Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The "Landscape Artist" Conundrum.

I decided to investigate the concept of the "landscape artist" after making some rather critical remarks about a certain landscape art competition. 

What is a "landscape artist"?

Google is fascinating - for all the wrong reasons - on the topic of "landscape artist". Search query results are influenced by its understanding of 

  • what is a landscape? - a lot of waxing lyrical about nature and the natural landscape - AND fixing your garden!
  • what is landscape art? - very focused on the depiction of natural scenes. Urban scenes and cityscapes don't often get a mention but there is some recognition of the fact it might be more than just the natural landscapes; and 
  • what is an artist? - really interesting - but not the topic of this blog post! (Maybe another one?)

According to many of the definitions which come up Capability Brown would have definitely qualified as a landscape artist! 

This is because Google apparently has no concept of differentiating between landscape art, landscape architecture or horticultural design.

London, Houses of Parliament. The Sun Shining through the Fog (1904)
by Claude Monet

So I kept looking....

Landscape painting, also known as landscape art, is the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, especially where the main subject is a wide view—with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. Wikipedia
So absolutely nothing to do with any of the landscapes recently presented to artists in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year!

It's amazing how little in the way of decent definitions have found their way to the Google search queries. My search was art terms glossary "landscape artist".

The glossary of the National Society for Education in Art and Design provides the following definition in its glossary of various terms

Landscape artist
An artist who is inspired by the natural world and the countryside and makes works that express interest, interrogation, despair or enjoyment of these elements

There's a fair few articles which want to tell you about "the most famous landscape artists" or "landscape artists you should know" 

One such is an article on the Invaluable (auction records) website

Landscape artists are those that portray the outdoors in their works, such as scenes of rolling hills or meadows, fields, mountains, lakes, the seaside, and beyond. As shown in landscape paintings by famous artists, elements of the natural world take precedent over people as the focus in this genre. If depicted at all, humans typically serve as minor elements in the composition.

While that might well describe the past, I'm not sure it's an accurate depiction of contemporary landscape art.

I took a look at the Tate Glossary of Art Terms which is often quoted by others.

It has a definition for landscape - but curiously not for landscape artist - which starts

The appreciation of nature for its own sake, and its choice as a specific subject for art, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until the seventeenth century landscape was confined to the background of portraits or paintings dealing principally with religious, mythological or historical subjects (History painting).

Today, landscape continues to be a major theme in art with many artists using documentary techniques such as video, photography and classification processes to explore the ways we relate to the places we live in and to record the impact we have on the land and our environment.
and finishes
In the second half of the twentieth century, the definition of landscape was challenged. The genre expanded to include urban and industrial landscapes, and artists began to use less traditional media in the creation of landscape works. For example in the 1960s land artists such as Richard Long radically changed the relationship between landscape and art by creating artworks directly within the landscape.
In general and in conclusion, there are very few definitions of a landscape artist.

The Art of the Landscape Project

Some years ago I started a blog called The Art of the Landscape as a project. 

In it I tried to develop a compendium of information about landscape art - using the Pages function to create a compendium listing. 

One of the reasons for this was that there was an amazing paucity of well organised information about landscape art available for free online. Lots of learned books to buy - but very little between articles for amateur watercolour painters of nice places and some very expensive books!

It's not often updated now - but still has a lot of resources about landscape art.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Burrell Collection reopens today

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow reopens to the public at 10am on Tuesday 29 March. The home of the Collection has been undergoing a major refurbishment and the museum closed on 23 October 2016.

This is about the refurbishment, the collection and upcoming events to celebrate the reopening.

I visited the Burrell Collection way back in 1987 as part of the UK Field Trip for my MBA Degree at the London Business School. We were visiting Glasgow as an example of a city which was busy reinventing itself and creating a new image for the future. 

First impressions were stunning. Its location in a grassy glade surrounded by woodland within the Pollok Country Park - and the extent of the glass which revealed the collection to visitors before they even got inside were stunning. I was very impressed to see ancient glass and architectural elements embedded into the very contemporary building.

I remember looking at the collection from outside and then looking out at the trees from inside.

I also remember it was a very confusing museum to love around - something which is addressed by the refurbishment.

About the Burrell Collection

The Burrell Collection is a museum in Glasgow, Scotland, managed by Glasgow Museums. It houses the internationally significant art collection of Sir William Burrell and Constance, Lady Burrell. 

