Wednesday, September 30, 2020

British Museum: Prints and Drawings - problems with accessing the Virtual Gallery

 Have you checked out the developments the British Museum has made with its digitised Virtual Gallery for its Prints and Drawings?

Their website suggests that it's all very simple to access digital versions of prints and drawings in the collection.

In reality it isn't.

  • today the problen
  • tomorrow the solution!

Albrecht Durer 'Rhinoceros' at the British Museum

American artist Kara Walker at the British Museum
- who is best known for her panoramic friezes of cut-paper silhouettes

There is this page - Prints and Drawings virtual gallery - which provides a selection of Old Masters and Modern and Contemporary Drawings


These and millions of other works are freely accessible for you to look at via our study room.
so you go to the study room link an what you then see is 

The Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings is devoted to making its collection and specialist knowledge accessible. Most of the Prints and Drawings collection has been catalogued.

You can search for information and images about objects from the collection on Collection online which has information about more than four million objects in the British Museum collection.


So you click the Collection online - and find that it is a completely DEAD LINK


So then you try Study Room instead and get another dead end

Our study room remains closed to the public until further notice. Please delay any requests for object study as we are not currently able to accommodate these. We look forward to welcoming you back when our study room reopens in 2021.
Still no access to the Digital Collection of Drawings!

Tomorrow I'll show you how to access the digital collection!

Monday, September 28, 2020

BP Next Generation 2020 – MAKE ART – goes online with 13 Videos

This is about a wonderful NEW Next Generation Resource for anybody - particularly young people - who wants to learn more about drawing and painting portraits - using different skills and media.

One of the benefits of the sponsorship of the BP Portrait Award was the scope it gave to the National Portrait Gallery to offer BP Next Generation educational activities for the next generation of portrait artists - which I was incited to check out in 2012 (see BP Portrait Award: Inspiring portraits by teenagers)

This year, no gallery and the pandemic problems means that they've had to come up with a new solution to how they can encourage young people to develop their skills and competences in relation to portrait drawing and painting.

This is a series of YouTube videos accessible for free by everyone - no matter what age you are. 

You can see an image of the MAKE ART | BP Next Generation Videos Playlist on its National Portrait Gallery YouTube Channel below.

MAKE ART | BP Next Generation Videos Playlist
- available via the National Portrait Gallery You Tube Channel

The videos are split between:

BASIC SKILLS re Portraiture and Features

  • A Warm-up Drawing Exercise
  • Looking and Analysing
  • Tips for Sketching a Basic Portrait
  • Tips for Sketching an Eye
  • Tips for Sketching a Nose
  • Tips for Sketching a Mouth
  • How to Create a Pop Art Inspired Portrait


    • A Willow Charcoal Exercise
    • Oil Pastels
    • Fine Line Pen Technique
    • Choosing a Palette
    • How to Use a Ground
    • How to Create a Limited Palette Portrait

    Saturday, September 26, 2020

    A MUST READ for all self portrait artists

    The New York Times has produced an EXCELLENT analysis of the self portrait (1500) Albrecht Durer (1471-1528).

    This is coupled with the use of digital technology to permit an up close and personal view of the painting and various of its features. I've never ever seen it before in this kind of detail, which allows you to see, for example:

    • that his eyes reflect the pattern of light coming from the window transom
    • why other artists thought he might have a special brush to paint hair and fur.

    DO READ/VIEW Seeing Our Own Reflection in the Birth of the Self-Portrait By Jason Farago Sept. 25, 2020

    from the New York Times article of the same name

    The portrait is of a 28 year old Durer, who was already famous and wealthy due to his very many wood engravings and associated prints which were sold far and wide.

