Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Review: Episode 1 of Portrait Artist of the Year Series 7 (Autumn 2020)

Series 7 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year (Autumn 2020) started two weeks ago - but for various reasons - not least that these are not fast posts to review, construct and write - I've not had time until now to write my review. 

I apologise for not saying anything. I did eventually realize that there were lots of people who were pulling up my reviews of the first two episodes of the last series because it had 2020 tacked on the end of the title.

Of course in 2020 we're having Portrait Artist of the Year x 2! 
  • One filmed in 2019 which was broadcast between January and March 2020.
  • One filmed at some point in the spring/summer of 2020 which is being broadcast now. This one is called SERIES 7.
  • today is my review of Episode 1 OF Series 7.
  • tomorrow is Episode 2 - EXCEPT I've got to go and have scan at the hospital and 
  • Thursday will be Episode 3 - and then I'll be all caught up - EXCEPT that I've FINALLY got an outpatient appointment on Thursday to see a doctor at the hospital about my very dodgy ankle with the floating broken bone shards.
So that's the plan and I'm hoping to keep to it!

Series 7

I did wonder for a very long time whether they'd go ahead with Series 7 - because filming was due to happen during lockdown and I couldn't work out 
  • how artists would get to the Battersea Arts Centre or 
  • how they would manage given the extremely large number of people in the crew - never mind anybody else who is participating.
I'd love to hear from the artists whether they stuck to the original planned dates for filming - and what the experience was like.

(I found the answer while doing the artists's bios - they filmed in July - so NOT in lockdown!)

The interior of Battersea Arts Centre

What's very different this year is that obviously:
  • there was no audience
  • there was no Dame Joan Bakewell - who switched to hosting Portrait Artist of the Week instead!
  • everything happened at a suitable social distance
  • come the broadcast, everybody in the UK could view the programme because it had transferred to Freeview and hence was available to anybody with a digital TV.
I did wonder whether they had to change their plans for any of the sitters - in terms of whether people could be available or not. 

I also wonder what it would have been like if they'd filmed it now - with either people unable to travel and everybody else required to wear a mask in an indoor location with people outside your social bubble.

About Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year - Series 7 (Autumn 2020)

The Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition ranks alongside the other prestigious UK Art Competitions covered by this blog.

It has been running for some years and this is the seventh series

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Royal Ulster Academy sets new standard for Online Annual Exhibitions

The Royal Ulster Academy's website has set a NEW standard for the online annual exhibition.

Virtual Arts Media are providing the virtual exhibition - as they did last year when they created a digital twin of the actual exhibition - with digital images of artwork positioned in precisely the same space of the virtual copy of the gallery. They explain what they do in What is a Virtual Exhibition and show the actual exhibition and digital twin side by side

For me it's 
  • a much more convincing replica of an art exhibition and 
  • seems to be much easier to navigate than some of the others I have seen. 
  • if you click on an artwork while navigating around, it provides a new window with
    • details about the artwork, 
    • who created it
    • the sale price
    • how to buy it
For example, it also provides a:
  • list of artists by surname - you click the name and it takes you straight to the artwork (very speedily!). I'd be consulting this in the real exhibition if I knew the artists!!
  • an exhibition map - click on the room and it takes you straight to the room so that you can start viewing the work
It takes a little getting used to but if you're patient and work how it works it's a very rewarding experience

139th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Ulster Academy

Founded in 1879, the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (RUA) is the largest and longest established body of practising visual artists in Northern Ireland. One of its founding principles is to organise, promote or join in organising and promoting in any fashion an Annual Exhibition of work by both members and non–members.
For information: This was the Call for Entries for this exhibition and submissions of work completed in the last two years were invited from visual artists aged 18+ working in any medium. 

For those who find navigating technology rather difficult here are some shortcuts to seeing the art.
Click the view/Buy menu option. This takes you to the categories of artwork

There are 263 artworks in total of which there are:
  • 159 Paintings
  • 29 Sculptures
  • 20 Fine Art Prints
  • 17 Drawings
  • 7 ceramic and glass pieces
  • 5 digital artworks
  • 4 textiles
I have to say my overall impression is I am impressed by the quality of the artwork in the exhibition.

