Monday, May 31, 2021

Figurative Art Now: how fair are the T&C to artists?

Some of you may have wondered why I have not promoted the Figurative Art Now Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I have my reasons for not highlighting this art competition - and these are listed below.

I like art competitions to be fair for everybody concerned. I've recently found myself staring at a very difficult situation - which has given rise to a number of concerns about implications for artists. I have raised these (offline) but I'm still not happy that the issues this competition raises for artists are well understood by all those who need to understand. 

I've left it until now so that those who want to enter can. As all my regular readers will know  my art competition mantra is ALWAYS read carefully all the terms and conditions....

I really didn't want to write what I'm about to say - but, on balance, I think it presents an important learning opportunity for all concerned. 

So I'm writing in that context - and with the hope that some of this can be resolved before the exhibition goes online....

After which I may well do a checklist about government law and regulations relating to  ecommerce and trading standards for ONLINE art competitions / open exhibitions for both organisers and artists!!

Bottom line - online exhibitions can be way more complex than exhibitions in a gallery!

Non-involvement of the FBA Societies

Ostensibly this online art competition 'Figurative Art Now' is about the 60th year of the Federation of British Artists BUT having queried this competition, I found that....

  • The exhibition was simply announced 
  • It was NOT discussed in advance with the Presidents of the Art Societies which make up the Federation of British Artists.
  • Which I just find really, really odd. The Societies are the FBA!! 
    • How can they not be involved if it supposedly relates to the 60th anniversary?  
    • Why aren't the Presidents involved with selection of artwork for the exhibition? 

Obviously life has been very difficult recently with all the disruption caused by the Pandemic - but even so, this just seems very odd to me.


    Prizes for artwork which selectors have never seen?

    Two of the prizes are very odd (a £5,000 prize and a week-long exhibition in one of the galleries) given that the artwork entered will NEVER EVER be seen in person by any of the Selection Panel.

    I'm just gobsmacked about this! Seriously? How does that work?

    I've been looking at online images of artwork and actual artwork in open exhibitions and art competitions for very many years and I'm certainly very familiar with the fact that 

    • There can be digital enhancement of artwork by artists for competitions! It's far from unusual.
    • Which is WHY all art competitions routinely have the proviso to eliminate any artwork which does not measure up (literally) to the digital image once received - even if it has been pre-selected.


    ONLINE ONLY Exhibition + MAJOR changes in who does what

    THIS IS AN ONLINE EXHIBITION ONLY i.e. no artwork will be hung at the Mall Galleries.   


    • Non-refundable submission fees are the same as the submission fees for the open exhibitions - once you discount the fact that the latter also provide for free entry to the REAL exhibition in the Galleries!
    • Commission is 35% plus VAT - slightly less for an organisation which is doing an awful  LOT LESS than it normally does for a hung exhibition i.e. 
      • No involvement of the Presidents / FBA Societies in the presentation / marketing of the exhibition or artwork 
      • no use of the gallery space at all 
      • no receipt / handling of artwork to be hung 
      • no storage of artwork
      • no hanging of artwork 
      • no manning of a live "on the wall" exhibition 
      • no return of artwork unsold 
      • no communication with buyers re collection / shipping
      • no financial transactions re shipping 
      • no arrangements for delivering art (including Customs documentation as appropriate)
      • (i.e. putting artwork online is now a routine and expected part of EVERY exhbition held by the FBA at the Mall galleries - NOT an added extra)

    Artists are next expected to do MUCH MORE than they usually do - BUT this difference from the normal open exhibitions of the FBA Societies is NOT highlighted in the summary on the competition page.

    No mention in the summary of the additional costs for artists
    (re finance / time / effort of packing and shipping art - potentially anywhere in the world!)

    What this means, for starters, is....

    Artists have to ORGANISE AND PAY FOR ALL PACKING AND POSTAGE TO BUYERS as stated in the Terms and Conditions TO ANY DESTINATION within 14 days of the sale being confirmed.


    4.1 All Works must be exhibition-ready as if they were to be exhibited and ready for sale. All work needs to be delivered or shipped to the buyer as advertised. 


    5.1 Artists will be responsible for the delivery of work to the buyer, including the cost of shipping.  All work should be labelled and attached to the works. 

    5.2. Work should be despatched within 14 days of confirmation of the sale 

    Thus, the artist is liable for the cost of sending the artwork anywhere in the world - in whichever country the buyer lives in - no matter what the cost!  

    The buyer does NOT have to pay. No matter what the size or weight of the artwork!!! 

    Friday, May 28, 2021

    The Wynne Prize 2021 - Selected artists

    The Wynne Prize is an annual award ($50,000) for Australian landscape painting or figure sculpture which dates back to 1898.