    It highlights:

    • the technical proficiency of the painting
    • the evocation of religious paintings
    • the novelty of the self portrait - being a major break with tradition through the use of a full frontal self portrait - portraying one's self looking straight out at the viewer - previously only reserved for Christ.
    • the emphasis on the direct and penetrating gaze and his creative hands - as tools of the master artist 

    Technical Note:

    • The portrait is listed in various places as "Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe"
    • It is the third of his three self portrait paintings - which were not something painters did at this time (as the article notes)
    Art historians consider it the most personal, iconic and complex of his self-portraits
    • The portrait is painted in oil on lime wood panel. 
    • It measures 67.1 cm (26.4 in) high by 48.9 cm (19.2 in) wide. 
    • The inscription on the right - in very precise gold lettering - reads 
      • in (universal) Latin "Albertus Dürers Noricus / ipsum me propriis sic effin / gebam coloribus aetatis / anno XXVIII
      • or "Thus I, Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg, painted myself with indelible colors at the age of 28 years."
      • PS. Google Translate is completely useless at translating Latin! The translation comes from the article
    • He also uses his monogram - which both signifies the year it was painted (anno domini) but also the initials of his name
    • The portrait is part of the collection of the Alte Pinakothek, Munich - one of the oldest art galleries in the world.
    Below are his two earlier self portraits

    Friday, September 25, 2020

    The Best Universities for Art in the UK

    This is about the best ranked universities for art in the UK 

    Every year the Guardian produces a University Guide for those applying for degree places to start the following year. This

    • ranks universities overall 
    • provides a ranked listing for every subject - including art
    • provides a profile of how a subject is typically taught and what you should look out for

    University School of Art, Aberystwyth

    General Rankings

    Below are links to

    Rankings for Art

    Below are links to
    • The league table for Art - which identifies the overall ranking for the university as well as the ranking for Art
    • What the subject is about - a profile of what is taught, who teaches it and how it is taught. Somewhat anecdotal but it's better than nothing and gets you started if you want to find out more
    However I got the table below by putting Art into the subject filter and then pressing search - which provides a much more accessible view - complete with active URL links to each of the 230 courses available at the 72 institutions - of which these are the top 8. You need to do what I did to get the active links.

    Thursday, September 24, 2020

    No BP Portrait Award in 2021 and 2022

    An important announcement about the international art competition - the BP Portrait Award - from the National Portrait Gallery today - which will be of interest to portrait artists around the world.

    We are writing to let you know that the National Portrait Gallery will not be staging the BP Portrait Award in 2021 and 2022 while the building in St Martin's Place is closed for our Inspiring People redevelopment.

    We realise this will be disappointing to many, but having carefully considered all of the options, it is simply not possible for us to stage the competition in the way that both we and BP would wish while the Gallery is closed.

    The BP Portrait Award 2020 exhibition will open at Aberdeen Art Gallery on 10 October and we are delighted that visitors will have the opportunity to view this year's exhibition in person.

    We will continue to find new ways to work with artists and showcase the very best in contemporary portraiture through our digital channels during our closure. Please do continue to sign up for our emails and follow us on social media for the latest updates and information on how to get involved.


    iDeath by Michal Ožibko oil with acrylic background on canvas, 2200 x 1700 mm photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    BP Portrait Award 2010: Visitors Choice Award
     by Michal Ožibko
    oil with acrylic background on canvas, 2200 x 1700 mm
    photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    I'm not surprised.

    Back in June I predicted as follows......

    Extract from National Portrait Gallery not reopening - until 2023

    My guess is they will 
    • launch a new version of the Portrait award as part of the celebration of the new Gallery re-opening in 2023
    • BP will be "retired" as the patron/sponsor 
    • recruit / entice another more appropriate sponsor will be found for the exhibition. Ideally one which 
      • offends nobody in relation to environmental, cultural or ethical matters.
      • complies with the currently non-existent policy on Sustainability!!! (i.e. the ability to exist constantly) as well as any other relevant policies such as the Equality and Diversity policy
    Either that - or by then there will have had to be a radical and demonstrably evidenced commitment by BP to reducing carbon emissions.

    If for no other reason that any car being driven in London which does not meet the Ultra Low Emissions Threshold for the newly expanded ULEZ Zone (basically inside the North and South Circular - as from October 2021) will be paying £12.50 a day in 2023 - and it's very likely that sustainability will be a MUCH more high profile issue!

