Friday, December 23, 2022

David Hockney on a personal virtual journey through 60 years

David Hockney Bigger and Closer

About David Hockney: Bigger & Closer

The difference about this new exhibition is it contains no drawings or paintings and yet it is all about drawing and painting and the processes Hockney uses and has used to create his art.

Using large-scale projection in a remarkable new space, David Hockney takes us on a personal journey through sixty years of his art.
Lightroom’s vast walls and revolutionary sound system enable us to experience the world through Hockney’s eyes.
His life-long fascination with the possibilities of new media is given vibrant expression in a show that invites us to look more closely, more truly and more joyously.
It features:
  • the creation of a virtual reality using immersive audio and visual techniques to guide visitors into Hockney’s world
  • a commentary by Hockney
  • a specially composed score by American composer Nico Muhly
  • six themed chapters
“I’m usually drawing or painting, it’s all I want to do now"
There are six main topics which are examined in this exhibition / experience which reflect his many and various interests and projects over the last 60 years or more.
  • how he experiments with perspective
  • how he uses photography as a way of ‘drawing with a camera’
  • how he records the passing of time using:
    • polaroid collages of spending time with people and 
    • the joy of spring (on his iPad) in the Yorkshire Wolds
  • why paint is the only medium to properly convey the hugeness of the Grand Canyon
  • driving up his audio-visual Wagner Drive into the San Gabriel Mountains
  • an opera which includes animated re-creations of his stage designs

VIEW an interview with David Hockney about this exhibition on the BBC website.
The BBC's Katie Razzall spoke with the 85-year-old as he put the finishing touches to his show at its new venue, Lightroom, in London's Kings Cross.
There's a huge team which has been working on this three year project - and you can find the credits on the webpage.

Exhibition details

  • Website:
  • Dates: 25 January - 23 April 2023
  • Venue: The Lightroom, 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, London, N1C 4DY (this is an 8 minute walk from Kings Cross and London St Pancras stations)
  • Tickets: £25 during the day; more expensive in the evening
    • discounts for groups
    • can be booked in advance - and some dates and times already have low availability (for those who like to have seen the "must see" show before everybody else)
    • pre-booked tickets can be exchanged for a different time slot of a different date or a credit note

About The Lightroom

Lightroom is located in King’s Cross on Lewis Cubitt Square, adjacent to Coal Drops Yard and Central St Martin’s. It was designed by Haworth Tompkins as a sister space to the award-winning Bridge Theatre. Along with a generous Foyer and gift shop, the space also contains a bar and seating area run by St John.

Lightroom is
  • a joint venture between 59 Productions and London Theatre Company.
  • backed by a group of investors led by Danny Cohen, President of Access Entertainment, and Mike Sherwood, former CEO of Goldman Sachs International.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Twitter Chaos: Is it time to close our Twitter accounts?

One of the phenomena associated with the 17 years since I started blogging has been the move of artists into social media. 

First through blogs, then Twitter and latterly via Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

However the only thing that is certain in life is that things CHANGE over time.

A lot of artists gave up blogging. Too much writing, too much effort seemed to be the reason. I had multiple blogs at one time dedicated to different art-related topics. Nevertheless I enjoy writing about art and want to keep the long form and now retain and post regularly to two blogs.

Once upon a time I always tweeted my blog post after publication - and now I post it on Facebook instead - where the comments now reside after I had to close down comments on the blog due to the ineffective control of spam by Blogger. 
(Incidentally I have thought of creating a Facebook Group for proper commenting on various topics in order to create a much better environment. At the moment I'm still having to block people on comment on my Pages)

I've grown to like Facebook - despite the many awful irritations as it keeps changing! 
I particularly like the photos and albums aspect which allows me to share more images from exhibitions I visit. It also offers a very speedy and effective resolution to spam and nasty comments and I've blocked more than a few accounts from seeing and commenting on my Pages.

Artists took to Instagram - and Facebook liked it too. Me not so much - since I can't leave links to where my words and pics are. However I do see the benefit of Instagram although I still think it's a lopsided bargain. However a lot of artists can sell via Instagram and do.

Tiktok has never appealed to me - I think it's a generational thing. I'm sure if I were 50 years younger I'd think it was great!

Twitter - challenge and change

The changes which have occurred in the last few weeks since Elon Musk bought Twitter suggest that it's time to consider closing down Twitter accounts or maybe deactivating them.

The Twitter "About" Page - it never said a truer word!

My reason for thinking like this is:

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Great Pottery Throw Down - Festive Special and 2023 Series

More from The Great Pottery Throw Down this Christmas and in early 2023!

The Great Festive Throw Down

The Great Festive Throw Down will be broadcast on Channel 4 at Christmas Day at 7.50pm. All the normal participants plus four celebrities trying out their throwing skills on the pottery wheel. They are:
  • James Fleet: actor and star of Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Vicar of Dibley and Bridgerton
  • Jenny Eclair: an English comedienne, actress and presenter of Grumpy Old Women and Loose Women
  • Sunetra Sarker: actress of Brookside and Ackley Bridge
  • Jamie Laing: television personality who started out in Made In Chelsea

The 2023 Series of The Great Pottery Throw Down

More creative comfort watching for the winter evenings in 2023!

Keith Brymer Jones has announced on Twitter that the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down (2023) starts Sunday 8th January at 7.45pm on Channel 4.

Last year there were 10 episodes. If it's the same this year it will finish in mid March 2034.

We've not yet seen sight of the participants - but you can expect to see:

So lots of nice people, lots of throwing and potting and an absolute certainty that Keith will cry!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Quentin Blake is 90 today!

Today is the 90th Birthday of Sir Quentin Blake, the ! To celebrate this, there have been some new initiatives
  • 90 illustrators have celebrated his life by creating illustrations of candles for a virtual exhibition by the UK’s national centre for illustration

Quentin Blake: The Drawing of My Life

Blake is presented with an enormous white wall of paper and invited to draw his life. 

Quentin Blake confronted by the giant blank wall of paper on which to draw his life

You can access the programme now on iPlayer - but, although I started watching it, I've decided to save it for Christmas Day when it's also being broadcast on BBC2 at 4.10pm in the afternoon. There's a lot of much younger illustrators who will wish they can draw with the fluidity of Quentin at 90!

You can read all about Quentin Blake and his achievements on his website - in Meet Quentin Blake

90 Candles by 90 Illustrators

With a career in illustration spanning eight decades, Blake’s books have inspired generations of readers and illustrators.

To celebrate Blake’s 90th milestone birthday, the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration  invited 90 of the UK’s leading illustrators - working in editorial, literature, fashion, animation and design - to create an image of a candle that references the original meaning of the word ‘illustration’ as “to light up, make light or illuminate”. 

some of the 90 candles illustrations

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Open Exhibition: Submission & Selection

Open Exhibition Submission & Selection (OESS) is the organisation behind a platform now used by a lot of art societies, national art organisations and some art galleries to provide a digital platform for the administrative process behind digital submissions to open exhibitions and art competitions.

If you see a call for entry with "" in the URL, it uses this platform.

This is the OESS  organisational Home Page for a website which has two sides:

  • one for the organisations - to create calls for entries
  • one for the artists to submit artwork to open exhibitions
Below I look at what each side does in more detail

What's very refreshing about the whole setup is it's been developed and is managed by artists for artists. In other words, people who know what the challenges and frustrations of both running and curating open exhibitions and entering them! No wonder it has grown so fast in the last decade plus!
The OESS is hosted and managed by Interactive Technology Ltd.

Managing the OESS and OLIST for artists, art galleries and arts institutions in the UK and abroad.


Home Page of the Website

The OLIST - for artists

This is The OLIST.  
You can view The OLIST irrespective of whether or not you have registered.

An example of the listings on the OLIST

Essentially the OLIST connects artists with UK 'Calls to Artists' and other UK arts opportunities. It provides a continuous listing of calls for entries - listed in order of the deadline for the call for entry

You can view the OLIST whether or not you have registered

However if artists register, the OLIST provides them with
  • monthly updates of the listing of all calls for entries registered on its system
  • reminders of when calls are due to close - with additional 7 days and 48 hours to go reminders too
  • dedicated help and support if applying for exhibitions on the OESS system

How do open exhibitions get on the system?

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Making A Mark is 17 years old

Yesterday was Making A Mark's 17th Birthday. 

This sketch appeared in my first post titled Two of my favourite occupations. It's of people lunching in the Club Gascon in Smithfield and was the first ever sketch on Making A Mark on 13th December 2005. None of these people were posing for me. I was sat on the banquette at the side having a very nice lunch on my own and they were all sat in front of me having lunch and talking to the other guests.
A tutor once said to me "If you can draw people, you can draw anything" before making a strong recommendation to draw regularly and to draw people as often as I could.

It marked the start of some very steady sketching in restaurants and cafes of people eating and the food I was eating the National Cafe at the National Gallery.

Lunch in The National Cafe (October 2007)
11" x 16", pen and ink in Sketchbook

......which subsequently got posted to a second blog I started called Travels with a Sketchbook - which sadly died as I started to have a lot of trouble with walking and osteoarthritis.

This reminds me of an idea I had of going out once a month to somewhere nice to eat - and drawing the people and the food. I maybe ought to resurrect that idea in 2023! Now that I'm walking better and without pain, I should make my walks end at more interesting destinations - and maybe take my sketchbooks out again.....

The sketches I used to do generated 
Below are a very few of my favourite sketches from past jaunts to various venues in London, the UK and abroad

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Call for Entries: Landscape Artist of the Year 2024 (Series 9)

The deadline for entries for the art competition - Landscape Artist of the Year (Series 9) is NOON on Friday 28th April 2023. This is filmed in Summer 2023 and normally broadcast in early 2024.

This is a VERY LONG post!

The order below is
  • Key Features of the competition
  • So you want to paint a landscape in 4 hours on television?
    • Can SKY ARTS upgrade the competence of those in the pods?
    • You may be out of pocket....
  • Who can enter
  • Eligible Landscape paintings - for submission
  • Your digital entry (and what will disqualify you)
  • What are the Judges looking for?
  • My Reviews of Previous Heats (2018 - 2022)
You might want to have a think about whether you want to enter and/or defer finalising your application until AFTER:
  • you've seen what the competition looks like on screen
  • read / view look my reviews of past series (listed at the end of this post) which include lots of pics and quite a few tips

Monday, December 12, 2022

Dates for 2023 series of Landscape Artist of the Year announced

Series 8 of Landscape Artist of the Year (2023) starts on Sky Arts on Wednesday 11th January 2023. It will then be on every Wednesday evening at 8pm for the rest of January and February.

Below you can find out about 
  • the dates and locations - and 
  • see a video of filming in progress at one location that I'm sure will have everybody who applied but didn't get selected saying "I'm glad I didn't have to do that one!"
  • plus a REMINDER: the call for entries for Series 8 of Landscape Artist of the Year is still open and tomorrow I'll publish a post about the Call for Entries!
You can watch the series - if you live in the UK - on Sky Arts, Sky Arts on Freeview (Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147) and via the NOW app.

Image used for the Call for Entries for Series 8

The series is the same format as previous series 
  • In each heat, eight artists will choose their preferred medium to create a plein air painting in just four hours 
  • 50 wildcard entrants - keen professional and amateur artists who have not made the official contestant list - compete at the same locations near to wherever the pods sit. The judges will assess their work nominating one best wild-card artist each week, one of whom will then go through to the semi-final.
  • the judges, award winning portrait artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan, will assess their progress and choose who will advance to the semi-final.
  • The Six Heat Winners and the selected Wild Card Winner compete in the Semi Finals for one of three places in the Finals.
  • Three artists in the Finals compete for Landscape Artist of the Year 2023 - and a £10,000 Commission to paint a specific location (to be announced)
EXCEPT the number of heats is different. There are only five heats this year ( like last year) where previously there were six. (Which is the same as happened to PAOTY - where they also reduced the number of heats by one)

So the dates for the eight episodes - for your diary - are:
  1. Heat 1: 11th January 2023
  2. Heat 2: 18th January 2023
  3. Heat 3: 25th January 2023
  4. Heat 4: 1st February 2023
  5. Heat 5: 8th February 2023
  6. Heat 6: 15th February 2023
  7. Semi Finals: 22nd February 2023
  8. The Final: 1st March 2023
  9. Commission: 1st March 2023?

Episode Locations

2023 LAOTY Heats

The two presenters of Landscape Artist of the Year
Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan dressed for the heat at Royal Ascot
As always, this series spans the width and breadth of the country and will challenge the artists with some of the most breathtaking and complex views (press release)
We have to wait and see which Heat was where until the series is broadcast. However I do know that filming took place at:  

Thursday, December 08, 2022

PAOTY Commission - Painting Sir Lenny Henry (aka Len)

I thought the programme about "Painting Sir Lenny Henry" - the £10,000 National Portrait Gallery Commission of Sir Lenny Henry, painted by the winner of Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 - was one of the best commission episodes ever in the history of the programme

This is a review of that programme and the process of the commission undertaken by Morag Caister - the winner of Portrait Artist of the Year (see Morag Caister wins Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 (Series 9) ).  It will "unveil"

  • the commission
  • the sitter
  • the artist and her process
  • the likeness and the skin

Before the Unveiling

About the Commission

Every year the last episode in each series of the "Portrait Artist of the Year" programmes, made by Storyvault Films and broadcast on Sky Arts, is about the £10,000 Commission awarded to the winning artist.

The commission this year was from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London. Sarah Howgate, the Senior Curator of Contemporary Collections at the NPG - who manages the Gallery's Commissioning process - explained how the Gallery has several photographs of Sir Lenny Henry at various points in his career - but no painting and how they'd wanted to commission one for a while.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2022

This exhibition is on for longer than most of the annual exhibitions of the art societies based at the Mall Galleries. The Annual Exhibition 2022 of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters opened at the Mall Galleries on 24th November and closes on 10th December.

This is a review of what I found when I visited in the first week. I've previously written about the prizewinners in Prizewinners at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2022

Annual Exhibition 2022

This exhibition comprises 285 paintings which are hung in the three galleries at the Mall Galleries. (This compares to 304 in 2019 which was the last ROI exhibition I went to and is the second lowest total since 2014)

The first thing is that I've uploaded my photos of the exhibition to my Facebook Page - by gallery - as follows:

Part of the hang in the East Gallery

Part of the West Gallery

I've highlighted paintings I liked and/or was intrigued by through photographs of the  individual paintings.

You will appreciate that I've reviewed such exhibitions many times - although I've missed the last two ROI Annual Exhibitions due the pandemic and shielding prior to surgery. (I got as far as the hospital a year ago today - before being sent home again!)

So I'm splitting this review into two halves
  • what I noticed
  • what I liked.
It's always interesting to do a review a little while after a visit to see if you still think the same as what you noted at the time.....

What I noticed

Themes for my commentary are as follows
  • Groups of artworks by members
  • Changing Times (Theme)
  • Young Artists
  • Small = Affordable?
  • Framing
  • Media
  • Sales
Groups of artworks by Members

I liked the grouping of artwork by members with very distinctive styles. It makes for a more impactful presentation.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Art Society Exhibitions (December 2022 - March 23) - at the Mall and Bankside Galleries

Here's a list of the upcoming Art Society Exhibitions at the two main venues in London over the winter months - the Mall Galleries and the Bankside Gallery.

Click the title of the exhibition to find out more about each exhibition


Royal Institute of Oil Painters | Annual Exhibition 2022

Venue: Mall Galleries
Dates: 24 November 2022 to 10 December 2022 (10am to 5pm)
Admission: £5
More info:
Mini Picture Show 
Robin Richmond RWS, Summer Cadaques, Spain (detail),
watercolour & acrylic on handmade paper

Affordable works on a small scale by artists from the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Contemporary watercolours and original prints, both framed and unframed, may be taken away immediately. Prices start at £50

I'm always rather surprised more national and local art galleries don't do something similar. I've visited this show in the past and come away with what I regarded as some real bargains.
  • Artworks
  • Venue: Bankside Galley
  • Dates: 9th December 2022 - 29th January 2023
  • Admission: Free


Mini Picture Show (continues)

  • Artworks
  • Venue: Bankside Galley
  • Dates: 9th December 2022 - 29th January 2023
  • Admission: Free

Mall Galleries: no exhibitions


Mall Galleries: no exhibitions

I can't remember the last time (prior to the pandemic and other than last year due to surgery) when I didn't visit the Mall Galleries in January and February - but maybe that's because there's fewer art competitions?

Personally I don't get it. Summer months provide a lot more competition for people's time. Having a nice exhibition to go to during the winter months is to my mind an excellent outing! Bottom line it all depends on what the impact is on the number of visitors to the exhibition - and the number of sales....


RWS Open

Royal Society of British Artists 

Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - 211th Exhibition

  • Venue: Mall Galleries
  • Dates: Thursday 30 March - Saturday 8 April, 5pm (10am to 5pm daily)
  • Admission: £5

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Graeme Drendel wins $150,000 Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022

Graeme Drendel with his portrait of fellow portrait painter Lewis Miller

Last week it was announced that Victorian artist Graeme Drendel has won Australia’s richest portrait prize, the $150,000 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2022 (DMNPP), for his painting of fellow artist Lewis Miller.

Portrait of Lewis Miller 
Graeme Drendel 

It's not all about the size - because this is not a large painting - in very stark contrast to the winner in 2017 (see Tim Storrier wins richest portrait prize in the world) when the winning portrait was 2 metres high!

It is however a very fine and sensitive head study of the portrait painter who painted Graeme Drendel for his entry! Now there's a tip for portrait painters needing a sitter!

You can read more about the background to the prize and its history below

Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022

The prize encourages both excellence and creativity in contemporary Australian portraiture by asking artists to interpret the look and personality of a chosen sitter, either unknown or well known.
This is the web page about the Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2022.  There is no physical exhibition this year.

The Winner

Graeme Drendel's artwork is strongly figurative (and allegorical?) - although not hyperrealistic - and often includes figures in the Australian landscape in his work. I recognised allusions to paintings by famous painters in art history. He works in oil, gouache and watercolour. 
His subjects are figures of solitude and introspection, even when depicted in groups or clusters. Their expression and attire are suggestive of larger obscured narratives, left to the viewer to decipher.
He was born in Victoria in 1953 and, since 1990, he has held thirty solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. He is represented in many public and private collections throughout Australia.

He was a finalist in the Archibald Prize for Portraiture in 2018.

You can see more of his artwork online on his website and his Instagram account

The Finalists

There are 30 finalists in the online exhibition of the Finalists' workUnfortunately there is no narrative from the artist about the rationale behind the portrait. Nor is there any statement of media, support or size - which is a great pity.

I particularly liked the portraits by three women portrait painters

Friday, December 02, 2022

Morag Caister wins Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 (Series 9)

Morag Caister won the Final of  Series 9 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2022 on Wedensday night this week! 

This is a slightly different review this week. One which seeks to explain what we saw, what the Judges opined and why we arrived at the eventual result.

It covers

  • The Artists in the Final;
  • The Judges' Perspective
  • The Portraits - all 5 - and my comments
  • Why (I think) Megan won.
  • READ: How to enter the competition in 2023

Waiting to hear the Final PAOTY 2022 decision

The Three Finalists - and the sitter

The three finalists were, in alphabetical order
The Artists in the PAOTY 2022 Final
(left to right: Morag Caister; Binny Mathews and Nina Ruminska)

You can find profiles of the first two in Portrait Artist of the Year - The Semi-Finalists

The Day Science Met Art
An overview of the Final with the three artists, the sitter and all the cameras and film crew

The sitter for the Final is a very clever man and articulate communicator who we first encountered - as a nation - during the Pandemic Briefings at No. 10. 

The sitter was the former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Sir Jonathan Stafford Nguyen-Van-Tam MBE FRCPath FRSB FMedSci. His speciality is influenza, including its epidemiology, transmission, vaccinology, antiviral drugs and pandemic preparedness which provided an excellent basis for his support during Covid-19 Pandemic.

He also has a very strong head - and stare!

The Sitter - Sir Jonathan van Tam

The Judges' Perspective

The Judges recognised that they had intentionally selected three very different ways of creating portraits - with different approaches to line, colour, tone and likeness.

What they were looking for on the day was:
  • somebody who doesn't project their own feelings - but rather somebody who picks up on the 'vibes' of the sitter and responds to those
  • something new and refreshing

The Final Portraits - and my comments