Monday, August 31, 2020

"Among the Trees" at the Hayward Gallery

Among the Trees is at an art exhibition at Hayward Gallery which reopened to the public this month.  It brings together artworks by 37 artists who, over the last 50 years, have explored our relationship with trees and forests. I includes works by artists Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, William Kentridge & more.

You can see the 4 minute virtual tour by the curator above.

a cinematic portrait of a 30-metre-high spruce tree by Eija-Liisa Ahtila

The two reviews of the exhibition below both award it three stars - apparently on the basis that while there are some impressive pieces, it's a case of finding it difficult to see the wood for the trees.
Others - by the Evening Standard and the Observer gave it four stars
But though there is a Peter Doig thicket, painted on canvas, one of Tacita Dean’s photographs of ancient uprooted cedars and a huge anthropomorphic lightbox by Jeff Wall, in which olive groves seem to shelter migrant workers, what is so extraordinary is the way the trees cease to belong to the individual artists. They rise above art, in the end, creating an atmosphere of serene reverie very rarely experienced in a gallery.
We know reviews are personal to the reviewer. I sometimes think this applies particularly to those who lives in cities when the review is about an exhibition involving trees - and maybe depends on how well attuned they are to trees. 

A number mocked the David Hockney RA - A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which contained many many trees back in 2012 - and yet it was one of the most popular exhibitions the RA has ever had - even more popular than the Van Gogh exhibition at the RA.

That's because 
  • the public often don't arrive with a perspective of what an exhibition should be - and enjoy viewing trees! (I went four times - and I definitely knew what it was going to look like after my first visit!)
  • there's a fair number of people (and some reviewers) who live in towns who also like looking at trees
The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is open on Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm and Sunday, 10am – 6pm; and closed on Monday and Tuesday. You must book online before visiting.

Personally I'd like to visit if only to see that curious Peter Doig painting looking at a building through tree branches. Now there's an artist who likes to live with trees.....

Friday, August 28, 2020

NEW BLOGGER: Legacy Blogger goes away in September (Take #2)

I inadvertently deleted my blog post - this is Take #2!

This is an update - with the pros and cons of where we are up to in the change to NEW Blogger. It's also relevant to all those who read my last post in June on the change to NEW BLOGGER: Google's NEW Blogger interface does not work properly! 

In short I'm now using NEW Blogger for nearly everything - BUT
  • some major omissions have still not been remedied
  • Legacy Blogger is now scheduled to disappear in September!

I managed to accidentally delete the post before Google had cached it so this is the new shorthand version

Communication has improved 

Although only if you know where the Blogger Help Community is to find it!  

There has been NO UP DATE ON THE GOOGLE BLOGGER BLOG SINCE MAY! Despite several changes in the date the Legacy Option is going be terminated.

These are summary posts about changes made to date. There have in fact been more - which for some reason they've not recorded. 

Update on my last blog post

1. IMPOSSIBLE to upload images from my computer

Then - nobody could upload an image

NOW - uploading an image works but is a bit confusing as to which icon means what in terms of adjusting the image.

Those uploading lots or uploading images bigger than the pixel width of their blog post still seem to be having some problems. I suspect they need to change the dimensions and file size of their images.

2. IMPOSSIBLE to upload videos properly

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Covid Guidelines for Artists meeting in Groups

Drawing Attention, the official monthly zine of the Urban Sketchers organization publicises sketching meet-ups each month. 

This month it published some very sensible guidelines for those artists and sketchers beginning to meet up again. You can find Drawing Attention (August 2020) on Issuu and the guidelines are on pages 4 and 5.

Well done to Urban Sketchers for doing a good turn and providing a very useful checklist of everything that needs thinking about and attending to! 

Plus a lot of it is relevant to other painting groups aiming to meet up in future e.g. plein air painters.

I've clipped the relevant guidance as it struck me that the more this very sound guidance can be shared, the safer people will be. 