    The prize will be awarded, in the terms of the bequest of the late Richard Wynne of Mount Wilson, to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or to the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists completed during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in entries.

    This year there are far more Aboriginal artists selected for this exhibition - which mean far more examples of the Aboriginal approach to recording the landscape and the stories associated with their homeland. I really enjoy the art so I'm really pleased to see this.

    Some of the images of art included in the Wynne Exhibition

    I'm also wondering if this is in any way connected with the fact that the Art Gallery of New South Wales website now opens to this statement.....

    The Wynne Prize 2021

    The Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales invited artists to submit works in competition for the Wynne Prize 2021. In summary, to enter:

    • the artwork must have been completed between 30 April 2020 and 30 April 2021
    • the artist must be resident in Australia in the year of eligible work.

    Eligible artwork

    • the artwork must be either
      • landscape painting in oils
      • landscape painting in watercolour
      • a figure sculpture 
    • the actual artworks must NOT exceed the size limit of 90,000 square cm (eg 3 × 3 m, 1.5 × 6 m). 
    • Sculptures must NOT exceed 3 m in height, 2 square m in area or 1000kg in weight. 
    • It can be
      • a multi-panel work - as long as the overall dimensions do not exceed the size limit above and/or
      • a landscape painting in oil, watercolour, acrylic or mixed media. Seascapes and cityscapes are acceptable and/or
      • a figure sculpture in stone, metal, wood or mixed media. The work may be abstracted, but at the same time clearly derived from a figurative source, human or animal.
    • As always it MUST be the artist's original work and must NOT infringe the copyright, moral rights or other rights of any third party.

    Plus various MUST dos and don'ts related to delivery, display and hanging.


    Besides the main prize - Entries in the Wynne Prize competition are also eligible to be considered for:

    • The Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize – value $10,000 - Also known as the Roberts Family Prize), which may be awarded to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artist and was first was first awarded in 2018.
    • The Trustees’ Watercolour Prize – value $5000
    • John & Elizabeth Newnham Pring Memorial Prize – value $1000  - Commonly known as the Pring Prize, which may be awarded to the best watercolour by a woman artist and was established following a bequest by Bessie Pring – herself a watercolourist, who died in 1965 – in honour of her parents. It was first awarded in 1966. 

    Every time I wrote about The Wynne Prize, I end up pondering on why there's nothing similar in the UK. 

    • Does it just need a Sponsor and a Gallery willing to hold and exhibition and organise the entry? 
    • Or is what's missing someone who has the gumption to make it happen - in a way which is beneficial to both the country and landscape artists?

    You can also see past winners of the Wynne Prize all the way back to 1898 on the website.

    It's an interesting way of tracking styles and fashions in Australian landscape art.

    Recent past winners of the Wynne Prize


    Selected Artists

    The website displays their selected artwork and lists the selected artists - with a page for each artwork.

    This year there were

    • 660 entries
    • 39 artworks were selected (i.e. 6%)

    Among the 39 finalists, there are 20 works by Aboriginal artists – the most on record – and, for the first time, there are more works by women than men. Interestingly Aboriginal artists appear are more likely to get selected in multiple years and a number have won in previous years (see below). I find fascinating that 

    • the oldest art also sometimes looks like the most contemporary....
    • women aboriginal artists are particularly strong in art competitions

    You can see the artwork of the 39 finalists on this page and read about who they are below

    I started to look through the entries - and a number reminded me of all the climate challenges and natural disasters within the landscape that Australia has been suffering in recent times. It's certainly a theme which came through strongly in a number of artworks.

     The selected artists are: 

    Thursday, May 27, 2021

    How to scan art - a new resource

    This post does not explain how to scan art - because that would be a very long post! 

    Instead, it refers you a NEW page called How to scan artwork to create a digital image of your art, which I've just published in the Image Management section of my Art Business Info for Artists website.

    This page covers:

    • Why scanning is the best alternative to photography
    • Different types of scanner 
    • DIY: how to scan artwork
    • Professional digital imaging services
    • Glossary of scanning terminology

    It summarises key "need to know" points - but also points you in the direction of other articles written on this topic - so you can learn from a different perspective. It's how I learn - reading different articles by different writers on one topic! 

    The aim is that after studying this page, an artist who is unfamiliar with scanning should 

    • understand more about how scanning works 
    • why scanning is often a preferable route to creating a good digital image record of your artwork - especially if it is going to be published in a book or as a reproduction print
    • what are the different ways of scanning
    • what you can do for yourself 
    • when it's best to call in a professional digital imaging service
    • what all those technical words mean

    [No image for this post due to the fact that Blogger has stopped uploading images!!] 