Ones which stood out for me included the following (and yes I can spot a plant painting at 50 feet!)
  • Mater Natura by Jennifer Trouton - which superimposed plants on the body part they help. The series of nine watercolours were made whilst on an artist residency at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University , Suzhou, China and awarded the Watercolour prize at this Year’s Royal Ulster Academy exhibition at the Ulster museum. 
  • but where are you REALLY from? by Lynn Kennedy - tackling an issue which maybe passes people by in a land where your origins are so often rooted in religion. Her social commentary includes an impressive painting in the National Gallery of Ireland
  • Pulveli by Anushiya Sundaralingam - an interesting monochome paintings of a tangle of plants. The artist is originally from Sri Lamka but now lives and works in Belfast. 
  • September Dundrum Bay by Hamish Moyle - a large landscape painting of rural Northern Ireland. A bit of a "feel good" painting for many I suspect.  He seems to have a pretty solid track record of selling paintings of wild flowers in their habitat despite his anti-social website with no proper navigation menu!
  • Tea in the time of Coronavirus by Amanda Croft (although a tad overpriced) - which featured in the Belfast Telegraph!
  • Fishing Nets by Helen Kerr - which is a batik and stitch textile artwork
Interestingly one of the paintings in the exhibition seems to have been generated by the Sky Portrait Artist of the Week session with Akram Khan - see Akram Khan, dancer and choreographer. by Laura Cronin and see what you think!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

ING Discerning Eye 2020: Selected Artists

The list of artists selected for the online ING Discerning Eye 2020 Exhibition have been produced in the most anti-analytical form possible!

Hence many hours and much effort was employed in producing this listing of artists who have had artwork selected for the exhibition in order of 
  • number of artworks selected
  • alphabetically by surname
There is no indication of which selector chose what - which is a pity.

I'm listing the names below in the order of the number of works selected - but am not including the titles of work selected. If you want to view the full listing see ING Discerning Eye 2020 - Selected Artists
If you'd like an image of your selected artwork included in this post   please get in touch (that's a pic not a live link under my mugshot) or message me via my Making A Mark Facebook Page

You can see what people had to enter in my Call for Entries: Virtual ING Discerning Eye 2020 post

The Virtual Exhibition will be online 24/7 from 19 November until 31 December 2020.

I haven't yet counted but I just know from sorting and typing the names that there are WAY MORE artists and artworks selected this year. Must have the fact that being online means there's no limits to how many you can have. (I wager somebody may think differently after they have all been uploaded to the exhibition site!!)

I've picked out some of the people I know below - and linked to their websites - and invited some of those whose artwork I spotted on Twitter and Facebook to send me images for this post.  If I missed your name do let me know in the usual way.

Six artworks selected

  • Rae Birch Carter - I'm bemused by this one. Her theme for the six works selected is "Performing in a Pandemic" - which all appear to be images on Zoom.  No website and one mention on Instagram which goes as follows. 
Maker Rae Birch-Carter worked as a costume designer for film and period dramas before starting Agnes Hart, her Etsy shop. Now her bridal accessories take center stage.

Five artworks selected

Four artworks selected

It appears that those who have four artworks selected have a very clear theme to their works including using art as social commentary
  • Brian Adams 
  • Victoria Atkinson - trained as a sculptor at the City and Guilds of London Art SchooHer group exhibitions have included: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; Society of Portrait Sculptors FACE; Affordable Art Fair, Battersea; Royal Society of British Artists, Mall Galleries; The Towner, Eastbourne; Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. I've seen her work before in exhibitions - and you always notice it.

Four sculptures by Vicki Atkinson

Three artworks selected

  • Roger Adams
  • Sarah Adams
  • Ruth Addinall
  • Jonathan Alibone
  • Louise Anscomb
  • Margaret Ashman
  • Roger Aslin
  • David Aston
  • Lilias August RI
  • Sarah Bale
  • Christine Bangert
  • Deborah Batt
  • Harry Bell
  • John Bell
  • Sean Bennett
  • Jemima Brown
  • Lorraine Brown
  • Chris Bruce 
  • Clive Bryant
  • Trevor Burgess
  • Clare Burnett
  • Corinna Button
  • G Calvert
  • Kathryn Campbell
  • Simon Chalmers
  • Felix Chesher
  • Wayne Clements
  • Julie Cross - a multi-award winning artist living in Yorkshire. She is a figurative, expressionist painter who mostly uses female figures and faces. Her work is usually highly textured, often incorporating layers of cold wax and oil paint.
Oil and Cold Wax on Wood Panel 30cm x 30cm

