Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Email Subscription Service SUSPENDED until further notice

The end of the subscription service?

This is a very sad day.

I'm afraid I'm having to suspend the email subscription service - where you get an email every time I publish a new blog post.

I've spent hours and hours on trying to find a way to address the issues thrown up by

  • Google changing arrangements re sending large amounts emails from gmail addresses - and have not succeeded. 
  • Mailerlite changing its systems in relation to this - and because they're updating their system
The main issue arises because Making A Mark is not on a domain name I own but rather remains on the blogspot.domain owned by Google

There again, I've got the exact same issues with my Botanical Art and Artists - which is on my own website

I started looking at other blogs using blogger who I know have or have had large numbers of susbribers - and discovered that they too have terminated their email subscriptions. So it looks as if we're all in the same boat

The conclusion I've come to is that:

  • I will highlight latest blog posts on:
    • Facebook - - as I always do already
    • Instagram -
    • Twitter / X -
  • I will reintroduce the email subscription service when I can find a suitable solution. It may need to be a paid service - although I expect the payment would be minimal.
So this looks like it's the last blog post to be emailed out - possibly for some time - and maybe forever.

You can always contact me via

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Review: The Pastel Society 125th Annual Exhibition (2024)

I'm very pleased to say that this year I'm very impressed with the 125th Annual Exhibition by The Pastel Society. I've also been hearing lots of very positive comments by those who have visited in recent days.

The Pastel Society Exhibition on the afternoon of the Private View

It's very obvious to me that a lot of well directed effort has gone into making this a much better exhibition to mark yet another benchmark in its history. This is after all the oldest pastel society in the world which held its first exhibition in 1899!
  • It had 1300 entries - of which 366 were hung (28%)
  • There were excellent numbers at the Private View yesterday 
Private View: Speeches starting in the evening
- with Sarah Bee's very colourful artwork behind the speaker
  • BOTH the content and hanging of the exhibition is hugely better than the one which I criticised last year. 
    • It's much more colourful this year and looks all the better for it
    • each of the walls is well anchored by strong paintings - with the most obvious being the end wall of the West Gallery where Sarah Bee's artworks absolutely sing out across the entire gallery
    • artwork is grouped to very good effect - eg a wall of landscapes
A Wall of Landscapes by different Pastel Society members
    • There's a great diversity of artwork on show - from abstracted to hyper-realistic
Abstracted landscapes by Malcolm Taylor on the left
Hyperealistic still life by Ian Rawlings in the centre of the wall

  • The PS Annual Exhibition is also back in its "near the beginning of the year" slot which I tend to think of as being a very much better time for art exhibitions and sales - as there's absolutely no competition from summer weather and outdoor pursuits and holidays! 
    • However "last year" was only in May - just 8 months ago 
    • so the Society has also done very well to put on a second annual exhibition in this short timescale.
  • The pricing on the wall looks as if most have had a rethink about the range of prices that help promote sales in the current climate - although not all artworks did. I've been hoping to see some evidence that artists were becoming more sensible and this exhibition seemed to me to be the first one where pricing has changed. I still think the starting price should be £300. There's still a lot of scope for sales at the bottom end of the range.
Richard Rees, the President of the Pastel Society, told me yesterday that of the 1300 entries 
  • a third were monochrome
  • a third were portraits
I have to say that neither are reflected in the same proportions in the exhibition itself - although there's a good representation of both. Those entering next year's exhibition might like to bear this in mind.

Monday, January 29, 2024

ALERT ALL SUBSCRIBERS: Blogging Service may be interrupted OR subscription mailing service changed

This is by way of an alert to all those used to receiving my latest blog post via Mailerlite

I was supposed to have written a review of an exhibition by now - but having completed by tax return (have you remembered?), I'm currently tearing my hair out over another issue - and will soon be bald. 

Right now I'm thinking of giving up blogging!! It's all because of new rules which come in on 1st February for bulk emails being sent to gmail.