    Problem now fixed!

    This is an image of what it looks like using Image Capture on my Apple iMac to scan an image on my Canon Multifunctional printer/scanner - which can scan up to 2,400dpi. It provides several adjustments for the scan - and a preview before I scan.

    What I see on my screen when scanning one of my coloured pencil drawings:
    type of scanning (colour);
    resolution (300 dpi);
    size of the scan (9x12 inches);
    where to save it: a specific folder on my iMac






    Wednesday, May 26, 2021

    How to photograph art

    This is about a page for artists which tells you how to photograph your art - on my Art Business Information for Artists website

    Its target audience is artists who want to prepare images of their art for:

    • their website and social media - to promote their art
    • to enter open exhibitions and art competitions
    • for exhibition catalogues and other publications
    • for presentations and online teaching.

    I wish I'd completed it a long time ago - but it's finally been published and I'm sure it will continue to be improved over time.

    Digital image files are now the standard way images are recorded.
    It's ESSENTIAL that artists need to know how to capture a digital file - via photography or scanning,
    how to process a digital file and the best ways to backup your inventory of images of your art.

    How to photograph your art

    How to photograph your art - for artists

    You can find it as follows 


    Image Management for Artists

    Photography of Art for Artists

    On this page about you can find:
    • Introduction to how to photograph your art
    • BASICS for photographing art
      • Image Selection and Preparation
      • Guidelines and videos about how to photograph art
      • How to photograph behind glass
      • ​Checking digital accuracy and correcting colour
    • Guidelines on photographing art for major art competitions
    • ​Digital File Formats and Image Resolution
    • Introduction to professional photography
    • Glossary: Digital File Terminology
    • Photographing artists - for marketing purposes (to follow)

    How to scan art and back up image files

    On two other pages in the Image Management section, you can also learn about

    • How to scan artwork This section looks at:
      • Why scanning is the best alternative to photography
      • Different types of scanner 
      • DIY: how to scan artwork
      • Professional digital imaging services
      • Glossary of scanning terminology
    • How to backup image files - how to create and store archives of your images

    Monday, May 24, 2021

    Call for Entries: Society of Women Artists 160th Open Exhibition

    This is about the call for entries for the 160th Annual Open Exhibition 2021 of the Society of Women Artists (SWA).

    Call for entries for the SWA open annual exhibition online

    Like a number of other societies, this annual exhibition will be a virtual / online exhibition this year.

    The SWA normally exhibit at the Mall Galleries - but given the number of months the Galleries have been closed due to lockdown, the priority for exhibiting art societies in 2021 obviously goes to the Societies which are members of the Federation of British Artists whose home is at the Mall Galleries.

    Plus a digital submission means that an artist can submit artwork for exhibition MINUS travelling, transport and the framing costs.

    Online Exhibition dates are as follows

    • Deadline for all Digital Entries: midnight on 25 June 2021 i.e. you have a month left to submit your entry (Note: I hate midnight timings - I never know whether they mean the beginning or end of the day. "Noon" is much clearer).
    • Notification of Selection (ONLINE ONLY): 16th July 2021 
    • Online Exhibition Opens: 21st September 2021.
    • Exhibition Closes: Sunday 29th September 2021.

    I didn't review last year's exhibition as this was also online - and I'm finding reviewing online art much more difficult than exhibitions in galleries. However, you can see the standard of work this exhibition attracts in my Review: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2019

    In this post you can find:

    • who is eligible to enter
    • what types of artwork are eligible
    • how to enter - with key dates
    • details of the exhibition
    • details of the prizes

    but, first, why enter this exhibition? 

    Why enter the SWA Annual Exhibition?

    The Society of Women Artists have been on an important journey of improvement in recent years. It's one which provides lessons for other art societies.

    As I've indicated in past reviews, the quality of the artwork in their exhibitions has improved enormously and there has been a greater involvement by professional women artists.  The change in the quality of the work also gave me the impression that selection had become much more rigorous and being a favoured member/friends was no longer enough to get your work selected.

    I think the change has also been in part due to an injection of new and younger blood - with artists keen to "make their mark" and wanting the exhibition to be excellent - and are keen to use websites and social media to promote their art. In turn this is also reflected in a more contemporary "younger" feel to a lot of the artwork - which in turn draws a wider audience to the exhibition and helps improve sales! (It's a lesson which many other art societies might ponder on!)

    There's also a keen sense of the exhibition being a place where women artists can exhibit work on themes with meaning to women - which might get overlooked by panels where men make up the majority of the members.