ONE THING: It did strike me that another couple of points:
  • caution might be suggested to those aged over 70 or those who have been shielding or have an underlying condition which places them at higher risk - maybe meeting up in smaller groups to start with
  • I personally would want to know who harboured young people at home who ignore safety precautions or are too young to adhere to them properly - so I can stay well away from them.
I did also wonder what the scope was for Zoom Sketching Groups!

BOTTOM LINE: As indicated, whoever is running a group and arranging meetings between people from different households should ALWAYS have the health and safety of ALL participants as their #1 priority.

Artists need to exercise good judgement, common sense and integrity

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Oliver Dowden - Secretary of State for Culture and competing priorities and perspectives

Yesterday, The Guardian laid into the Government and its culture policy in this Editorial The Guardian view on culture policy: yet another shambles

Commenting on the current state of play, the Editor indulges in some fighting of an agenda possibly of The Guardian's own invention i.e. no facts just "a sense".....
"They sense an indifference and even disdain for their work from Downing Street, and hear rumblings that the arts should move towards a future of operating on an “American model” where private fundraising replaces state support. But this is pure fantasy, and a stale one at that, endlessly mooted a decade ago when Jeremy Hunt was the secretary of state for culture. Unlike the US, the UK does not have a deeply embedded culture of philanthropic giving. Even if it did, in a tanking economy it is laughable to imagine huge sums of money being raised privately; and the possession of large endowments has certainly not protected American arts organisations from the ravages of the pandemic."
I don't disagree with what they're saying in that paragraph

However I do think there are other important reasons (pandemic being the most obvious) as to why a policy for culture might be slow to emerge.

Mind you it's now fairly routine for the Guardian to have a go at the government on anything and everything across the board.  

Which leaves me pondering on whether or not this is a real issue.

The thing is.....

The Guardian always seem to have a view that people are belligerent (i.e. actively obstruct) or ignorant (i.e. do not understand) in terms of things 
  • NOT going the way the Guardian wants to see them go. 
  • Or sometimes NOT going the way that those who lobby journalists would like to see them go.
The Tories may regard the arts as a mere irritant, dominated by noisy, needy, left-leaning liberals.
My personal career experience of real life and real government is that this is not the way it happens.  

It's far more likely that the topic has just not risen to the top of an agenda of competing priorities - and indeed a topic or policy area may be competing with some powerful bedfellows for attention (the plight of the Care Home sector relative to the NHS is a case in point)

Also - for the most part - a lot of what happens in relation to priorities and what gets done can depend on who's in charge rather than what "the policy" says (and what does it say - the Guardian didn't reference this!)

So we have two key issues:
  1. Culture is part of a Department which is about Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). i.e. very wide ranging and diverse topics
    • Digital is the most important right now
    • the remainder are in alphabetical order
    • previous incarnations of this department have always suggested to me that the order of importance of "the others" is Media / Sport (interchangeable) and then Culture bringing up the rear - by some distance
  2. Oliver Dowden, The current Secretary of State for DCMS appears to have no particular interest in or background in Culture
Oliver Dowden's Twitter Feed

However if we dig deeper his official Twitter Feed indicates he's been getting out and about and meeting people and visiting organisations of late. Mind you this is the man in charge of "Digital" who only got a Twitter account in September 2019!

Here's an example of recent announcements by the DCMS - illustrating the diverse agenda competing for Dowden's attention.

Interestingly however "The Stage" takes a different view about Dowden

Leading figures in the arts had little faith he would be able to rescue their sector from the disastrous impact of Covid-19, and were getting ready to go mad at him with rage.

Instead of which he and Rishi Sunak astonished the world of the arts, at the start of this week, with a package of support for the arts which the leading figures queued up to praise.

As Charlotte Gill pointed out on ConHome, Dowden had been underestimated.

Here is a minister who knows how to get things done, including the tricky art of persuading the Treasury to part with the necessary funds.
So who knows - maybe The Guardian is just listening to the wrong people?  

Or has yet to get a grip on how government works in practice - and how priorities get changed in a pandemic?