The Collection comprises:
  • one man's collection of more than 9,000 objects spanning six millennia 
  • it includes
    • an important collection of medieval art including exquisite stained glass and intricate tapestries, oak furniture, medieval weapons and armour,
    •  Islamic art, 
    • artefacts from ancient civilisations 
    • an impressive collection of Chinese pottery and porcelain produced over a 5,000-year period, making it one of the most significant collections of Chinese Art in Europe; 
    • Impressionist works by Degas and Cézanne
    • modern sculpture
The Red Ballet Skirts (c.1900) by Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas (pastel)

The museum which houses The Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park opened in 1983 by HM The Queen. The building was constructed following a design competition and created a very striking and innovative design. Some of the stained glass is embedded into the design of the building

Unfortunately, the contemporary glazing leaked and the building also needed major refurbishment to comply with contemporary requirements for access and sustainability.

The refurbishment

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Series 3 of Grayson's Art Club

It's so nice to see Grayson's Art Club back on Channel 4 - and also to see a post Covid tweak.

The third series started up last week - and was a most welcome addition to this time of the year. I really like the very relaxed vibe and way they make the programme. This is who we are / how we look / what we do. So very far removed from so-called "reality shows"!

Below is an update on
  • about series 3
  • how to watch and 
  • how to submit artwork 
  • plus an update on my lengthy postoperative recovery period. Tomorrow I enter week 9 and start partial weight-bearing - which will be a relief from one legged mobilising so long as it doesn't hurt!

The tweak is that the celebrity guest in this series is actually invited to their studio to make an artwork. Grayson Perry and his wife Philippa have sorted out a nice tidy area in a separate room which is well stocked with art materials - and they are invited to make an artwork on the theme of the week

Then share their sandwiches at lunchtime. There's a "bring your own" to this aspect of the programme which looks like it might become increasingly interesting as the series progresses. I'm saying no more.....

The first two guests have been Bill Bailey and Jo Brand - so a bit of a lean towards those with comic timing - and maybe a connection to mental health / therapy.


The programme is broadcast on Channel 4 at 8pm and is subsequently available via the on demand facility All4 on television and devices connected to the web - although see my note below.

As per the first two series, every episode has a theme.  These are:
  • Love
  • Heroes and Heroines
  • Normal Life
  • Inside my Head
  • Holidays
  • The Future
  • The Queen
The first two episodes have aired and are now available online - although when I tried to watch Episode 2 this morning my TV Freeview refused to play and I had to access it via my Macbook. I've noticed this with the TV version of ALL 4 (the catch up for Channel 4) before - they're sometimes very slow to put up the latest episode


Read how to submit artwork for the upcoming episodes which are still accepting submissions on the Grayson's Art Club website.

The deadlines for submissions are as follows:
  • LOVE submissions are now closed
  • HEROES & HEROINES submissions are now closed
  • NORMAL LIFE submissions are now closed
  • INSIDE MY HEAD submissions are now closed
  • HOLIDAYS submissions close at 17.00 (5pm) on 30th March
  • THE FUTURE submissions close at 17.00 (5pm) on 6th April
  • THE QUEEN submissions close at 17.00 (5pm) on 6th April


As before, Grayson is selecting artwork from those submitted for the end of series exhibition - but no news yet as to when or where that will be.

I'll endeavour to update as and when this becomes clearer.

A new pot - for the Science Museum

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Jackson's Painting Prize Longlist announced.

You too can vote for a prizewinning painting!

Jackson's Painting Prize has announced its Longlist for the People's Choice Award. You can see the Longlist on the website here

Jackson’s Painting Prize exists to champion exceptional artworks made by international artists at all points in their careers, with tailored prizes that aim to give successful applicants the exposure and resources to support them in their practice.

some of the longlisted artworks

The lucky winner will get £500 in vouchers to spend on art supplies at Jacksons.

You need to register to vote (or open your account if you;'ve registered in previous years)

The rules are very, very simple
How to vote:
  • All you need to do is click the heart symbol ♡ underneath your favourite paintings and your vote will be saved. If the heart is white, you have successfully voted.
  • You can vote for as many artworks as you like.
  • You can only vote once for each artwork
  • If you change your mind, your vote can be revoked
I always think having the chance to vote helps artists to see and understand the sort of criteria that Judges use when awarding prizes to painting.