    "Parting" by non-member Ayna Paisley
    (from the 2020 online exhibition)
    Acrylics, Paper Collage h: 70 w: 150 d: 4 (cms)
    currently used for the Home Page of the SWA website

    Two (financial) benefits are is that 

    • submitting digitally to an online exhibition enables artists to submit works for consideration at a reduced cost - without the travelling, transport and the framing costs. 
    • ENTRY FEES HAVE BEEN REDUCED for this online exhibition! 

    Plus finally - there are PRIZES AND AWARDS! These are the 2021 awards.

    • Princess Michael of Kent Award - A signed certificate
    • President and Vice Presidents’ Award - A signed certificate
    • The Tom Urwin Special Fine Art Award - £1500
    • Karin Walker Young Artist Award - 2 x £500
    • Derwent Special Fine Art Award
      • Young Artist £500 (art materials) Awards
      • Established Artist £500 (art materials) Awards
    • The Artist Editor’s Choice Award, Feature in The Artist
    • The Rosemary and Co Award £100 (brushes)
    • Patsy Whiting Award £100
    • Jackson’s Award £150 (art materials)


    Call for Entries for the SWA's Annual Online Exhibition 2021

    Below is a summary of that page - with some facts rearranged. 
    Do not forget that the basic fact is that EVERYTHING is digital - communication, entries, images, and the exhibition. If you're not happy with digital then maybe this is not for you - or you need a friend who can help you.

    Who can enter

    • The exhibition is INTERNATIONAL i.e. open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU 
    • There is no stated restriction on who can enter. However, this is an exhibition of work by women artists!
    • Women artists under the age of 35 are judged to be young artists and can submit work at a reduced fee.

    What you can enter

    What follows are the rules of what you can submit and what you need to know before you get on to the 'how to enter' section.

    Categories of work which are acceptable:
    • Paintings, pastels, drawings;
    • Mixed media
    • Sculpture, in all media;
    • Original unique printing is acceptable e.g. engraving, lithography. Etchings must show their plate indentations. Commercially printed line work or photographically/digitally reproduced work printed with commercial machines (such as giclée work) is NOT admissible.
    • Ceramics, glass and metal not of a utilitarian nature. 

    This year, there is NO MAXIMUM submission size for paintings and sculpture. All works will be judged by merit. 

    All artwork accepted and exhibited online by SWA MUST be 

    • for sale, except by prior consent from the SWA. 
    • EXCLUSIVE for the duration of the exhibition - which means that the commission is still payable even if it is listed and sold via another platform during the exhibition.

    Artwork prices should include the commission of 45% for non members and 40% for members the SWA will be donating 5% of the sale price to the Charity Breast Cancer Now. 

    Minimum Sale prices for works (excluding courier costs)

    • £150 for etchings or lithography or drawings
    • £200 for 3D works
    • £350 for everything else.

    Please also note that all retail prices MUST include VAT if applicable and ALL artists liable to VAT are responsible for paying their own tax direct to HMRC. 

    All costs of transport to a buyer will be payable by the buyer and accurate costs will need to be quoted to a buyer before a sale is concluded. So you need to know what the cost of packing and shipping is before you enter - or ASAP after you get selected.
    [Note it does not say this in the Call for Entries - but this is how it needs to work if transactions are to be compliant with all relevant regulations for trade and ecommerce]


    • All artists without a UK residence are classified as Non-Established Taxable Persons (NETPs) and must register with HMRC (HM Revenue + Customs) for a UK VAT number before they can exhibit artworks in our Online Exhibition. 
    • A valid UK VAT number is prefaced with the letters “GB”. VAT numbers relating to other countries are not valid for the purposes of this exhibition.
    • You must provide the SWA with your UK VAT number before 1st September 2021. If you do not, your selected artwork(s) cannot be displayed online in the exhibition.
    • see General Terms and Conditions for more details

    How to enter

    Friday, May 21, 2021

    Review: 209th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

    It was lovely to view the Annual Exhibition of the Royal institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) this week in the company of a lot of older people who'd all had both jabs! I

    I reached maximum protection on Tuesday and it's amazing what a difference it makes to the inclination to travel and go places without feeling very anxious!  

    View of the West Gallery and the 209th Annual Exhibition of the RI

    This post covers:

    • how to visit or view the exhibition
    • my main 'takeaways' from my visit on Wednesday
    • a summary of the people winning various awards and prizes
    • a note about the candidates for membership this year

    View the Exhibition

    The Annual Exhibition 2021 of 439 artworks is on at the Mall Galleries until 29th May (hours: 11am - 4pm). You need to book a timeslot to get into the Gallery.

    You can view my photographs of the exhibition in three albums - one for each gallery - on my public Facebook Page (i.e. you don't need to be a member to take a look). These are:

    West Gallery

    Main Observations

    The following are a summary of my observations at the exhibition.