It's also possible that The Guardian missed the point that the Arts Council is a pivotal body in terms of the distribution of pandemic funds

Try reading two articles from the Arts Council - on their website

PS The comments on the Guardian Editorial are a good read as to divergent views! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Book tickets for the RI's 208th Exhibition at the Mall Galleries

You can now book tickets for the 208th Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours which opens at the Mall Galleries at 11am on Tuesday 1 September. 

This is five months to the day after I wrote Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - 208th Annual Exhibition and Prizewinners - when we were in lockdown and knew the original exhibition dates were not possible but not when it might reopen.

It's the largest exhibition of watercolour paintings in the world - with over 400 of the best contemporary water-based media paintings.  More below about:
  • how to book
  • keeping people safe in the gallery
  • more about the exhibition, prizewinners and RI workshops.
Here's George Butler, the chap who won the £3,000 Winsor & Newton Award for his painting of Delhi Market

Book your tickets - and donate too

Remember this is a not a "turn up when you feel like it" exhibition. 

You need a ticket for a timed slot in order to keep control of numbers in the gallery.

Guess who booked her ticket this morning!  (see below - don't fret - this screendump omits the critical info - which will be required for admission)

If you value the Mall Galleries as a venue for seeing annual exhibitions by national art societies and exhibitions for open art competitions can I RECOMMEND that you also make a donation to the Galleries when you get your ticket. They will have been closed for the last 5.5 months when they reopen on 1st September - and that's a long time when fixed costs of maintaining a building do not go away.

Keeping people safe

This is a reminder that there are various conditions to maintaining people's safety. These are listed on the reverse of the ticket


  • maintain 2 metres distance - so no gossipy huddles unless you came together from the same household
  • you MUST wear a face covering inside the gallery
  • the exhibition will work according to a one way system
  • use the hand sanitiser available in the gallery
  • the toilets will be cleaned more regularly than usual
  • payments will be by card and ideally contactless

Remember also that neither the cafe nor the bookshop will be open - so bring your own water.

More about the Exhibition, Prizewinners and RI workshops

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Portrait of the Queen by Miriam Escofet

Miriam Escofet with her portrait of the Queen
Miriam Escofet with her portrait of the Queen

Last month, award winning portrait painter Miriam Escofet was at the Foreign Office for a very special event.  Her portrait of the Queen, commissioned by the Foreign Office for its own offices, was unveiled to the Queen via a video link with Windsor Castle. 

The Queen seeing her portrait for the first time
- after the unveiling at the Foreign Office

The bonus of writing about an artist's achievement a little while after it got a lot of publicity is that you can see what a major impact it had!

Just count the number of likes this Instagram Post by the Royal Family Instagram post has had - and some very complimentary comments about the portrait.  You can also see the unveiling for yourself on this video link 

As a painter of Spanish heritage, Miriam was naturally pleased to see that the Spanish News also covered it on their main news broadcast!

The process of painting the Queen

Painting the Queen is in an interesting process as she is a busy lady with a lot of commitments and all artists get a limited number of strictly allocated time slots in which to paint the Queen from life. As one artist put it to me once "You're not going to get any more so best not to waste any of the time"

Miriam's portrait of The Queen for the Foreign Office was a project that was a year in the making.

HM The Queen by Miriam Escofet
HM The Queen by Miriam Escofet

Miriam's first sitting with The Queen was in July 2019.
  • The painting process from beginning to end took seven months, with an additional sitting in February 2020 - fortunately just before the lockdown came into play. 
  • Miriam then moved on to her last two months of work - during the lockdown phase - which was when the portrait entered into the most focused and concentrated phase of work.  It's a slow process for Miriam - but one which produces some impressive results.