I'm caught in a really difficult situation with:

  • Google and Yahoo have changed the rules on which emails it will accept for  newsletter emails (for good reasons - it's to reduce the spam on their platforms). This includes blogs if your RSS to email service provides scope for you to use a personalised email address - which mine does. 
  • All "commercial emails" in future must come from an authenticated custom domain
    • which is not helpful when you're trying to distribute an email to a subscriber base for a Google blogspot.domain using a gmail address
    • I've always stuck with gmail as it's caused me very few problems.
    • plus I'm not commercial - everything I write is for free consumption!!!
  • PLUS The Mailerlite deadline for the movement to a new Mailerlite software base (i.e. everything needs to be complete by 31st January)
    • plus it also requires compliance with the new Google rules - because the platform uses personalised email addresses
  • Everything is compounded by having far too many subscribers (for the two sites this affects) to switch to alternative sites without it costing me an absolute arm and a leg - which given this blog generates no income is a problem!
At the moment, I'm becoming more and more despondent because:
  • I apparently need a domain oriented email address to send a subscription email from Mailerlite 
  • but I've always used gmail and blogger - so I neither own the domain I currently use for Making A Mark nor do I have a domain email for it.
I do however have a domain name related to Making A Mark - and am currently looking at options on Namecheap (my domain registrar)

Mailerlite is also saying 
Important: According to requirements from Google and Yahoo, the use of public domains (such as Gmail) as a sender address will no longer be permitted from February, 2024. Please switch to a custom domain.
The thing is the Google requirements are complete gobblydygook (see below) - with no idiots guide

Starting February 1, 2024, all senders who send email to Gmail accounts must meet the requirements in this section.

Important: If you send more than 5,000 messages per day to Gmail accounts, follow the Requirements for sending 5,000 or more messages per day.

  • Set up SPF or DKIM email authentication for your domain.
  • Ensure that sending domains or IPs have valid forward and reverse DNS records, also referred to as PTR records. Learn more
  • Use a TLS connection for transmitting email. For steps to set up TLS in Google Workspace, visit Require a secure connection for email.
  • Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10% and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher. Learn more about spam rates.
  • Format messages according to the Internet Message Format standard (RFC 5322).
  • Don’t impersonate Gmail From: headers. Gmail will begin using a DMARC quarantine enforcement policy, and impersonating Gmail From: headers might impact your email delivery.
  • If you regularly forward email, including using mailing lists or inbound gateways, add ARC headers to outgoing email. ARC headers indicate the message was forwarded and identify you as the forwarder. Mailing list senders should also add a List-id: header, which specifies the mailing list, to outgoing messages.

So unless I get this sorted - this might be the last blog post sent vis an RSS to email subsciption.

I'll have to go back to firing up Twitter/X as well as Facebook to announce new blog posts!

I'm currently contemplating switching all existing subscribers to follow-it - because despite their awful advertising they do do a good job of getting emails out promptly. Plus they do NOT use personalised emails. 

Or maybe changing platforms completely and making it subscription based (i.e. I can pay for the subscription email service by you paying me to receive the emails!)

For example Substack offers:
  • emails from (name)
  • paid subscriptions for some content
That's the last resort.

Right now it's just very, very depressing.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024) at Hever Castle Lake

Episode 3: The Lake at Hever Castle in Kent

This is my review of the third episode of the 9th series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.  As regular readers will know by now, it considers:
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • judges decision-making
  • who was shortlisted and who won.

Location and Weather

Hever Castle is in Kent. It was bought by William Waldorf Astor - who was at the time said to be the richest man on the planet - and created a grand garden for the Italian statues he brought back from his Grand Tour. He then had a grand sandstone loggia created at the end of the party for admiring the lake and having parties outside.

Below you can see an overview of part of the Estate - with the garden in the mirror, the stone loggia next to the lake and the pods below it on the other bank of the lake
Part of the Lake at Hever Castle
Pods and the space for the Wildcards are central towards the bottom of the pic

The space allocated to the Pods was very narrow which I suspect made for some interesting issues in relation to filming and how close the spectators got to the artists.

The space allocated to the Wildcards is the green open space to the left - which is actually very narrow also in terms of frontage on to the lake - leading to a very tight serried ranks of easels at the front edge.

Pods on the edge of the Lake - with lots of water and lots of trees

The eight artists in their pods and the 50 wildcard artists were set up on the left bank of the Lake at Hever Castle. They were beyond the Italian Garden and had the option to look:
  • across the lake
  • at the stone built Loggia inbetween the Italian Garden and the Lake
  • looking back towards the Castle
The weather was far from great. Mainly it was dull with a huge dollop of rain at the beginning. It got better towards the middle of the afternoon and evening.
"We set up and the heavens opened"
The pods were deluged just as they started the heat. There's a shot of somebody sweeping water out of one of the pods!

