Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Call for Entries: Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours Annual Exhibition 2024.

The deadline for entries for the 212th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in early Spring 2024 is 12 noon on Friday 2nd February 2024.

  • Submission is via the OESS website
  • There is a single-stage virtual judging process for ALL submitted works.  
  • Selected works should be delivered to Mall Galleries, London, for inclusion in the exhibition by Saturday 16th March (10am-5pm)
  • This Annual Exhibition opens on 28th March 2024 and closes on 13th April 2024.
I highly RECOMMEND this exhibition to ALL those who paint in watercolour media - no matter what your subject or style. I'm a very big supporter of those art societies which try hard to recognise that their annual exhibitions are
  • a major way of helping 'emerging artists' with their careers - and
  • finding good quality new members for the society in the future
This exhibition offers:
  • several prizes and awards (see below)
  • the chance to have your work seen alongside artwork by RI members
  • the opportunity to exhibit at a prestigious gallery in the heart of London
  • have your work seen by very many visitors - some of whom regularly buy watercolour paintings

Call for Entries - RI Annual Exhibition 2024

You can read a summary of the process below
- but for full details visit the websites of the RI and the Mall Galleries

You can READ the official details of the Call for Entries for the exhibition in 2024 in two places:
The latter will transfer you to the OESS website
  • which contains all the current open exhibitions for the Mall Galleries on one page
  • where you can see and read the full terms and conditions (BUT unfortunately these do NOT have a separate URL allowing artists to print and/or save)
Below is a summary - but the rules you need to abide by are in the above links!

Who can submit art to the RI Annual Exhibition

  • Any artist over 18 may submit, in the UK, EU, and outside the EU i.e. this open exhibition is 
    • open to international artists who live/work anywhere in the world. 
    • BUT - a word of caution - make sure you understand what's involved with international art shipping, customs paperwork and VAT before you submit OR you may have a nasty surprise.
My page about Art Competitions & Juried Exhibitions provides some useful generic information for those who have never entered a juried exhibition before about
  • tips for entering juried exhibitions
  • outlines how artwork can make a good impression and get selected and
  • why artists typically fail to get selected.
View of the RI Annual Exhibition on the Private View day in 2023

What can you submit

Your artwork MUST be ORIGINAL (i.e. all your own work) and conform to one or more of the following acceptable media and presented as follows:
  • All works must be an original creation by the artist.
  • Watercolour or water-soluble mediums  on any support including:
    • watercolour, 
    • acrylic, 
    • ink or 
    • gouache 
    • (BUT excluding water-soluble oils).
  • The type of support MUST be specified (for example paper, board, wood, parchment, etc) as well as the medium.

Age / Exhibitions

  • Artwork in water-based media
    • MUST have been completed within the last two years and 
    • should NOT have been previously shown in London.


  • Works should not be larger than 240 cm high and 150 cm wide including the frame. 
  • The Selection Committee has the right to exclude paintings that are over this limit.


  • A maximum of six works may be submitted, 
  • a maximum of four works may be selected.
  • TIP: My recommendations are:


  • All paintings must be well presented i.e. 
    • should be suitably framed (no metal or clips frames are permitted) 
    • glazed with picture glass (except in special circumstances as below, or by prior arrangement with the RI).
  • Glazing in perspex and other similar transparent acrylic materials may be accepted, but only 
    • on works arriving from abroad or 
    • large works in frames exceeding 100 cm on the longest side.
  • All works submitted to the exhibition should be framed unless there is a genuine aesthetic reason for the work to remain unframed. If entering unframed work, please indicate it will be unframed in the artwork description. Artists entering unframed work do so at their own risk.

Sales / Prices

  • All work must be for sale. Minimum price: £350 (to INCLUDE provision for deduction of the gallery's commission @ 45% + VAT @20% on that commission).
  • so for a work costing £500, £270 will be deducted if sold and you will get £230. 

Things you need to think carefully about

Below are matters which can complicate getting the artwork from your studio to the wall of an exhibition. There's a lot more to exhibiting art than just doing the painting!!
  • You should price to sell based on research if you have not previously visited the exhibition
    • see my blog post about RI Annual Exhibition 2023: Analysis of art sales metrics and pricing artwork for the future
    • prices must include the 45% commission if it sells PLUS the 20% VAT on the commission i.e. your net sale value will be less 54% if sold - and then must cover the costs of production (art media and support); framing; courier and insurance.
    • it's best to think of an open exhibitions as an investment in marketing rather than an opportunity to make a lot of money from sales! You want your artwork picked so that it gets seen!
  • if you're an international artist, you MUST 
    • register for VAT in the UK before you send your art - otherwise your art will get stuck in Customs (i.e. all the expense and none of the publicity or sales)
    • know how to send art to the UK - see my International Art Shipping page which tells you what you need to know to ship (export) artwork internationally
      ​for exhibition and/or sale ​
    • TIP: If you have never done this before, pick a courier who handles art and knows about packing art and how to do ALL the paperwork - and where it needs to go
  • your artwork needs to be delivered UNWRAPPED - which means 
    • taking it yourself or 
    • find a courier who will unwrap at the destination, keep the wrapping and wrap/deliver it up and send it back if it does not sell 
    • (latter is also a great incentive to think carefully about the price - so it sells! Who likes to fund a return trip!)
  • you must insure against all risks i.e. the gallery has no liability should your artwork be damaged. (This is pretty standard practice) - but it's another item for the expenses list
All goods are at artist owner’s risk absolutely and the gallery and/or their agents exclude all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law. The galleries are used for various purposes and so artists are advised to insure their works against all risks