I certainly found when I was a Selector for this competition that it really made me think very hard. I'm pleased to say that a number of the ones I selected were awarded prizes of not insignificant sums! :)

  • There are 400 images to look at - so if you're going to do this in one go you need to set aside a decent amount of time - and you will soon begin to realise how little time you, as an artist, have to make a good impression
  • I recommend a speedy look through ALL the images first - and then go back and see if the ones you thought you liked at first look are the ones you still like on second viewing. That's how I did my selection - and it's amazing how your choices change for anything other than solid certainties.
  • Be selective - don't like everything!
  • Try reviewing the artwork in the different categories - you're then comparing artwork which interprets that category
  • Try picking a winner for each of the categories - and make a note of these and then compare how your choice did with the ones that win the category prizes when these are announced (see below for dates)

Jackson's Painting Prize

This year this art competition received 8,949 submissions this year, from artists all over the world, of all ages and abilities. Jackson's then selected a longlist of 400 artworks - which are all eligible for an award or cash prize


The paintings are allocated to a specific category as follows. The Category Award winners get £500. 

The number after the category title is the number of artworks selected as finalists within that category
  • Animal (48)
  • Portrait / Figure (106)
  • Landscape / Cityscape / Seascape (113)
  • Still Life / Botanical (35)
  • Abstract / Non-representational (53)
  • Scenes of Everyday Life (45)

Timeline for Voting and Prizes

I do like the fact that they spread announcements over several days so winners have an equal share of the limelight.
  • 30th March: The shortlist will be announced
  • 5th April: Voting for People's Choice Award closes at midday
  • 6th April: Announcement of 
    • People's Choice Award winner (£500 Jackson's Voucher)
    • Amateur Artist winner (£500 Jackson's Voucher)
  • 7th April: Winner of the Outstanding Watercolour Artist Award announced (£500 Jackson's Voucher)
  • 8th April: Category Winners announced (£500 each)
  • 11th April: Emerging Artist Award winner announced (£1,000)
  • 13th April: Jackson's Painting Prize Winner announced (£6,000)

Affordable Art Fair Hampstead 

Jacksons will be exhibiting selected works from the Jackson’s Painting Prize 2022 UK based finalists between 4 – 8 May at the Affordable Art Fair 2022 in Hampstead - social distancing restrictions permitting. 

In addition to the Jackson's Painting Prize finalists, The Affordable Art Fair also includes:
  • a selection of leading galleries both local and international, showcasing 1,000s of inspiring contemporary artworks.
  • work from exciting emerging artists from across University of the Arts London’s (UAL) six colleges and institutes in Made in Arts London’s showcase.


Previous Years

The posts below unpack this prize a bit more.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Changes at Flickr - and compliance with Online Safety changes

I know a lot of artists have stored their images online on Flickr in the past - often using a free account. 

HOWEVER for all those with a free account, you need to know a few things about what's changing - summarised below.

Flickr forever: Creating the safest, most inclusive photography community on the planet.
MARCH 17, 2022

Three days ago, Flickr announced on its blog that there are going to be changes.  

You can read more about this - in detail - in Flickr forever: Creating the safest, most inclusive photography community on the planet. (17th March 2022)

The changes 

Flickr forever: click here to learn how free accounts are changing for the long-term growth and health of our community.
The overall emphasis is on 
  • restricting content which can be held privately and 
  • encouraging people to subscribe to Pro accounts.

The changes announced this week are:

Non-public photo limits - for those with FREE accounts

we’re limiting free accounts to 50 non-public photos (e.g. photos marked as private, friends, family, or friends and family. Read more about privacy settings on Flickr here).
In other words, if you've never paid for your Flickr account, you now risk losing ALL but 50 (FIFTY) of the images you've uploaded which are not public for all.

If you want a safe place to store your photos which you do NOT want to be public, you will need to upgrade to a PRO membership - where you get unlimited storage for a monthly, annual or biannual sum. 

Guess what - the most expensive is monthly and the best value is buy two years at a time.

As they point out this announcement about deleting images may sound familiar
In 2018 we announced that free accounts containing over 1,000 photos and/or videos would have content actively deleted. In the years since, we haven’t deleted a single photo that was over the limit. Not ONE.
What they're saying now is that you can upload lots and lots of images - but all but 50 must be public. Otherwise they will be deleted.

So don't say you weren't warned!

Restricted and Moderate Content

Friday, March 18, 2022

VIDEO: How Willow Charcoal is made

I'm going to start a series of posts about how art materials are made - and I'm starting with how willow charcoal is made.