  • James Dearlove
  • Sally Doyle
  • Jill Eisele
  • Nicholas Gentilli
  • Imogen Hawgood
  • Beverley Healy
  • Michelle Heron - an urban landscape painter from Norfolk whose artwork has been praised by Kathleen Soriano
by Michele Heron

  • Anna Mazzotta  
  • Elizabeth Meek MBEPast President of the Society of Women Artists and the Royal Society of Miniature Painters
  • Andrew McNeile Jones - graduated from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art, with a first in Fine Art, in the 1980’s and worked in the film industry for many years where he won a number of awards. He now lives and works in Oxfordshire and focuses on his art and exhibitions. His website is very interesting because he hs grouped his paintings into years which allow you to follow the path of his thinking behind how he approaches painting.
Neon by Andrew McNeile Jones

  • Liz Middleton
  • Elizabeth Nast
  • Clare Palmer
  • Sumi Perera
  • Philippa Robbins
  • Karin Schösser (I think the listing is spelt incorrectly i.e. Karin Sch√∂sser)
  • Latifa A Stranack
  • Tracy Ann Williams

    Two artworks selected

    Friday, October 23, 2020

    The Continuing Saga of Sackler Embarrassment for Art Galleries and Museums

    Remember the protests against the Sackler Family relating to the Opioid Crisis around about a year ago? Many were led by Nan Goldin -- and included a die-in at the V&A and a threat to NOT exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery if they accepted a £1million gift from the Sackler Family

    There are news reports that Purdue Pharma is to close and be reinvented as a new "public benefit company" controlled by a trust or similar entity.
    Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation's opioid crisis and will pay more than $8 billion and close down the company.
    Pat on the back for Nan Goldin and other protestors I think....

    References on my Facebook Page to the Opioid / Sackler scandal went as follows:
    More protests at sponsors of the arts with a shady past (and present?) . This time Nan Goldin has arrived to protest the Sackler Courtyard at the V&A (re. Opioid scandal and deaths in the US + associated court cases against Sackler)
    Extremely odd interview of Nan Goldin on Channel 4
    Channel 4 Interviewer "but where are they going to get the funds from?"
    Nan Goldin "they don't need more architecture"
    Channel 4 Interviewer "but where are they going to get the funds from?"
    Nan Goldin "they don't need more architecture"
    + about 2-3 times more at which point I despaired of the Channel 4 ever employing people who listen to the answer.
    Artist Nan Goldin leads die-in at V&A over use of Sackler name
    I predicted earlier this week that Nan Goldin would "hit" the art sponsorship connections in London - and guess what....

    "The National Portrait Gallery will be forced to turn down a gift of £1m from members of the multibillionaire Sackler family if it goes ahead with a prestigious new exhibition of the work of US artist Nan Goldin."
    Nan Goldin threatens London gallery boycott over £1m gift from Sackler fund

    Some of you may recall that there was a lot of removal of the Sackler name from very many buildings, art galleries

    The Sackler Name

    My understanding is that some Sackler names are associated with the potential for criminal charges and others are not - or less so. 

    For example, the Elizabeth A. Sackler - whose name is on the Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museumhas distanced her branch of the family from her uncles and cousins and called their OxyContin wealth ‘morally abhorrent’.

    It's quite difficult to find an analysis of this.....  It's also not helpful by lazy journalists referring to funders as "The Sackler Family" - without identifying which of the five trusts is responsible
    The deal does not release any of the company’s executives or owners – members of the wealthy Sackler family – from criminal liability. A criminal investigation is ongoing. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead guilty to three criminal charges
    accuses Sackler family members of knowingly breaking laws in order to enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars, while hundreds of thousands of Americans died.
    While the guilty plea was welcomed, there was also anger over the US justice department’s failure to prosecute executives
    AND SO....
    • which are the Sackler names now in the frame for potential criminal liability? (see above)
    • when is the Sackler name to be removed from all endowed gifts funded by Oxycontin abuse?
    • Or are the organisations going to wait until actual criminal liability is established? (as opposed to the company accepting responsibility and closing down?)

