Sunday, October 31, 2021

Call for Entries: Pastel Society 123rd Annual Exhibition 2022

READ ON If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media. 

The Pastel Society is calling for entries for its 123rd Annual Exhibition in February 2022.

SUMMARY of Call for Entries


EXHIBITION: The 123rd Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society

  • Dates: 16th - 26th February 2022
  • Value: Mall Galleries, The Mall, London
  • DEADLINE for entries - for a digital image, application form and fee - is 12 noon Friday 3rd December.
The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary dry media, combining traditional skills with creative originality for their annual exhibition.

The Society accepts pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conté, sanguine, or any dry media

MORE INFORMATION about the Call for Entries

The Call for Entries from artists other than members of the Pastel Society has been published.

Below you can find my version of the Call for Entries:
  • it includes additional comments which those who have not entered before may find useful.
  • Some of those who have entered before and been unsuccessful might also like to have a read.

Submission: key dates and points to note

ALL artworks must be submitted online. This required meant started in 2021,. It means that the quality of your digital image is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL this year.

On the Mall Galleries website you can find:
Below is a summary of the stages of entry.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

141st Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour: DEADLINE TODAY

Today is the deadline for entries for the 141st Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour

Below are the basics you need to know for anybody who wants to enter

The Exhibition - which will be the largest exhibition of waterbed artwork in Scotland this year - will be held

  • AT: Scottish National Galleries (Upper Galleries); The Mound, Edinburgh
  • ON: 11th December 2021– 27th December 2021

Information Pack for the Open Entry:  RSWOpen Entrants Pack 141st

The RSW believes that painting using thin films of water based pigment is a unique skill, the mastery of which confirms the painter's commitment to their art. For the viewer, the primacy of such skill conveys a particular richness, and for those who use the medium themselves, the art watercolour provides a direct inspiration.

To this end, in our membership, exhibitions, prize giving and all other activities we will curate to promote this singular and beautiful technique.
Deadline for Entries: Works may now be submitted online until midnight on 30th October for Stage 1 selection at:

Who can enter
: artists working in the UK

What can you enter
  • Nature of Works: All works must be in a water based medium on paper. Works submitted must be framed, suitably presented and able to be hung. Any unsuitable presentation may prejudice the hanging of a painting.
  • Inadmissable: Works which have already been shown in Edinburgh in an open Exhibition 
  • Number of Works: Non Members may submit up to 2 works
  • Maximum size: 1 up to 48” x 48” including frame (122 cm) plus 1 unlimited size
How to enter: Works may now be submitted online until midnight on 30th October for Stage 1 selection at:

Sales and commission: All exhibitors will be charged a commission of 40% on the sale price of work sold in the Exhibition.

  • Art Work Delivery: Sunday 28th & Monday 29th November 2021, 10.30 – 4.30 
  • Collection of Unselected works: Saturday 4th December 2021, 2 – 4pm 
  • Private View: Friday 10th December 2021 2 – 4pm
  • Exhibition Opens to Public: Saturday 11th December 2021, 10am
  • Exhibition closes: Monday 27th December 2021
  • Collection of unsold work: Wednesday 29th & Thursday 30th December 10.30 – 4.30
Note this condition:
Anyone selected to submit work to the gallery must adhere to the COVID safety guidelines as laid down by the Scottish Government, National Galleries and RSW. It should be presumed that a face mask/covering will be necessary when delivering work. Failure to comply with the guidelines will result in the work not being accepted.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: Episode 3 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 (Series 8)

Another good episode in this year's series 8 of Portrait Artist of the Year which I think has gained a lot more viewers since Sky Arts moved to Freeview Channel 11!

This is my review of last night's episode.

The Artists

At some point we might get all the artists looking to camera!

Just like last week's episode there was a major imbalance between professional and amateur artists - repeating the 2:7 ratio we saw last week

Links to websites are in embedded in the name and social media links are provided if self-evident.