    East Gallery - what you see as you enter the exhibition via the one way system

    The BIGGEST exhibition of watercolour paintings in the world

    Rosa Sepple, the President of the RI described the show to me as "the biggest exhibition of watercolour paintings in the world" and I think she's right. I can't think of any other that's bigger.

    East Gallery - The Mall wall

    This year there are 439 paintings on display in the West, East and North Galleries of the Mall Galleries.
    • They use all forms of water media
    • There is a wide and diverse range of styles
    • All genres are covered - although some better than others. 
    • The standard is generally very good - with some exceptional work on display as well
    If there's anywhere else which is displaying more than 439 paintings in water colours in one show please let me know
    East Gallery

    This is a truly OPEN EXHIBITION.

    This year, the RI had a record number of 1,735 artworks in water colours submitted to its annual open exhibition.
    More importantly of those selected for the exhibition:
    • 229 paintings (52%) were from RI members (who are allowed up to 6 in an exhibition - but have to pass selection too!)
    • 210 paintings (48%) are by non-members
    Hence, those non-members submitting artworks to this exhibition in future can be confident that they'll be given a fair share of the total works exhibited. After that it's all about measuring up to the standard of work on display.

    Monday, May 17, 2021

    Art Galleries and Museums in London are open again!

    Just a reminder - as if you needed one(!) - that the larger art galleries and museums (i.e. those which are not commercial/retail art galleries) have reopened today and you can now visit art exhibitions and permanent art collections!

    See also my earlier post about Art Exhibitions in London opening in May 2021


    The National Gallery - photographed before recent times

    In general, in order to contain numbers, timed tickets are required for all visitors - which need to be booked in advance - hence details of how to contact in listings below


    Below is a reminder of art galleries and museums in London.
    This is by no means an exhaustive list - but hopefully might remind people of a few places which need their support - and a visit!

    Later this week I'll be looking at the Art Fund's Summary Report of "Looking ahead: Museum Sector Research May 2021 Summary Report.

    The future is not completely bleak - but neither is it totally rosy!
    The past year has given many organisations an opportunity to refocus and experiment. They are determined to show their resilience, to evolve and carve out new futures. However, this is tempered by significant levels of overstretch and exhaustion.

    Central London

    Free to all | Some exhibitions have priced entry | Opening this week

    British Museum

    Great Russell Street, London, Greater London, WC1B 3DG
    020 7323 8181 | Website
    Opening times:  Daily: 10.00–17.00 

    National Gallery

    Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London, WC2N 5DN
    020 7747 2885 | Website
    Opening times: Daily 11am-6pm (Fri 11am-9pm) 

    A different way round the National Gallery

    Tate Modern 

    Bankside, London, Greater London, SE1 9TG
    020 7887 8888 | Website
    Opening times: Daily 10am-6pm 

    Tate Britain

    Millbank, London, Greater London, SW1P 4RG
    020 7887 8888 | Website
    Opening times: Daily, 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.15pm) 

    Bankside Gallery

    Thames Riverside, 48 Hopton Street, London, Greater London, SE1 9JH
    020 7928 7521 | Website 

    The Queen's House

    Romney Road, Greenwich, London, Greater London, SE10 9NF
    020 8858 4422 | Website
    Opening times: Daily, 10.30am – 4pm (reduced hours due to COVID-19). 

    William Morris Gallery

    Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London, Greater London, E17 4PP
    020 8496 4390 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 18 May 
    Within The Reach of All: The Century Guild at the William Morris Gallery

    V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum)

    Cromwell Road, London, Greater London, SW7 2RL
    020 7942 2000 | Website
    Opening times: Temporarily closed - Opening 19 May 

    Sir John Soane's Museum

    13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, Greater London, WC2A 3BP
    020 7405 2107 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 19 May 

    South London Gallery (Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020)

    65-67 Peckham Road, London, Greater London, SE5 8UH
    020 7703 6120 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 19 May 

    Whitechapel Gallery

    77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, Greater London, E1 7QX
    020 7522 7888 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 19 May 

    Priced entry | Opening this week 


    Barbican Art Gallery

    Level 3, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London, EC2Y 8DS
    020 7638 8891 | Website

    Garden Museum

    Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, London, Greater London, SE1 7LB
    020 7401 8865 | Website
    Opening times: Daily 10.30am-5pm

    Queens Gallery 

    Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA 
    Opening times: 10am - 5.30pm (last admission 4.15pm)

    Design Museum

    224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London, Greater London, W8 6AG
    020 3862 5900 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 18 May  
    • 10.00 – 18.00 (Sunday - Thursday)
    • 09.30 – 21.00 (Friday - Saturday)