Miriam Escofet in her studio working on her portrait of The Queen
Miriam Escofet in her studio working on her portrait of The Queen

I evolve my paintings slowly through many layers and glazes, paying particular attention to the light values as they evolve. It is a slow and painstaking technique, but I find the qualities of depth and light that can be achieved really rewarding and visually rich. 
What I particularly love about painting is the sense of time not mattering, everything is surrendered to the process. I think the time spent on a painting can be sensed when looking at it, like a 4th dimension. Miriam Escofet 

About Miriam Escofet

I've been following Miriam for a while - and wrote about her extensively in 2018 when she won the BP Portrait Award.  This was my post Miriam Escofet wins BP Portrait Award 2018 - which highlighted her splendid portrait of her elderly white-haired mother. 

I rather think it was that portrait which helped a lot in the process of being awarded this commission. (I wonder how many portrait artists think about how a portrait might help future commissions when they enter them in competitions and open exhibitions)

She also gave me an interview - in The Portrait Restaurant on the top floor of the Gallery building when she told me about how her career developed and how she approached the painting) - see 
VIDEO Interview with Miriam Escofet, BP Portrait Award Winner 2018

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace

In early December we're going to get to see masterpiece paintings that normally hang in The Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace in a NEW exhibition called Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace at the Queen's Gallery.

Card Players in a sunlit Room, by Pieter de Hooch

We're getting to see art in different ways during the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

One of the more curious ways comes as a result of the decision to go ahead with much needed renovation to Buckingham Palace to protect the historic building for future generations - while the Queen is isolating away from London.

Renovation means that the priceless collection of paintings actually hung in the Palace must move

The Exhibition

Sixty-five paintings, that usually hang in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace and are widely acknowledged to be among the highlights of the Royal Collection, will be brought together in a gallery exhibition for the first time.

The Picture Gallery is top-lit and 55 yards (50 m) long and was originally designed by the architect John Nash for George IV to display his collection of Dutch, Flemish and Italian Old Master paintings. 

The Picture Gallery, Buckingham Palace

In Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, spectacular works by artists such as Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Dyck and Canaletto can be enjoyed ‘close up’, and visitors will be encouraged to consider

  • the artists’ intentions, 
  • why the paintings were highly prized in their day and 
  • why we would now consider these works to be ‘masterpieces’.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers goes virtual for its 2020 exhibition

The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers (RMS) is an art society which normally exhibits at the Mall Galleries - but this year they've decided to go online.

It appears they won't be exhibiting at the Mall Galleries in 2020 and instead are having an online exhibition in place of their normal 2020 Exhibition.  

I'm not quite sure why this is - but note that of the exhibitions which have been relisted at the Mall Galleries there's no doubling up (i.e. two art societies exhibiting at the same time).  It's also very reliant on its members attending to help with the exhibition in the North Galleries and I'm guessing social distancing requirements and age may well have played a part of the decision to go virtual.

Anyway, for whatever reason, you can see their online exhibition here


You can find out more about previous exhibitions and previous prizewinners in the posts below

Monday, August 10, 2020

10 changes in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2020 Call for Entries

The Call for Entries for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2020 has been published. This post covers
  • The Changes in 2020
  • The Prizes - more major changes
  • The Exhibition - and it won't be seen at the Mall Galleries in 2020.
  • How to Enter
  • Making A Mark posts about previous exhibitions (2008-2019) plus notes about how many artists and paintings were selected in recent years
Last year's prizewinners

