Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Review: British Plein Air Painters 2023 Exhibition

"A Plein Air Vision", the third exhibition by the British Plein Air Painters (BPAP) Group opened today at the RWS Gallery
at 3 Whitcomb Street (next to the National Gallery). 

I went to the Private View last night which was a very convivial happy affair with many people and rather a lot of red dots. 

I was very impressed by it - and I'll explain why below. 

You can see photos I took last night in this album on my Facebook Page.

You can see all the artworks via this page on the BPAP website. Click the pic to see a page of bio and artworks for each artist. All sold paintings are clearly marked up.

Why this exhibition looks impressive

Membership of the group: While this is a plein air group, it's not open to all painters who are plein air painters. Those being invited to become members over the course of the last three years are:

  • all experienced artists generally - many are professional artists with some having a career that has lasted decades
  • many have been to art school
  • they are all very experienced in working plein air and 
  • all have produced a lot of quality artwork over a longish period of time.
I would suggest that a page on their website talking about how to apply to become a member would be useful.

Exhibiting artists at the British Plein Air Artists PV (30th October 2023)

Many of them are also members of one or more of the National Art Societies. The majority are Full or Associate members of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and some are members of the Royal Society of Marine Artists and/or the Wapping Group of Artists.

There is a little bit of a sense of the group being the plein air arm of the ROI - although I think it might also be that the ROI has taken on more active plein air painters in recent years!

The 27 exhibiting artists for the 2023 exhibition are listed below. 

The 7 women artists make up 26% of the exhibiting artists. I suggest this could be more - maybe a point for consideration when considering future members?

Five of the seven female painters pictured below.

Nature / quality of artwork: 215 artworks are on display (which is a good indicator for anybody thinking about hiring this gallery for an exhibition of similar sized artworks).

Most of the artwork are plein air paintings. They cover a very wide range of locations ranging from "home turf" for individual painters, to various places in London and other locations - typically in the UK - that the painters have visited.

The one thing for me is I'd have liked to have seen an indication of which:

  • started plein air
  • completed plein air
  • completed in the studio
  • studio art from a plein air sketch
I think that's helpful to the viewing public and also helps to keep the group focused on what the exhibition is all about. 

Private View

Size of artwork: It's the first time for a long time that I've seen an exhibition which is made up of medium and small size artworks.

The three galleries and the exhibition all looked well designed with walls with two rows of paintings small and medium sized paintings at a good height - with the eyes moving up or down easily. They are all well lit.

I gather the previous exhibitions had established that larger studio finished artwork is much less likely to do well at an exhibition which is being promoted as being about plein air painting - and the decision was made to go with small and mediums sizes for this one.

I think that was an inspired decision as it results in a very coherent exhibition where the smaller sized works do NOT appear to be filling in the gaps between the larger artworks.

A wall of small and medium sized paintings

Media used: Most of the paintings are in oil. This is not uncommon in terms of media often used by plein air artists and by members of the ROI!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Review: Episode 3 Portrait Artist of the Year (Series 10)

The Portrait Artist of the Year Heat which featured in Episode 3

The third broadcast episode of the art competition known as Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year was filmed in April 2023 and first broadcast on Wednesday 25th October 2023 - and this is my review of it!

I am reiterating that my numbering of episodes starts from the beginning of the series proper (i.e. the REAL art competition). I don't count a Celebrity Special as part of the series (it never has before).

Episode 3: The Sitters

The sitters for this episode were all men. They are:
  • Ainsley Harriot - an English chef of Jamaican heritage and television presenter of cookery programmes. He brought his late Mum's cooking pot (which had a special name but I'm not sure I heard it properly).
  • Rory Stewart - a British academic, diplomat, author, broadcaster, former soldier, former Conservative politician and famous walker (he walked across much of Asia and across Afghanistan) - who does "The Rest is Politics" podcast with Alastair Campbell which I often listen too on my daily walks. He brought his Afghan hiking boots as his special object
  • Rob Delaney - an American comedian, actor, writer, and activist who I've never heard of before. He brought his son's painting.

Episode 3: The Artists

The artists in Episode 3 broadcast on 25th October 2023 are listed below in alphabetical order of the surname.