The Artists

Artists in the Hever Castle Lake Heat

Below you can find profiles of the eight pod artists. Links in the names are to their websites

If you visit you can see videos of them painting the heat paintings.
  • Evelyn Chambers (Instagram) - She lives in Kent, near the Castle and exhibits locally in Kent. She has been painting since childhood. Her main themes are nature, the sea, landscape, horses and self-portraits. Evelyn currently uses marker pen for her drawing on the canvas followed by acrylics. You can see her submission - in the pod - and pod painting on this page on her website.
  • Deepa Goswami (Instagram) - lives in Newham in East London. She achieved a Distinction in her Foundation Year at the Royal Drawing School and is a Part I Graduate from the Sheffield School of Architecture. She currently works as a fitness instructor and paints miniatures. She's also currently shortlisted for the Artist of the Year competition run by the WWT London Wetland Centre in West London (@wwtlondon). I think she's painting in gouache, although I don't think it got a mention in the programme.
  • Rydal Hanbury (Instagram) - How lovely to be named after a lake in the Lake District! Rydal lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire and draws and paints in London and St. Albans. She completed The Drawing Year at The Royal Drawing School in 2008. From 2016-18 she studied for The Portrait Diploma at Heatherley Art College. Over the two years she won the Portrait, Figure Composition and the Drawing Prize. She has taught drawing at the Royal Drawing School and Central Saint Martins. She spent 10 years drawing the scenes of rush hour people around the Bank of England before Covid. During COVID she ran a lunchtime drawing class via Zoom for those working from home. From 2022, she focused on the St Albans Charter Market. Taking a year to draw ‘every’ stall from east to west, learning every trader’s story. Her submission is of her garden and husband's greenhouse and was painted during the pandemic. She's pictured below with her submission painting.
  • Yana Kucheeva (Instagram) - Lives in Berkshire and works as a book illustrator for a Russian publishing house. Her artwork has been published in a number of magazines and art books. I thought she produced a very effective painting in four hours. Particularly since she'd never painted plein air before - or to a time limit! (see Themes for a pic of it.) Her submission painting of an abandoned factory in St. Petersburg turned into an art space was large and impressive.
  • Craig Longmuir (Instagram) - He is an artist and art teacher from Sheffield. He has over thirty years experience of painting with oil on canvas following his first class degree with honours in Painting & Printmaking from Sheffield Hallam University in 1986. He paints mainly en plein air and favours dramatic, hilly locations with vast panoramic vistas. His submission painting is of the Hope Valley from Bamford Edge. His style is very colourful and involved a LOT of paint.
  • Joe Mayhook (Instagram) - Born and raised on a street on Bankside in London he works as a Parks Manager. In his spare time he endeavours to record the buildings and life of Bankside. He paints in blocks of colour and this is his submission painting of St Pauls from Southbank.
  • James Robinson (Instagram) - He is an artist and illustrator, specialising in painting and drawing both from life and imagination. He lives in Hertfordshire and studied art at The Florence Classical Arts Academy. He was the Artist in Residence at Haileybury School in 2021 and he now teaches there. His submission was a painting done of River Mugnone, Via Felice Fontana, Florence.
  • Louise Stebbing (Facebook, Instagram, X) - Louise is a Norfolk based traditional fine art printmaker working mostly in lino printing & etching. Her submission was a linocut as was her heat artwork. She has exhibited extensively - in very reputable places and won many prizes for her work. She draws inspiration and solace from nature around her and places she visits. Below is the linocut she produced AFTER the heat and when she got home.  I think she ran out of time on the day to achieve what she was aiming to do. I had her down as a probably shortlist artist.


The Wildcard Artists


No pics of the submissions together as they are now all hung in the pods which I'm guessing is more cost efficient and effective for all sorts of reasons. Not least that the Judges now ask the artists about their style and submissions!

