Thursday, November 19, 2020

Call for Entries: Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour 209th Exhibition in 2021

The Call for Entries for the 209th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries in London in April 2021 has been published this week. The deadline for entries to this exhibition - which is open to international artists - is 12 noon (in London) on Friday 5 February 2021.

View of the RI's 208th Annual Exhibition September 2020 

The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours seeks the best in contemporary watercolour and watermedia painting

Features of the exhibition are:
  • It is open to both International and British artists over 18 years of age. 
  • This Exhibition offers 
    • several prizes and awards (see below)
    • the chance to have your work seen alongside artwork by RI members
    • the opportunity to exhibit at a prestigious gallery in the heart of London 
    • have your work seen by very many visitors - some of whom regularly but art
Below you will find:
  • Call for Entries 2021 unpicked
    • about the exhibition
    • terms and conditions
    • who can submit an entry
    • what sort of artwork can be submitted
    • Prizes & Awards - The exhibition includes several prizes and awards, open to all participating artists
  • Summary of RI History and key metrics from the 2019 exhibition (see Pricing a Watercolour & RI Annual Exhibition Metrics)
    • a brief review of the history of the RI 
    • exhibition metrics for the last exhibition in 2019 - which provides a very solid reason why this is an exhibition worth exhibiting in - and at the same time provides some very clear guidance on pricing.

Summary of Key Dates for Artists submitting an Open Entry

These are the key dates for all those wishing to submit work to this open exhibition. More details below.
  • Submission closes: Friday 5 February 2021
  • Selection notification: Friday 19 February 2021, 12 noon [Log in to see if your work has been pre-selected]
  • Receiving Day: Saturday 13 and Sunday 14th March 2021, 10am - 5pm
  • Exhibition: Thursday 1 - 15th April, 11am to 5pm 

Call for Entries

You can find details of the Call for Entries for the exhibition in 2021 in two places:

New for 2021 - Digital Selection ONLY

To make the process of submitting and selecting work simpler and safer, the Society will select works for exhibition from online only this year.
How this works:
  • Selectors will make an assessment of each work based on the digital images supplied, 
  • Selected artists must deliver their accepted work to Mall Galleries for exhibition.

What you can submit 

Motif for 2021 Call for Entries

Acceptable media
: Watercolour or water-soluble mediums including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) painted on paper or paper based support.
  • Number: You can submit a maximum of six works - of which a maximum of four works selected. Typically it's candidates for membership who submit a large number of paintings. Note the metrics summarised above re the number likely to be chosen from those submitting via the open.
  • Media: Artwork in watercolour or water-soluble mediums, including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) are eligible for exhibition.
  • Support: MUST be painted or a paper or paper-based support (I still think they should also include vellum which is a very traditional support for watercolour painting)
  • Size: Works must not be larger than 2.4m high and 1.5m wide. (NOTE: There is no minimum size!)
  • Age: Works must have been completed within the last two years
  • Exhibition: Works should NOT have been previously shown in London.
  • Price: The minimum price is £350 (to include commission @ 45% + VAT).

How to Submit

The process works as follows
READ the full terms and conditions
READ the specific entry requirements
REGISTER for digital submission - if you have never entered before
SUBMIT: ALL Selection is based on online entries and associated digital images. The selectors' decisions are final and no feedback is offered.
  • Login to the Open Exhibition Entry website
    • Complete the form
    • pay the fee 
    • upload images of work [Note: Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB]
    • submit your entry ONLINE prior to the deadline (Friday 5 February 2021, 12 noon).
  • Notification of Selection: Friday 19 February 2021, 12 noon [Log in to  to see if your work has been pre-selected]
  • Deliver selected work to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD - Saturday 13 and Sunday 14th March 2021, 10am - 5pm
  • Exhibition: 1st - 15th April 2021 (Note: exhibition is closed all day on Easter Sunday, 4 April)
  • Collection of unsold work: Thursday 22 and Friday 23rd April, 10am to 5pm
One wall in the 2020 exhibition

Prizes and Awards

There are many prizes and awards - open to both members and open entrants - including:

Cash Prizes

  • The Winsor & Newton Award: £3,000
  • The Winsor & Newton Product Prize: £1,000 worth of Winsor & Newton art materials
  • The Leathersellers' Prize: £1,000 awarded by The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers to an artist aged between 18 and 30 years old
  • The President’s Choice Award: An award of £750 for the most deserving work in the exhibition, donated by a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) and judged by the President of the RI, Rosa Sepple
  • The Baohong Artists' Watercolour Paper Prizes: Two prizes of £250 each, awarded to a member and non-member for excellence
  • The Chaoshan Watercolour Award: £250 awarded by Chinese artist, Professor Li Xiaocheng, for the best classically inspired watercolour

Member Memorial Awards (Cash)

  • The James Fletcher-Watson RI Memorial Award: £500 for the best use of watercolour in the exhibition
  • The Matt Bruce RI Memorial Award: An award of £500 for what is considered the most outstanding use of light and colour in a watercolour
  • The Richard Plincke RI Prize for Colour: An award of £250 for creative use of colour

Art Publication Awards

  • The Dry Red Press Award: The winning work will be published as a greeting card in the Dry Red Press 'Prize Winners' range, with royalties from the sale of the cards going to the artist

    Art Materials Awards

    • The Cass Art Prize: A prize of £200 of art supplies from Cass Art, awarded to a work demonstrating the most innovative use of colour
    • The Schmincke Prize: A Horadam Aquarell Artists’ Watercolours set to an outstanding exhibitor.
    • The John Purcell Paper Prize: Paper to the value of £100 awarded to a work chosen by John Purcell
    • The Frank Herring Easel Award: An easel presented for an outstanding work in the exhibition by Frank Herring & Sons
    • The Escoda Barcelona Award: A set of Escoda's finest brushes for an outstanding landscape painting

    Other Awards

    • The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award: A certificate of commendation for an outstanding work chosen by the art critic and broadcaster Anthony J Lester
    • The Debra Manifold RI Memorial Award: Presented by the Linda Blackstone Gallery, an award for the most innovative work in the exhibition
    • The Megan Fitzoliver Brush Award: A trophy, named The Pipe Fish, awarded for a work that most inspires a connection with the natural world

    International Entrants

    Artists from outside the UK may need to register for VAT, 
    • please check with HM Revenue and Customs:
    • (Also see VAT for Artists on my Art Business Info website)
    Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier. 

    Pricing for the RI Exhibition

    I'm not highlighting sales and prices in 2020 because it has been such an odd year. Instead I'm referencing the last 'normal' year.

    BELOW is my chart of how paintings sold in 2019 in the different price ranges. It's my conviction that more would be sold if we could lose the sometimes very silly pricing by people who have not got track record of selling at that price in London

    Those submitting paintings for the 2021 exhibition would do well to keep the profile of this chart in mind when filling in their prices on the submission form.

    Bottom line:
    • if you're painting small and pricing above £1,000 you better be certain you have a track record
    • if you're painting larger paintings you need to have a jolly good reason to price above £2,000 - and that includes members.
    I expect to see artists being sensible and not silly and pricing at a level which they know their paintings sell at. 

    Otherwise you're depriving wallspace from somebody who could paint an equally good painting AND sell it!

    About the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

    The RI started as a group, called the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, who broke away from the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) in 1807. The latter had broken away from the Royal Academy of Arts due to its failure to consider watercolour painting as a serious medium.
    • The RI, under whatever name, has always shown the work of non-members alongside that of members. 
    • This means that from the very first selection of an artwork for the exhibition, it's having to be hung alongside work by members - and hence it needs to be a very good standard!
    Website -
    Facebook -

    • Review: 206th Exhibition of Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours
    • 204th Annual Exhibition of Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours
    The purpose of this video isn't to give you an in-depth view of all the paintings so much as to give you: an idea of the overall size of the exhibitionand a notion of how big the paintings are that get selected via the open entrya view of the paintings that were selected this year
    This exhibition has always been very popular with the provincial art societies whose members arrive in droves - on coaches!

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