Professional Artists

The two professional artists were 

Amateur Artists

plus seven amateur artists

  • Sophie Spreadbury [InstagramTwitter] - an actress who does voiceovers and portrait commissions and who lives in London. 
  • Mish Fernandez - a part-time Registrar (weddings or medicine?) who paints using her hands
  • Lucy Bartholomew [Instagram] - an art teacher from Maindstone whose Lino print self portrait of her with her baby was made during her maternity leave. Her Instagram indicates she's one the more proficient people at drawing. (Mind you working as an art teacher makes you a professional in my book!)
  • Kevin Judge - an art design graduate from Dublin. This is his rather surreal self portrait"Painter, Sculptor, Lighthouse keeper, Striker. In that order." according to one website
  • Liam Dugan - grew up in Aberdeen now based in Edinburgh who works as an Interior Designer. Now does portrait commissions via social media and was in the Scottish Portrait Awards 2018
  • Will Terry - from Reading. On a gap year before going to university to do an animation degree. 
  • Leigh Roberts - [Facebook | Instagram] - a painter, illustrator is also one of Santa's little helpers. This is her self portrait and this was her portrait selected for the Scottish portrait Awards 2019
Methinks programme makers have been trawling some of the other portrait competition websites.....

The Self Portraits

Overall, I have to say I think the standard of the self portraits have improved this year.

I RECOMMEND you listen very carefully to the JUDGES' comments at the very beginning as it becomes every clearer how important the self portraits are to who gets shortlisted and who wins.

I have to say it's entirely possibly somebody at Skys Arts is listening to me - after my rant last week - as we've got a better shot of the self-portraits this week! Mind you not without some effort on my part to correct the fishball!

I made a LOT of parallax adjustment to get this shot!


Landscape format x 1
Portrait format x 8


Large x 4
Medium x 1
Small x 3
Tiny x 1


full size or most of body (including hand) x 1
upper torso (no hands) x 1
head and shoulders x 5
head x 1


The Sitters

The sitters the week were
  • Philip Glenister - actor (notably 'Life on Mars' / Ashes to Ashes) - who apparently trained as a draughtsman and is rather good at drawing buildings in pen and ink
  • Nish Kumar - a comedian and television presenter (The Mash Report)
  • Alexa Chung - characterised as a 'global style icon', a fashion brand and a writer

Episode 3: Themes

Sizing and proportions

There were a couple of portraits in this episode which had some serious sizing issues.

One was a full portrait - which I think was drawn quite well on paper of one size and format and was then translated onto canvasser board which seemed to be a different size and format - and bits started to get squeezed

TIP: In sketching to start with it's a great idea to make a proper working drawing which indicates proportion much more EXPLICITLY on the page - in terms of 
  • finding one length to act as the scale - and then 
  • mark up others as being multipliers - up or down from that length - EXPLICITLY as a reminder for the transfer.
One was a head - which started in the middle with the eyes and just grew and grew until it became a very big head - because there was no measuring happening. If there had been it would have never got as big as it did. Kathleen Soriano's "expanded" comment about it - when assessing the three portraits for every sitter - was very telling. 

The people who got the sizing and proportions better were those who kept measuring with their eyes as they looked at the sitter and back to their artwork.

How to establish forms and features

The programme commented on how some artists started the process of trying to find the form and features by drawing and sketching - while others used paint straight from the off.

Some looked at the sitter in front of them and worked direct from the sitter, while others worked from the image on their smartphone or tablet

I didn't see a lot of measuring going on - which was odd - but might well account for the fact that a number of the portraits actually diverged quite a lot from the actual shape and form of the head and Aldo also included features which were inaccurate.

It was a big week for those who could get both form and features right - as in the most accurate portrait won the heat.

TIP: I'm not sure accuracy will be the sole reason why an artist wins a heat - but it never does any harm to try and be as accurate as you can be - because it avoids more polite remarks.....