10 Significant Changes in 2020

  1. The value of the prizes is much reduced and TOP PRIZE IS MUCH REDUCED. 
    • A First Prize of £3,000 + £1,000 art material vouchers compares to 10,000 in 2017 and £6,000 in 2018 (i.e. a reduction of £7,000 cash in 3 years)
    • what this means is that this art competition no longer qualifies for an automatic notice of the call for entries on my blog - which has always been limited to first prizes of £10k and above. 
  2. The competition has opened up to "artists living and working in the UK and internationally " - which
    • apart from being a very clumsy ungrammatical phrase, this is a MAJOR change as the competition has always been limited to artists living and working in the UK. Presumably an effort to generate some extra income?
    • it also appears to mean your 5 year old can enter - since I can't spot an age limit. 
  3. The deadline for entries is later than usual - as in it's after the date the exhibition would normally have opened. However I guess we've got used to change in recent times. The closing deadline for online submission is 5pm, Thursday 24 September 2020.
  4. Selection will be made on the basis of digital works / digital entry only
    • Which I guess might mean more scope for independent thought and less for being influenced by what other Judges think.   Having participated in a digital selection (and picked the one who went on to become the overall winner) - I'm personally in favour of anything which favours Judges choosing whoever they think is best - as an individual.
    • No need to send your art. You only need to do that if picked for the exhibition. 
  5. The exhibition does NOT open in London. It will be seen first in the provinces and will not arrive at the Mall Galleries where it normally starts until January 2021. 
  6. The Sponsors have changed. They are now:
    • The Sunday Times
    • Parker Harris - who run the competition
    • Cass Arts
    • Daler Rowney
  7. Everybody selected gets a new set of paints!  Woohoo - see below.
  8. No guidelines as to how many will be selected - Unlike previous years there are no indications or promises as to how many will be selected. 
    • By way of contrast when it generated its reputation as a top competition under Singer & Friedlander an exhibition comprising 150 paintings was not unusual. 
    • This year they could select 10 and get away with it. 
  9. The full panel of Judges has NOT been announced.  It's more difficult to get top Judges when you reduce the prize pot - because they know and we know it is not the prestigious competition it once was.
  10. Very sloppy rules and guidelines - which I pick up on above and below.  
The prizes are as follows
  • First Prize – £3,000 and £1000 of gift vouchers to use at Cass Art stores
  • Young Artist Prize* – Exhibition opportunity in the Art Space at Cass Art Islington or Glasgow and £500 to cover expenses
  • Second Prize – £1000, £695 Maimeri Blu Set worth, £750 worth of Arches Watercolour Paper
  • Third Prize – £500, £150 Maimer Blue Set, £500 worth of Aquafine Watercolour Paper
In addition all all successful artists will get a set of Aquafine 24 Half Pans Set!

Daler Rowney Aquafine 24 Half Pans set

On balance I'm wondering if the competition ought to change its name to the Cass Arts Watercolour Prize - unless the Sunday Times is funding all the cash prizes.

It looks to me as if the Sunday Times has cut its contribution to £5,000 i.e. half the sum of just the first prize in 2017. 

The significant reduction in prize money and other prizes really takes a LOT of prestige away from this competition.  Which is incredibly sad as this competition has been seen as very prestigious for very many years - until recently.
Now in its 33rd year, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is the largest and most prestigious watercolour competition in the UK. 
This statement on the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition website is just not true any longer - in my opinion.  
Like I said last year (see Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2019 - Prizewinners & Exhibition),  in my opinion it's time for 
  • another MAJOR CHANGE in the competition/of the main sponsor
  • to one which wants to provide more credibility and prestige that this art competition has enjoyed in the past
  • more involvement of painters in traditional watercolours as Judges.
This is because:I'm not sure enough imagination and creativity is being used in terms of thinking about which company or trust might be an appropriate sponsor for the future given it's very clear that the Sunday Times i no longer a major investor in the competition.

I know I can certainly think of more than one.

In the absence of anybody sorting it out, I challenge those that think they could do better to get on and do!  Even with Covid, there's very definitely scope to do a lot better than this.

Might Sky Arts be interested and team up with one of the watercolour organisations - and maybe put a focus on those who have not yet had their day in the sun?

The Exhibition

The Exhibition will be held at two venues

Venue #1: Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, Market Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7QD (Please click here for opening times, free entry)
Dates: Tuesday 27 October 2020 – January 2021
but no announcements on website or Facebook to date

Venue #2: Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1
Dates: Monday 18 January – Sunday 24 January 2021

View of the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition last year at the Mall Galleries

How to enter

Who can enter

Anybody living in the UK or another country can enter this year

What it used to say is 
The competition is open to all artists born or currently resident in the UK - who are making paintings using water-based media
but that is now gone.