How to Submit

The process works as follows
  • READ the full terms and conditions
  • READ the specific entry requirements
  • REGISTER for digital submission - if you have never entered before
  • SUBMIT: ALL Selection is based on online entries and associated digital images. The selectors' decisions are final and no feedback is offered.
TIP: The quality of the image of your artwork counts for a lot when selectors are looking for reasons not to select an artwork. How to photograph art - for artists (on my Art Business Info for Artists website) provides detailed information about how to produce a good quality digital image.

This is what you need to do to submit and entry and then deliver the artwork if you get a positive result.
  • Login to the Open Exhibition Entry website
  • Select the correct call for entries
  • Complete the form
  • Pay the fee (£20 per artwork submitted or £14 per work for artists aged 35 or under).
  • Upload images of work [Note: Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB]
  • Submit your entry ONLINE prior to the deadline (Friday 2nd February 2024, 12 noon).
  • Wait to be notified of your success
  • Deliver your unwrapped work to the Mall Galleries as per instructions

International Exhibitors

Artists from outside the UK may well need to register for VAT if your work is for sale:
please check with 
  • HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk
  • (Also see VAT for Artists on my Art Business Info website)
Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier.

Summary of Key Dates for Artists submitting an Open Entry

These are the key dates for all those wishing to submit work to this open exhibition. More details below.
  • Submission closes: Upload images of work at mallgalleries22.oess1.uk by 12 noon on Friday 2nd February 2024 [Note: Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB]
  • Selection notification: Friday 13th January 2024, 12 noon [Log in to see if your work has been pre-selected]
  • Receiving Day: Saturday 16th March 2024, 10am - 5pm (NOTE: one day only for submission this year) - for those whose work has been selected via the virtual entry. 
    • you have two months to get your artwork framed, packed and shipped to the FBA Offices at Carlton House Terrace. 
    • Works should be delivered UNWRAPPED with the relevant form and labels, which are downloadable upon notification of selection.
  • Exhibition: 28th March - 13th April 2024, 10am to 5pm

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including the following - ordered by me according to type and then value:

Cash Prizes

  • The Winsor & Newton Award: £3,000 awarded to an individual member or non-member
  • The RI Young Artist Award: £1,000 awarded to an artist aged between 18 and 25
  • The President’s Choice Award: An award of £750 - for the most deserving work in the exhibition, donated by a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) and judged by the President of the RI
  • The Chaoshan Watercolour Award: £250 for the best classically inspired watercolour

Member Memorial Awards (Cash)

  • The James Fletcher-Watson RI Award: £500 for the best use of watercolour in the exhibition
  • The Richard Plincke RI Prize for Colour: An award of £250 for creative use of colour

Art Materials

  • The Winsor & Newton Product Prize: £1,000 worth of Winsor & Newton art materials - awarded to an individual member or non-member
  • The Baohong Artists' Watercolour Paper Prizes: Two prizes of £250 worth of watercolour paper, awarded to a member and non-member for excellence
  • The Cass Art Prize: A prize of £200 of art supplies from Cass Art, awarded to a work demonstrating the most innovative use of colour
  • The John Purcell Paper Prize: Paper to the value of £100 awarded to a work chosen by John Purcell
  • The Schmincke Prize: A Horadam Aquarell Artists’ Watercolours set to an outstanding exhibitor
  • The Michael Harding Award: A varied selection of Michael Harding watercolour sets
  • The Frank Herring Easel Award: An easel presented for an outstanding work in the exhibition by Frank Herring & Sons
  • The Escoda Barcelona Award: A set of Escoda's finest brushes for an outstanding landscape painting

Art Publication Awards

  • The Dry Red Press Award: The winning work will be published as a greeting card in the Dry Red Press 'Prize Winners' range, with royalties from the sale of the cards going to the artist


  • The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award: A certificate of commendation for an outstanding work chosen by the art critic and broadcaster Anthony J Lester
  • The Debra Manifold RI Memorial Award: Presented by the Linda Blackstone Gallery, an award for the most innovative work in the exhibition
  • The Megan Fitzoliver Brush Award: A trophy, named The Pipe Fish, and bespoke brush awarded for a work that inspires a connection with the natural world

More about the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour

The RI started as a group, called the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, who broke away from the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) in 1807. The latter had broken away from the Royal Academy of Arts due to its failure to consider watercolour painting as a serious medium.

The RI, under whatever name, has always shown the work of non-members alongside that of members. Which means that artwork to be hung alongside work by members needs to be a very good standard!

ARCHIVE: RI Annual Exhibition 2007-2023

RI Annual Exhibition 2017 - Candidates and Awards
  • Video: Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - Annual Exhibition 11 Apr 2014 - The purpose of this video isn't to give you an in-depth view of all the paintings so much as to give you: an idea of the overall size of the exhibition and a notion of how big the paintings are that get selected via the open entry a view of the paintings that were selected this year
Review: 199th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (April 2011) - highlights the prizewinners

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