How and when to do the eyes

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Society of Women Artists - Online Annual Exhibition 2021

This is the second year the Society of Women Artists have opted for an Online Annual Exhibition as a Virtual Gallery. Given not knowing how effective jabs would be, what the resistance to jabs might be and whether there'd be another variant which made all this academic are some jolly good reasons to be very cautious!

The exhibition is online until 31st December - so plenty of time to view it - and view it again!

Reviewing an Online Exhibition

That said, I find it very difficult to review Online Exhibitions. I've been trying to work out the reasons why - and here's some thought to date

  • I really like to walk around an exhibition - at a distance from the artwork to get a sense of the exhibition as a whole and what some if its themes or highlights (and lowlights) might be. On this circuit, I'm looking to see what catches my eye. I can "sort of" do something similar with an online exhibition - except all artwork is diminished to similar size images - which knocks my sense of scale out the window!
  • Then I walk around again and look at each artwork in turn - and this time I check the labels to ee what media it is and who created it. Naturally I get a very good sense of size - which I particularly miss when viewing online. I do so wish each image had a standard size "something or other" in the picture as well or a "this is what it would like on a wall next to a standard sized sofa" to give me that sense of scale.
  • Then I ponder on what I've seen - and walk around again to revisit images - and see if I've missed anything for the third circuit
When I say this is what I like to do, in reality this is what I used to do. I can't do that much walking any more so in some ways I better get myself attuned to reviewing online exhibitions because that's all I''ll be looking at for a few months (hopefully soon - if I ever get a date for surgery!).

The other thing I note particularly when I see the online exhibition and then see the real artworks on the wall is I get a very good sense of which look rather better online then they do in reality! You'd be surprised!

Finally, I'm one of those people who likes to get up very close and personal with some artworks - because I want to see "how they did it". I want to see the layers and the brushstrokes - and this, more than anything else, is what I miss when I can only view and online exhibition.

That's not to say it's not possible to really appreciate an artwork online - but on the whole I do feel you do need access to a very large image which you can zoom in on. Indeed some of the images I've been sent by museums and art galleries in the past gave me an insight into work which was better than seeing it on the wall.  The nearest analogy for what I mean is the artworks you can see in Google Arts and Culture.

Review: SWA Online Annual Exhibition 2021

I have th option of looking at:
  • individual artworks
  • pages of thumbnails
  • artwork by artist
I opt for the thumbnails first and then the artists. 

The great thing about thumbnails is it's like my first circuit of a gallery. I'm just looking at images. I don't know who the artist is or what it's made from. I like the fact I get the title of the piece if I hover over the image.

I notice I get pickier as I work my way through the pages....

Initial impressions - as I look at the thumbnails 

  • the overall quality of the artwork is good - and some is very good
  • unsurprisingly, women feature in a lot of the paintings
  • many artists seem very attuned to what artwork looks like on a screen and know how NOT to create flat boring artwork - however this is not a lesson which has been learned by all
  • there were far fewer paintings relating to the last 18 months prior to the exhibition opening than I was expecting
I did look at a few as individual artworks on the way through. 

Individual artists whose artwork stood out for me included

I very much like the fact that artwork bvy artist not listed alphabetically by surname. I get so fed up with those whose surname is at the beginning of the alphabet not having to incur the problems associated with viewing fatigue - because it is more taxing to look online compared to in an art gallery.

I'm going to highlight the artwork that particularly catches my eye below. Some of the reasons are:
  • they included red - it always works
  • they had a strong monochrome shape and design
  • the image read well as a thumbnail - and wasn't too complex or cluttered
Some caught my eye for the wrong reason i.e. they were trying really hard to look like other successful artists. I'm not interested in whether you look like somebody else - I want to know what your unique style looks like.

Some caught my eye as a thumbnail - and then failed to deliver when I saw a larger image. Art has to work from across the gallery (or as a thumbnail) and close up.

