Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Follow.it falls at first hurdle re. Feedburner replacement

Last night I was very frustrated with follow.it which had promised a lot but not delivered as well as it promised. This morning we seem to be approaching something like normal and I'm not feeling so negative.


Last night - after much effort.....

I'm very sorry to all those who have tried Follow.It as a substitute for Feedburner. (i.e. this is an update on my previous post What next for Feedburner email subscriptions?)

This was my message to Follow-It after a very disappointing afternoon trying to get my RSS feed to be recognised in my Follow-It account.

This was AFTER I had paid for the Cool account.

Two more critical comments on another tweet got deleted..... but the person doing the deleting doesn't realise it doesn't delete from my side

Tweets are only deleted from one side - it's still there on my account

I'm NEVER impressed by people who don't pay attention to good customer service.

It now turns out that their response to signing up is neither automated nor very prompt - but might possibly respond to tweets.... ;) (Facebook does - so maybe they do too!)

In addition, in order to transfer more than 100 subscribers you have to PROVE you have them - by taking a photo / screenshot of your Feedburner Page AND contact them separately to get those subscribers brought over. 

But there's no way to indicate that when setting up the RSS feed.

I am, in part, trying to determine whether:

  • the feed gets recognised when I publish this post - given I've signed up to subscribe via follow.it - but it does not recognise my blog - nor does it seem to go straight to my blog....
  • whether to now transfer my subscribers given my growing doubts about follow-it for big accounts
  • whether to abandon ship and go elsewhere. Mailer Lite and Mailchimp being possibilities - but they will cost more...

UPDATE: I'm feeling better about follow.it this morning. 

  • Somebody got my feed set up and it's now on my dashboard. 
  • The feed for this post was published - late. I always sign up to my own blogs - because that way I can check if the feed is working! This is what it looks like. It's supposed to arrive within 30 minutes of publication but this one took about 3.5 hours - which is not OK. I'll see what happens today. It might just be the new account bedding in

This is what arrived in my inbox late last night

  • The statistics also showed up - and are OK - but I'm not getting anything like the detail I got with Feedburner - even with a paid account. I guess that's because follow.it can only count the emails via their set-up whereas Feedburner counted everything from whichever way people subscribed.
  • The way it presents in the "read" side of my follow.it account also looks good. See below



Ponderings on the future

I'm still in pondering on what to do. I think I may run an A/B test and set up my Botanical Art and Artists blog - which has c1k subscribers - with another set-up and see if that works better.

Otherwise, I'm going to have to set up a Patreon account and start subscriptions all over again, but limited to those who pay a very nominal amount to get the blog posts.

I am also thinking along the lines of getting everybody to subscribe again - because I've absolutely no idea how many never open their emails and I'm not keen on paying for subscriptions from people who never open their email!

However do not fear - I have downloaded all current subscribers as a csv file - and will be keeping that safe until such time as I decide where subscriptions or going....

At the moment I've not pulled any hair out but getting close.....

There again maybe I shall go and take another look at Substack which manages to create a much better impression with me and has both free and paid options for followers.

(NOTE: All this within the context that I'm now listed for surgery and am expecting that my ankle fusion operation will take place in the Autumn and I'll then have very limited movement on one leg only for at least three months followed by not a lot more mobility for some months after that - followed by a shoulder replacement - when I'll be doing everything with one hand. So exhibition reviewing is going to be minimal for some time... I'm thinking of switching to art book reviews and getting the art material and tips and techniques websites finished!)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021

I have no idea how the Wildife Artist of the Year competition and exhibition passed me by.

Maybe it's because the David Shepherd Foundation have this year teamed up with the BBC Wildlife Magazine so what used to be two different art competitions is now one.

Anyway - the bottom line is you have just over one day left to view the artwork online

The virtual exhibition closes on 29th June 2021.

  • You have to complete a form to get access to the exhibition
  • they then send you a link

Alternatively you can view via the gallery for the Wilflife Artist of the Year 2021 on the David Shepherd website.

“Orcas, Blackfish Sound”  by Darren Rees
Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021:
“Orcas, Blackfish Sound”  by Darren Rees

You can also view the Prizewinners - images and story - on 

some of the selected artworks in the online catalogue 


Overall winner sponsored by Neil & June Covey – £10,000*  

  • Orcas, Blackfish Sound(acrylic painting) by Darren Rees

(The £10,000, consists of a £5,000 cash prize and £5,000 conservation voucher to be donated in the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021’s name to a DSWF species of their choice.) 

