.
The term also applies generally to the more realistic style that was introduced by Masaccio and Donatello in Florence, and by extension, is sometimes used of works of the same period in Northern Europe, for example those of Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the Netherlands.
Figures became weightier and more three-dimensional, and the space they occupied was more convincingly constructed.

  • It's powered by Oculus using Matterport's 3D camera technology - which means you can get a 3D experience
  • Navigation is a bit tricky but perservere and you will get used to it. 
  • Click the red circles to find out about the painting

See if you can find three of my favourite paintings.....

The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan by Eyck


The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van EyckOil on oak panel of 3 vertical boards
Dimensions 82.2 cm × 60 cm (32.4 in × 23.6 in);
panel 84.5 cm × 62.5 cm (33.3 in × 24.6 in)
Jan van Eyck is credited with originating a style of painting characterised by minutely realistic depictions of surface effects and natural light. This was made possible by using an oil medium, which allowed the building up of paint in translucent layers, or glazes.





The Wilton Diptych

The Wilton Diptych  by unknown artist
egg on oak, painted on both sides of each panel 53cm x 37cm
The Wilton Diptych (c. 1395–1399) is a small portable diptych of two hinged panels - painted on both sides - which fold together to protect the inner paintings.


The Battle of San Romano


The Battle of San Romano by Paulo Uccello
Tempera on panel, 320cm x 180cm


You can also explore room by room

To do this, you need to

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Grayson Perry's Studio

I noticed a query on my blog stats - "Where is Grayson Perry's Art Club filmed?"
It's filmed in his own studio - which has been the subject of very many previous videos and articles.

Inside Grayson's Studio in Islington - with his wife Phil

He worked for many years in Walthamstow but moved his home and studio to Islington five years ago.


Articles and videos about his Grayson Perry's Studio


In chronological order - meaning it starts in Walthamstow and moves to Islington!
  • Artist's studios: Grayson Perry | The Guardian | 20 September 2008
For me all studios hark back to my father's shed, where the workbench strewn with tools became the cockpit of a fantasy aircraft journeying to imagined lands. This is the cosy dream of my creative nest, the reality is a crumbling old printer's shop in east London's outer reaches.
This video was made by Tate Shots in his Walthamstow Studio in 2011.



Claire never goes to the studio. Making pottery is a dirty business. You don’t go to the studio in a nice dress. It’s where you get on with stuff and make a mess and collapse in an armchair and listen to The Archers”
Does the studio change fundamentally as a consequence of becoming public? do you feel differently about it because it’s been photographed and filmed?
So many people come to my studio and take photographs, I forget how many. About 50 TV crews have been to my studio. Whenever they come, I say, ‘Well, I’ve spent hours making this look like a studio for you!’ When I was at college, we all had our little chipboard cubicles that we worked in. Someone came up and went, ‘Oooh, you’ve got a meaty space!’ And I thought, yeah, I do like to have a busy space. I like the feeling that it’s got a density of creativity going on.
  • My studio life: Grayson Perry RA By Tom Jeffreys | RA website Published 16 October 2014 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -  a totally fascinating article where he explains different aspects of his studio, tools he uses, books he references and important artifacts around the place
“I do feel slightly embarrassed here. It feels like one of those YBA studios: they always have perfect white industrial studios. I’m not complaining though. Moving here has been the biggest change in my life – my work rate has gone up hugely. In Walthamstow I had to go home by four as it was simply too cold. Even here though, I swear by cashmere socks from November all the way through to about April.” 
He also does trips to the studio for charity

Grayson Perry with his kilns inside his studio

But right now he is using his studio as a film studio for Grayson's Art Club which very many of are following faithfully and enjoying every Monday evening - or in some instances over breakfast on Tuesday!