First a preamble. I'm now halfway through my 12 week (minimum) post ankle fusion surgery recovery period and I'm beginning to feel more myself. (Notwithstanding a horrendous 36 hour episode this week when I discovered my hypersensitive skin was allergic to the liner of my new walker boot! Now thankfully resolved.). 

So I'll be looking to trying to post more - but with an emphasis on shorter posts for the time being.

Given I'm still 100% non weight bearing on my right ankle, this means I'm very much limited to commenting on:

  • videos online
  • art on television
  • books I've already got
  • photos I've taken
So here we go with the first in the series.

What is Willow Charcoal?

Artist quality willow charcoal made by Coates Willow Charcoal

Willow Charcoal is a dry art medium. The charcoal is 
  • made from burning willow
  • NOT compressed 
  • there are no other ingredients i.e. no binding agent as you get with compressed charcoal
It's a form of charcoal which has particular characteristic much loved by fine artists. 

Artist Quality Willow Charcoal  (like vine charcoal) is 
  • very soft and marks paper easily
  • capable of producing a wide range of marks and tones
  • not as dark as compressed charcoal
  • BUT erases almost completely if you want to use it for an under-drawing

How is Willow Charcoal made?

Below are two YouTube videos about Coates Willow Charcoal - made by Jacksons Art.  Coates are one of the world’s biggest producers of willow charcoal for artists.

The videos are:
  • HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: How Willow Charcoal is made (On Location with Coates) This first short video is purely visual - watching the process from start to finish. It's aesthetically pleasing in both visual and audio terms - so kudos to whoever made the video. The camerawork is well thought through, the editing is fantastic and it tells you all you need to know without saying a word! (the words come next - but there are captions is you permit them!)
  • INTERESTING: In Conversation with Nicola Coate from Coates Willow Charcoal | Jackson's Art - The second video is an interview with Nicola Coates from the Coates family business which farms willow and produces the charcoal. She explains how the development of artists willow charcoal came about and how they set up production on their farm. She goes on to explain how labour intensive its production is - and all the different stages it goes through.

How Willow Charcoal is made (On Location with Coates) (1 min 49 seconds)

In Conversation with Nicola Coate from Coates Willow Charcoal (13 minutes)

You can also read more about the production process in this Jackson's blog post From Field to Charcoal: Coates Willow Charcoal. (December 2019) written following the production of the first video
This article charts a day in the life at Coates, a truly unique family run business that has manufactured willow for over 200 years and is one of the largest producers of artist charcoal in the world. 

More about Coates Willow Charcoal

Thursday, March 17, 2022

How Art Societies can use Zoom

Is your art society running its AGM on Zoom. If not why not?

Does your Art Society deliver any online demonstrations / webinars / critiques online?

One of the aspects of art societies which has always struck me as being rather unsatisfactory is the way that those societies which cover large land areas (i.e. NOT the local painting group) have had a habit in the past of holding their Annual General Meetings at a date, time and place which suits those running the society - but is often not one which suits most of its members - particularly those who have to travel long distances to attend.

I remember well attending AGMs at 3.30pm on a Sunday afternoon, when I'd driven halfway across the country to attend - and had to drive back and go to work the next day! I was not impressed with the amount of thought and consideration given to the membership at large.

As a result, an AGM can often generate the following results

  • poor attendance (as a percentage of its total membership)
  • an unexciting agenda i.e. no thinking or discussion about what the society should be doing / how it might change / what it could do in the future
  • elects the same people again to do the same jobs.

Should we be surprised? 

Probably not. It's exactly the same way as many companies and organisations have conducted their AGMs for decades - if not centuries!

However one of the benefits of the pandemic is that it's provided a new way of doing things.

I looked online - and found a number of examples of art societies who moved online for regular meetings and/or their AGM. Mostly these were societies who had taken to using Zoom for other aspects of their continuing activities during the pandemic eg talks to members and/or critiques.

The ZOOM AGM held by the
Frimley and Camberley Society of Arts

February 2022
Once again Coronavirus, this time in the form of the new Omicron variant, meant that the AGM has had to be held via Zoom. There were relatively few members able to attend in this way but members will receive this in their Newsletter via email.

A decade or more ago, the issue would be about whether you could use email for routine communication with members. 

Now email is routine and the next challenge is getting members to sign up to Zoom!