“the gentleness of the orcas swimming by such a spectacular backdrop reminds us of the beauty of our planet and how vitally important both land and ocean are to our very survival”.  Melanie Shepherd

Overall Runner-up sponsored by Neil & June Covey – £2,000

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Three Virtual Views of the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2021

If you're unable to visit the Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club - which opened last week at the Mall Galleries in London (closes 3rd July) - you can view it online - in three different ways

ONE. You can take the Virtual Tour - which requires navigation. 

NEAC Virtual Exhibition Tour

As previously, once you click the arrow (above) the Matterport software for some reason makes the colours seem much lighter and less intense that when artwork is seen in the Gallery. As a result I find it more difficult to recognise artwork by different artists - when normally it's no problem (i.e. colour and tone is part of their signature style). I keep noticing this with Matterport Virtual Exhibitions so can only assume it's the software. Or maybe somebody needs to review the settings?

However you can view the artwork in the galleries in a number of ways

  • via the 3D Space - which gives you the sense of being inside the Gallery 
  • or via the plan
  • both of which are located in the bottom left hand corner
  • on the bottom right you can expand the picture to fill your screen which is much the best way to view
  • use your cursor to navigate - it takes some getting used to.

West Gallery

East Gallery

North Gallery

TWO: You can also view the Artwork selected for the exhibition on the Mall Galleries website - albeit you have to 

  • scroll down on the NEAC exhibition page
  • then page through (using the arrows at the bottom) the pages of artworks selected for the exhibition - from members and those selected from the open entry
  • all artworks are ordered by the surname of the exhibiting artist. I always feel sorry for those whose surname is at the end of the alphabet given I know not everybody who starts looking makes it to the end....
  • if you click the artwork you access a larger version with more details
  • You can also see which artworks have sold. (Bearing in mind the exhibition was online for some time before it opened for real at the Mall Galleries). Initial review would suggest that my perennial advice about pricing is being borne out yet again.
However, there's no option to look at artworks grouped by:
  • artist
  • subject
  • media

which is a pity as I like looking at all the landscapes (or whatever) at the same time. 

What's even more odd is that this facility is (partially) available on the website for the Artist Explorer - where you can search via artist name or medium.

I think that now that the buying public is switched on to online buying AND those of who are older are going to continue to be rather cautious re outings for quite some time, it's maybe time for the Mall Galleries to decide whether it's time to upgrade the software for viewing artwork to that employed by other galleries - to make it MUCH easier for people to view what they want to see.  

That's the pathway to more sales - making art more accessible. 

THREE: View it on the NEAC website

I personally find it much easier to view the artwork in the exhibition on the NEAC website - which has got HORIZONTAL arrows which advance groups of artwork automatically. Much, much easier with no scrolling involved!

Friday, June 25, 2021

About Karin Jurick (d. 2021)

I'm so very, very sad to be writing this.

I woke up this morning thinking about death (my father died 23 years ago today).... and then the first post I read on Facebook this morning was by James Hollingworth telling me that Karin Jurick passed away recently - much too soon at the age of 59. 


Karin Jurick on Daily Paintworks
[UPDATE} This tweet came later

This was James's heartfelt announcement on Facebook.

In the early 2000's my wife Karen and I were just beginning our art careers auctioning our paintings on eBay. Part of that experience was searching eBay for other artists. It was a productive exercise that turned us on to a wealth of new talent. One day I came across the painting below and asked (practically begged) Karen to split the cost of it if we were to have the winning bid. We won the auction and when we contacted the artist discovered she lived just across town. She said she was a huge fan of our work and would love to deliver the painting herself. A week or so later Karin Jurick showed up at our door and twenty years later was still one of our closest and dearest friends. Tragically, a few days ago she suddenly passed away.

Karin was a remarkable woman to say the least. She was tough but had a huge heart. She was funny, smart witty and a true genius at painting. Karin was a virtuoso with a paint brush. Karen and I would watch her paint on occasion and we would just sit there with our mouths open in awe. Karin was also one of Karen's most trusted advisors. If Karen had a question, about practically anything, Karin would always give her her honest opinion on that subject. Karin had a way of cutting through the BS, so you knew when she spoke it was the laser focused truth.