What can you enter

Works entered must:
  • Have been carried out in the last three years ie dated 2017 or later
  • Be the sole and original work of the entrant
  • Be the entrant’s original composition
  • Have a maximum size of work, in its largest dimension, including frame, is 122 cm
  • All works shortlisted and submitted for final judging, must be securely framed and behind glass. Metal, plastic or clip frames will not be allowed*
  • Be available until the end of January 2021 if selected for exhibition
NOTE THE HUGE GAFFE!! It says absolutely nothing about media in the RULES.  

COMPETITIONS CAN ONLY BE JUDGED BY THE RULES.  Try and do otherwise and you could end up with some major problems in relation to various relevant regulations

This is the sort of issue which means for me that this competition has lost the credibility it enjoyed for the 20 years under Singer & Friedlander. It's as if the people at the Sunday Times - or any of the other sponsors - simply do not care.

Somebody could enter a painting in water-mixable oils and they couldn't rule it out - because it's NOT IN THE RULES.

You have to go to the Help and FAQs TAB to find
Are acrylics, gouache or inks acceptable mediums?
Yes, any water-based media is acceptable. Artists should note that whilst any water-based mediums are acceptable, this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting. The judges will therefore be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water based medium in this respect.
The purpose of a Help and FAQs section should only ever be to help clarify the RULES OF THE COMPETITION - but since there are no rules about ELIGIBLE media whatever is said is irrelevant.

This is what I said in 2018 on the topic of media - and it deserves repeating this year.
My view is that:
  • This competition for its (past) prestigious reputation based on excellent watercolour paintings (made with the NON-plastic NON-polymer related stuff which comes in pans and tubes) 
  • This competition is very popular with the public who all expect to a lot of "proper" watercolour paintings - demonstrating the range of ways you can use traditional watercolour paint (i.e. NOT how to make watercolour look like oil paint!)
  • If the judges don't choose lots of good and "proper" watercolour paintings then they just make the sponsoring brand look  REALLY STUPID!


How to enter

  • These are the Rules and Guidelines
  • All submissions must be digital - this is the link to the entry form
  • all images should be 300dpi BUT
    • with a maximum file size of 2MB. 
    • in the following file formats are acceptable: JPEGs, TIFFs or PNGs.
  • all payments of the £15 entry fee must be digital
  • you can enter up to 4 artworks

The Timeline

  • Deadline for online entries: 5pm, Thursday 24 September 2020
  • Artists notified of results by email: Friday 2 October 2020 
  • Delivery of selected works - to be confirmed
  • Exhibition opens 
    • at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery 
    • Tuesday 27 October 2020 – January 2021
  • Exhibition opens 
    • at the Mall Galleries Monday 
    • 18 January - Sunday 24 January 2021
  • Collection of works - to be confirmed (after the end of the exhibition in 2021)

The Judges

Each year the panel of judges represent experts in their field. The judges will be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water-based medium. The judges’ decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
A full list of selectors will be announced soon…

2017 - 87 paintings by 78 artists were selected from 1,057 submissions.
2016 - 75 paintings by 66 artists were selected
2015 - 90 works by 80 artists were selected
2014 - 93 works by 73 artists from across the UK

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Job losses at major art galleries

Staff working in the 'art' side of major museums in the UK seem to be surviving Covid-19. Those working in the trading arms appear to be not so lucky. 

Some of the strategies being employed to allow art galleries and museums to live within their means seem a bit crude at present - and, in my opinion, there needs to be rather more business 'nous' employed in my option.

This is a tweet by the union representing the staff at Tate Enterprises Ltd - the commercial subsidiary, which operates retail, publishing and catering within the galleries - following a socially distanced demonstration will take place outside Tate Modern at the end of July.