How Zoom can move organisational change up a gear.

The advantages of thinking about using Zoom as one option for AGMs is that use of Zoom can:

  • promote increased interactive involvement and attendance by a wider membership - when travel is an issue. That means more people have scope to be engaged with and contribute to the ongoing wellbeing and development of the art society
  • eliminate boring and longwinded speeches
  • make organisers think more about agendas and who will speak 
  • develop time management skills amongst organisers and those attending - given the 'free option' comes with limits on who can attend and how long meetings can be (i.e. for 3 to 100 participants, Zoom meetings are limited to 40 minutes)
  • make art societies think about the paid option - thus allowing them to have meetings of unlimited length for a variety of purposes all year round. The cost of a paid licence at Basic level (£119.90 per year in the UK) can be cheaper than the hire of a hall for an AGM!
  • reduce greatly the travel expenses paid to core members who must be at the meeting - and who get their travel expenses paid.
Of course, Zoom won't suit everybody - especially those who refuse to engage with technology. If 'core participants' feel excluded because of the use of Zoom it might serve to remind them what it feels like for all those who live e.g. a long way from London (or where ever the annual exhibition/event is being held which the AGM has been tacked onto)

However for anybody with a smartphone it's perfectly possible to participate using Zoom - you don't actually need a computer!

The other major benefit of Zoom is that for the paid version events can be recorded and stored online and then accessed via a link by anybody unable to access and participate at the exact time and date. Not something you can do with a live event unless you video it yourselves.

Art Society activities on Zoom

I took a quick look round to see what I could find by way of art society activities on Zoom

Local Art Societies

Check out Newsletter 389 of the Berkhamsted Art Society which highlights:

  • Zoom Coffee Mornings - described as 'very popular' and a place where people can converse about art, tips and techniques, art appreciation and consider their themed "homework"
  • Zoom Life Drawing Sessions - based on organising a proper life model to work from
  • Zoom Demos - using remote tutors to provide demonstrations of how to tackle particular topics - in much the same way as regular talks. Except everybody has the benefit of exactly the same view
As it was our first online demo, we were pleased to find that our view of the artist and his work was better than often achieved in the Civic Centre!
  • Critique Evenings - which can work in the same way as normal such sessions - but just online.
What I found interesting is that looking forward there was a good amount of Zoom sessions for different activities in their forward planner. 

To me this indicates that a lot of people valued the way they could 
  • continue to be part of a community of like-minded individuals
  • participate from home - and reduce travel time/costs and feel safe
  • continue to learn about an important interest and activity
Other Art Societies organising activities via Zoom. For example
What was disappointing was that I didn't find more art societies which had taken the initiative to explore a new way of engaging with their members.

[UPDATE] These are comments left on the Facebook post associated with this blog post.
Dorking Group of Artists - throughout the pandemic, Dorking Group of Artists supported and involved our 185 members with regular weekly topics/programmes via zoom, social media, and our website, and very quickly introduced practical demonstrations from a wide variety of artists as well as life drawing. We held our AGM online in 2021, and set up an online selling gallery for our members at the beginning of lockdown. For those members without the technology, we kept in touch with them by landline or mobile. For many of our members we were a lifeline, maintaining their interest in art, drawing and painting, helping them to keep occupied and diverted from the generalised Covid anxiety that everyone suffered from. During summer 2021 we resumed weekly plein air drawing and painting sessions in different parts of our local area. In October 2021 we at last met again at our usual weekly venue, although we still have Zoom demos and lectures.
The South African Society of Artists, of which I am a member, held our monthly meetings, demonstrations, and lectures on zoom throughout the lockdown period of the pandemic. It was a learning curve all round. We've recently resumed our normal in person monthly meetings

National Art Societies with an International membership

I've now attended three Annual General Meetings and Annual Conferences of the American Society of Botanical Artists
This is something many more national art societies with international memberships should be doing.
  • HOWEVER I would caution that delivery needs to be thought through carefully when delivering across an international dateline.
  • Speaking personally I would not seek to replicate face to face Conferences - but rather space sessions and events out over a longer period so that you don't challenge people too much with the timezone differences.

What happens when Art Societies don't Zoom?

Monday, March 14, 2022

Call for Entries: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022

If you're a wildlife artist and want to raise your profile you should consider entering the Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition - sponsored by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is association with BBC Wildlife. The deadline for entries is 11.59pm (UK time) on the 31st March 2022.