Karen and I shared numerous shows with her and took quite a few trips to the beach with her and Brett her partner of thirty years. Karen and I would frequently meet on their side of town for lunch at their (and our) favorite Mexican restaurant. I can't tell you how much I looked forward to those visits, or describe the size of the hole her passing has left in my heart. I love you Karin. James Hollingsworth

Karin has been one of the constants in my blogging life for very many years. 

We corresponded on a number of occasions. Often with me telling her she'd won yet another award in The Making A Mark Awards!

Click the pic to see it BIGGER
and read my nomination properly
- in which I try to explain what made Karin special for me

I treasured notes like this one - which I received after telling her she'd won yet again in the Person Category! She was a very kind person and always so very appreciative of those who supported her as I did - so very many times over the years.

What follows is a resume of Karin's life online - lest we forget all those wonderful paintings. Interspersed by videos of her paintings and a podcast in which you can hear her voice....

About Karin Jurick

This is Karin talking about her life and how she became a painter - followed by a summary of different aspects of her artistic life.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Lewis Carroll illustrated as well as wrote about Alice's Adventures

Did you know that John Tenniel was not the first person to illustrate Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll?

In fact, the author, the Reverend Charles Dodgson - who used the pen name of Lewis Carroll - was also a visual artist who mixed with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and enjoyed drawing.

He illustrated the first version of his story himself. His original manuscript of “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground” (as it was first called) - now in the British Library - was written in sepia ink and contains 37 pen and ink illustrations and a rather elaborate title page. 

Pen and ink illustrations for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground
by Lewis Carroll

This compares to some 90+ illustrations by Tenniel for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

You can review the book and the fascinating illustrations

What happened to the manuscript and how did it end up at the British Library?

Alice Liddell treasured the manuscript until 1928, but was then forced to sell it to pay death duties after the death of her husband. The manuscript was sold at auction at Sotheby’s for £15,000 to an American dealer, Dr Rosenbach. He in turn sold it to Eldridge Johnson upon returning to America. Following Johnson’s death in 1946 the manuscript was again sold at auction. This time, however, it was purchased by a wealthy group of American benefactors, who donated the manuscript to the British Museum in 1948. The return of this important work to the British people was a token of gratitude for Britain's stand against Adolf Hitler during World War Two.

British Library - text next to full screen view of the manuscript

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

100 Famous Painters and Their Studios

The other day I came across this video of Famous Painters of the 19th and 20th Centuries in their studios (or at least most of them are!) and really enjoyed viewing it.

I can't say I know every single one of the artists but I knew most of them - but I like art history, so maybe that makes a difference.

What was interesting is that I knew a lot of the names and the art without knowing what the artist looked like. 

I'd certainly seen very few images of their studios and how they like to work, so most of the content was new to me.

If you're a fan of art history do take a look - it's 12 minutes long and for many people it will be a video they bookmark to share with others.....

For the record, I've no idea who"LearnfromMasters" who created it is. he/she/it certainly take pains to hide their ID.

You can see more videos on their YouTube Channel

Monday, June 21, 2021

'The Hay Wain' by John Constable - with Andrew Marr

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Andrew Marr on "The Hay Wain" by John Constable last Friday night. This is the second episode of the second seasons of Great Paintings of the World Programme on Channel 5.

I was particularly struck at the end by the thought that this is precisely the sort of programme BBC4 should be making - rather than the BBC relegating BBC4 to becoming an archive channel!! 

It appears to me that we now need to look for quality programming about art on channels other than those 'allowed' us by the BBC.

Anyway, back to the programme......

Episode 2: The Hay Wain by John Constable


John Constable (1776 - 1837) believed in the importance of working from life and was dedicated to the way he wanted to paint and basing his paintings on his drawings of the landscape, skies and 'weather'.

I thought I knew quite a bit about John Constable, having seen a number of exhibitions of his work and written about him. However, I was surprised by some content included in Andrew Marr's excellent, well researched and cogent story of his life, family and development as an artist.

He came up with a number of things I either didn't know or hadn't appreciated properly before. Such as

  • The site and size of his father's home in East Bergholt (the link is to Constable's painting of it - not featured in the programme)
  • his experience of being shown at the RA Summer Exhibition - and the decision to "go bigger" to get more wall space and a better position (a sentiment not lost on many of those entering competitive exhibitions today!)
  • His work experience prior to becoming a painter which led to him being a pre-eminent painter of weather and clouds
  • the fact that he was a great success at the Paris Salon and sold many more paintings in France before he became a popular artist in the UK.
  • His preparation for painting The Hay Wain - including the full scale study for the painting
  • the historical socio-economic context for the 'The Hay Wain' in terms of the movement of people - from living in the country to the cities

Do watch the programme on catch up if you can. You won't regret it if you enjoy landscape painting! 

I also commend to you the National Gallery page about The Hay Wain - which allows you to see the painting full screen and also zoom in different parts of it.

The Hay Wain (1821) by John Constable (1776 - 1837)
oil on canvas, 130.2 x 185.4cm

Plus for those unable to view Channel 5, here's a video by the National Gallery about The Hay Wain.

More about John Constable

These are my blog posts 

Plus these blog posts from my Travels with a Sketchbook blog 

My sketch of Constable's "Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill"
11" x 16", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Plus some links to works by John Constable 

Some excellent summaries can be found on
I highly recommend the collection of his work at the V&A

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize: deadline is TODAY 5PM!

For some reason, the Call for Entries for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize passed me by.

So this is a prompt for those who have entered previously and/or intend to enter again....


You can enter via https://tbwdrawingprize.artopps.co.uk/

The benefits of the TBW Drawing Prize are:

  •  Cash prizes totalling £27,000. These are:
    • First Prize – £8,000
    • Second Prize – £5,000
    • Student Award – £2,000
    • Working Drawing Prize – £2,000
    • Evelyn Williams Drawing Award – £10,000 - selection by a separate set of Judges
  • Your work may be selected for the annual exhibition of around 65 drawings (i.e. NOT just an online show!). The exhibition will launch in Trinity Buoy Wharf, in London, and show in galleries across the UK.
  • Your work is seen by the panel of selectors.  

This is how the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2021 works

There is a two-stage selection process:

  • Stage 1: Drawings are registered by 5pm on 17 June 2021. The Selection Panel will choose a longlist of drawings from the online entries. All works are viewed without reference to their maker. Entrants will be notified by 5pm on 25 June 2021 of the outcome.
  • Stage 2: Longlisted drawings must be delivered to 
    • one of the Collection Centres located across the UK 
    • or directly to Trinity Buoy Wharf in London 
    • during July 2021 for the final selection process.
  • Selected Works: The final selection is announced in July 2021 - including all drawings shortlisted for the exhibition and awards 

Note the following

The biennial Evelyn Williams Drawing Award is supported by the Evelyn Williams Trust and is awarded to a selected artist with a significant track record to develop and realise a body of new drawings for a solo exhibition or to realise a new exhibition installation otherwise based on their drawing practice at Hastings Contemporary. Please note that students are not eligible for this award.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Are you Business Savvy about your art career?

Do you know what Business Savvy means?

Are you Business Savvy about your art career?

What's the difference between:

  • A good artist who sells their work from time to time - but needs to have a 'proper job" too? and....
  • Somebody who has a professional career as an artist and generates enough turnover/income/profit to pay their bills, and their tax bill and contribute to a pension fund?

What are the attributes of those artists who have coped best with all the change experienced in the last 12-15 months?

What changed in the art world in the last year - and is if ever going to be the same again?

These and more questions will be addressed in the Zoom Webinar I'm doing on 24th June (a week tomorrow) about How to be a Business Savvy Botanical Artist

It's targeted at botanical artists, but a lot of the messages are universal and apply to many artists.

This is the latest in the series of BOTANICAL ART TALKS which Julia Trickey has been organising this year. They've been attracting botanical artists from all continents!

  • You can find a summary of what it's about on Julia's website - under Talks
  • Date: the webinar is on Thursday 24th June 2021
  • Time: 7pm BST, 2pm EDT and 11am PDT
  • Fee: £12.
  • Talks are recorded and made available to registrants 24 hours after the live session. They will then be available for 48 hours, making them accessible whatever your time zone!


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

About Shirley Trevena RI

Shirley Trevena is extremely well known - internationally - as a watercolour painter. This is a video about Shirley talking about how she became a painter and her approach to making art in watercolour. 

Shirley is also: 

  • a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. She was elected inn 1994 and served as a committee member for 8 years.
  • an ex-local government officer who worked in Planning (I never knew that before!) 
  • who used to be "just a holiday painter" - who started painting in watercolour while on holiday in Cornwall
  • resigned her planning job nearly 30 years ago to become a professional full time artist
  • Draws using the same pen as me (yay for the Pilot G-TEC-C4)
  • credits the film "A Bigger Splash" - about David Hockney - as providing inspiration for her and proved that there were no rules
  • started painting floral paintings - for which she is perhaps best known

Flowers by Shirley Trevena

  • now she focuses more on still life - but also paints other subjects
  • Comments in the video about
    • how she uses her iPad to help her make decisions about the development of her painting 
    • her approach to drawing and painting and
    • how she breaks rules, alters perspective and features patterns.... 

She written three art instruction books about her approach to painting in watercolour

She has also made several instructional DVDs. 

If you want to pep up your watercolours, I suggest you take a look!

Monday, June 14, 2021

A new book about Natural History Illustration in Pen & Ink

Natural History Illustration in Pen & Ink by Sarah Morrish is being published by Crowood Press (one of my favourite art instruction publishers) on 23rd August 2021.

Natural History Illustration in Pen and Ink
by Sarah Morrish

It's always a pleasure to introduce a new book by a friend. 

I've been watching content for this book being developed for some time - and it's great to know that we now have a known publication date and it can now be ordered.

Sarah Morrish is a botanical and natural history artist and illustrator who which combines science and art. She has exhibited extensively and also teaches workshops and online (See her website Illustrating Nature's Details). She also has a BSc Hons Ecology & Conservation Biology and a Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

This is her first book. It won't be her last!

I know how Sarah teaches - she's very thorough and extremely well-organised and communicates extremely clearly - both in writing and online when she's delivering Zoom workshops / demonstrations to artists all over the world.

A new book about drawing nature in pen and ink

This is a unique book of instruction for those who enjoy - or aspire to - drawing nature and wildlife. So far as I am aware there's no other art instruction book which covers drawing a range of natural history subjects in pen and ink.

It provides:

  • Practical advice on using a range of materials and equipment for illustrating in pen and ink, as well as the collection and preservation of subject matter and reference material.
  • Detailed instruction in how to create essential mark-making techniques that will enhance your illustrations through accurate depiction of shape, form, texture and pattern, and in the principles and elements of design.
  • Subject-themed chapters including botanical subjects, strandline and marine specimens, fossils, invertebrates, birds, feathers and nests, and mammals.
  • Additional chapters on: 
    •  the importance of sketchbooks and study pages, 
    • protection and presentation of artwork, 
    • combining pen and ink with other media and 
    • composition.
  • Step-by-step exercises suitable for all skill levels 
  • Case studies describing working practice as a professional illustrator.
Additional examples of natural history illustration in pen and ink by other artists - including:

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr resumes with Monet's Water Lilies

Series 2 of Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr - opens with Monet's Water Lilies

A year ago, back in the first lockdown in 2020, Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr on Channel 5 was a new programme which was a bright spark for all those bereft of visits to art galleries and museums. (see Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr 22 June 2020)

...and then it stopped after Episode 3!

So I did some digging about what had happened and was able to report back in Good news re Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr - in which 

  • I reported that Channel 5 had told me that it would resume later in the year.
  • reviewed the series to date and how it had been received
  • commented on the need for museums to make more art available online

Presumably that statement from Channel 5 was made with the idea that nothing much would happen after the first lockdown. In other words, the events of the latter part of 2020 and first part of 2021 had clearly NOT been anticipated.

Which is why we are only now seeing (what I hope are) the next three episodes of this series.

Series 2

I'm absolutely certain one of the future programmes is going to be about Monet's Water Lilies at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris (because of the pics for the series). These paintings absolutely overwhelmed me and filled my eyes with tears the first time I saw them. I was incredibly lucky to see them for the very first time incredibly early one Saturday morning in the late 80s with nobody else in the room. I'd arrived in Paris on the Motorail from Provence (a service which is no longer available!). My visit to the water lilies was followed by a very nice lunch near the L'Orangerie and my driving out to Giverny to visit Monet's garden - and then to Calais for the ferry and back home to London.

A day I will never ever forget - I've got a very clear visual memory of it even now!

Series 2 comprises:

I don't know if there are going to be more episodes after the Hay Wain as there's nothing on the website. As indicated in one of my earlier blog posts about this series, the introduction to the series suggests the following are in the pipeline

READ MORE about Water Lilies by Monet on this blog!

You can also take a virtual visit to Monet's Waterlilies in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris

Plus see my videos of them - as seen back in September 2009. The first is a proper video - of each room at the Musée de l'Orangerie devoted to "The Grand Decorations"

The next one is a slideshow

Series 1

This covered the following paintings and is available on demand on Channel 5. These were:
  • EPISODE 1 - Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
  • EPISODE 2 - Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh
  • EPISODE 3 - The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner
Note that on the Channel 5 Page for the episodes, they've got the wrong paintings with every Episode!  
Images for every episode are WRONG!
I love the fact Channel 5 is getting involved with Art on Television - and this is a good series - but a bit more attention to presentation online would not go amiss!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

VIDEO: Visit David Curtis in his studio.

Visit the renowned painter David Curtis in his studio / man cave / comfort zone!

Courtesy of a video of David Curtis  set-up and shot presumably by a relative - who chose to do it in portrait format - in his studio in the village of Misson in the north of Nottinghamshire and just east of Doncaster where he was born. This was done as an added extra to the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 2020. 

His compact studio is not very big and is based in an old barn which dates back to 1660 and used to be the village slaughterhouse  - and then the coffin-maker's shop!!

David paints in both oil and watercolour and likes to work plein air as well as in his studio. He David highlights in the video how he likes to have:

  • a specifc place in his studio for his watercolour painting where he still uses his 1960s drawing board
  • his corner for oils - including his palette (He lists all the paints he uses)

David Curtis's oil palette in his studio

  • the artwork around the studio
  • his writing section; and 
  • his computer section and bookcase
  • AND what he gets out of working in his studio

He's not averse to showing you the view and the painting alongside it on his website, Facebook Page and Instagram account. You can see pics of him at work on his website 

Some of the pics on his website
- but the main pics are on the Gallery Pages

I've seen and admired his paintings hung in very many exhibitions over the years at the Mall Galleries - and I really appreciate this opportunity to see inside his studio. In effect, it's a story of his life as an artist.  Maybe somebody else needs to come and paint David in his studio - rather in the way a number have sketched and painted him at work when painting plein air?


More about David Curtis

David Curtis VPROI, RSMA is a  

He has also written four highly regarded books about painting and been involved in a number of art instruction videos.  He's a very knowledgeable and thoughtful artist and instructor as well as an excellent artist whose paintings are much loved by very many people.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

7 reasons to find out what the Great British Photography Challenge can teach artists

I've been watching The Great British Photography Challenge since it started on BBC4 three weeks ago - and warmed to it straight away. In this post I'm going to set out what I think are the reasons why a lot of artists might get value from watching it too.

Good photographers take good pictures
Great photographers take great pictures again and again and again and again


Programme website

Participants - three women and three men

 Reasons to watch the Great Photography Challenge 

I'm not interested in seding anyone home. We want to see what they can all bring in the coming weeks...
This process is also about how you take feedback and getting multiple viewpoints on your work.
  1. There's a great professional practitioner in charge - Rankin has worked professionally for over 30 years and is uncompromising about his own standards. What that means is.....
  2. This is NOT any sort of "knockout" talent show. It's a masterclass
    • He makes a point at the beginning that he's NOT about sending anybody home or making it some sort of knockout competition. I get the sneaky feeling he made it a condition of doing the show. (Other professionals should do likewise!)
    • He's very much about nurturing talent with constructive feedback and NOT about creating "a talent show".
    • They really need to drop the "Challenge" bit of the title and insert "Masterclass" instead - for what will (hopefully) arrive as a repeat next year!
  3. Rankin acts as a Mentor as well as a Judge - and when he makes judgements he does it a part of a team of experts
    • The feedback is both positive and negative - and it's about what makes great images
    • It's always about trying to make them better creatives, technicians and photographers.
    • There's also much MORE constructive content given direct to the participants than there is in any other similar programme for artists
  4. The series of four programmes pack in 12 assignments - 3 in each programme covering a wide range of subjects in the widely contrasting briefs - many of which are not unlike the subjects tackled by artists
  5. The programmes bring in expert professional coaches for different topics and subjects -
    • a huge variety of different people who each have something unique and different to say - and different approaches to their work
    • His young creative team also provide extra lessons and tips and techniques and seem to me to be very competent at their jobs.
    • I'm impressed with everyone he has used to date (and those who know my reviews in the past of other 'challenge' will know I'm NOT averse to saying when I find the hired help fall way short of what we should expect from a professional programme. There are people reading this who will know who I'm talking about!)
  6. It involves six contestants of different ages, backgrounds and interest.  
    • NONE of whom get knocked out 
    • ALL of whom start out as competent photographers who have demonstrable ability to go further - which is a very refreshing change..... 
    • ALL of whom grow and change with the process of tackling a wide variety of briefs.
    • I get the feeling they took some care in the photographers they selected because there were only ever going to be six participants!
  7. It treats them - and us - as adults! So much more impressive as an approach - to create an informative and entertaining programme which is also very educational.
The search is on for an exciting new name in British photography. Six talented photographers from across the UK embark on the photographic masterclass of a lifetime with Rankin.
BBC website

 I do hope we see the programme repeated with more series.

Reasons for artists to take photography seriously

I've often noticed that the composition, design, colour variation and patterns and tonal variations of good photos often seem (to me) to be a lot better than the artwork produced by people of similar levels of ability and standing.

Good photographers think about impact and how to create an image which captures the eye.

It's a bit the same as noticing the attributes of great illustrators who do pretty much the same thing.

They all work hard at the structure and picture quality of the image they want to create. How it tells the story and how it works with "what works" and their own values and qualities that they hold dear.

In addition, photographers often routinely work in series. Even if they are jobbing on commissions, there's very often a series of their own work going on in the background.
Could it be that photographers, designers and illustrators work much harder on what makes a great image - rather than about how to prefect their equivalent of how to lay down paint?
I know that in my own world of self-imposed art education, I regard instruction by those who know about photography and design at least as important as looking back at the lessons we can all take from art history - or tuition from contemporary artists.
It's emphatically not about taking better photographs to work from!

It's much more about learning how to see great images - and understanding why they work - and creating a perspective all your own.

I RECOMMEND THE PROGRAMME. I think it's got a lot of useful lessons for artists as well as aspiring photographers.

There's on episode left - broadcast next Monday on BBC at 9pm. Or you watch the entire series via BBC iPlayer

Episodes to date


Monday, June 07, 2021

VIDEO: Melissa Scott-Miller painting backs of houses, back gardens and urban landscapes in London


This is a wonderful video of Melissa Scott-Miller painting her wonderful detailed urban London landscapes in lush oil paint.

"I like to feel I'm portraying the essence of an area"


  • what the inside of an artist's home really looks like (oil paintings occupy every wall while they dry and wait for exhibitions, canvases for painting stack against walls)
  • how to paint with an easel on the stairs
  • why shopping trollies are a wonderful way to transport kit for plein air painting
  • how to respond to really irritating people who want to talk about your painting while you're working (keep responses brief and don't encourage more questions and be nice to those who nice to you)
  • how to respond to "how much" questions
  • how painting plein air facilitates marketing - so don't forget to take your business card!

"If I really had my own way, I'd just be painting backs of houses
The video was created for the recent Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition 2021

We follow Melissa Scott-Miller RP NEAC RBA as she paints in her studio, on the stairs, and out in the streets of London.

Growing up among the tall red-brick mansion blocks of Kensington, Melissa Scott-Miller was an enthusiast for London's streetscapes from an early age. She has made the urban landscape her specialty, choosing metre-square canvases to record the rich detail of the city.

The video was made by Jack Elliott Hobbs, digital content creator and documentary filmmaker.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Peter Wegner wins $100,000 Archibald Prize 2021

In its 100th year, Peter Wegner has won the $100,000 Archibald Prize 2021 - for his portrait of fellow painter Guy Warren, who turned 100 in April.

That's a lot of 100s. I guess if people had thought about this in advance, the answer to who would win this prestigious Australian portrait prize was pretty obvious! I'm inclined to pat Peter Wegner on the back for maybe thinking that painting a 100 year old artist who has previously won the Archibald Prize himself (in 1985 with Flugelman with Wingman) would do him no harm in the selection stakes.

Guy Warren with Peter Wegner's award-winning portrait of Guy Warren!
'Peter Wegner’s tender portrait of Guy Warren provides a moving insight into the artist’s state of mind as he navigates his 101st year with characteristic grace and good humour. The fact that Warren was himself an Archibald Prize winner in 1985 adds a wonderful layer of history to the poignancy of the portrait. Who wouldn’t want to look this content at the age of 100?’ Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand

I feel really sorry for Peter Wegner - who was stuck in Melbourne due to a recent lockdown there. So his participation was by video link only.... 

[Note His surname is spelt everywhere but in the subtitles as Wegner!]

This is a video about the announcement of who won and includes commentary from both Peter Wegner and Guy Warren.


About Peter Wegner

About the artist - Peter Wegner

The artist must have resident in Australia or New Zealand for the whole of the previous year.
  • Age: b.1953 in New Zealand; his career has spanned 40+ years
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Melbourne
  • Art education:no art training initially. two-year AME Bale residential painting scholarship under Sir William Dargie followed by graduated in fine arts from the Phillip Institute of Technology, from which he later also gained a postgraduate diploma
  • Previous appearances in this award: an Archibald Prize finalist in 2020, 2016, 2011, 2004 and 2000 and was also a finalist in the Archibald's ‘Sporting Portrait Prize’ in 2000.
  • Website:https://www.peterwegner.com.au/
  • Facebook: n/a
  • Previous Awards
    • a four-time finalist in the Dobell Prize for Drawing 
    • 2006: awarded the Doug Moran Prize in 2006
    • 2012: exhibited in BP Portrait inLondon & Edinburgh
    • 2013: awarded the $20,000 Gallipoli Art Prize
  • Artwork in Collections: His works are held in the collections of
  • the Art Gallery of NSW, 
  • National Library of Australia, 
  • National Portrait Gallery, 
  • State Library of Victoria, 
  • Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. 
  • and several regional galleries. 

His portrait is part of his Centerarian Project

The Centenarian Project started in 2013 with the first drawing of my Aunty Rita who reached the age of 104. It occurred to me while drawing Rita that there must be other Centenarians who were still living lives with mobility, curiosity and purpose. The nucleus of this series began to form.

Over the last 8 years l have drawn 100 Centenarians within Victoria and New South Wales, about half of whom are living in their own homes with outside support, the other half live in low-care residential accommodation. Each drawing was completed from life in an afternoon or morning with little alteration to that first impression, they are moments captured within a time allowed.

The exploration of ageing and how well we age is central to this project. Maintaining human dignity and independent living are important issues as we age, alongside the question of what it means to have a productive and meaningful life.


About the sitter - Guy Warren

Guy Warren won the 1985 Archibald Prize with a portrait of artist Bert Flugelman, which is included in the Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery. 
This is the seventh time he has been an Archibald subject, including a self-portrait in 1996. 
Warren started his working life at The Bulletin magazine, which was founded by JF Archibald, whose bequest established the Archibald Prize in 1921. 

The Archibald Prize

The Archibald Prize is awarded to the best portrait of a person ‘distinguished in art, letters, science or politics’ painted by an Australian resident. 

 The Archibald Prize winner is decided by the Art Gallery’s Board of Trustees.  

The Packing Room Prize ($3,000)

For the 30th annual Archibald Packing Room Prize the Prize goes to Kathrin Longhurst for her portrait of the celebrated Australian singer and songwriter Kate Ceberano. 

Packing Room Prize 2021 winner Kathrin Longhurst Kate © the artist

The Packing Room Prize is a cash prize awarded to the best entry as selected by the staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales who have to handle, receive, unpack and hang the Archibald Prize entries. This year, the prize money has doubled, increasing from $1,500 to $3,000 for the winning artist. 

Their Head 'Packer', Brett Cuthbertson, gets 52% of the vote i.e. he gets to choose the winner whatever!

‘Kathrin’s work fits my criteria. It’s a portrait of a well-known celebrity and it looks like her! I met Kate Ceberano many years ago and Kathrin has really captured her likeness. As soon as I saw the work, I thought “that’s it”. This is also the first time in my tenure as head packer that I have awarded the Packing Room Prize to both a female artist and female sitter. I have been on the lookout, but this is the first time it stood out to me as a clear winner.’ Brett Cuthbertson

The German-born, Sydney-based artist is mostly self-taught and was previously a finalist in the Archibald Prize 2018 and Sulman Prize 2012.  

The ANZ People’s Choice Award ($3,500)

This is voted for by those visiting the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The winner will be announced on Later in the summer.

The 100th Archibald Prize Exhibition 2021

For the first time the Archibald Prize Exhibition - at the  Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia - features more women artists than men.  

  • For the first time, there is gender parity for artists selected as Archibald finalists: 26 women and 26 men. 
  • Female sitters outnumber the men (although that is not a first).

(Note to self - maybe start counting the ratio of male to female artists in future exhibitions?)

They had the second highest number of entries. 938 paintings were entered and 52 were elected.

Part of the exhibition


Selected artists

[will be added in tomorrow)

You can see all the paintings on this page - click the painting and it takes you to a page about the artist and the sitter.

What you don't get a sense of is their relative size.

Articles about the Archibald Prize 2021

More about past posts about The Archibald Prize