    The last 20 years of Portrait Award Exhibitions

    Below are links to the microsites about the BP Portrait Award Exhibitions - which are INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to find ( had to use my best detective skills!) on the NPG website. It would be easier to find most of them from my BP Portrait Award blog posts

    What the BP Portrait Award now needs is a proper accessible and digital archive of every exhibition and every entry exhibited - with particular attention to the prizewinners. 

    Plus a listing and digital images of all the artworks commissioned from all the winners of the First prize.
    PS The image is of the Visitors Choice Award in 2010 - which has always been one of the most clicked / visited BP Portrait Award images on this blog!  Those who saw it will remember it was huge - that was the era of the "big heads"

    Wednesday, September 23, 2020

    Covid-19: When life is hard - you learn to adapt

    Art in Lockdown and Beyond: 6 Months On

    Yesterday was the six month anniversary of the UK being put into lockdown - in order to protect people and reduce the expected number of deaths from Covid-19.

    Yesterday was also when 

    • Boris announced more restrictions on what we can do
    • it was a very sunny day at Kew Gardens - and I spent a very happy day on my very first visit of the year to the gardens in decent weather.

    I spotted this sign.  It struck me as absolutely spot on to where we are now 

    Think about how you can learn to adapt to a new normal.

    When Life is hard... you learn to adapt

    The Coronavirus Posts

    Today I thought I'd take a quick look at the number of blog posts that I've written in the last six months which relate to Coronavirus and Covid-19 in some way or other.

    I've just been updating my schedule on my Coronavirus / COVID-19 and Art page on my Art Business Info for Artists website - and it is in fact a LOT of posts. (listed below)


    (on Making A MarkBotanical Art and Artists and Art Business Info for Artists)

    FEBRUARY 2020: 

    MARCH 2020: 

    APRIL 2020: 

    Monday, September 21, 2020

    Review: Annual Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

    It's rather odd writing this review - because the first half of my review Annual Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters was written back in May 2020 when it looked as if there was a good chance the annual exhibition would be online only.

    Instead of which the portraits remained in the Vaults of the Mall Galleries between February and September but are now out and having an airing on the walls of the Mall Galleries.

    The Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the Mall Galleries

    Back in May I commented on:

    • bigger number of entries: the fact the number of entries to this open exhibition (very nearly 2.5k) EXCEEDED the number who applied to the BP Portrait
    • a bigger exhibition - with artwork from 82 non members exhibited alongside some of the leading portrait painters in the UK (you can read the names in that blog post)
    • 10 paintings I chose to highlight - which did not disappoint when I saw them in the Gallery yesterday.
    Plus I highlighted the names of all 82 artists who had a portrait accepted for the exhibition via the open entry.

    Below I'm going to highlight

    You can also see some of my PHOTOS of the exhibition in the album Royal Society of Portrait Painters: Annual Exhibition 2020 on my Facebook Page

    Also if you go to the Facebook Page of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters you can read about a lot of the stories behind the portraits and how they came about. 

    Paintings I liked - and other comments

    Here are some of the painting which made me linger more than most.

    Two paintings by Simon Davies grabbed my attention - partly because of the composition and partly because how they were painted but mainly because they had impact.  

    Saturday, September 19, 2020

    Haidee-Jo Summers wins first prize in the Oil Painters of America Virtual International Wet Paint Competition

    This year the Oil Painters of America's Wet Paint Competition & Convention went:
    • International - with all registered attendees* able to compete for a minimum of $20,000 in cash and merchandise awards. 
      • OPA members vied for awards in both the studio and plein air categories. 
      • International artists living outside North America competed in a separate international category.
    • Virtual - with all the awards announced online

    Oil Painters of America - Virtual International Wet Paint Competition

    These were 
    There were three divisions for entries as follows
    • Plein Air Division: open to OPA Members only. (i.e. open air) 
      • Paintings are executed outdoors as opposed to using photographs or models in a studio. 
      • Both painter and subject matter must be outdoors, and photographs may not be used. 
    • Studio Division: open to OPA Members only. 
      • Paintings are executed indoors. 
      • Both painter and subject matter must be indoors
      • photographs may not be used. 
    • Open Division: open only to non-OPA members and International artists
      • includes both plein air and studio paintings.
    Awards were announced at an online awards presentation on Thursday, September 17 at 6:30 p.m. US Central Time. 