Last year the DSWF's Wildlife Artist of the Year competition broke records with 

  • entries from 1,199 talented artists 
  • from 70 countries 
  • who submitted a total of 2,307 pieces.

This post is about:

  • the prizes
  • who can enter
  • what to enter - in the different categories
  • how to enter and the deadline
I've previously written about this competition - when it was exhibiting at the Mall Galleries - and you can read my past posts about the exhibitions at the end .


DSWF has introduced a new emerging artist award for 2022 which celebrates first time entrants.

Prizes include 
  • Overall winner and Wildlife Artist of the Year: £10,000 (including a £5,000 conservation donation to a DSWF project of the winner’s choice), 
  • Runner-Up: £2,000 (including a £1,000 conservation donation to a DSWF project of the winner’s choice). 
  • Each of the category winners and the winner of the newcomer award will receive £500.

The Exhibition

You should note that in 2022 - as in recent years - the exhibition is virtual and artwork can no longer be seen in person.

The sale of all shortlisted artworks will be via the DSWF website ( and other virtual media. Accordingly the quality of the digital image will be critical to the selection of an entry
No allowance will be made for poor digital images, bad quality photographs or low resolution videos. 
This was the video introducing the 2021 virtual exhibition

How to enter


Entries must correspond to one of the seven categories described below.  
Detailed descriptions of each category are available in the Terms and Conditions.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Michael Skalka knows about art materials!

I first "met" (as in online) Michael Skalka many years ago when I was looking into the lightfastness of art materials. At the time, Michael was 

We started to correspond about lightfastness and have continued off and on over the years. 

Since he retired he's started a retirement project and is posting about fine art materials on his new website/blog Syntax of Color. This site provides a HUGE amount of expert and reliable information about fine art materials and their constituents (past and present) - which is very accessible.  I did a massive online colour project back in 2008 and learned an enormous amount about colour and pigment/materials performance (and have continued to remain interested in the topic ever since) - but Michael continues to publish consistent good quality information on a regular basis which I've not come across before which is both very interesting and informative. Plus he writes well!

I highly recommend Syntax of Color to all those interested in using colour in their art and looking to develop their knowledge of the fine art materials they use.

FIND OUT more about what it covers below - it also covers a number of related fine art materials for painters.

What does Syntax of Colour cover?

The Syntax of Color website provides the following - with examples:
While not having done a survey, I would safely say that no conservator would advocate the use of epoxy resin as a surface coating for a work of fine art.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The RWS Open at the Bankside Gallery

The RWS Open is back and on display at the Bankside Gallery between 4th and 20th March. This post reviews what I can see online (while sat on the sofa with my post surgery non weight bearing ankle elevated on my knee scooter!)

Jennifer McRae

David: West End Summer

watercolour on paper

63 x 130cm


Why the RWS Open is different

The Royal Watercolour Society has a different approach to open exhibitions when compared to most other national art societies. It has 

  • a special open competition and 
  • an exhibition dedicated ONLY to those who are non-members.

I'm bound to say this is, very probably, because they exhibit at the Bankside Gallery which is smaller than other venues used by national art societies and hence including open entries in a mixed exhibition with members would mean 

  • either fewer works by members (which they wouldn't like!)
  • or the number of non-members who were exhibited would get squeezed - which would mean they wouldn't attract a lot of entries.
Anyway - after a year's break due to the Pandemic (when all the art galleries were closed a year ago) - the RWS Open can now be seen at the Bankside Gallery - except by me. I'm not back on both feet for at least another three weeks and probably not walking until the end of April.

So - how to review this exhibition? Well all I can do is look at it online - so that's what I'm going to do.

The RWS Open Online

The first things I noticed are that 

Formerly known as the Contemporary Watercolour Competition (among many other names during the exhibition's 50+ year history), the RWS Open is the largest open-submission water-media exhibition in the world, attracting thousands of submissions nationally and internationally each year.
  • the Online exhibition is NOT on the Bankside website. Instead ALL the images of the artworks are on the RWS website. That means that 
    • the RWS website can archive ALL its past exhibitions online. 
    • Let us not forget that storage of images is not expensive and it seems crazy to go to all the trouble of putting on an exhibition only to pass up the opportunity to continue selling images from the exhibition or by artists in the exhibition after the exhibition closes! 
    • I think this is very sensible strategic marketing move and one which I wish more art societies would copy!
One thing which remains unchanged is that Selection is down to a small group of RWS members. For the 2022 RWS Open, the selectors were the President of the RWS plus three other members and a guest Judge

The Online Exhibition

Some comments on how the online exhibition works and then I highlight the artists whose artwork I liked.