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    "Hold Still" moves offline and onto billboards around the UK

    Back in September I wrote about the "Hold Still" digital exhibition on NPG website. Since then the digital exhibition has had over 4.8 million page views to date.

    Hold Still is an ambitious community project, launched in May 2020, to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown.

    Today the National Portrait Gallery announced that a Community Exhibition can now be seen on billboards around the country. 

    From today, the final selection of portraits, unveiled in a digital exhibition in September, will be:

    • exhibited for a period of four weeks on billboard and poster sites across the country, including at bus stops, in high streets and outside train stations. 
    • Groups of works will be shown on posters in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London. 

    • Many of the portraits will also be displayed individually in the entrant’s hometown with locations ranging from Belfast, Liverpool and Southampton to more rural areas such as Blaenau Ffestiniog (Gwynedd), Delabole (Cornwall), Marston Moretaine (Bedfordshire), Knypersle (Staffordshire Moorlands) Oban (Argyll) and Thorpe Audlin (West Yorkshire). 
    • Some of the portraits will also feature on community screens in over 1,500 Co-op stores across the UK.
    • One of the portraits ‘Melanie, March 2020’, taken by Johannah Churchill, has been recreated as a hand-painted mural in Manchester city centre.
    All one hundred works will also be on display at Hold Still Exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from 23 October until the 6 December 2020.

    The exhibition has been led by the Duchess of Cambridge as Patron of the National Portrait Gallery. Today The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Waterloo in south London to mark the launch of the UK-wide Hold Still community exhibition and viewed the final one hundred Hold Still portraits displayed on billboards outside Waterloo station, one of 112 community exhibition sites in 80 towns, cities and areas across the UK. 

    The Hold Still community exhibition sites are in the following towns, cities and areas across the UK. Some locations have more than one community exhibition site.
    • A - Aberystwyth, Arundel, Alrewas (National Memorial Arboretum), Ashford (Kent), 
    • B - Baldock, Balham, Belfast, Bethnal Green, Bingley, Birmingham, Bishop's Stortford, Bootle, Borehamwood, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bredbury Romiley, Brighton, Bristol,  Brockley, Burgess Hill, Burnt Oak
    • C - Cambridge, Cardiff, Carshalton, Cheltenham, Cockenzie And Port Seton, Croydon, Cumnock
    • D - Dulwich
    • E - Eaglescliffe, East Ham, Eastbourne, Edgware, Edinburgh
    • F - Fareham, Finsbury Park, Folkestone, Forest Hill
    • G - Gidea Park, Glasgow South, Gosport, Gravesend
    • H - Harringay, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin, Hyde
    • K - Kensington
    • L - Lancing, Lewes, Litherland, Liverpool
    • M - Manchester, Marylebone, 
    • N - Norwood, Notting Hill
    • O - Oxford
    • P - Peterborough Rural, Poole, Preston, Purley, Putney
    • R - Ramsgate, Reading, Roehampton, Rotherham
    • S - Sale, Southampton, Southfields, St Ives, Stenhousemuir, Stoke On Trent, Sutton
    • T - Teddington, Tottenham, 
    • W - Walthamstow, Wanstead, Waterloo, Westminster (National Portrait Gallery), Wimbledon, Wokingham

    About the Exhibition

    Hold Still invited people of all ages from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait, which they had taken during lockdown, in a six-week period during May and June. A panel of judges, including the Duchess of Cambridge and National Portrait Gallery Director, Nicholas Cullinan, selected the final 100 portraits from 31,598 submissions.

    Focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness – the images selected 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.

    The exhibition is supported by the Co-op, which launched ‘Co-operate’ in April to help connect vulnerable people to local and national support initiatives and has recently provided emergency relief funding to 4,500 community causes. 

    Monday, October 19, 2020

    Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year (Series 7)

    The Call for Entries for Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year (Series 7) has opened.  The deadline for entries is currently NOON on 30th April 2021 - although this deadline has sometimes been extended in the past.