You can see all the profiles on the Sky Arts site plus speeded up videos of their paintings

The artists in Episode 3 on the steps of Battersea Arts Centre after they finished
  • James Crowther (Instagram) - a British figurative painter, now living and working in rural Oxfordshire with his family after a long period working in London. One of those artists who has not yet caught up with the essential need for a security certificate for their website to give it an https:// prefix (i.e. I can't view http on Chrome and his website now comes up with an Asian script on Safari - but no images. No security = no website!)
  • Yvadney Davis (Instagram) -  born in the early 80s, lives in South London. She pursued a career in fashion after studying at Central Saint Martins. She returned to her love of painting during the pandemic and recently has developed her art from a lockdown hobby to an award winning practice. She celebrates Caribbean heritage and the Windrush generation and uses old wallpaper for her support. She created her self portrait submission with a broken wrist.
  • Matt Graysmith (Instagram) - Born in Stafford, and lives in Guernsey as a child. Now living iand working in London. He was awarded a First Class Honours BA degree in Fine Art (Painting) by UAL Camberwell College of Arts and participated in the Camberwell College of Arts Degree Show this summer. I think he may be the first artist I've come arcross recently to employ the ".art" suffix for his website. His Instagram site suggests that he enjoys painting people as if from the cornice of the room, looking down on them and the floor. He also likes painting wood floorboards.
  • Olive Haigh (Instagram) Studied drawing at University and is currently working as an assistant gallery curator in Bristol. She is interested in storytelling and creating imaginary people and places. She has worked as an illustrator for children’s books, and an artist for musicians.
my submission was one of my larger painting but look how tiny it is on the artist of the year wall!
  • David Herd (Instagram | BlogLinktr.ee ) Born in Glasgow, he lives and works in coastal Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He's "a Scottish painter of people and places and the spaces inbetween". No bio on his website or blog but the programme announced he's also an art teacher and curriculum manager.
  • Lorena Levi (Instagram) - she graduated Edinburgh University with an MA in Fine art 2021 where she won awarded the Astaire Prize at the end of her course. She was the overall winner of the 2022 Jackson’s Painting Prize. If the Judges knew those credentials, they'd be taking her seriously from the off... Her self portrait submission is below.
  • Lucy Milne - a professional pastel artist from Gloucestershire who submitted a charcoal portrait with a very engaging stare - looking straight out at us. She has worked as a portrait artist specialising in people, horses and dogs and working on commission. She is currently studying oil painting at the Heatherley School of Art
  • JR Root (Instagram) - a professional artist from rural Leicestershire now living in Nottingham who is also a part-time postal worker. He is a graduate of the University of Sheffield
  • Neena Sartain (no internet presence) - a junior doctor working as an aneathetist in NewCastle. Her self portrait looked down at the viewer.

Self Portrait Submissions

Self Portrait Submissions being reviewed by the Judges

Size, content and calibre of submissions

I've analysed all the portraits - of artists looking at themselves - and allocated them to the various categories below.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

The Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair - the largest art fair wholly dedicated to contemporary fine art prints - opened today in Woolwich in south east London.

Home Page of the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair Website

I'm a big fan of prints, particularly those who fall into the categories of:

  • affordable art and/or
  • small works that can find a space on my walls (which are already covered in art)
What you need to know:

  • Venue: Woolwich Works, The Fireworks Factory, No.1 Street, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HD
  • Dates: The Fair opened today and is on until Sunday 29th October
  • Times: It doesn't open until midday and hours are 12-6pm
  • Booking: Be VERY CAREFUL when booking to get the right day and time. There is something very wrong with their booking system. I've just noticed that the tickets I booked for tomorrow were actually for today because they still had the time slot open an hour and half after it had passed! I'm currently trying to get them changed.
  • Travel - you can get to Woolwich Station very easily and quickly using the Elizabeth Line after which it's a 3 minute walk to the venue.  You can also travel by Uber Clipper down river to Woolwich (Royal Arsenal)

Monday, October 23, 2023

Call for Entries: Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition 2024

Four very good reasons why painters, printmakers, sculptors and artists who draw should pay attention to the Call for Entries for the 2024 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists are:

  • Cash prizes totalling £17,400 are on offer
  • Last year this exhibition generated very impressive sales - which, in the current climate, is even more impressive.
  • The RBA have decided to hang 200 artworks from the Open Entry
  • This annual exhibition has been getting better and better in recent years 
Submissions are ONLINE ONLY - deadline for entries is noon on 10th January 2024.

The next Annual Exhibition will open 29th February 2024

Here are some of the reasons to enter the RBA Annual Exhibition 2024:
  • £10,000 grand prize
  • Plus another c. £10,000 of prizes and awards (see 'Prizes & Awards' below)
  • Non-members are eligible for all prizes with the exception of the Whistler Award (£3,000)
  • 200 non-member works will be selected to show with us and will appear in our catalogue
  • We select quality, whether paintings, sculptures, printmaking or drawing

As Mick Davies, the President of the Royal Society of British Artists has said
Be positive ... have confidence in your ability and go for it! Last year we had record sales, because the RBA has been at the heart of contemporary art for over two centuries and we are still at it.

Call for Entries

You can find complete details on the following Pages
NOTE: THERE IS NO UNIQUE PAGE / URL for the complete details, terms and conditions for this exhibition. 
  • You can however copy and paste the Full Details, Terms and Conditions from the OESS website into a Word document for your information / files - rather than trying to read it in full as a pop-up.
  • I'm surprised that the Mall Galleries does not still have its terms and conditions identified as a link within the Call for Entries page on the Mall Galleries website. Given these are legal specifics, this seems very odd as they are much more specific than those available via OESS. (i.e. I only know the page still exists as I have the link from previous years)

What can you submit?

The Society welcomes works in any medium including painting, drawings, sculpture and original fine art prints.

I RECOMMEND you read the call for entries and the terms and conditions of entry very carefully
  • Acceptable media: Any medium including sculpture and original prints.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: All works MUST be an original creation by the artist.
  • Age of artwork: no requirement
  • No. of artworks: up to six - of which up to four will be selected
  • Previous exhibitions: Work must NOT have been exhibited previously IN LONDON. Note that they've tightened up the criteria - that means not exhibited at ANY exhibition in London i.e. this is NOT limited to the RBA Exhibitions. I'm a big fan of art societies who refuse to allow people to exhibit work they have previously exhibited elsewhere in the same area - it makes for a MUCH better exhibition of work which is fresh to the eye.
  • Dry: Paintings should be completely dry at the time of delivery (or they won't be hung)
  • Wrapping: The Gallery does NOT keep wrapping. Nor does it wrap artwork for return to the artist. So you need to deliver and collect yourself or employ a courier to do this for you. 
  • Size: Works should not be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.
  • For Sale: ALL work must be for sale (and the price must include commission @ 45%+VAT. For the uninitiated, that means 
    • if you price your painting @ £500
    • then commission of £225 will be deducted
    • plus a further £45 for VAT on commission charged.
    • So you get £230, the Mall Galleries gets £225 and Customs and Excise gets £45.
  • Price: The minimum price is £300 (framed prints: £180, unframed prints: £120).
    • You can see the range of artwork submitted in my reviews of previous exhibitions - listed at the end of this blog post. 
    • I'm very pleased to see that the RBA has stuck to the minimum price applicable BEFORE the UK started to experience the cost of living crisis and continues to make affordable artwork available.

TIPS In relation to pricing.....

TIP: Do NOT be silly or over ambitious about prices - especially if you are unfamiliar with sales at this venue.
  • small works priced between £300 and £500 typically sell very well (i.e. a much high percentage in this price bracket will sell compared to others - because they are more affordable)
  • most works sell below £1,000
  • members sell well between £500 and £1,500
  • if you are pricing above £2,000 you are:
    • either a well known artist with some years experience, a bunch of collectors and a credible track record of sales above this price point
    • or you have a very big ego and/or opinion of your own work and/or lack experience in exhibiting/selling your work
    • NEVER EVER price just above the big price point breaks (£500, £1000, £1,500) - always just below!
I don't think I can make it plainer than that!

Who can enter? 

Any artist over 18 may submit artwork.

Most are British but international artists can also submit their artwork. (See my info. for International Artists at the end of this section)

How to enter and submit your artwork

Friday, October 20, 2023

Review: Episode 2 Portrait Artist of the Year (Series 10)

Episode 2: Portrait Artist of the Year 

(series 10 / broadcast 18 October 2023)

This is a review of the second broadcast episode of the art competition known as Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. The heat was filmed in April 2023 and was first broadcast on Wednesday 18th October 2023.

Painting in a heat of Portrait Artist of theYear 2023
broadcast as Episode 2
with the cameras and the onlookers....

Episode numbering

I should preface this post by saying - or rather reiterating - that I am numbering episodes from the start of the series proper (i.e. the REAL art competition) and consider what Sky Arts is calling Episode 1 to be a Celebrity Special - which I do NOT count for numbering purposes.  What Sky Arts needs is a specific Celebrity Artist of the Year Special which can then accommodate all previous such episodes - and avoid them getting confused with the proper competition.

So this is the real Episode 2 which is unfortunately numbered as Episode 3 on the current series 10 folder of videos.

You can see more about the previous episode and who won previous series at the end of this post. Plus how to access my post about the Call for Entries for Series 11.

Episode 2: The Sitters

The sitters for Episode 2 are:
  • Jay Rayner - an English journalist and food critic for The Observer and host of the 'Out to Lunch' podcast (and son of Claire Rayner for those of us who remember her!). He's also a jazz pianist with a sextet and his special object were his cufflinks repreenting piano keys.
  • Nijal Arthanayake - ex rap artist; currently an English radio and TV presenter who broadcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live
  • Susanna Reid - an English television presenter and journalist; used to present BBC Breakfast before she became one of the co-presenters of Good Morning Britain. Has also appeared on Strictly!

Episode 2: The Artists

The artists in Episode 2 broadcast on 18th October 2023 are listed below in alphabetical order of the surname.

You can see all the profiles on the Sky Arts site plus speeded up videos of their paintings

The nine artists in Episode 2 on the steps of Battersea Arts Centre
where all the heats are held.
  • Paul Aston (Instagram) - a horticulturalist from Cambridge. As a painter, his subject matter varies from portraiture to landscape and still life. He is also interested in exploring the experience of stammering through paintings.
His portraits of people stammering have helped to broaden the debate around speech diversity and have been used by speech and language therapists and stammering support groups to challenge preconceptions about stammering. He has spoken at conferences about his work and appeared on podcasts.
  • Eleanor Dunn (Instagram | YouTube) - a photorealism artist working in graphite pencil and a  bartender living and working in Leeds. Born in Berkshireand, she always wanted to draw and moved to Leeds to study Fine Art. She now very much enjoys the creative community in Leeds.
  • Emma Hill (Instagram) - She lives and works in London as a PR Consultant and copywriter. A former Beauty Editor she is now a brand consultant and scribe. She is also a figurative artist working primarily from life.
  • Caroline de Peyrecave (Instagram) -  A full time artist based in Surrey. She founded WARpaint which is an arts project that raises funding for charities that support serving veterans and serving personnel who are living with the devastating and life-changing effects of war. The core of the project is a selection of life size portraits of living sailors, soldiers and aircrew, men and women, representing conflicts that the United Kingdom has been involved in since World War Two.
  • Gail Reid (Instagram | YouTube | X) - a Bristol based full time artist. She writes a blog and share livestream and edited video demonstrations on YouTube and Instagram. On her YouTube channel sh has a large collection of demos and other material.  READ my blog post about her blog post about Preparing for Portrait Artist of the Year - Gail Reid shares her experience and tips. I think she might also be limbering up for LAOTY by drawing and painting her way around France on her family holiday this year
  • Dale Sinoia (LinkedIn) - a customer care agent living in Swansea. He is also a 2D/3D /designer/concept illustrator who is entirely self-taught. He works as a traditional artist as well as being a digital artist using software such as Photoshop, CAD, Zbrush, substance painter, blender and Procreate. 
  • Drew Thomson (Instagram) - a full time artist based in Glasgow. Scottish Portrait Awards Finalist 2021 and 2022

  • Maria Underwood (Instagram) - A professional artist who lives in Deal. She seeks to celebrate and give visibility to women of any age who are comfortable in their own skin. She takes commissions and works mainly in oils, with acrylic and pen, on linen, canvas and board.
  • Lee-Roy Zozo (Instagram) - a professional artist who grew up living in England and France. Studied concept art (digital painting) at @synstudio 2016-2017


Self Portrait Submissions

As I've been saying for ages, the self-portrait submission is the ONLY bit of information the Judges have as to:
  • how well you can paint a portrait when NOT under time pressure
  • whether you can paint anything more than a head
  • whether you have the necessary talent and skills to paint a commissioned portrait for a distinguished instituition - for a fee of £10,000 (i.e. no poor submissions allowed for this!) (Episode 1 | Series 10)

Size, content and calibre of submissions

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Two Drawing Awards: Winners & Future Exhibitions

This post is about
  • The Trinity Buoy Drawing Prize and highlights
    • its background
    • details about the 2023 Exhibition and Artists
    • the award winners in 2023 - plus as much as I can glean from what they've revealed about themselves online!
    • future exhibitions around the UK in 2024
  • the Biennial Evelyn Williams Drawing Award £10,000 - selected from artists exhibiting as part of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize Exhibition.

First of all - mea culpa. I completely forgot to go down to Trinity Buoy Wharf (not the easiest of places to get to) for the exhibition of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize.

The exhibition in London closed on Sunday but is now going on tour around the UK in 2024 to:
It's very sad that there's no online exhibition - which is almost standard practice for all art competitions these days. There is apparently a fully illustrated exhibition publication - although I'm not sure how people can get hold of this.

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize

Basically this is a Drawing Prize created in 1994 by Professor Anita Taylor who is currently the Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee and Director of Drawing Projects UK.

Over the years, it has been known by various different names as she has been involved in founding and judging a drawing prizes using various different titles/names over a number of years with various sponsors and held in various places - while she moved around the country in various art academic roles. 

None of the prizes in previous incarnations continue to exist - and yet there's a notion they are all the same prize despite the names of different sponsors. It's not a notion that I've seen previously referenced but there's no doubt that the underlying continuity is essentially that one person invented the prize and is involved with them all.  I've never been quote able to understand why it's not called the Anita Taylor Drawing Prize plus the name of whoever is the current sponsor.  (A bit like the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize operated)

Apparently her listing of research output identifies a number of the drawing exhibitions as just that "non-textual research outputs" - which surprised me - and then it didn't.

I'm not a fan of this individual for a very specific reason relating to a different competition - which some of you may remember - but let's just leave it at that.

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2023

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize is supported by the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust.

In 2023, there were
  • over 3,000 submissions
  • from 1,450 candidates
  • representing 40 countries.
123 drawings by 111 practitioners were shortlisted for inclusion in the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2023 exhibition were selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2023 exhibition

The Awards in 2023 with a total value of £27,000 in 2023 - being in two parts:
  • £15,000 for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 
    • First Prize of £8,000,
    • Second Prize of £5,000,
    • Student Award of £2,000
  • Judged by:
    • Laura Hoptman, Executive Director of The Drawing Center, New York;
    • Dennis Scholl AM, Collector, Arts Patron, President & CEO of Oolite Arts;
    • Barbara Walker MBE RA, British Artist (and first winner of the Evelyn Williams Drawing Award 2017)

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Prizewinners 2023

Interestingly, three of the four prizewinners drew buildings. The prizewinners were announced at a Launch and Awards Announcement on 28 September 2023

First Prize £8,000

Jeanette Barnes won the first Prize of £8,000.

Her drawing, as always, is a charcoal drawing of a buildings which is huge - as both subject and drawing - and is also associated with a major new development in London. In this instance the drawing is related to the development of the new Battersea Tube Station and the surrounding area.
Jeanette Barnes' award-winning work is a dizzyingly immersive and dynamic portrayal of Battersea's development in London, anchored by the new underground station. Battersea power station’s iconic chimneys only just edge into the picture, which focuses on the rise of newer buildings, and the ebb and flow of people. The work’s scale, 1.50 metres by 2.13 metres, invites viewers to step inside the drawing, feeling the vibrant and chaotic energy of the bustling city. The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize Announces 2023 Winners

New Battersea Tube Station & Developments (2023) by Jeanette Barnes
Compressed charcoal on paper, 150 x 213cm.