These are the people who stood out for me
  • Linda Kritskaya Website: Instagram: linda_kritskaya_art/ - a Russian artist who apparently does not speak English (based on her Instagram). Her three pastels of children are excellent. Her pricing is way off though which I take to be unfamiliarity with showing in the UK.
Back to School 1, 2 and 3

Two of four Pastel Paintings by Sheila Goodman

  • Ninni Heldt  Website: / Instagram: ninniheldt/ - Her format is unusual (a 70cm circular painting) and her work is extremely distinctive and works well as a series grouped together. She also uses a traditional water golding technique. However I do think her work is overpriced.
Two of her four graphite drawings

After which I'm afraid screen fatigue set in. So apologies to all those who came later. This is the reality of online exhibitions....

Award winners


One thing I did notice while reviewing artworks is that some

 pricing is badly out of kilter for typical wall pricing that sells art at the Mall Galleries. 

I've been writing about pricing and sales by FBA Societies and analysing the prices of works which sold for some months - if not years. I have identified price thresholds (i.e. what NOT to go above), if you want to have a serious chance of selling your work - within the context of experience, expertise and name recognition - plus what price ranges can see artwork selling very quickly.

The message does not for some reason appear to have got through to many of the artists exhibiting in this exhibition. I saw some quite ludicrous prices. 

This to my mind explains why so few artworks have sold to date - despite the exhibition having been online for a month. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Online Conferences for Art Societies - a sustainable solution for getting more artists together?

Why don't more regional and national art societies hold Online Conferences?

When you're a local art society there's nothing to stop you limiting your activities to your locality - because, in all probability, that is where most of your members live. They'll either turn up or not to group events depending on how much they like being social and sociable.

However - if you're a regional or national organisation - why do we still behave as if everybody has to go to one place to get together to discuss / see / learn about / demonstrate our favourite art genre / medium?

In these days of reducing our carbon footprint, surely we need to be doing more in terms of finding alternative and more sustainable solutions which allow people to get together and enjoy what they like best about their art - and learn from one another and others.

One of the major benefits of the C19 saga (count the ways you can say "you know what" without triggering google filters!) is that more and more people have learned about the technology for getting online. I think if I'd been an investor in Zoom I'd be very happy right now!

What we saw in 2020

Lots of Annual get-togethers and annual conferences by art societies - which occur predominantly in the USA were cancelled in 2020. However this happened early enough in the year for a number to have time to work out how they could "replatform" the conference - out of a hotel and onto Zoom. 

Those who had some gumption got their act together, had a major think - and took the Conference Online. I think this might well be because there's a considerable amount of income for art societies generated by these conferences.

Which is how, in October 2020, I came to be sitting in my armchair for four days straight and participating in Online in October the very first Virtual Annual Conference of the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Given this was very much a "suck it and see" and a somewhat "seat of the pants" exercise it's amazing how well it worked. They took their normal convention schedule and digitised it - which meant a series of sessions which were mini workshops, evening ones which were lectures or presentations and then a social at the end of the day. In a lot of ways it was very much like the Conference I attended - and spoke at - in Pittsburgh in 2019.  However, the major difference was I was always five hours behind and social interaction - which was the only time members faces got on screen - was always in the middle of the night for me so I didn't actually make it to any of the socials. However I got through most of everything else after buying the "all in" option.

How did others cope with the change?

    I took a look online and came across other examples of online conferences organised by different art organisations

    Art Societies

    the organizers of the annual Glass Art Society conference pivoted from their extensively planned in-person event in Småland, Sweden, to the artist organization's first-ever online conference in May 2020.

    Other member organisations

    Overall, there was a lot of feedback and learning from the first tries at this new form of social interaction online - and lots to build into the learning for the conferences in 2021.