I'm left wondering whether the Head of Coffee - on a salary which exceeded that of curators of art at the Museums(!) - will be on the list of those whose jobs may be for the chop.  (READ my post from January 2020: Next time stop and think before you have a coffee at the Tate)

To be honest - if it were staff in Conservation (which requires training for jobs with limited opportunities) who faced the prospect of losing their jobs I'd be very concerned. However the trading arm does NOT exist without the reason why the art galleries and museums exist. Jobs in catering also crop up rather more frequently than jobs for conservation staff or curators.

While it's always sad that anybody loses their jobs through no fault of their own, let's keep a proper perspective on this. 

  • It's a lot more sad for people who are losing their lives during the pandemic and 
  • there is going to be a major structural shakeout with respect to how organisations are run in future - and there's no guarantee that ANYTHING will ever go back to being the same as before.
  • If more cuts in spend are needed, and I were in charge:
    • I think I'd be very inclined to start with all those earning a salary of over £35k - right up to the Director - with the percentage cuts increasing as salaries increase.  
    • That would enable more people to remain employed and reduce those who would need to claim benefits. 

More about the job losses

These articles tell you more about the consultation about the need to cut back on staffing due to the anticipated decreased level of trade at the Galleries.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Amazon Best Sellers for Landscape Painting Books should make Jeff Bezos ashamed!

Yesterday the ratings for Amazon Best Sellers for Landscape Painting Books were a COMPLETE AND UTTER JOKE.  

"Best Sellers" Book Categories are a complete joke at times and, when they are and I spot them, they will ALWAYS be called out by me!

These - I kid you not - were Amazon's Best Selling Books about LANDSCAPE PAINTING yesterday!!!!!
They include 
  • Colouring Books about Ocean Life, Beach Life and Butterfly Gardens (i.e. nothing whatsoever to do with Painting) and 
  • Bob Ross Bubblehead with Sound (I kid you not) and Bob Ross by the numbers
Talk about dumbing down!
Amazon Best Sellers Landscape Painting 070820 Best Sellers Landscape Painting 7th August 2020

This from a business where Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, is now reckoned to have a personal net worth of $192 BILLION.

Jeff Bezos should be so ashamed since his wealth is all achieved with COMPLETELY INADEQUATE QUALITY CONTROL over the categorisation systems on Amazon!

In my opinion, it's about time Amazon got round to 
  • sorting out the fact people exploit Amazon's categorisation system because - from what I can make out (i.e. I've been finding "complete abortions" like this for years when reviewing books) 
  • introducing better quality control - because there is absolutely NO QUALITY CONTROL over categorisation.
Unless they get called out - as I did yesterday on Facebook.

So this morning - less than 12 hours after I had a MAJOR RANT on Facebook about the lack of control of categories on Amazon - we now see this. Believe it or not the top 10 best sellers about landscape painting now includes books about landscape painting.

Examples include
  • Learn Watercolour Landscapes Quickly by Hazel Soan
  • Mixed Media Landscapes and Seascapes by Chris Forsey
However we still have:
  • Adult Coloring Book : Stress Relieving Designs Animals, Mandalas, Flowers, Paisley Patterns And So Much More: Coloring Book For Adults ranked as the top Best Seller!!! Best Sellers Landscape Painting 8th August 2020

All Amazon needs to do is have one category for Colouring Books for Adults which automatically categorises all colouring books into that category no matter how hard their authors or publishers try to place them in other categories. They can then have sub-categories within that.

I haven't even started on the Best Ratings....

Which currently has the Thomas Kinkade Special Collector's Edition 2019 Deluxe Wall Calendar rated as the best landscape painting book ever.


They managed to get a better handle on the fake reviews on Amazon - although in my opinion, quality control is slipping again. It's now time to get to grips with categories and STOP the gaming of the system.

All this is by way of explaining that when I've got Tips for Artists published the page devoted to The Best Landscape Painting Books - will ONLY contain Landscape Painting Books - and will include Traditional Classics and well as Contemporary Classics!

P.S. Guess who has just found her complete pdf file about "The Best Books about Landscape Painting!! and is busy completing a new page on Tips for Artists!