There were:
  • large x 2 (landscape x 1 and 1 squarish)
  • Medium x 4 (landscape format x 2 + squarish x 2)
  • Small x 3 (landscape x 1 and portrait x 2)

Themes and Learning Points

Coping with the weather

Nice as this looks - this was NOT what it was like on the day. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

FINAL Call for Entries: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2023

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture from international artists.

This is about:the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters - and why it's a good idea to enter
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the timeline of important dates
[ PROFUSE APOLOGIES: I thought this post was published but somehow or other it got stuck in "draft" mode - and the deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 26h January 2024 ]

I'm also referencing some other information which I've previously written about which you may well find helpful.

About the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters invites artists from all over the world to submit portraits for its Annual Exhibition in 2024......The total prize fund is £40,000, including The William Lock Portrait Prize (£20,000) and The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture (£10,000).

The Society welcomes paintings, drawings and original prints including digital/ipad prints from artists over 18, from the UK and internationally.

"The Society’s Annual Exhibition is probably the largest and most significant celebration of contemporary portrait painting in Europe. The show is always selected by a jury of practising portrait painters, no critics, no journalists, no celebrities – just painters."

Reasons why you should enter the RP's annual exhibition

For those wondering whether and why they should submit an entry to this exhibition, take a look at the following.

Entry is digital

You only need to go to the expense of framing and transport IF invited to progress to the second stage of selection. So entries which do not succeed only incur the expense of the submission fee.

The Importance of Exhibitions to Portrait Commissions

  • This exhibition generates a LOT of portrait commissions. This exhibition is very much a marketing shop window.
  • An expert Commissions Consultant service runs throughout the show
  • Exhibiting artists are invited to
    • display additional material
    • advertise portrait commissions through our Commissions department on which a commission will be payable.
The Commission Area in 2023

Some significant prizes

This is an exhibition with some heavyweight and prestigious cash prizes. It has the most valuable individual prizes awarded by any national art society in the UK.

In total, the cash on offer is worth a total of £36,000. These include awards for younger artists and portrait drawing.
  • The William Lock Portrait Prize: £20,000 for the most timeless portrait with a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential
  • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture: £10,000 plus the Society’s Gold Medal awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
  • The de Laszlo Foundation Award: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
  • The Raw Umber Studios Prize value: £2,000 for the most exciting contemporary portraiture lies at the intersection of technical excellence and 
  • The Smallwood Architects Prize for Contextual Portraiture: £1,000 for a portrait in which architectural or interior features play an important part.

A prestigious portraiture exhibition - in central London and online

This is a very prestigious exhibition within the portrait world
  • It fills all three galleries at the Mall Galleries on The Mall in London
  • last year it attracted 4,400 entries to the exhibition - including very many entries from international artists
The exhibition is also put online so it can be seen all over the world.

Why it compares favourably to the BP Portrait and other portrait competitions

  • ALL works selected for exhibition from the Open Entry are chosen by practising professional portrait artists who are full artist members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. The Selection Committee is rotated annually. There are no administrators, sponsors, gallerists, art critics or other such éminence grise who get a say on what gets hung.
  • Your chances of getting exhibited: Exhibition Metrics: I haven't crunched the numbers since 2019 but back then the data analysis I did was as follows 
    • about half the portraits exhibited were by non-members
    • about 5% of the works submitted via the open entry are selected for the open exhibition. (This is a not untypical percentage for a top exhibition and is better than the acceptance rate for BP Portrait over several years when that was running)
    • a SIGNIFICANT number of artists from overseas submit their work - with an increasing number from Asia
    • your work needs to be VERY GOOD to get selected. I'd go so far as to say it needs to be better than some of the artwork submitted by members!


This is an OPEN EXHIBITION. Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at their Annual Exhibition 2024.

In summary:
  • All entries are via digital submission
  • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 26h January 2024 
  • The non-refundable entry fee is 
    • £20 per work payable at the time of submitting 
    • £15per work for artists aged 35 or under
Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Review: Episode 2 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024)

Episode 2: Liverpool Docks

This is my review of the second episode of the 9th series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.
  As regular readers will know by now, it considers:
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • judges decision-making
  • who was shortlisted and who won

Location and Weather

"The most complicated landscape we've ever given them"
Background: The Royal Liver Building
Left: Liverpool Museum
Right Background: Mann Island Buildings
Right Foreground: Great Western Railway Warehouse - with docks and ships in front
Kathleen Soriano commented that the view from the pods was probably the biggest and most complicated ever given to pod artists. That's because it included:
"the jumble and chaos of building styles"
"so many ingredients for your stew"
Just sorting out how it all worked would take most people some time.

The pods were located in Liverpool Docks and around the Waterfront within part of the context of the Liverpool Waterfront Transformation project part of whose mission was to retell the story of Liverpool.
  • the Museum of Liverpool (opened 2011) and the River Mersey off to their left and 
  • the Mann Island Buildings on the right - in black - which include the Latitude Building, the Longitude Building and RIBA North (the national centre for architecture)
  • the Royal Liver building - topped by the Liver Bird - in the distance
  • with the historical landmark of the Great Western Railway Warehouse in the foreground to the right - next to Canning Dock
This article provides a great photograph of the location

To complicate an already challenging day, it was by all accounts a very, very hot day!
It was very hot, the temperature reached around 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and I really felt for all the artists, but especially the wildcards as they were located in full sun with no shade.
Landscape Artist of the Year Wildcard

The Artists in the Pods

The artists in this heat - shadows suggest this was midday.

Below is a synopsis about each artist - in alphabetical order.
What I say about the artists is largely dependent has been said about them online! 

My first port of call is always where you can also see videos of them painting the heat paintings.

Those who have a profile in the Artist of the Year Gallery have an asterisk next to their name
  • Nathaniel Fowles * (Facebook | Instagram) - He studied Fine Art at KIAD, Canterbury, and spent 10 years working as a professional artist before moving into teaching. He now lives in West Sussex and works part time as a supply teacher which enables him to focus on his artwork once again. He predominantly depicts landscapes and scenes which captivate my imagination and paints in oil and acrylic. He experiences neurodiversity, which makes completing artwork a challenge (His submission was painted over 10 years) and one of the things he got out of this experience was the reality of being able to produce a painting in four hours which others thought had merit.
  • Rose Jones * (Instagram) - a representational artist based in rural Staffordshire. Early career was spent as a surface pattern designer. Rose works in acrylics, watercolours, oil pastels, graphite and most recently coloured pencils. She also works as an art tutor within Adult Community Learning.
  • Judy Milner (Instagram) - Judy lives and works in London, trained in sculpture at the Royal College of Art and is a practising sculptor. Her submission was a view of the race course at Ascot (one of last year's locations - which I assume means she was a wildcard in 2023.) She is described as a rather "messy painter".
  • James Murch * (Facebook | Instagram) - He went to Art College in Bristol and moved to Devon in 2009 and became interested in plein air painting. He's now based in Paignton and is a full-time artist with a studio in the Cob Barn at Cockington Court. He's spent many years practising the classical approach to painting and sight size. He prefers to work entirely from life in front of the landscape he's painting - even if it involves several visits to complete a painting - as it did with his submission. He was a LAOTY Semi Finalist in 2019 - see my blog post about his heat Review: Episode 6 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - Drake's Island which he won and Review: Semi-Final of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 at Cromarty Firth. I didn't recognise him this time around. His neat clipped beard has become full on and he now dresses like a plein air painter rather than somebody going to the office!
James Murch struck me as one of the coolest artists I've ever seen in one of these heats. He's not given to over-emoting or panicking or does a very good job of hiding it if he does! Cool, calm and collected - and making very sensible decisions.
  • Anil Patel (Facebook | Instagram) - A graphic designer and art teacher from Leicester. Talks well on camera and has previously appeared on 
  • Wesley Smith * (Instagram) - A chef and a painter based in Brighton’s North Laines where he paints landscapes and still lives. He spent 10 years living abroad in Taiwan and his paintings are influenced by Asia. His Instagram account is worth a review - I'm more impressed by the paintings on there which demonstrates very clearly that he can paint a range of landscapes.
  • Matthew Timmins-Williams (Instagram) - a painter and decorator from Birkenhead (the other side of the River Mersey).
  • Georgina Saunders * (Instagram | Georgina got off to a good start after studying Art A level where she came in the top 10 in the country Art A level and Art GCSE. She then went on to study the History of Art at York University followed by short courses at Heatherley’s School of Art and the Art Academy to supplement her self-study practise. Back in 2021, she wrote about her Landscape Artist of the Year Wildcard Experience. She's now a primary school teacher and a painter working in Hertfordshire. Her work explores her love of nature and the outdoors. I'd say she likes skies to play an important role in her landscapes - when she gets to choose what she paints.