    You can view all the entries - by division in turn.

    Award Winners of the Virtual International Wet Paint Competition

    You can read the names of the award winners on this page - scroll down to Virtual International Wet Paint Competition

    Haidee-Jo Summers The crab hut at Wells-next-the-Sea 16” x 20”
    Winner of 
    The crab hut at Wells-next-the-Sea
    by Haidee-Jo Summers

    oil, 16” x 20”

    Which is how Haidee-Jo Summers ROI RSMA came to win the First Prize in the Oil Painters of America wet paint competition, in BOTH
    • the international competition
    • the open division. 
      Such an amazing surprise to have won first prize in the Oil Painters of America wet paint competition, in the international and open division. Huge thanks to John Pototschnik and Oil Painters of America and Rosemary & Co Artists Brushes for sponsoring me to enter!
      Haidee-Jo Summers (Facebook Page)
    The prize is valued at $4,460 (Funded by International Artist Magazine) - being one full-page advertisement and $1,000 cash funded by OPA 

    Registration for non OPA members and International Entrants was $125 Non-OPA Members & International Participants and Haidee-Jo was sponsored by Rosemary & Co Artists Brushes.

    You can follow Haidee-Jo on her Facebook Page at

    More to come post Covid?

    I think opening up competitions to an international body of painters is a brilliant idea - and I applaud the OPA for having the gumption to have a go t holding both a Virtual Competition and Convention - and opening it up to international artists.

    It makes me wonder whether the 'normal' way of holding annual events and exhibitions is going to see a bit staid after all the novelty associated with trying to make things happen in a friendly but socially distant way.

    For what it's worth I'd like to see more art societies doing this - on a regular basis!

    P.S I'm already signed up to a Virtual 26th Annual Meeting and Conference via Zoom of the American Society of Botanical Artists which is taking place next month. All the benefit of the events and none of the flights or hotel bills!! :)

    PPS Apologies for those expecting my review of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition - but the big supermarket shop this morning was rather tiring - and this is NOT a short blog post!

    Thursday, September 17, 2020

    Five Videos about Commissioning a Portrait

    This is about the process of commissioning a portrait and includes five very relevant videos to all artists interested in portrait commissions.

    Today I am visiting the Mall Galleries to see the Annual Exhibition 2020 of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - which opened yesterday.

    Before I post a review of the exhibition (tomorrow) I thought I'd share with you some five recent videos about portrait commissions produced by the Mall Galleries.

    • One is about a portrait of Lord David Puttnam, the famous British film director by Hero Johnson in the current exhibition - with David Puttnam talking about the commission process and why he asked Hero to paint first him and his wife and then a portrait of him in the context of his work.
    • The next four are about the process of commissioning a portrait - in a series called "What Portrait Painters Need to Know For Commissions"
    First a practical example of how portrait painters get commissions.

    Hero Johnson paints David Puttnam's portrait - on commission

    This video is told by David Puttnam and is the story of how Hero Johnson (Facebook Page, Instagram) got this commission and reveals both the first and second commissions she has painted for David Puttnam.

    Lord David Puttnam by Hero Johnson
    Lord David Puttnam by Hero Johnson

    It just goes to show how EVERY portrait painted on commission can lead to more commissions if people see and admire the result of the first portrait.

    What Portrait Painters Need to Know For Commissions

    Annabel Elton is the lead officer responsible for the development and running of the Federation of British Artists's Fine Art Commissions Service.

    In this series of YouTube videos she explains what portrait painters need to know when working to commission.