    Below I provide

    • my overview of  the call for entries - plus tips
    • links to my reviews of past episodes - which also contain quite a few tips
    Landscape artist of the year
    The order below is
    • Key Features of the competition
    • So you want to paint landscapes on television?
    • Who can enter
    • Eligible Landscape paintings - for submission
    • Your digital entry (and what will disqualify you)
    • What are the Judges looking for?
    • My Reviews of Previous Heats in 2018 and 2019
    To receive information on filming dates and locations and updates about the series, you can:

    Key features of the competition

    • Filming the heats of Landscape Artist of the Year is planned to take place around the UK 
      • during June & July 2021 (subject to government guidelines).at sic diprobably at three locations - which offer two alternative venues (i.e. they only do three long-haul journeys - and this summer they only moved around London!)
    • The programme will (probably) be broadcast in early 2022.
    • The winner is awarded 
      • a £10,000 commission from a national organisation to paint a particular place. You should think of it more like a job with a reasonable fee of £10,000 than a straight prize per se. (see my note about the taxation of prizes for professional and amateur artists at the end)
      • PLUS a £500 cash prize from Cass Arts for art materials
    • These are the Terms and Conditions of the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2020 (serie 6) competition. (There are none for this specific competition i.e. Series 7 as yet) 
      • Be sure to read them thoroughly.
    • The deadline for submission of your digital entry is NOON on 30th April 2021 - and entries are now being accepted online.
    NOTE: Series 6 - which should have been broadcast by Sky Arts round about now - has been replaced by Portrait Artist of the Year. Effectively the two competitions have swopped places - and series 6 will be broadcast early in 2021.

    So you want to paint landscapes on television?

    You never ever know what you're going to be asked to paint/draw/print

    My view is that the television producers aim to get a good mix and diversity of artists in terms of background, media used, ethnicity etc. 

    If I'm right this makes the people painting more relatable to the viewing public.

    Saturday, October 17, 2020

    'Portrait Artist of the Week' returns every Sunday

    A reminder that Portrait Artist of the Week returns tomorrow - and every Sunday until 13th December 2020 - basically for the duration of Series 7 of Portrait Artist of the Week.

    Portrait Artist of the Week

    If it's anything like it was in May this year - when it became extremely popular - the show will work as follows

    10 Key Facts

    1. This live streaming event is accessible by EVERYBODY! 
      • It doesn't matter where you live and/or whether you are in lockdown 
      • because it's accessible via Facebook Live Streaming 
      • which means you can watch and join in no matter which country you live in.
    2. Find the Live Stream on Sunday on this link https://www.facebook.com/skytv/live
    3. The painter will vary every week but is generally somebody who has done well in the Portrait Artist of the Year series
    4. The Live Stream starts at 10am and finishes at 2pm (UK time) every Sunday - between 18th October – 13th December 2020. In theory 4 hours but less in reality. 
      • If you want to check what time it is for you elsewhere in the world use the website below to check what time this is in another time zone. 
      • https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
      • You can however watch the live stream as a video after the event as well - it's just not interactive.
    5. To join the conversation, ask the judges questions or give feedback 
      • comment on the facebook live feed 
      • or use #PAOTW
    6. To show Sky Arts and the Judges your work use #myPAOTW
    7. If you want to join in post your artwork on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #myPAOTW.
    8. The deadline for entries is 2pm on the following Friday
    9. Check the terms and conditions before posting. You may be fine with them - or you may not like them - but you won't know if you don't read them!
    10. The Judges will then choose which artists work they like the best in the show in the following week.
    Always wanted to paint a live celebrity sitter like our participants on Portrait Artist of the Year? This is your chance! Every Sunday join thousands of fellow artists around the world for a day of creating. Each week a different celebrity sitter will be beamed live straight into your home along with one of our amazing PAOTY artists who will be painting along.

    Below is a repeat of the tips I suggested after watching the very first live stream. 