    Major benefits seen from 2020 events

    Thursday, October 21, 2021

    Review: Episode 2 of Portrait Artist of the Year Series 8 (Autumn 2021)

    I'm getting my major whine about this episode out of the way upfront.

    I'm wondering if anybody else is as irritated as me by the Director of the current series of Portrait Artist of the Year who appears incapable of providing us with any wide shots of:

    • ALL the self-portraits - without Judges cluttering the view
    • the submission and heat portrait of the three shortlisted artists - lined up across the screen - one of the really pivotal images of the entire programme - if it actually existed. I'm not interested in arty farty camerawork grovelling on the ground looking up at the Judges with all the portraits side on to us and COMPLETELY INVISIBLE!
    • the three short listed artists lined up with their portraits prior to the announcement
    These are three really important images which have always been available before and all three have been missing from both of the first two episodes.

    The nearest we get to seeing the self-portraits minus judges or participants
    is the background of this overview of PAOTY Episode 2

    We know what the Judges look like - we want to see ALL the self portraits lined up!

    I just don't get it. Did the Director or cameraman not look at any of the previous series?

    The obvious solution is to employ a stills photographer who takes photos of the key shots of IMAGES OF PORTRAITS NEXT TO ONE ANOTHER (i.e. No Judges and no presenters getting in the way) and then insert these into the video. It's not difficult if you use 16:9 format.

    Right that particular mega-whinge out of the way - on to my review of Episode 2!

    The Artists

    This episode had an interesting imbalance between amateurs and professionals - with yet more eyebrows raised by me as to which qualified in which category.

    I always order the artists in the same way - professionals first, then amateurs with everybody listed alphabetically according to their surname. Links to website are embedded in the name and social media accounts are identified where these can be found.

    What's extremely weird is that this week many of the artists have no website. I can't remember the last time there were so few with nothing about them online. 

    The artists having a break

    The Professionals

    • Rory Draper - a former art teacher born in Dublin who now works in Wexford. (Rory sent me his website URL after this post was published). In October 2022, he will be the artist in residence for the Presentation Arts Centre in Enniscorthy
    • Sally Roberts - graduated from Wimbledon School of Art. Paints people floating in space - including her submission which is a full figure (Self Portrait)

    The Amateurs

    • Trudi Atherton (Facebook | Instagram) - from Southport. Studying part-time for a degree in fine art. Uses mixed media, specifically soluble pencils to create both pen and watercolour effects
    • Alice Barker - recently graduated (2020) from the School of Art at Edinburgh University with a degree in Fine Art. This is her degree show. She appears to be a Figurative Artist rather than a Portrait Artist
    • Isabelle Howe (Instagram) - An Estate Agent from Staffordshire. Interestingly there's nothing much 
      on her Instagram to suggest a portrait artist
    • Ruhkiah Johnston - Medical student from London. No website or social media presence
    • Kiel Mitchell (Artfinder | Instagram)- part time food lab manager who also runs his own film production company
    • Robbie Murdoch - born in Birmingham in 1943 and now lives in Milland, West Sussex. He trained as a Dental Surgeon at Guy’s Hospital and has been painting all his life. Since retirement in 2008 he has studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art and now concentrates on painting both plein air and portraiture. He has frequently exhibited with the ROI and the RSMA.
    • Shaquelle Whyte - a figurative painter studying studying for a BA honours at the Slade school of fine art. He has been awarded a Rome Scholarship. 

    The Self Portraits

    I'd like to be able to see the self portraits next to one another so I can do an analysis of size, format and nature of the self portrait.

    Cameramen need to learn to use Zoom!
    The interesting part of the screen is the six of the nine portraits not obscured by the Judges!
    The rest is a waste of space....

    But we didn't get a good sighting of the self portraits until the halfway point when an assessment is made of how they're getting on.

    On this basis I can say that:

    Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    The New Light Prize

    The New Light Prize Exhibition is coming to London next month. In a time when we seem to see art competition with major prizes (£10,000 or more) dropping like flies, it's great to see an art competition which has a very precise focus - and still has a £10,000 prize.