The cross-dressing potter, tapestry-maker, writer and presenter starts every morning with a mug of coffee and Marmite on toast, then makes a sandwich before pedalling off to his studio five minutes down the road. 
Grayson Perry interview: ‘There’s no excuse now for not doing art’ (24.04.20)

For a TV veteran like Perry, filming from home has been a new experience. There’s a cameraman camped out in a tent in the garden (“he’s even got his own Portaloo!”) and the director shouts at him through the window while six cameras stand around the studio — “the kind they used to film 24 Hours in A&E”. He interviews guests over Zoom. 
Grayson Perry interview: ‘There’s no excuse now for not doing art’
By the way for fans of the kevster (instant fame after Episode 2 of Grayson's Art Club) I found this tweet to be very funny.....and you get to see more studio and studio cat.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Life Drawing Live on BBC4 tomorrow

I forgot to include Life Drawing Live when I did my compilation of Art On Demand during the Pandemic #1 - British TV

Drawing the Nation Together is a new episode of Life Drawing Live and will be broadcast at 8pm on BBC4. Unfortunately if it's like last time you will be unable to see it later (unlike the Sky Arts portrait video arrangement).
The groundbreaking Life Drawing Live! returns to BBC Four, drawing the UK’s four nations together in the biggest-ever live, life drawing class. There has never been a better time to collectively get those creative juices flowing, as presenter and artist Josie d’Arby is joined by experts Lachlan Goudie, Diana Ali and Nicky Philipps to share their passion and knowledge in this inspiring event.
Viewers will be able to watch live and draw along, as amateur artists at home and in our socially distanced studio, capture a series of life model poses, based on classical works of art. Class starts at 8.00pm and is open to everyone with artistic skills, and those who think they have none, to pick up a pencil and draw!


BBC4 tried out Life Drawing Live earlier this year.
READ my two blog posts - before and after - earlier this year
This time it's going to be a bit different - as Lachlan Goudie explains below



However

  • there's absolutely NO INFORMATION ON THE BBC4 WEBSITE about how to access the screen on which you can see the model continuously during the programme
  • assuming that it works in a similar way to last time - but with social distancing due to the pandemic - this is what you will need to do (see video below). You'll be using the red button on your computer.

No need to be 2 metres from your screen though!



I recommend you watch the programme on one screen and have the model on the red button on another screen.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Art On Demand during the Pandemic #1 - British TV

I've been amazed at how much art has found it way on to television and screens generally during the pandemic - and how much of it is:
  • complete innovation i.e. winging it via the internet
  • videos we never saw on television before
  • the resurrection of art programmes which were really worth repeating
I'm going to try and put together a compilation of what I know about below - starting with the UK TV contribution



Sky Arts


Sky Arts Portrait of the Week


This is possibly one of the most innovative programmes.
  • A past winner of Portrait Artist of the Year painting a model in four hours of live video on Facebook Live
  • People AROUND THE WORLD join in either watching the Facebook Live Video live from their homes or via the 'saved' Facebook Live Video during the week
  • everybody submits their artwork to social media using #MYPAOTW
  • a compilation of portraits of Bernadine Evaristo on Instagram
  • the Judges - Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano, and Kate Bryan - choose their favourite three each week
I think maybe the value of the series is that we actually see how a sitting progresses from the sitter being quite tense and apprehensive and the artist needing quiet to focus while they get the painting going - to things becoming progressively more relaxed as the four hours unfolds.

PLUS we get to see very many responses from artists all over the world - just plug #MYPAOTW into Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see what I mean.

PLUS - we get Tai's Top Tips about portraiture and input from Kathleen and Kate about portraiture

Tai's top Tips - this week focuses on measurements of the head and shapes
We've had two episodes so far and the videos are still available online - and third is taking place while I'm writing.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Annual Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The 2020 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) opened today at the Mall Galleries - or rather it would have done but for the current lockdown.

Instead of visiting the exhibition I'm going to:
  • show you how to view it online
  • comment on the HUGE number of entries and selection
  • highlight those non-members whose work was selected for the exhibition
  • highlight those artworks I like the best.
A hot day in August by Frances Bell
oil 140cm x 170cm

I've taken to avoiding the Private View of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in recent years for the very simple reason it's always absolutely rammed with members and their guests and Friends of the RP and the Mall Galleries. Negotiating movement across the gallery can take some time!

I can no longer cope with having to remain on my feet for extended periods so now tend to go later on PV Day or the next day.

So today is the day I would have been viewing - and then reviewing - the exhibition - so I'm going to do so anyway! :)

I should strictly speaking be reviewing the BP Portrait Award 2020 Exhibition first since that opened on Tuesday - but there's a reason why I'm not - which I will reveal below.

How to view the 2020 Exhibition and Events

NOT AT THE MALL GALLERIES - it's on the website instead!
You can
I gather the RP is hoping still to be able to hold the exhibition at some point this year and hence no prizewinners have been announced.

The RP Annual Exhibition 2020

Back in January, the RP noted that a record number of entries, 2,493 in all. This reflects an upward trend in works submitted online over the past few years (see below).

I'd like to think this blog has played a small part in highlighting the exhibition to prospective interested artists and generating that upward trend.

However I want to note that the figure is way in excess of the 1,981 entries received by the BP Portrait Award (BPPA). Possibly for the first time?

In addition, as the RP website makes clear......
Unlike other portrait exhibitions, it is rigorously selected by professional portrait painters who themselves have been elected by their peers to the Society. It is one of the world’s most extensive contemporary portrait exhibitions forming a showcase of some 200 works.
So that's the reason why my review of this exhibition comes first:
  • BIGGER entry
  • BIGGER exhibition
  • artworks judged by PROFESSIONAL PORTRAIT PAINTERS - not people with a fairly loose connection to the world of portraiture.  (I'm becoming increasingly critical of the jury of the BP. Other than one well established portrait painter - who's a member of the RP(!) - and a senior curator, the extent of experience of portraiture really underwhelms.)

Non-members selected for exhibition


82 artists who are NOT members of the RP had work selected for the exhibition - and you can find their names below.

I've also noted

  • all those who had more than one painting selected
  • all the ones I remembered were also selected for the BP Portrait Award 2020 - and if both exhibitions had been open to the public you could have enjoyed comparing their different entries! (Do tell me if I've left you out by mistake!)

Every artist named below has at least one portrait selected for exhibition unless otherwise indicated
  • Jennifer Anderson (two works of women of African heritage)
  • Jeremy Andrews
  • Thomas Arthurton (two works) - who has a work in the BPPA 2020
  • Helen Bartholomew
  • Ulrike Belloni
  • Ashley Birch
  • Martin Brooks (3 paintings)
  • Rupert Brooks
  • John Burke
  • Darren Butcher (2 paintings - both have a large number of faces)
  • Steve Caldwell - also has a painting in BPPA2020 
  • George Clark
  • Tomas Clayton
  • Eric Coates
  • Ian Cox
  • Belinda Crozier (2 portraits of a pregnant woman at different stages)
  • Nicholas De Lacy-Brown
  • Helen Davison (2 paintings)
  • Tom Dearden
  • Daisy Denning
  • Davide Di Taranto
  • Mark Draisey
  • Sally Ede-Golightly
  • Mark Entwisle
  • Miriam Escofet
  • Andrew Fitzpatrick
  • Brendan Fitzpatrick
  • Jack Freeman (twp portraits - one in oil and one in charcoal)
  • Suzanne Gibbs
  • Alexander Goudie
  • Paul Harber
  • Naila Hazell
  • Andrew Hitchcock
  • Owain Hunt
  • Ksenia Istomina
  • Paul James
  • Hero Johnson
  • Thom Jordan
  • Jeannie Kinsler
  • Richard Kitson
  • Kathryn Kynoch
  • Svetlana Kornilova
  • Suzon Lagarde - participated in one of the heats of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019
  • Shana Levenson
  • Stephen Leho
  • Shuang Liu - also selected for BPPA 2020
  • Kathryn Lowe
  • Kenny McKendry
  • Elizabeth Meek - a large self portrait by the President of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters
  • Kenny McKendry
  • Eugeny Medvedev
  • Stephanie Mills
  • Sarah Jane Moon
  • Robin L Muller (two portraits)
  • Daniel Munday
  • Nashunmenghe
  • Anthony Oakshett
  • Harriet Pattinson
  • Sergei Pavlenko
  • Laura Quinn Harris - also selected for BPPA 2020
  • Vladimir Presnyakov
  • Sally Roberts
  • Carl Randall
  • Jamie Routley - Also selected for BPPA 2020. I'm always amazed he's not a member. Maybe he hasn't applied?
  • William Rushton
  • Andrea Santi
  • Daniel Sequeira
  • Michael Seymour
  • Nicola Smith
  • Charlotte Sorapure NEAC
  • Dick Smyly
  • David Thomas
  • Yaroslava Tichshenko
  • Bernadett Timko
  • Alex Tzavaras
  • Nneka Uzoigwe
  • Sally Ward
  • Joshua Waterhouse (2 works - an oil painting and a pencil drawing)
  • Isabella Watling
  • Rosalie Watkins
  • Steven Wood
  • Craig Wylie - won BPPA 2008
  • Rugile Zukaite 

Outstanding Portraits

The exhibition displays diversity in terms of both subjects and painting styles. As I've often remarked in the past, many of the portraits by non-members held more appeal than those by members. This is in part because some of the portraits on display are commissions and hence reflect what was asked rather than how the portrait painter might prefer to paint.

I've chosen ten to highlight. These were the ones that made me click the pic on the website to look at the larger image.

Alastair Adams' portrait titled Love Disfigure is outstanding - both in terms of the nature of the subject and the truthful and uncompromising yet respectful way he has painted his subject. Alastair is a fabulous painter of women - and his people always look very 'real'.
(PS Alastair - this is the one you should have entered for the BP!)

Love Disfigure by Alastair Adam
oil, 147 x 105 cm
I'm sorry to be missing a chance to see Frances Bell's portrait of Cressida Dick the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police as I was originally invited to the 'unveiling' at Hendon but couldn't make it.

It's nice to see a portrait which looks neither stuffy nor over-stuffed for an official portrait - she's painted in a normal shirt agaist a map of London! I'm also tickled by the fact I'm taking my daily walk in the big patch of green to the right of the Commissioner's head!

Cressida Dick by Frances Bell RP
oil 100cm x 85cm
Newly appointed member of Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Frances Bell RP, created the oil painting which has taken its place at the Met Police Training School in Hendon, alongside the paintings of 26 former Commissioners.
I highlighted France's portrait of her family above. It made me think of families in lockdown! Plus I'm a big fan of artists who take the trouble to paint group portraits.

It's also worth noting that Frances
It's good to see UK artists sending their portraits across the pond!

I'm a very big fan of Tomas Clayton's portraits.  They are very stylized and a little unsettling - but in my experienced they always grab my gaze from across the room.  They are also impeccably painted.
"A painting of ambiguous emotional messages."
Worlds End Lane by Tomas Clayton
oil 90 x 80cm

I looked at this portrait and felt sure I'd seen it before. It took ages before I realised that Suzanne Gibbs wrote to me back in February 2020 and asked me for an honest assessment of it. There were many things I liked a lot and some things I wasn't such a big fan of (like the background) - but it's a clever portrait - read her explanation below - particularly the last line. Read more

Facing It by Suzanne Gibbs
oil and human hair - 62cm x 94cm
Sally’s baldness is juxtaposed with decoration, a colourful scarf, and make up, accentuating her eyes, where her eyebrows and eyelashes once were. Her wig made up of the hair she has lost, now sits to the side of her, framed by a canvas of vibrancy, positivity and abstraction. The wig is there to hide her baldness, hide the cancer, but why? To save causing public discomfort. Baldness on a woman is like writing Cancer on your forehead. It's looking back at you.
I'm trying to remember whether I've ever seen a normal size portrait by Elizabeth Meek MBE, HPRMS, PPSWA, FRSA. She's been painting portraits for 40 years and is both very experienced and an expert at her chosen profession - but most (all?) of the paintings I have seen previously have been miniatures. She is Honorary President of the Royal Miniature Society, Past President of the Society of Women Artists, Past Patron of the Society of Limners and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts - and we've had many a chat over the years!