Display online

The fairly small thumbnails (compared to some other exhibitions) provide name of the artist and whether the artwork has won a prize.

The display scrolls easily on my iPad Pro (i.e. it's not limited by pages) except for the fact it works better in portrait mode than landscape.

However in my opinion, the RWS website makes THREE BIG MISTAKES 

Monday, March 07, 2022

Review: Elisha Enfield LAOTY 2022 - The Winner's Commission

This is a review of the eighth and final programme - The Winning Commission - in the 2022 series of programmes about Series 7 of Landscape Artist of the Year broadcast by Sky Arts. It comments on the Commission in terms of:
  • the subject;
  • the painting;
  • the programme; and 
  • the client.
Winners Film: The victor of the 2022 competition expresses their artistic prowess through capturing a spectacular location in paint. (S7, ep 8)
The Winning Commission
Episode of 8 of Series 7 of Landscape Artist of the Year

The Commission - the subject

The £10,000 Commission from Manchester Art Gallery  is intended to celebrate the industrial heritage of the North West.

2022 is the 20th anniversary of the completion of the work done to make the Rochdale Canal navigable again. It was the first of three transpennine canals to be opened in the 19th century. The canal is 32 miles long and has 91 locks between the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge and the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield Junction in Manchester.

The challenge was both to capture something of both the canal - which crosses the height of the Pennines between Yorkshire to Manchester and the associated industrial buildings associated with the Canal.

The Commission - the painting

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year Commission of the Rochdale Canal

Elisha Enfield created her painting of the Rochdale Canal  last summer in Oil on a Wood Panel measuring 50 x 70 cm - which is big for her.

The Unveiling

The commission painting on the Easel at the unveiling ceremony
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year Commission of the Rochdale Canal
by Elisha Enfield for Manchester Art Gallery
Oil on Wood Panel, 50 x 70 cm

I personally think it will look very good alongside the paintings of Manchester by LS Lowry and the misty atmospheric paintings by Adolphe Valette.

Having seen the Gallery in the programme, I just could not imagine Thomas Macgregor 's preferred palette of orange red/green paintings hanging on the wall - although his submission promised otherwise. By the same token, I rated Afsheen Nasir - but her Final commission was disappointing and her commission painting might have looked underwhelming in this context

Which rather goes to UNDERLINE the importance of two paintings in this overall process:
  • the submission painting - which effectively sets the scene and allows the Judges to speculate on whether or not you might be a good fit with the the Client, the prize money and the Commission
  • the Final Commission painting - where you need to really knock the Judges socks off - because you are in effect auditioning properly for the Final Commission.
In other words, we spend 5 or 6 weeks watching heats where 8 artists and wildcards participate in each heat - BUT.... 

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Ukraine Support Pledge - how artists can participate

The Ukraine Support Pledge - for Artists and Art Lovers - has been launched by
  • Artist Support Pledge founder Matthew Burrows and
  •  artist curator Zavier Ellis of Ellis Smith Projects 
  • see
  • see
It follows similar principles as the Artist Support Pledge which Matthew initiated during the pandemic - but this time ALL the money raised will be DONATIONS to a charity supporting people affected by the war.

ukraine support pledge

How to participate in the Ukraine Support Pledge

You can make art or buy art - or both!
  • You can make work for the campaign or just your regular work. 
  • Your aim should be to raise donations to support the charity helping people affected by the invasion of and war in Ukraine
  • Artist Support Pledge will keep you updated on progress.
To participate and support the people of Ukraine, please follow the guidelines below. 

🔵   Post images of your artwork on Instagram to sell for a suggested DONATION of £200 ($200, €200, A$300, C$300, ¥20000) each.

🟡   Add the USP, text and QR code tiles. This tells people what it is and how to take part (use a repost app, screen shot or copy from the website

🔵   Include the hashtags #ukrainesupportpledge and #artistsupportpledge.

🟡   Ask buyers to DM (message) you to purchase the work.

🔵   Payments should be made 

Request that the donor message or email you a screenshot for proof of donation as well as their shipping address.

🔵   Ship artwork to the donor.

That's it!

For more information on your donations, please go to:

About the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund