Monday, January 30, 2023

Review: Lucian Freud - Plant Portraits at the Garden Museum

I went to see Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits at the Garden Museum in Lambeth this afternoon. It's an exhibition I've been meaning to go and see for ages. I even got there just after New Year - only to find they were having an extended seasonal break.

The exhibition is on until 5th March 2023 and the Garden Museum is open Monday – Sunday 10am – 5pm - and has an ace cafe! Entry to the Museum - which includes entry to the exhibition varies by status. I used my Art Fund pass and got in for £7.

Mostly small - but some larger artworks

Anyway, for those who like Lucian Freud here's a summary of the exhibition:

  • It's not a big exhibition
  • most of the artwork is either small or medium sized - but there are some larger paintings
  • However it displays a good range of the artwork he produced in relation to plant
    • produced at different ages
    • in different media
    • of different plants
For those who'd like to know more I did a VERY long post about Lucian Freud - paintings of plants and gardens back in 2018. This includes an inventory if all the paintings - in a timeline - with
  • notes about their context and location
  • links to where you can see them and
  • quotes by people - including Freud himself - about his paintings of plants and why he did them.
Below I've posted 
  • some more of the pics I took of the exhibition - with comments
  • videos made about paintings in the exhibition
  • links to more of my blog posts about Lucian Freud and his paintings / past exhibitions and [a
These are the childhood drawings of plants that he produced. His mother used to save all the artwork he produced as a child. It's amazing how some of the characteristic way he portrayed objects can be seen even at a very young age.

Childhood drawings and paintings

The next part of the exhibition, you can see in the first image above. This part includes a very fine but small painting of bananas on a tree.

Bananas by Lucian Freud
on loan from Southampton City Art Gallery

This was painted from life at Goldeneye, the home of Ian Fleming in Jamaica. Freud spent the tip painting banana trees on the estate.

Bananas is acutely observed and painted in precise, naturalistic detail. Freud said that the subject was a welcome release from portraits: "I noticed I switched away from people when my life was under particular strain...Not using people is like taking a deep breath of fresh air". Bananas was first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1954 in a joint exhibition with Ben Nicholson and Francis Bacon.
You can see more of his paintings of plants from Jamaica online - such as this one Plants in Jamaica which was sold at Sotheby's (but is not in the exhibition). 

This is a closeup of the one very large painting called "Two Plants".  Below it are the quotations I used in my 2018 post plus a video about the painting.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tyre Nichols - in his own words and images

I read that Tyre Nichols loved photography and went looking for his website after the news of his death and the absolutely appalling videos of how he was murdered by five Memphis policemen.

What I was not prepared for was the irony of both his words and his images - in the context of a death which was revealed to the world via a lens.

Tyre Nichols Photography
The website of Tyre Nichols Photography

This is what he says on his "about" page. My bold highlights the words which really hit home.

Hey guys,

My name is Tyre D. Nichols. I am an aspiring photographer. Well I mostly do this stuff for fun but i enjoy it very much. Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways i cannot write down for people. I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite.. landscape photography. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what i am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the "norm" and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what i see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work. So on that note enjoy my page and let me know what you think.

Your friend,

Tyre D. Nichols
It's appropriate to remember Tyre as more than just a victim. That wasn't his life.

It's too late to tell Tyre himself what I thought of his photographs - but I can do here.

Check out his Masterpieces page - he really had a good eye for a great picture.

I liked the care with which he found places to take great photos and the angles he got. He took time out to capture sunsets and iconic venues associated with Memphis blues at the right time. His images tell a story of his home town and his life. He makes Memphis look great.

Memphis Blues and Sunsets

I loved this strapline for his home page
A good photographer must love life more than photography itself
Let's remember Tyre Nicholas as a man who loved life, sunsets, photography and his home town of Memphis.

Let's hope that Memphis gives him justice.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023 - Castle Ward

This week's episode has generated a lot of critical comments - much more than usual.

This week, artists travelled to Northern Ireland for Episode 3 of Landscape Artists of the Year 2023.

The episode covers (as usual):
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • who was shortlisted and who won
plus information about
  • the call for entries for the competition this summer
  • my reviews of the episodes so far.

Episode 3: Castle Ward

Location and Weather

the view of the gothic facade of Castle Ward 
- at the top of a very significant sloping lawn

Castle Ward is an 18th-century mansion and estate in County Down, Northern Ireland. It's a National Trust property.

It was used as a filming location for Winterfell in the HBO television series Game of Thrones

However, the house is very odd and reflects both partners in a marriage. The house is divided in two - both inside and outside - so that it represents the differing tastes of 
  • Lord Bangor - the entrance side is a classical Palladian style with columns supporting a triangular pediment,
  • his wife, Lady Ann Bligh - the half to the rear and nearest the sea loch is Georgian Gothic with pointed windows, battlements and finials.
The weather was very cloudy in the morning - with very flat light. In the afternoon, the sun came out and the light improved.

The Artists in the Pods

The artists - after they had finished

Episode 3 pod artists are listed BELOW in the alphabetical order of their surnames.
  • Links to their websites are embedded in their names.
  • Social media platforms are also referenced.
The artists came from England, Ireland, Italy and Scotland.
  • Maryem Arif (Instagram) - an artist who likes working in Indian Ink and Watercolour - from Pinner. 
  • Celina Buckley (Instagram) - a full time practising professional fine artist, author, children’s book illustrator and part-time primary teacher from Co. Cork, Ireland. She creates her artwork using collage. Her collage papers are prepared using oil-based etching inks, an etching press and by mono-printing various textures onto the surfaces. 
  • Nicola Hepworth (Facebook | Instagram) - an artist, an Art Teacher and a History of Art teacher from Walthamstow who lives in London Fields, Hackney. Has a Fine Art MA (Hons) from Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art. She is passionate about art history. Her submission is titled 'View of the Graveyard from the Art Room'! She taught KS3, GCSE and A level Art in London Secondary Schools between 1998-2022
  • Chris Macauley (Instagram) - an art teacher and painter - who needs to say a lot more about himself and his art on his website! (It's not often I write this)
  • Leah McEvoy (Instagram) - a pastry chef from Galway
  • Richard Rees (Instagram)  - from London. Has painted and drawn for over 50 years. Trained and practiced as an architect before becoming a professional architectural illustrator in 1984. Now retired he has specialised in roof top vistas all over the world - but drew a ship for his submission! He also happens to be 
  • Stefano Ronchi (Facebook | Instagram) - from Italy, lives in Hackney and can work big. He describes himself as a "punk surrealist painter". He has been influenced by Leonardo, Brueghel, Dali, and Hieronymus Bosch mixed with comic book art. His very large impressive submission was called The Hill (Acrylic on canvas, 120x80 cm 2017)
  • Nicholas Walker (Instagram) - a landscape gardener and self taught painter from Manchester - who paints very fast and did two paintings during the heat. His submission painting of almond blossom was called First Blossom and can be seen being painted plein air on his website

The Wildcards

The 50 Wildcard artists were also able to paint the house but they got the other side of the house to paint - the rather nicer Palladian side. 

The Submissions

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour - 142nd Annual Exhibition

The 142nd Open Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour has opened at the Royal Scottish Academy building on the Mound in Edinburgh. 

RWS website

The purpose of the annual exhibition is to 

  • showcase the best painting in Scotland in watercolour and water-based media.
  • exhibit over 300 paintings by RSW members and other artists who responded to the call for open submissions from Scotland, the UK and around the world. 

For those of you like me who can't visit in person, you can see the artwork selected for this exhibition in the virtual exhibition which can be accessed via the website.

I'm going to highlight below the artwork which "jumped off the screen" at me.

What I found very confusing was that the online exhibition works in a very peculiar way. So, for example, I know I saw Anita Barley's work - because I wrote it down - but now cannot find it again! It's very confusing.....

In addition, it's just one artwork per artist online - so we don't see all 300+ paintings which are in the exhibition. Which is a pity....

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Social Media - Recommended Images Sizes in 2023

For all those using social media for their art - particularly those who use it for social media marketing - it's absolutely ESSENTIAL to know what are the best images sizes for use on the different platforms. 

It's simply NOT a case of one image fits all!

I always look out for the posts which provide this information on an annual basis and Hootsuite provides one of the best.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read and bookmark/file Hootsuite's 2023 Social Media Image Sizes for All Networks [CHEATSHEET]  by Karin Olafson and Tony Tran - as I will be!
The most recent image size specifications for different social media networks, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.
It provides:
  • this quick summary image for different types of format and different platforms 
  • PLUS infographics with much more detail for individual platforms.
  • AND detailed written information and advice and tips for every type of image possible
As it highlights - and as I have found out from bitter experience over the years - trying to find the "best" image sizes for different uses is very far from easy. As they say.....
It doesn’t help that information about official dimensions and image sizes is harder to find than a civil discussion on politics on Facebook.

The post is comprehensive and provides the following

Their infographic images for every platform are excellent and provide detailed pixel sizes for every format on every platform.

Plus they provide lots of detailed written information - for each platform - about;
  • what size to upload - including recommended sizes and minimum sizes
  • what resolution to use
  • maximum file sizes
  • how different platforms will resize your image 
  • what image size will display
  • PLUS lots of additional tips for making your social media marketing more effective.
It's very much one of those articles which is worth printing off and pinning up next to your desk - or at the very least bookmarking for reference.

One cautionary note

Following the advent of AI, I'd caution it's even more important than it has been in the past to only post images of your artwork at a size you are comfortable with.

Plus ALWAYS keep the original of your image at its original size and filed away as a record of your art-marking. That way if you ever want to get into a "discussion" with somebody who has nabbed your image and used it for their own benefit outside the fair use / fair dealing copyright conventions then you have a basis for disputing that it was their image in the first place. 

For more about what to do in the event of copyright infringement - see my page What to do about Copyright Infringement - for Artists on my website Art Business Info for Artists


NOTE: Hootsuite is a social media management platform which has been around for a long time in social media times. It was created by Ryan Holmes in 2008 and is based in Vancouver. It's commonly used to manage social media messages to multiple social media platforms. It's no surprise to me that it is now regarded as an industry leader and is used by 25 million customers! 
Hootsuite provides a suite of social media tools is built to simplify your marketing, accelerate your sales, and streamline your customer service

Monday, January 23, 2023

Call for Entries: Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2023 + TIPS!

The Call for Entries for the 124th Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society has been published.  

The 124th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society

  • Artists are invited to submit work for exhibition alongside members of the Pastel Society
  • Dates: 24th May - 3rd June 2023 Venue: Mall Galleries, The Mall, London 
  • DEADLINE for entries - for a digital image, application form and fee - is noon on Friday 24th March 2023
The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary pastel and dry media, combining traditional skills with creative originality for their 124th Annual Exhibition.

If selected for the exhibition your artwork will be 

  • seen by visitors to the Mall Galleries - and it gets a lot of visitors), 
  • viewed online via the Mall Galleries website and that of the Pastel Society 
  • eligible for a number of prizes & awards. 
READ ON If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media and would like to achieve a higher profile for your artwork - and maybe a sale or a prize!

Note: All quotes come from the official Call for Entries.

Pastel by Felicity House PS

SUMMARY of Call for Entries

Below you can find MY version of the Call for Entries.
Note that:
  • it includes TIPS and 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. It means that the quality of your digital image is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL this year.

REQUIRED READING: On the Mall Galleries website you can find:
TIP: If you don't read all the relevant information, do NOT be surprised or irritated if your entry is not selected.

Below is a summary of the stages of entry.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Sketchbook Project is closing down

The Sketchbook Project is closing down. Brooklyn Library is calling time on its holding of thousands of sketchbooks.

The Sketchbook Project has been running for as long as this blog has been running so it's very sad to see that it's coming to an end as a collection in one space.

What is The Sketchbook Project?

  • 2006 - The Sketchbook Project began in Atlanta, GA 
  • 2009 - It moved to New York City in 2009
  • There were two Sketchbook options for how artists participated. These were:
    • STANDARD — This book lives on the shelves of the library
    • DIGITIZED — This book lives on the shelves of the library +
      photographed and added to the digital library
  • Since then
    • it grew into a worldwide community of more than 70,000 artists.
    • over 50k sketchbooks created
    • became the largest collection of artists' sketchbooks
    • hundreds of thousands of sketchbook checkouts,
    • sketchbooks have travelled thousands of miles
  • 2022 - The physical space for the project in Brooklyn closed on February 25th
  • 2022 - There was a fire on February 28th - during a move from Brooklyn to Florida -  which had a major impact on the sustainability of the project
Every sketchbook in the project / collection was identical and could be completed however people chose.
Your book comes with a six-digit B number on a sticker found on the back cover of your sketchbook that is unique to you! Each book has 16 pages. 32 back and front. Our books are made by our best buds at Scout Books.
This Frequently Asked Questions Page on the Brooklyn Library website explains how it worked.

Relevant links are:

What's happening to the Sketchbook Project?

The Sketchbook Project is closing down. 

This was announced on 11th January 2023.
After 17 years, hundreds of thousands of book checkouts, over 50k sketchbooks created, thousands of miles traveled, we are closing the project We have decided to fully shut down The Sketchbook Project and Brooklyn Art Library non-profit and gift the collection to other amazing institutions that can better care for the books.

Why is it closing?

Unfortunately the organization is no longer sustainable and we are not able to care for the books as they should be cared for long term. We are working hard to find partner institutions that can house the collection for many years to come.
The intention is to find other institutions which have space for and are capable of looking after the collection - and each will get part of the collection.

Then there was the fire......

What about the fire?

One of the things that has triggered this decision is the fire while the books were being transported from Brooklyn to Florida.

On Monday, February 28th, the moving trailer that was transporting the entire Sketchbook Project collection from Brooklyn to St. Pete caught fire while driving through Baltimore. 
The Sketchbook Project Fire

So what happened:
  • around 70% of the The Sketchbook Project collection was saved by volunteers and firefighters
  • around 7,000 books in the collection have been lost
  • the majority of the unharmed books arrived in St Pete today are safe and sound.
  • the digitisation equipment and other resources used to support the collection were all lost.

What about the Digital Library?

The Digital Library is the virtual extension of the Brooklyn Art Library and contains over 25,000 complete scanned contributions to The Sketchbook Project.
We are seeking a digital partner to help maintain the digital library for years to come. As of now, it will remain up. It will not be monitored or worked on until we have a partner, so it is possible for it to go down for some time, or to shut down completely. 
You can find the Digital Library at

How to get your sketchbook back

A streamlined way to get your sketchbook back - if it still exists - has been set up

You need to read and REQUEST BOOK HERE:
You will have until February 10th, 2023 to request your book(s) back. We are asking for a $15 dollar fee that will cover shipping, materials and the time to get the book back to you. After February 10th, your book will be sent to a partner organization to live on with other parts of the collection and you will not be able to get it back. Any excess funds will go towards helping the partner organizations get set up.
However you have to bear in mind just one member of staff is dealing with all such requests.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year - Royal Ascot

This is a review of Episode 2 of Landscape Artists of the Year 2023 - which was at Royal Ascot - which covers (as usual):

  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • who was shortlisted and who won
Left to right: Grandstand, the Racecourse, the Pods!

Episode 2: Royal Ascot

Location and Weather

The artists, judges and presenters turned up early in the morning to where the pods were located across the course from the Grandstand at Ascot Racecourse during Royal Ascot. I'm assuming it was the first day, as they filmed the Royal Procession.

My theory is that, given it was the Queen's Platinum Jubilee AND she was a well known devotee of racing and Ascot, that it would be a 'dead cert' that she turned up for Royal Ascot - and the filmmakers were hoping for paintings including the Queen. Sadly, as we all now know, her health was deteriorating over the summer and HM Queen Elizabeth II did not attend Ascot for the first time in very many years and she died in early September.

A drone's top down view of Royal Ascot

I gather it was the hottest day of June - which presumably made the dress code for the chaps interesting!

The Dress Code

Below you can see the "usual suspectsin top hat and tails, dresses and fancy hats - except for Joan who looked amazingly sensible. I've seen her look much more glammed up at Battersea Arts Centre when filming PAOTY!!

I gather the crew also had to be dressed appropriately!

the usual suspects in top hat and tails, dresses and fancy hats
- except for Joan who looked amazingly sensible. I've 

Here come the artists - looking rather smarter than usual. They all had to wear remote mikes of the pink bud which sits next to your mouth variety. I'm assuming there was probably an issue re which bandwidth they were recording on given the amount of media at the event.

The jackets didn't last long once they got into the pods!

Left to right: Veronica Valeri; Anna Rotheisen, Yian Chen and Toby Gawlor

Left to right: Tim Wait, Susanna McInnes, Mark Southey and Bob Higgins

I gather friends and family rather enjoyed the outing to Ascot - especially the female friends and family!

Next you can find out more about the artists....

The Artists in the Pods

The Ascot equivalent of sitting on the steps of Battersea Arts Centre
while the judges judge!

Episode 2 pod artists are listed BELOW in the alphabetical order of their surnames
  • Links to their websites are embedded in their names. 
  • Social media platforms are also referenced.
The artists for this Heat were an International bunch!
  • Yian Chen (Instagram - a Chinese artist who has studied for a MFA at Goldsmith's College.
  • Toby Gawler (Instagram) - (b.1987) is originally from Sydney, Australia where he lived most of his life before moving to the Netherlands in 2014 and then onto the United Kingdom in late 2015. completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) at Sydney College of the Arts in 2007 - but was not taught to draw or paint. A tattoo artist, currently based in Margate. 
  • Bob Higgins (Instagram ) - a retired technical illustrator from Essex who is an experienced plein air painter
  • Susanna Macinnes (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - Lives in South London aBA (HONS) degree in Fine Art from Manchester Metropolitan University.  Member of and Secretary to the friends of the Chelsea Art Society. She has been painting landscapes for 20 years and is an experienced plein air painter. She has exhibited in various locations over the years. Painted from her roof during the first lockdown. She took part 
  • Anna Rotheisen  (FacebookInstagram) - an artist and student welfare administrator from Hampshire who generally works from a studio in her garden. Exhibited for the first time in 2022. Painted Aldershot Railway station for her submission
  • Marc Southey  (Instagram) - a graphic designer from London who works in coloured pencils
  • Veronica Valeri (FacebookInstagram) - an Italian artist who has lived in the UK since 2012 and is based in Birmingham. Her submission painting was a hyperrealist view of a canal.
  • Tim Wait  (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) - born in Hampshire "when the Beatles were still in Hamburg"; he followed "traditional artists’ journey of tractor-driving, building, furniture-making, singer-songwriter, car restorer and pen and ink artist." Fine art degree from Oxford Brookes and now a professional artist from Oxford. He likes painting machinery, particularly agricultural machinery and motorbikes.
You can also

    The Wildcard Artists

    Tuesday, January 17, 2023

    Winners of the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Award + Commissions

    This is a list of 

    • ALL the artists who have ever won the Portrait Award organised by the National Portrait Gallery in London 
    • PLUS a link to ALL the commissions offered as part of their First Prize.
    The list of past winners has been removed from the BP Portrait Award website. It's to be hoped that the National Portrait Gallery will provide evidence of who won what and when on a new page on its website at some future date. 

    The most successful Portrait Award Artist ever! (see below for why)
    Ben Sullivan with Ginnie and 15 month old Edie (at her second BP Awards ceremony!)
    Breech! - Winner of the BP Portrait Award 2017
    Oil on canvas, 820 x 400mm

    Portrait Commissions

    The NPG website records one of the original objectives of the Portrait Award - that of developing a programme of commissions of notable people in the UK.
    Bryan Organ's portrait of 'Prince Charles', inaugurates an active programme of commissions. Annual Portrait Award for painters under 40 introduced and twelve portraits commissioned from Portrait Award winner s 1980-9 with support from Imperial Tobacco NPG Commissioning Portraits: Chronology 
    However, National Portrait Gallery ONLY records 24 artists as Portrait Award Winners - of the 40 artists who have won the Award(!) - who have their commissioned portraits (part of the prize) listed in the records of the NPG's commissions and the permanent collection.

    The other artists who won the award are no longer listed. 

    Interestingly NOT all winners are invited to produce a commission!  ONLY 60% of artists have been awarded a commission in addition to the cash prize.
    • There has also not been a commission awarded - which has resulted in a completed painting - between 2014-2020 - which seems like a very long time to keep advertising a commission from the NPG as part of the first prize!
    • Typically international artists have not painted a portrait of a 'significant Briton' commissioned by the NPG. This is perhaps more understandable - but it's a penalty of making the competition international 
    over time, the number of UK artists being selected for this competition has halved. 40th BP Portrait Award (2019) Shortlist

    Portrait Award Winners

    'Making A Mark' provides comprehensive records (see BP Portrait Award category) of who won what and when going back to 2008.  

    BELOW is a list 
    • The name of the award winner - by Sponsor, Title of the Award and Year
    • The names of artists in bold included embedded links to my reviews of the announcement of the prizewinner
    • identifies the commissioned portrait and links to its page on the NPG website
    • Plus includes videos I made of interviews with award winners in recent years.

    Monday, January 16, 2023

    Sponsorship of the "BP Portrait Award" competition has ended

    One of the most prestigious portrait competitions in the world - held at the National Portrait Gallery in London - is no more.  Below I cover:
    • the announcements to date about the BP Portrait Award
    • announcements about the future of "a portrait award" competition
    • thoughts about some of the issues any future portrait award should address
    Tomorrow's post will be about Winners to date of The Portrait Award organised by the NPG - plus links to the commissions and my reviews plus photos and videos taken by me.

    In summary, the position is:
    • BP will have no further involvement in the sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery - which given the various well publicised assaults on various galleries of late comes as no surprise to me.
    • The National Portrait Gallery:
      • plan to continue with some form of award 
      • are currently "thinking about it" - in terms of activities supporting their future strategy; and 
      • hope to make an announcement  at some point in 2023.

    Video of the last major protest about BP Sponsorship
    at 4:15pm, on the last day of the 2019 BP Portrait Award exhibition 
    at the National Portrait Gallery.

    The BP Portrait Award: The Announcement

     In the aftermath of my surgery, I missed the announcement back in February 2022, that 
    bp and the National Portrait Gallery have together confirmed that their partnership will not extend beyond December 2022, when their current contract comes to an end. 
    Throughout the partnership, which spans more than 30 years, bp’s support of the Gallery’s Portrait Award, one of the longest running cultural events in London, has enabled more than six million visitors to enjoy free admission to the exhibition and contributed to the career development of more than 1,500 portrait artists, from aspiring young painters to established professionals. bp and the National Portrait Gallery announce end of partnership 

    This was followed by reports in various journals

    The oil and gas company has sponsored the London institution’s BP Portrait Award since 1989, but the partnership has come under increasing pressure in recent years following campaigns to end fossil fuel sponsorship of arts and culture.

    In 2019, the artist Gary Hume resigned from the award’s judging panel over the issue, and a blockade by the anti-oil activist group BP or not BP? forced guests to climb over a wall to enter the awards ceremony. Eighty leading artists subsequently signed a letter calling on the gallery to cut ties with BP.

    In 2020 the gallery confirmed that there would be no BP representative on the judging panel that year. The BP Portrait Award is not being staged in 2021 and 2022 while the National Portrait Gallery’s building is closed for redevelopment.

    On the BP Portrait Award website (2020), there is a low key announcement

    The National Portrait Gallery and BP have together confirmed that the current sponsorship of the BP Portrait Award will not be extended beyond December 2022, when the current contract comes to an end. Update 2022
    The statement also makes clear
    • there is no BP Portrait Award in 2022
    • the NPG is currently considering options for the Portrait Award following the re-opening of the Gallery in 2023 and beyond.
    • the NPG looks forward to developing the future Portrait Award
    • you can sign up for our emails and follow us on social media for the latest updates and information on how to get involved.
    My expectation is that the announcement will come in the second half of the year - AFTER the National Portrait Gallery reopens to the public on 23 June 2023, following the most significant redevelopment in its history.

    What sort of portrait award?

    The need for change

    My guess is they will 
    • launch a new version of the Portrait award as part of the celebration of the new Gallery re-opening in 2023
    • BP will be "retired" as the patron/sponsor 
    • recruit / entice another more appropriate sponsor will be found for the exhibition. Ideally one which 
      • offends nobody in relation to environmental, cultural or ethical matters.
      • complies with the currently non-existent policy on Sustainability!!! (i.e. the ability to exist constantly) as well as any other relevant policies such as the Equality and Diversity policy 
    No BP Portrait Award in 2021 and 2022 | Making A Mark 24 September 2020

    One key issue the NPG will need to address relates to space allocated and revenue generation:
    • should a "free to enter" Portrait Award Exhibition have more space than a paying exhibition? ie 
      • latterly the Exhibition was moved out of the largest gallery into a smaller gallery - and to my mind the hang very much suffered as a result - and when crowded, viewing was very difficult;
      • I was told that the income generating exhibitions had to take priority over the popular ones (however given the faulty practices the NPG experienced re collection of statistics, that's maybe a notion that should be revisited)
      • by way of contrast the major exhibitions which then occupied the larger gallery space always seemed to be almost deserted when I visited
    • should it be a paying exhibition?
    I'm more interested in thinking behind the SCOPE of the competition which I think needs a really radical rethink
    Two assertions are made which I think need challenging i.e. that this portrait competition is
    • the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world
    • represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting
    BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2019 (Part 1): Overview critique
    • Is this still a prestigious exhibition - and if not what it was, what needs to change?
      • What, in particular, makes this competition distinctive?
      • Should the number selected go back to the 60 originally agreed and maintained for many years - prior to the reduction in recent years
    Comparison of the number of entries and the number of portraits selected 2004-2019
    • Should it be limited in any way? e.g.
      • Should it be national or international?
      • Should it be limited to Young Artists only on a periodic basis (say) every other year?
      • Should international artists be limited to no more than 50% or some other percentage (given the tendency in recent years for international artists to predominate - which does little to support portrait artists in the UK!)
      • Should the Travel Award continue?
    • Should it support the development of a cadre of artists who can be commissioned to paint portraits for the National Portrait Gallery (i.e. its original purpose!)
    • Should it widen the media considered acceptable?  
      • i.e. given the scope to produce work in other media in other prestigious portrait competitions around the world
      • Should it include drawings as well as paintings - to reflect the collection of the NPG (e.g. see the drawings of past winner Stuart Pearson Wright)
    • Should there be a focus on portraits of Groups or Teams or Families of important people  - something which features significantly in the NPG's own collection but not in portraits submitted to the competition in the past.
    • Should it include awards to recognise the "national" in National Portrait Gallery? 
      • e.g. awards for artists from Scotland; Wales; NI (and Ireland?); North of England; Midlands; South West and South East.
    The latter in particular provides scope for collaborative links to other art galleries in Great Britain - highlighting local artists who did well by being selected for the The Portrait Award Exhibition - and exhibiting their portraits.

    If you want to send me your thoughts I'm happy to make representations to the NPG.....

    TOMORROW: I'm listing all the winners of the Portrait Award
    • organised by the National Portrait Gallery
    • sponsored - since 1980 - by Imperial Tobacco, John Player & Sons and BP
    AND providing links to 
    • their commissioned portraits and 
    • where you can find them now.

      Saturday, January 14, 2023

      Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023 - Blackpool Beach and Pier

      • the location and weather
      • the artists' profiles
      • themes arising during the episode
      • who was shortlisted and who won
      The new (eighth) series has 
      • 48 artists in pods over six episodes (prior to the semi-final and final) 
      • plus 50 wildcard artists 
      • at each of the six locations they filmed at during Summer 2022. 
      They filmed before the 2022 extreme heatwave got underway so it'll be interesting to see what weather challenges get presented.

      Episode 1: Blackpool Beach and Pier

      Location & Weather

      Pods on the Promenade at Blackpool
      with the North Pier and the Irish Sea in the background

      The location for the first episode was Blackpool. It involved the Pods lined up on the Promenade in front of the Beach and to the side of the Victorian North Pier which is: 
      • the longest and oldest pier of three piers in Blackpool and dates back to 1863. 
      • the only Blackpool pier to hold Grade II listed status and 
      • often classed as a family favourite for visitors.
      Blackpool is a coastal seaside resort in Lancashire which rose to prominence with the advent of the railways in the 19th Century - becoming a regular holiday destination for many living in the northwest. 

      The broadcast included photographs of Dame Joan Bakewell as a small child on the beach at Blackpool - which looked incredibly similar to photos of my late Mother on the same beach! I suspect many others who grew up in the northwest have similar photos!

      The day started dull and overcast and brightened up as the day went on. But no rain.

      The view was described as being one of their most challenging subjects - with the potential for not a lot happening for ages and then a lot happening all at once.

      The Usual Suspects

      We have, as always, the same regulars as previous series - so no changes there. I don't think Tai got the memo about the white shoes....

      Left to right:
      Judges: Kathleen Soriano, Kate Bryan, Tai Shan Schierenberg
      Presenters: Dame Joan Bakewell, Stephen Mangan

      The Artists in the Pods

      Below is a synopsis about each artist - in alphabetical order. In the past I've highlighted some of the problems associated with artists who were allowed to decide whether they should be designated professional or amateur and in this series Sky Arts has stopped dividing them into professionals and amateurs and so have I!

      TIP: If you were selected as a pod artist for LAOTY 2023 - and will be appearing on this blog in future episode reviews:
      • do try and make sure you've licked all the places you can be found online into a good shape before the broadcast - I'll be looking for them!
      • make sure it's very easy for me to find a profile of who you are and what you do. Those who get the longer profiles below are those who provide the "easy to find" info!

      Episode 1 pod artists are listed BELOW in the alphabetical order of their surnames. Links to their websites are embedded in their names. Social media platforms are also referenced. Read the above tip to find out how to get a decent profile....

      Tuesday, January 10, 2023

      Call for Entries: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2023

      This is about how to enter the Summer Exhibition 2023 of the Royal Academy of Arts - as in

      • the summer exhibition which is the LARGEST OPEN EXHIBITION IN THE WORLD 
      • it opens on 13th June and continues until 20th August 2023
      • the Call for Entries opened TODAY
      • the Digital Submission closes on Tuesday 14 February 2023.
      The following blog post covers the process for entries and "what you need to know" if you want to enter - including TIPS relating to aspects it's important to get right.

      TIP: This is an exhibition I would definitely recommend to anybody who creates original prints. The RA Summer Exhibition always has a big print room and because the exhibition has a huge number of visits you can sell lots and lots of prints if people like your print. But it has to be an ORIGINAL! Plus you have to do the delivery and you need to factor the delivery price into the sale price.

      "Sleeping Mouse" by Sarah Roberts
      - from a previous Summer Exhibition

      The 2023 Summer Exhibition

      An Important Distinction between registration, entry and details

      To be able to enter you must first register for an account HOWEVER
      • registering for an account in order to enter does not mean you have entered. 
      • To be able to enter you must first purchase an entry form.
      • you do not need to complete the details when you purchase the entry form. You can do that later
      Please note that the RA has indicated that the number of entries is capped at 16,500. 

      That means that:
      • if you leave your entry until nearer the deadline that you may not be able to submit this year if you have not purchased an entry form
      • if you buy an entry now, you can complete the details later - but you cannot be reimbursed if you fail to submit.
      BELOW you can find more details and helpful links to further information on the exhibition and "how to enter".