    The common thread through all we do is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated.

    What is the New Light Prize?

    The New Light Prize is a biennial art exhibition:

    • It was established in 2010 to celebrate and promote Northern art - and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020
    • In the last decade it's become one of the UK's largest open exhibitions of contemporary art, showcasing well-known and emerging artists.
    • The exhibition tours art galleries in the UK - with a focus on the north
    • You can see the artworks selected for the 2020-21 exhibition on the website. It's always interesting to see what's sold. I'll maybe do an analysis when the exhibition comes south and I've actually seen it....

    The Prizes

    • £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award – open to all artists over the age of 18 with a connection to the North of England, whether through birth, degree level study or residence.
    • £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award – this award will be presented by our patron on the night of the Private View; all exhibited works will be considered.
    • Saul Hay Emerging Artists Prize offering mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities.
    • Zillah Bell Printmakers’ Prize – all forms of original printmaking are eligible for this prize, the winner of which will be offered a solo exhibition in the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk, which plays host to some of the best printmakers’ shows in the country.
    • The tig Visitors’ Choice Award – where visitors will be asked to vote for their favourite work in the Prize Exhibition.
    • New Light Purchase Prize – the winner’s work will be purchased by New Light to add to the New Light Collection.
    Artists awarded a prize will be asked to provide original evidence of how they meet the entry criteria.

    The Judges for the 2020 Prize were 

    • Sam Phillips is a London-based arts writer and editor. He is the editor of RA Magazine, published by the Royal Academy of Arts.
    • Anne Desmet RA - a world renowned wood engraver who was born and brought up in Liverpool.
    • Grant Scanlan - from the Lake District and now responsible for the management and programming of Huddersfield Art Gallery
    • Annette Petchey lives in the North and is a lover of art and, in a small way, a collector.

    How is "the North defined?"

    Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    Review: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2021

    Yesterday I visited the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries - the 58th Annual Exhibition of the SWLA.

    The exhibition showcases the very best of art inspired by the natural world and includes drawings, paintings, original prints and sculptures from both members and non members of the Society.

    It opened last week (but I was at an Online Conference for four days and Monday was the earliest I could make it) and continues in all three galleries until 1pm on the 24th October. Otherwise it's back to normal opening hours - 10am to 5pm.

    The end wall of the West Gallery - with paintings by Andrew Haslen SWLA

    If you aspire to exhibit in this exhibition, it's ESSENTIAL that you see the very high standard of artwork included in the exhibition - by both members of the Society of Wildlife Artists and those selected from the Open Entry (see Call for Entries: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2021)

    If, like me, you're still being very careful re social contacts, then it's nice to know that the galleries are large and there's lots of space for those attending - and everybody wears a mask!

    If you can't get to see it right now, I've uploaded my photos of every wall of the exhibition to three Facebook Albums - so you can see what you're missing!

    You can also 
    • view the President's tour of the exhibition (above)
    • view the exhibition in 3D Online. Matterport still have not resolved the hyper-brightness of images in the Wet and East Gallery - although views of artwork in the North Gallery are much closer to reality. I think the quantity of white walls is overwhelming the 3D software!
    • see all the artworks on exhibition via the Mall Galleries website - although you see them in isolation and not within the context of something that provides insight as to size (apart from the dimensions of course!)

    This post about The Natural Eye exhibition, on the SWLA website, introduces particular features of the artwork and how/why it was developed. Much kudos to the Society for actually having a commentary on their own exhibition on their own website before the exhibition opened! I've grown tired of there being rather too many Societies which are far too slow in updating their websites to provide complementary marketing of the exhibition - and the artwork of their artist members!


    I'm pleased that more people are going to get to see the show this year. I saw it last year - but many people didn't travel (including many members) and the ravages of 'you know what' meant it closed early (see  SWLA's new website and annual exhibition closing early).

    I'm afraid, exhibition views are now more limited for me. I always used to walk round exhibitions three times - but now I have to be careful how many steps I take before my bone on bone ankle seizes up! (see Ever so slightly distracted - from a year ago!) Plus I get very tired.... Which is partly why I now take more photos - to remind myself of what I've seen.

    That said, I do jot notes and this is my take on the exhibition overall
    • the quality of work generally is very good - with some work being excellent
    • there's a huge variation in style and media used for the drawings, paintings fine art prints and sculpture on display
    Some smaller works - fine art prints and sculpture in the North Gallery

    • the Hang seems different this year - with more themes and series apparent on the walls. I queried this with Harriet Mead, President of the SWLA and this year there was a different hanging team - and Harriet got involved too! The most difficult wall to hangs the end wall in the West Gallery - because it's seen from afar by everybody entering the gallery - and MUST be interesting,. This year it was almost "off the wall" with colour! (see image at top)

    Screen prints of birds by Robert Gillor PPSWLA MBE
    • I thought I saw rather fewer fine art prints - which saddened me as I always enjoy seeing the prints in this show. I think it's because one member chose to do oil paintings rather than prints and another chose to do rather smaller artworks as prints compared to previous years. That said, there are some extremely affordable unframed prints to be had - so much so that I think buying groups of prints would be the best approach!
    • Part of the exhibition have a strong maritime theme
    Maritime themes involving wildlife - in the East Gallery

    Paintings of urban foxes and other wild life by John Dobbs SWLA
    and sculpture of Wild dogs by Nick Mackman SWLA

    It's also worth remembering that its' not coincidental that the name of this annual exhibition is "The Natural Eye"
    • I always used to think this was a play on visual art and nature. 
    • I'm now more convinced than ever that's just as much about the emphasis which the SWLA places on artwork conceived, started and sometimes developed to completion while observing wildlife "in the field / sea / air"
    Impressionistic drawings, paintings and sculpture - from observation - in the East Gallery 

    SWLA are not looking for photorealistic artworks. They're looking for artists who OBSERVE wildlife - in the raw and in its natural habitat! Indeed I'd go so far to say, with some degree of certainty, that being very photorealistic might mean an artwork in the open entry might get passed over pretty quickly.....

    The Natural Eye Drawing Bursary

    I wrote about how to apply for this bursary back in April - see The Natural Eye Bursary 2021 - Call for Entries

    The North Gallery has a display of the sketchbooks and drawings produced by previous bursary winners. It's a good platform for getting noticed - if you produce good work.

    The Natural Eye Drawing Bursary

    The Natural Eye 2021 Prizes & Awards 2021

    You can read about the prizewinners on this page.

    The Birdwatch and Swarovski Optik Artist of the Year Award

    A prize of an ATS 80 HD spotting scope with 25-50x zoom eyepiece (with a value of £2,430), plus subscription to BirdGuides/Birdwatch

    Across the bay by Liz Myhill

    Across the bay by Liz Myhill

    Liz Myhill is a Scottish artist and a native of the Isle of Skye in Scotland
    ....whose observational works span a wide range of subject matter, gathered through working directly from life. The act of walking, watching and recording numerous facets, whether fleeting or through lengthy study, allow her to gain a connection and sense of place. Although often an end in themselves, these field works are also developed into paintings and printmaking.
    Liz exhibits her work throughout the UK, regularly showing with societies such as the Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. She has also received a number of awards.

    The BIRDscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award

    Steve and Liz Harris have decided to increase the prize fund for this year to £1,000.

    The Decline of Eels by Julia Manning SWLA

    This is a simply STUNNING series of images of the life cycle of the eel on its travels - with some very cautionary tales of what can happen to the eel en route. (You can see a number of pics of this series in my East Gallery album)

    The Decline of Eeels by Julia Manning SWLA
    I started this project in response to being part of a funded project for The Somerset Wildlife Trust, called The Somerset Brilliant Coastline. Quite by chance, last September, Andy Don, an International Eel Expert came to my studio to buy another print for his collection. Over a cup of coffee he told me about what he did for a living and how eels had declined in the last 40 years and especially here in Somerset. This was a perfect subject for me to explore for this project.
    I wanted to make people from Somerset and further afield aware of what we could be losing, by impediments to eel migration, such as weirs and other man-made structures, also the mortality caused by being drawn into lethal intakes such as pumping stations, hydropower plants and nuclear power stations.
    This PDF file provides an explanation (at another exhibition)
    • how the series came about
    • all the individual pieces in the series
    Julia Manning is an artist and printmaker based in Somerset. She studied fine art at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham and "for over 40 years I have earned a living with a paint brush!" She's a member of The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Somerset Printmakers, The Society of Wildlife Artists and of The Royal Society of Painter Printmakers.

    This is the background to the award
    The Conservation through Art Award, sponsored by The BIRDscapes Gallery, acknowledges an artist’s efforts in using their art to help conserve the natural world. It also directly benefits wildlife by the prize money being shared equally between the artist and a nature conservation body of the artist’s choosing. This year’s Award goes to an exceptionally deserving candidate.

    Her powerful body of work is both visually exciting and dynamic, leading the viewer to look more closely at what is portrayed. Her thought-provoking commentary on the plight of a threatened British species and its environment, is a huge conservation message contained within the appealing images of a skilled printmaker.

    RSPB Award

    Smew sailing through by Ben Woodhams SWLA

    Smew sailing through by Ben Woodhams SWLA

    Ben Woodhams
    is an English artist and illustrator currently living and working on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. His practice is founded in direct observation and he specialises in birds, working primarily in watercolour.

    Larson-Juhl Award

    To celebrate drawing or dry media, draughtsmanship and capturing ideas as an art form, £500 worth of Larson-Juhl materials to the winner and a feature in their '4Walls' magazine

    All works by Tianyin Wang

    Three large charcoal drawings by Tianyin Wang - the shoal of fish and the two birds.

    Tianyin Wang is an artist working primarily in charcoal drawing.

    Born in 1986, he is currently based in London, UK. He graduated with a BA (Illustration) from Arts University Bournemouth in 2009. Between 2009-2015 he worked as a digital-based editorial illustrator. From 2015, Tianyin started to develop his unique charcoal drawing technique using a combination of different charcoals to achieve a distinctive look. 
    You can follow him on Instagram

    Dry Red Press Award

    The winning work reproduced as a greetings card

    Great Crested Grebes with Yellow Water Lilies and Banded Demoiselles by Brin Edwards SWLA

    Great Crested Grebes with Yellow Water Lilies and Banded Demoiselles 
    by Brin Edwards SWLA

    Brin Edwards works from his straw bale studio in Assington near Sudbury in the heart of rural Suffolk. He has been a member of the SWLA since 2005 and has served on SWLA Council for many years

    Panorama of the exhibition in the West Gallery

    REFERENCE: Society of Wildlife Artists

    My blog posts include:

    2016 - Review - Society of Wildlife Artists 53rd Annual Exhibition
    2015 - Review: Society of Wildlife Artist's 52nd Annual Exhibition (2015)
    2014 - Video: 2014 Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists
    2013 - Review: 50th Annual Exhibition - Society of Wildlife Artists
    2013 - If you want a lot of people at the Private View......
    2013 - Society of Wildlife Artists - a new book and a bursary
    2012 - Review: 49th Annual Exhibition - Society of Wildlife Artists
    2011 - Review: Society of Wildlife Artists - Annual Exhibition
    2009 - Society of Wildlife Artists - Annual Exhibition 2009
    2008 - 45th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists
    2007 - Society of Wildlife Artists at the new Mall Galleries