    She's also written an article about Commissions" What artists need to know

    The Royal Society of Portrait Painters also has an article about Five Steps to Commissioning a Great Portrait - from the client's perspective

    Marketing & Promotion 

    This has some very sensible advice about the content and accessibility of the artist's website from the perspective of the potential client. The emphasis is on driving interest to your website.

    She also emphasises the importance of the press - and the local press - and the scope to provide them with both good stories and images.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    Call for Entries: Virtual ING Discerning Eye 2020

    The deadline for the call for entries for the brand new version of the ING Discerning Eye in 2020 is 1st October.

    This post highlights what is the same and what is different in 2020 and - in the absence of lots of things to say about submitting art - I've turned this call for entries into a bit of a profile of the selectors!

    since our first exhibition in 1990 - over thirteen thousand works by about four thousand artists.


    What stays the same in 2020

    The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2020 will:
    • include only works constrained by size i.e. only small works are permitted (it must be less than 20 inches (50cm) in its greatest dimension.)
    • which MUST be an original creation by the artist
    • comprise works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world
      • two artists,
      • two collectors and
      • two critics
    • each selector is solely responsible for their own selection
    • be OPEN to all artists resident in the UK
    • can submit up to six original works
    • all artwork MUST be for sale

    Plus the Call For Entries site will be via ArtOpps

    What will be different in 2020

    For the first time in its history, this year's edition of the ING Discerning Eye will be held 100% virtually, helping artists display their work online! Now more than ever, the ING Discerning Eye is committed to helping artists increase their visibility among peers and collectors and to giving creatives a platform to grow.

    • The Selection will be entirely DIGITAL
    • each selector's chosen works will comprise at least 25% from the open entry. AT LAST!  A statement about percentages! (i.e. this exhibition may have always been open entry however it was very questionable whether the open entry was funding an exhibition by selectors' luvvies. Some selectors in the past have been utterly shameless in the past about selecting work by friends or people they have taught - and I have been repeatedly very critical of the lack of transparency which for me has verged on the legally doubtful!)
    • the Exhibition will be VIRTUAL - rather than at the Mall Galleries, In this context it's following in the footsteps of the Lynn-Painter Stainers Competition - which this year has decided to go online minus prizes plus all proceeds to charities supported.
    • the virtual exhibition will be LONGER - from 19 November until 31 December 2020 - and will be available 24/7 during that period for all those interested in viewing and/or purchasing artworks.
    • All exhibiting artists will be included in a fully illustrated print catalogue - which is a first!

    The Prizes

    Prizes selected by the Prize Givers

    • ING Purchase Prize* – £5000
    • Meynell Fenton Prize* – £1000
    • Humphreys Purchase Prize* – £750
    • Parker Harris Mentoring Prize*: Parker Harris will give a one-to-one mentoring session covering all aspects of professional development to a selected artist.

    Prizes are selected by members of the Discerning Eye Educational Board

    • The Discerning Eye Founder’s Purchase Prize (In honour of Michael Reynolds) £2500
    • The Discerning Eye Chairman’s Purchase Prize – £1000
    • Discerning Eye Sculpture and 3D Work Prize – £250
    • Discerning Eye Original Print Prize – £250
    • Regional Prizes – Up to 8 prizes of £250 each awarded to an outstanding entry from the national regions

    The Selectors

    Monday, September 14, 2020

    "Hold Still" digital exhibition on NPG website

    Earlier this year, HRH Duchess of Cambridge - who has been the Patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012 - asked everybody to send images for the Hold Still Exhibition - to reflect what life was like during lockdown

    Today a digital exhibition of the 100 portrait photographs selected from the 31,598 entries have been unveiled on the National Portrait Gallery website
    the images present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope.
    Images #1-3 of the 100 selected for the digital exhibition "Hold Still"

    Hold Still: Three Core Themes

    There are three core themes to the exhibition
    • Helpers and Heroes, 
    • Your New Normal and 
    • Acts of Kindness.
    Click here to view the images individually - and do take the time to read the narratives alongside each. Sometimes they are not what they seem.

    View them all together in the video (below) released today by the National Portrait Gallery.
    The final 100 present a unique and highly personal record of this extraordinary period in our history. From virtual birthday parties, handmade rainbows and community clapping to brave NHS staff, resilient keyworkers and people dealing with illness, isolation and loss. The images convey humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope - expressing and exploring both our shared and individual experiences.

    Please note this exhibition includes text and images recording people’s recent experiences, which some visitors might find upsetting. If you have been affected by any of the issues reflected in the exhibition, and feel you need support, please click here for some suggested sources of support.

    How the exhibition came about

    The call for entries for the exhibition was launched by The Duchess of Cambridge and the Gallery back in May
    Hold Still invited people of all ages, from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait which they had taken during lockdown. The project aimed to capture and document the spirit, the mood, the hopes, the fears and the feelings of the nation as we continued to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
    More images of lockdown in 2020

    Judging Panel

    The Judges

    The Hold Still judging panel included: 
    • The Duchess of Cambridge - who is a keen photographer and is a Patron of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Photographic Society
    • Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery - who's grown a beard for the occasion!
    • Lemn Sissay MBE, writer and poet - who some will remember sat for a Portrait in the Final of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 - in the National Portrait Gallery
    • Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England and 
    • Maryam Wahid, photographer.
    The criteria used for assessment of the images by the panel focused on the emotions and experiences they convey rather than on their photographic quality or technical expertise.

    You can 

    The Exhibition

    A selection of the photographs featured in the digital exhibition will also be shown in towns and cities across the UK later in the year.

    Note: International law firm Taylor Wessing are supporting the Hold Still project in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery. They are long-term supporters of the Gallery and have sponsored the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for the past 12 years.

    Sunday, September 13, 2020

    Beyond hazardous for some artists

    Can we all spare a thought for the wellbeing of all those artists who are currently affected either by
    • either the terrible wildfires 
    • or the absolutely horrendous air quality 
    • in Oregon, Washington State and California, USA. 
    The maroon areas are where the air quality is currently either Hazardous (300-500) 
    or a new category of "Beyond Hazardous" - with readings above 500 on the index scale
    (see Eugene and Portland below)

    The most polluted cities in the world (13 September 2020)
    The most polluted cities in the world (13 September 2020)

    This is a shout out to people I know are who all live in areas that are badly affected.  
    I've got a number of friends and people I've known online for many years who live in the areas which are affected - and sometimes putting a name to people affected helps raise the profile of the severity of the current situation.

    Beyond Hazardous

    Oregon is particularly badly affected 
    Below are three artists who live in areas which have been producing air quality measurements which are beyond the Index for measuring air quality i.e. "BEYOND HAZARDOUS" areas i.e. 500 is the top end of Hazardous 

    Carol Marine (Carol Marine Daily Paintings) lives in Eugene Oregon with her husband David - who created the Daily Paintworks website and their son.  [UPDATE: Despite the fact her blog still saying she lives in Eugene, it's been pointed out that her Facebook Account now says she lives in Missoula, Montana - and I gather this happened relatively recently]
    • The awful irony is that Carol and her husband, David and son all moved to Oregon after being completely burned out in Texas in a matter of minutes 
    • (and as a result now feature on my Insurance for Artists page on my Art Business Info for Artists website - among the examples of artists who have lost everything to natural hazards - and how you can start again if you are insured.) 
    • Eugene Oregon is suffering absolutely horrendous air quality as a result of the Holiday Farm Fire just to the east of Eugene.

    Eugene, Oregon is "Beyond Hazardous" i.e. beyond the scale measured by the Air Quality Index
    Source: AirNow

    The EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) measures five types of air pollution on a scale of one to 500. “Healthy” air gets a rating between 0 and 50. Things start getting dangerous in the mid-100s, especially for sensitive groups like those with a heart or lung condition. And an AQI reading of 301 or greater is considered “hazardous,” causing the EPA to declare “emergency conditions” for those who are exposed for 24 hours or more.

    On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, the area around Eugene, Oregon, clocked AQI values well into the 700 range on the real-time air-quality monitoring site PurpleAir, greatly exceeding the scale’s maximum value of 500.

    (By way of contrast I live in East London where the air quality currently measures less than 20 on the air quality map).

    Janene Walkky lives in Portland, Oregon and  Nicole Caulfield lives just over the river from Portland in Camas, Washington - where Janene is a garden designer and botanical artist and Nicole teaches art to schoolkids and sells her art via a regular stall at the weekend market in Portland. 

    For those doubting climate change - and the impact it can have
    Nine of the world's 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, and the UN warned this week that the five years from 2016 until this year will very likely be the hottest such period yet recorded. 
    Oregon wildfires: Half a million people flee dozens of infernos


    VERY Unhealthy in Washington State

    More than 600,000 acres have burned in Washington State.

    Botanical artists Jean Emmons (Vashon island) and Deborah Montgomerie (Whidbey Island) both live further north on islands near Seattle in Washington State - which is some distance from the fires and yet their area is currently rated as distinctly unhealthy - although ratings are only about a third of some of the areas in Oregon.

    Air quality in Washington State from Seattle Times

    An extremely smoky Northern California

    Artists Jana Bouc and Ed Terpening both live in the San Francisco area where conditions got very much worse on Friday and the air quality ratings became much worse - see San Francisco Bay Area choked by toxic smoke-filled airTwo days later it's currently rated as unhealthy.

    I'm hoping everybody is staying indoors - with all air gaps taped up - and that they're double and triple masking if going outdoors.

    I know there's a lot more - and I'm thinking of you all.........

    You can track air quality for specific areas via 
    PS Please don't go out if you can avoid it without reading this article first re the after effects of exposure to toxic air Australian wildfires will claim victims even after they’re out - Harvard scientist suggests long-term exposure to smoke-filled air could lead to premature deaths.

    Friday, September 11, 2020

    Painters' Art Sale - an online exhibition by the Painters' Company Charities

    The Painters Art Sale is a NEW Online Exhibition by the Painters' Company Charities - the charitable arm of The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers.

    Overview of Painters Art Sale (Online)

    View of the website - which hurts my eyes.

    • All sales proceeds support the artist and the arts educational programme at Painters' Company Charities
    • All works in the online exhibition are priced at £300 or less.  
    The price you pay for a single work is the same price that applies to every other work in the Painters’ Art Sale, which is £300. We are a separately registered subsidiary charity of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and we are not registered at this time for VAT. As a result, there is no VAT in the price you pay and no VAT invoice will be raised.

    • there are four categories:
      • New Abstract (24 items)
      • The Figure (61 items)
      • Contemporary Views (80 items)
      • Other Themes (56 items)
    • The online exhibition opened on 7 September 2020 and lasts until to 31 December 2020.
    • you can still enter works. I'm assuming this means artwork is removed as it is sold and new works are added as they are accepted into the exhibition. 
    Below I comment on the four categories and the entry process and highlight a few of the images in the exhibition.

    There is some good artwork in the exhibition - but you do have to wade through quite a lot of mediocre art and some is just plain bad.  Obviously I highlight the artwork I like or think is effective as opposed to that which I think fails to 'make a mark'!

    Categories of Works in the Exhibition

    Note that you can sort each category according to the surname of the artist (A to Z and Z to A), by price - except they are all the same i.e. £300 - and by which are the newest.

    Interestingly I found some of the artwork listed elsewhere online for bigger sums!

    Issue re how work is exhibited online

    The main problem with the way the artwork is exhibited is there is no horizontal slideshow with an arrow command on the right - so you can click or swipe quickly through the dross to get to the ones worth lingering over.

    The problem of a website format with precisely the same predetermined box for every artwork is that none of them look good. Plus you have to click each one to see it properly. After you've done this a few times you move on to the next thing you had planned for your day and leave the site.

    Here's an example - Westminster Abbey by Chris Francis - an accomplished painting using mixed media - with a slice out of its middle for the online gallery of all contemporary views

    Wednesday, September 09, 2020

    Hardship lies ahead #1: Checklist for Artists

    This post provides some CHECKLISTS FOR ARTISTS 
    • thinking about the future and 
    • wanting to get to grips with the basics of surviving as an artist AND an art business within the context of both Covid AND the Recession.
    i.e. Neither the Coronavirus Pandemic nor the Recession are going away completely in a hurry - so it's time to tease out and get to grips with some of the practical implications for the medium and longer term.

    For what it's worth I reckon it will be at least two years before we get back to normal.  Possibly three.

    In the meantime people have some difficult decisions to make.

    "Hardship lies ahead" is the new slogan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer - and he's absolutely spot on.
    • Not all businesses will reopen
    • Not everybody will have a job in the businesses that do
    • Not everybody is going to enjoy the income level going forward that they have had in the past
    • LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FEEL VERY UNCERTAIN - and lack of confidence depresses spending on art.
    PLUS at some point, we'll all have to pay for the enormous bailouts which have been going on around the world - which may well mean tax increases in the longer term.

    This post is about translating that context into the PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS for artists and selling art generally and providing CHECKLISTS for
    • artists - this post
    • future posts re.
      • art societies 
      • art exhibitions 
      • art galleries
      • art teachers

    A preamble

    I last wrote on this topic in The Pandemic Recession: Likely Impact on Art Sales and Artists

    HOWEVER I gathered afterwards that quite a few people felt I was probably being too negative and miserable - and that "everything will be back to normal soon".

    I wonder if others might also now feel it wise to revise that view?
    The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression. There is a real danger that the crisis will increase poverty and widen inequalities, with the impact felt for years to come. OECD
    Now that
    • business closures and job losses are now being announced on a very regular basis as we begin to come out of the furlough period (i.e. closure of 8 branches of John Lewis is NOT normal! Nor is M&S reducing staff by 950 jobs.)
    • businesses are talking about it taking years to get back to normal AND
    • we're seeing some very fierce covid-19 spikes (i.e. second wave) around the world (notably in the USA) as people "got back to normal" much too fast and without taking appropriate precautions 
    • PLUS as of today we're got local lockdowns in the UK and we're back to no more than 6 people meeting together I think it's time to get serious.
    I'm really NOT being negative.

    I'm essentially a really pragmatic person who likes to know the parameters of a problem - including the nasty bits!

    I'm also a great believer in planning for what's coming.  Probably because I'm "cursed" by a very marked talent for being able to predict what's coming over the horizon - and a very good track record of being right. It has proved to be useful in a career (sometimes) - but there's always been a tendency to want to "shoot the messenger!" when people really don't like the message - so I wasn't surprised at all by the reaction to the last post.

    I'm going to be like Chris Whitty and Dr Fauci and just keep saying what needs saying until people get it!! :)


    Just for a moment consider the following scenario - and how realistic it might be.
    • Your art galleries close down - and your art gets stuck inside
    • Your sales incomes dries up or reduces significantly - because fewer people are buying - because of lack of confidence in knowing how long the pandemic / recession will last
    • Your regular Bread and Butter job which pays basic bills disappears - it's happening to a lot of people even if they are working for FTSE 100 employers!
    • Your online platform suddenly shuts down - don't forget it's not just bricks and mortar businesses which shut down. Small entities are the ones which shut down in the last recession. Consequently all my blogs and websites are with very big hosts for a reason.
    • Your partner loses their job - it happens.
    • You will be living on a much reduced income - do you know how much you need to keep a roof over your head - and or how long you can last on just savings?
    • BUT you haven't got a clue about....
      • what you do that makes money or maximises your income and 
      • which activity/activities is/are basically a self indulgent money pit
    Bear in mind a lot of people have had to face this already.

    So now is the time when spending some time on working this out is a really good investment. 

    Otherwise life may very well come and bite you on the backside when you're not looking!


    Now is a really good time to work out the ABSOLUTE BASICS

    • which income streams maximise profit for time and effort expended and 
    • which represent a really poor return after you take every aspect into account.