    Apsley House

    149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London, Greater London, W1J 7NT
    020 7499 5676 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 19 May

    Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

    39a Canonbury Square, London, Greater London, N1 2AN
    020 7704 9522 | Website
    Opening times: Temporarily closed - Opening 19 May

    Reopening on future dates


    A few galleries and museums are opening at a later date. They're listed below in order of their date of opening

    Royal Academy of Arts

    Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, Greater London, W1J 0BD
    020 7300 8090 | Website
    Opening times: Opening 18 May 

    Dulwich Picture Gallery

    Gallery Road, London, Greater London, SE21 7AD
    02086935254 | Website
    Opening times:Temporarily closed - Opening 19 May

    Whitechapel Gallery

    77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, Greater London, E1 7QX
    020 7522 7888| Website 
    Opening time: Temporarily closed - Opening 19 May

    Guildhall Art Gallery

    Guildhall Yard, London, Greater London, EC2V 5AE
    020 7332 3700 | Website
    Opening times: reopening on 2nd June

    The Wallace Collection

    Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London, W1U 3BN
    020 7563 9500 | Website
    Opening times: reopening on 3rd June

    Leighton House Museum

    12 Holland Park Road, London, Greater London, W14 8LZ
    020 7602 3316 | Website
    Opening times: Temporarily closed - Re-opening 9 October 

    The Courtauld Gallery

    Somerset House, Strand, London, Greater London, WC2R 0RN
    +44 (0) 20 3947 7600 | Website
    Opening times: Temporarily closed for a major transformation project. DUE TO reopen in late 2021.

    Temporarily Closed and not reopening this year

    Sunday, May 16, 2021

    What next for Feedburner email subscriptions?

    On April 14, 2021, Google announced that Feedburner would be losing its email subscription service. Which means that my regular email to those who have subscribed with the latest blog post title and the first 200 characters of the blog post will be no more....

    If you’d like to continue using email subscriptions after the June transition, we recommend downloading email subscriber data so that you can migrate your subscribers to a new email subscription service. This data will also be available for download after the transition.

    I'm absolutely sure I'm not the only regular Blogger and Feedburner user wondering what to do about a replacement.

    [Note: Apparently Google intends to remove all non-core functionality and make it maintenance only - which conflicts with what they're saying re. the removal of the email subscriptions - because that's the only reason I used it - that and the fact it's free!]

    Feedburner email subscriptions stop in July 2021

    Switching to an alternative for Feedburner email subscriptions

    What I want to do is migrate to a Feedburner alternative which

    • Provides me with a free service (like Feedburner)
    • Allows me to import all existing validated emails from Feedburner
    • Allows a subscription for RSS Feed to email subscription option (i.e. replace what I've got at present)
    • Works with all existing RSS services (like Feedburner) - for those who like to read blogs in Feedreaders (like Blogger's Reading List)
    • Gives me some basic statistics. (I have other services which provide me with in-depth stats. All Feedburner tells me is how many subscribers opened the emails).

    I'm still trying to work out what to do about the imminent (in July) demise of the Feedburner email to all those who have subscrived to date. 

    I've actually got so many subscribers that it very definitely makes some alternatives rather expensive - and I'm running a blog NOT a business!

    Some Issues


    Email marketing is targeting ecommerce not blogger

    Most of the email subscription marketing options are set up to provide an "occasional newsletter / marketing via email" facility for those who have websites and want to communicate with their followers from time to time

    i.e. they're set up for ecommerce operations and not for bloggers

    You know when you're dealing with one of these when:

    • EITHER there's a limit on 
      • the number of subscribers
      • the number of feeds
      • the number of emails you can send in a month
    • OR you have to pay a charge - - which can mount up - to enable you to carry on as at present.

    Another thing - not everybody opens their email

    Why should I pay for people who do not open their emails?

    As we well know, people are apt to sign up for email subscriptions - and then don't bother validating them and/or reading the emails. I certainly do NOT want to pay for a service which is charging me for those who have subscribed but do not bother to open their emails.

    For me this is all the more reason to find a good quality basic service - or a very cheap one.

    One more thing - migrate or sign up again?

    I could migrate all current subscribers - BUT..... there's a bit of me which would quite like to get people to sign up all over again. That way I will know what the number of 'real subscribers" are.

    Or maybe I should just use Twitter more to signal new posts

    I already announce everyone via my FB Page....


    Possible contenders

    Below I tell you about my favourite option(s) to date 

    There's also a summary of some Feedburner Email Subscription Alternatives - plus a link to a post which includes a very useful tabulation to help you decide.

    Saturday, May 15, 2021

    After 17 million pageviews!!!

    I missed the moment this week when the counter ticked over and Making A Mark got its 17 millionth page view


    17 million pageviews means that this art blog - Making A Mark - which I started on 13th December 2005 (see below), and then went public, after 4 "try out" posts, in January 2006 -  is now averaging over a million pageviews a year.

    My very first blog post on Tuesday 13th December 2005

    It's also been repeatedly recognised as one of the best art blogs around. That might be partly due to the fact it's one of the few which have kept going for the last 15 years!  So much content has moved to other media channels - especially if they are picture oriented with very little text. It's almost as if blogging has died - and yet it remains popular with a lot of readers.

    Suffice to say, I still enjoy writing and doing rather more in-depth pieces which won't fit in a tweet or an Instagram post or whatever.

    While I write fewer posts (I stopped my habit of regularly writing one blog post a day a while back), I'm still keen to keep the blog going even though it's now a teenager.

    However, I am thinking of whether I want to change it and, if so, how.....

    Tomorrow - I'm writing about a possible successor to Feedburner

    One change I have to make is deal with the upcoming major changes to Feedburner - which I use for email subscriptions

    Given the imminent demise of the Feedburner email service in July 2021, tomorrow I'm going to be writing about WHAT NEXT? for those 

    • who are currently Feedburner EMAIL subscribers
    • fellow bloggers also using Feedburner for their email subscriptions.

    I think I've found a viable option which won't break the bank and has a viable free option.....

    Thursday, May 13, 2021

    Review: 130th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

    The Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) has only missed having an Annual Exhibition in just two years of its 132 year history. However, it managed to hold one in 2020 and and this year too - despite the circumstances.

     In addition:

    • the exhibition this year attracted 4,400 entries to the exhibition - including very many entries from international artists
    • it is the major portrait exhibition this year in the UK (due to the lack of the BP Portrait Award)
    • This year, it has the most valuable prizes awarded by any national art society in the UK.

    The 130th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters can be seen at the Mall Galleries in London until 4pm on Saturday 15 May 2021. 

    As well as the pics in this review, I'm also posting albums of my photographs of the exhibition on my Making A Mark FB Page - with comments on some - for all those who can't yet get to see the exhibition.

    Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - a wall in the East Gallery

    View of the RP Annual Exhibition 2021 in the West Gallery

    I certainly walked around the Gallery on Tuesday mentally making a note of the names of various artists whose work I know well from other places. These included the following - and I'm including examples of the work of some of them.

    Preparatory drawings for portraits by Miriam Escofet
    - including ones made for her portrait of HM The Queen

    Three (rather sombre) portraits by Ben Sullivan
    - who holds the record for the most selections for the BP Portrait Award
    prior to winning it in 2017

    Two portraits (on the right) by James Hague

    A number of these are featured in the portraits highlighted below.

    (This is all from memory you understand, there are probably more whose names have escaped my brain cells!) 

    Lockdown Studio Self Portrait by Megan Hunter (see above)

    Indeed, it might be argued, that a good way of gaining membership of this prestigious art society is to make a name for yourself and do well in other high profile portrait arenas. 

    I also noted some high profile absentees from this year's exhibition. I hope this isn't because of unfortunate reasons.


    BP Portrait is present in spades! 

    Sunday, May 09, 2021

    A major change in those shortlisted for the Turner Prize

    Last week, Tate Britain announced the shortlist for the Turner Prize 2021 - and the shortlist comprises five art collectives.

    One of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, the prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851). The Turner Prize winner is awarded £25,000 with £10,000 going to each of the others shortlisted. 

    This year they seem to be in two minds about whether it's about art or a very wide definition of the visual arts.

    I've absolutely no problem with 

    • the prize being about the Visual Arts 
    • or with it focusing on arts grounded in the community 
    I do have a problem with the use of the term "art" - and then shutting out of all those engaged in the fine arts of drawing and painting!!

    As in historically, the Turner Prize jury has shortlisted four artists for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation.

    I must confess I increasingly think that the organisers are interpreting its intent to be more and more about "The Arts" as opposed to art. Otherwise, why would they be substituting for the British Film Institute in providing recognition and prizes for films? Alternatively why isn't Tate Britain joining forces with the BFI if it intends to include the ubiquitous 'film' as media for future shortlists.

    My personal view is that the current version of the Prize should become wholly independent of Tate Britain (and instead be run by a collegiate co-operative of different organisations relevant to the Visual Arts - including video / sound / film / digital arts / broadcast media) and Tate Britain should go back to providing a prize for contemporary fine art - including fine arts which increasingly get excluded and left on the fringe.

    In other words "Contemporary Fine Art" is NOT "The Arts" - and this is not the Oscars or any of the other awards associated with popular arts-related culture!

    Shortlist for the Turner Prize 2021

    This year, the shortlist consists entirely of art collectives who have been listed for their recent projects and activities.

    I'm guessing this has partly been prompted by the major absence of exhibition for most of 2020/21 - and hence the usual basis for selection evaporated. They could hardly make a selection based solely on those who were lucky enough to have an exhibition open in the very tight window of last summer.

    So the Turner Prize organisers have made a positive out of a negative

    “One of the great joys of the Turner Prize is the way it captures and reflects the mood of the moment in contemporary British art. After a year of lockdowns when very few artists have been able to exhibit publicly, the jury has selected five outstanding collectives whose work has not only continued through the pandemic but become even more relevant as a result.” Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain and Chair of the Turner Prize jury

    The nominees - who will each be receiving at least £10,000 each - are:

    • Array Collective, 
    • Black Obsidian Sound System, 
    • Cooking Sections, 
    • Gentle/Radical, and 
    • Project Art Works.

    Turner Prize Exhibition

    The other change is that the exhibition will not visit Tate Britain.

    An exhibition of the Collectives' work will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from 29 September 2021 to 12 January 2022 as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations. 

    The winner of the Turner Prize will be announced on 1 December 2021 at an award ceremony at Coventry Cathedral covered on the BBC.

    The members of the 2021 Turner Prize jury are:
    • Aaron Cezar, Director, Delfina Foundation
    • Kim McAleese, Programme Director, Grand Union
    • Russell Tovey, Actor
    • ZoĆ© Whitley, Director, Chisenhale Gallery
    • Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain (Chair)

    Shortlisted Art Collectives

    All the nominees work closely and continuously with communities across the breadth of the UK to inspire social change through art. The collaborative practices selected for this year’s shortlist also reflect the solidarity and community demonstrated in response to the pandemic

    Below is the information provided about each collective - PLUS

    • The names of those identified in the extended press release
    • the address and screenshot of their website (where this could be identified).

    Saturday, May 08, 2021

    Virtual Tour and Award Winners: Royal Society of Portrait Painters 130th Annual Exhibition

    I wasn't at the opening day of the 130th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - because I was getting my second Pfizer vaccination! (I'm planning to go Monday or Tuesday next week.)

    However, you and I can take a look at the exhibition right now via 

    We can also view the portraits by the artists who have been awarded prizes and awards in 2021- and these are listed below - with links to both the portraits and artists' websites. 

    It's interesting to note how many portraits are self-portraits or portraits of members of the family - a situation which I guess has confronted a lot of portrait painters this year.

    Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition2021: Award winners 

      William Lock Portrait Prize: Frances Bell RP - for Self Portrait 

      £20,000 for the most timeless portrait with a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential. 
      Self Portrait by Frances Bell

      I've long been a supporter of Frances Bell whose style works incredibly well for certain sitters - particularly children and women. Besides being a masterful draughtsperson - in terms of accuracy and representation of her subject - I love her very painterly and fluid use of oil and brushwork. (She also paints great landscapes!)

      Last year the same self-portrait was also selected as a finalist among another 22 paintings, from 2600 entries for the Portrait Society of America's Annual Exhibition in 2020.

      Frances Bell is a full time professional portrait and landscape painter. She has shown her paintings in numerous exhibitions including the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - where she has shown since 2005; the BP Portrait Award; and annual exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters; the Royal Society of British Artists; the Royal Society of Marine Artists; The Society of Wildlife Artists, the Society of Women Artists. 

      She makes some very interesting comments about the process of creating a self-portrait in this video (below). I'm sure very many portrait painters will recognise and empathise with what she has to say


        TIP FOR ARTISTS: Remember to film videos for websites in landscape format - not portrait - which somehow seems very ironic to me! :) 

          The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture - Saied Dai RP NEAC for Portrait of the Artist's Wife

          £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition. 

          Saied Dai has a unique style and I can always recognise his paintings on the wall before I've looked at the catalogue. He's a figurative Artist who both lives and works in Bath.

          His award is for a portrait of his wife, the artist Charlotte Sorapure - whose paintings I also like a lot!

          He trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and was made a member of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2004 and The New English Art Club in 2009. He has exhibited widely. He paints on a gesso panel and describes how he works in the video below.


            The RP Award: Phoebe Dickinson for Alethea

            £2,000 awarded to the artist whose work best represents the year's chosen theme - which for 2021 is 'Childhood'. The judges looked for the most interesting and engaging interpretation of the idea of 'childhood' within the parameters of portraiture.