    Compilation of viewer images of Bernardine Evaristo
    author of Girl, Woman, Other which won the Booker Prize in 2019

    Tips for Portrait Artist of the Week

    Here are my TIPS
    • Have all your kit set up and ready to go before 10am.  That way you can actually listen to Joan explaining how it's all going to work rather than scurrying round finding what you need! ;)
    • Take a screendump - or several - of the sitter near the beginning. If you lose the view of the sitter you can then keep going from your screendump.  What I did was:
      • have the Live Stream running full screen on my 27" iMac screen
      • photographed the screen with my iPhone and then had the screen dump pic sitting in front of me on my iPhone. Or you could use a tablet to do the same thing. Basically two screens work better than one.
      • the reason for this is that the programme makers, sitter or artist may encounter technical difficulties or the programme will divert to showing us other things while both artist and sitter enjoy a break.
    • You DO NOT have to 
      • paint - you can also draw in any media - and lots of people did. Take a cue from the Artist of the Year programmes - if it's a medium which can produce a 2D artwork then you can use it. 
      • keep going for the whole four hours. If you finish sooner then call it done. I finished at 1pm last week after finishing earlier and then walking away to make a cup of tea before coming back and doing some final tweaks. 
      • submit your artwork if you don't want to - either on the day or later in the week. It's entirely up to you what you do in terms of submitting your work
    • To take a photo to post: Make sure you get your artwork in good natural light and parallel to your lens before you take a photograph
    • You MUST use the hashtag and submit as stipulated in the programme and on the Facebook Page if you want your artwork to be viewed by the Judges

    You might also want to have a read of the blog posts I wrote arising out of Portrait Artist of the Week earlier this year.

    Thursday, October 15, 2020

    I'm at an Art Society Virtual Conference!

    In this post, I ask why more national art societies do not have virtual online conferences which allow participation by professional and aspiring artists from all over the world.

    Reinventing the ASBA Annual Conference as a Virtual Online Event

    Last year, I travelled to the USA to give a lecture at the Annual Conference of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA)

    ASBA have a four day Conference every year. Botanical artist members arrive at the city and venue from all over the USA. They also fly in from countries all around the world.  Last year in Pittsburgh, besides my fellow members from the UK, we had members from (I think) Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands and Turkey (and I think probably one or two more I've forgotten!)

    This year the original planned Conference in Mobile Alabama was cancelled because of the Pandemic. 

    So ASBA reinvented it as a Virtual Conference! Which I wrote about on my botanical art blog Are you going to be ONLINE in October and attending ASBA's 26th Annual Conference?

    I hasten to add this Virtual Conference is wholly organised by WOMEN!  As women the world over know, women have a distinct tendency to "get on and do" when challenged by adversity. ;) (Now there's a metaphorical gauntlet thrown down! :)

    So for the next four days - as part of a global audience of botanical artists - I'm going to be attending a programme of events which mainly comprise one hour Master Demonstrations - in real time - by leading botanical artists from various countries on a variety of topics.  Six demos a day!!

    Here's the schedule at a glance - with timings based on Eastern Standard Time.

    So my schedule is working like this:

    • Last night I watched the Welcome event - which included a virtual botanical art exhibition of small works
    • for the next four days I'll be attending Masterclass Demonstrations by leading botanical artists 
      • six one hour sessions every day on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (just 3)
      • which are being held in the morning and afternoon (or for me - 5 hours behind - between 3-6pm and 7-10pm).  
      • These are being held as webinars i.e. we can see the demonstrator and what they are doing but they can't see us.
    • These will be followed by public program events in the early evening (or for me between 1pm - 2am) - which I might start but am unlikely to finish!)
    • I won't be making the virtual social interaction sessions later on which will be the middle of the night for me!
    You can see more details about the sessions here.  If you click the name of the session, you can see what each session does - and some include a list of materials to be used in the session.

    One bonus is that some sessions will be recorded - and available to review for up to 24 hours. (I'd have preferred it if they'd made it 48 hours - because life still goes on)

    To accommodate our international members, most sessions will be recorded & available to registered attendees for viewing for a limited time upon the conclusion of each block of programming.
    Below is a map (six days ago) of the people who have registered to attend sessions - and where people will be when they attend the Conference as as you can see although it's dominated by Americans, there are people attending from the UK and Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and South America

    Map of where people attending the Conference live - and will be during the Conference!

    Why don't more Art Societies have Online Conferences?

    I'm genuinely puzzled as to why more national art societies - in different countries:

    • don't do annual conferences
    • haven't taken the opportunity offered by the Pandemic to create online virtual events which 
      • help to connect their members with other artists around the world
      • generate cash for the wider activities of the art society
    Are conferences just "an American thing"? 
    Do people think they'd never get the numbers to make it worthwhile?

    I have news for such societies. 

    • With absolutely no hotel bills and transport costs to fund, it's much more likely that people will attend such events - and pay for the privilege. Particularly as all those who are more vulnerable will feel super safe staying at home.
    Save $3,000+ No travel, airfare, meals, or hotel!
    strapline marketing Realisim Live
    • Moreover - as a number of botanical art teachers have found - the scope of the technology means that 
      • sessions can be conducted as webinars and 
      • many more can view workshop sessions 
      • AND have a really good view of what the artist is doing!
    • plus the American Art Editor and Publisher Eric Rhoads of Streamline Publishing (Plein Air Magazine & Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine) has been very quick off the mark and doing pretty well organising two online conferences
      • Plein Air Live - in July - which had a Private Facebook Group
      • Realism Live - in 21-24th October - with a few days left to register!
      • it's where a lot of the sponsorship money is going - which is worth thinking about the next time an art society tries to drum up sponsorship
    So how about it?  Is now absolutely the right time for more art societies to get to grips with technology and start finding partners and sponsors and organising online virtual events and conferences? 

    Wednesday, October 14, 2020

    Exhibition on Screen - on television - in 2021

    For many of us, there's going to be an innovation in how we see art exhibitions during the Pandemic 

    My copy of the Sky Arts Press Pack for programmes planned for broadcast over the autumn and winter tells me that many people new to Sky Arts 'free to view' broadcasting will now be able to see films about art exhibitions in a different way - via our television.

    Sky Arts are continuing their collaboration with Exhibition on Screen to bring a selection of exhibitions to the new 'free to view' Sky Arts Channel.

    A cinematic immersion into the world’s best loved art, accompanied by insights from the world’s leading historians and arts critics. 

    Upcoming premieres in early 2021 include the following although no dates are yet available. 

    • Lucian Freud: A Self Portrait
    • Frida Kahlo
    • Leonardo: The Works

    They will be free to view when broadcast on Sky Arts but only subscribers to Sky and Now TV will be able to watch them on demand.

    Lucian Freud: A Self Portrait

    Lucian Freud: A Self Portrait has a running time of 86 minutes
    For the first time in history the Royal Academy of Arts in London, in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is bringing together Lucian Freud’s self-portraits.

    The exhibition will display more than 50 paintings, prints and drawings in which this modern master of British art turned his unflinching eye firmly on himself. One of the most celebrated painters of our time, Lucian Freud is also one of very few 20th-century artists who portrayed themselves with such consistency.

    Spanning nearly seven decades his self-portraits give a fascinating insight into both his psyche and his development as a painter, from his earliest portrait painted in 1939 to the final one executed 64 years later.

    This was the the Guardian review of the exhibition in 2019-2020 at the Royal Academy of Arts.

    Frida Kahlo 

    Frida Kahlo has a running time of 90 minutes.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    Pastel Society 122nd Annual Exhibition 2021 - Call for Entries

    If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media you can submit your artwork to the Pastel Society's Annual Exhibition next year.

    • The 122nd Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society will be held between Wednesday 27th January - Saturday 13th February 2021 at the Mall Galleries.
    • The Call for Entries has been published and is summarised below.
    • The DEADLINE for entries - for a digital image, application form and fee - is 12 noon Friday 4th December.
    The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary dry media, combining traditional skills with creative originality for their Annual Exhibition.
    Below you can find my version of the Call for Entries - with additional comments which those who have not entered before may find useful.

    Some of those who have entered before and been unsuccessful might also like to have a read.

    The Society was founded in 1898, and the first exhibition held in the Royal Institute in Piccadilly. Founder members and early exhibitors included Brangwyn, Degas, Rodin, Rothenstein, Whistler and G.F. Watts. There are currently over fifty-five Members who are professional artists living and working in this country and overseas. Membership is granted through a strict assessment of technical skill, originality, innovation and enthusiasm.

    Submission: key dates and points to note

    NEW FOR 2021: ALL artworks must be submitted online.
    To make the process of submitting and selecting work simpler and safer, the Society will select works for exhibition from online only this year.
    Which means the quality of your digital image is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL this year.
    Below is a summary of the stages of entry.

    Monday, October 12, 2020

    Call for Entries: Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 (Season 8)

    It's a big week for Portrait Artist of the Year this week.

    • Series 7 kicks off 8pm on Wednesday 14th October 2020 on Sky Arts (see my post Sky Artist of the Year (Portrait and Landscape) returns last week). It's not the series which relates to 2020 because that started in January this year.
    • PLUS Portrait Artist of the Week returns every Sunday from 10am-2pm from 18th October – 13th December 2020 on www.facebook.com/skytv/live (I'll do a reminder on Saturday about this)
    • AND the Call For Entries for Series 8 opens on Thursday 15th October!!

    Series 8: - Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

    The deadline for entries for Series 8 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year is Friday 29 January 2021. You have 3.5 months to get your entry together.

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

    This post looks at:

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

    The benefits of entering Portrait Artist of the Year 

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


    The plan is that HEATS for this particular competition will be filmed at Battersea Arts centre in March 2021. 
    We hope to open the heats to the public but this will be subject to government guidance closer to the time 
    If you’d like to receive information on filming dates and locations and updates about the series join their mailing list and follow Sky Arts TwitterInstagram and Facebook pages.

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


    The benefits include

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

    The less wonderful side of entering

    You may well come to regret entering IF

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

    Here's how to enter

    This is a SUMMARY of:
    • WHO can enter Portrait Artist of the Year Series 8 (to be filmed and broadcast in 2021)
    • PROCESS: how the competition works
    • Plus TIPS on how to enhance your entry.
    You can also follow Sky Arts’ Twitter and Facebook page for updates.

    Saturday, October 10, 2020

    Thumbnails versus slideshows versus videos

    See if you can spot the artist who will make their mark in future years - in the online Graduation Show 2020 by recent graduates of the Heatherley School of Art.

    Heatherley's Graduates Exhibition 2020

    I was left wishing that the show was a slideshow - because 

    • going back and to (due to the lack of a right arrow for the next image of decent size) 
    • means inevitably you only look at some artwork as a thumbnail.

    I clicked around in vein trying to find the arrow for the next image - and finally realised there wasn't one.

    Hence this post

    I'd also have liked to see a text document - providing a summary about each artist and links to their websites and social media accounts.  Being an artist is so much more than producing the artwork....

    Presentation of art on a website

    Presenting art on a website demands some careful thought about what's likely to generate the best response.

    The critical issue is to remember people have limited time and need an efficient and effective method of viewing art they might be interested in.

    It's really worthwhile thinking about:

    • the optimum size of image to display your work to best effect - now that buyers are much more used to buying online
    • how best to display a sequence or series of your artworks
      • thumbnails only - enlarging to larger image if clicked (and then you have to go back and start again as per the Heatherley's Show)
      • slideshow of decent sizes images
      • slideshow of decent sizes images - properly annotated with title, media and size (framed and/or unframed as relevant)
      • a video of your artwork - with successive static frames - working in the same way as a slideshow - but with a bit more control for the viewer. (I usually put my cursor on the bottom and speed through - and then only come back and watch slowly if I like what I see)
      • thumbnails AND slideshow - i.e. give the viewer the choice of how they want to view.
    • what's the best thumbnail for your artwork? 
      • Not every artwork is created in a standard thumbnail shape (eg not everything is a small square!)
      • the critical issue is whether or not the thumbnail "reads well" and tempts the viewer to click it and open up the larger image
      • Hence a decision may be required as to how best to format the thumbnail before converting to larger image of the whole work
    Thumbnails in the Heatherley's Graduate Show which worked for me are by:

      Jayson Singh is a visual artist based in Battersea and has a fine art degree from Central Saint Martin's. Recently, he has completed a portrait diploma from Heatherley's school of Art and achieved a special commendation from the painter Andrew James RP at the graduating show this year.
      Note that I did not open every thumbnail - just the ones that appealed.