The Wildcard Artists

50 artists join the pod artists at every heat. In this heat, they were a bit closer than they usually are - and set up just behind them.

If you put "landscape artist of the year liverpool" into Facebook search you'll come up with LOTS of posts by wildcards about the day! :)

Pods and Wildcards


I can't show you the submissions by the pod artists as you have to watch the programme to see them with their artists at the beginning and then discussed with the artist in the pod - where they hung for the duration of the heat.

Most were medium sized with two large and one small painting.

Themes & Learning Points

Every week, in my review, I highlight what I observed as being some of the themes arising from the location, the day and the nature of the artists in this week's episode.

Today, the themes are:
  • Find your zones: foreground, middle ground and distance
  • a study in perspective - and proportions
  • The sun on a cloudless hot day presents particular challenges
  • Reducing the size of the support - to edit and tidy up
  • The Plant Mister: useful kit for watercolour painting on a very hot day

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Call for Entries: RA Summer Exhibition 2024

The Call for Entries for the 2024 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art was recently published. In the past I've written really long blog posts about the call for entries for the summer exhibition - but this one is shorter and is about the 

  • key things you need to know about the Call for Entries
  • aspects worth bearing in mind if you're thinking about submitting
In previous years, nearly two thirds of the exhibits were by non-Academicians, £50,000 worth of prizes was awarded, and over 5,000 works were sold. About the RA Summer Exhibition 

IMPORTANT Things You Need to Know

Entries are limited to 16,500

This year entry is limited to the first 16,500 submissions and you can't purchase an entry form once that limit has been reached i.e. 16,500 got there before you.

In effect this means the deadline for entries is not as stated, the deadline for entries is when all entry forms have been purchased!

It's unlikely that the RA will have a problem getting that many submissions - however I'm guessing the RA and the Selectors have worked out that's the number they're happy to review and select from. 

HOWEVER the RA Summer Exhibition is the largest open exhibition in the UK - with well over 1,000 exhibits - so you need to take the statistics around selection into account before deciding whether or not enter.

Basically a LOT of people do NOT get selected for the Summer Exhibition. 

I can't remember where I came across this next image - and it relates to the exhibition in 2017, but the stats are pretty similar year on year. As you can see, in 2017:

  • c.90% of entries submitted via the open entry are rejected
  • the number of exhibits are broadly speaking split between Royal Academicians and the open entry (although the current page suggests two thirds - but I'd very much like to see the statistics for that! There are NONE published.)
  • which means something like 500-600 artworks from the open entry will be selected for the exhibition
However, as the space allocated to the exhibition has got bigger, more exhibits have been selected from the open entry 

By way of contrast, last year, the BBC reported that 
It presents an unparalleled opportunity for amateur artists to have their work publicly displayed and then purchased, although entries are capped at 16,500 and competition is fierce - this year, more than 11,000 people submitted work but less than 10% were successful. Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: Who makes the cut?
This year 11,204 entries came from the public, with 998 artists making the cut
which is 9% of those who entered.

Of those who enter, around 4,000 will make the first cut - and are asked to send their work to the RA for further consideration by the Judges and, last year, around 25% of this number will be selected.

So, bottom line, it seems likely that your chances of getting selected are between 3-9%. 
At the bottom end of the range this is slightly better than the chance of getting selected for what used to be called the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery!

AND IMPORTANTLY - the main purpose of the Summer Exhibition is to generate funds for the bursaries for those who are selected to study at the Royal Academy Schools. 

So if complaining about the expense of the entry, just take a moment to think about the expense of an art education.

Who gets selected

The RA's Selection and Hanging Committee changes every year so just because your work has been rejected in the past does not mean it will be rejected this year.

Lots of professional artists still yearn to be selected - because of the kudos of being able to say you have been selected by the Summer Exhibition

At the same time lots of people for whom art is a hobby while working full time in other occupations DO get selected.

So there is no qualification for getting selected - your art does the talking for you.

What you can submit

On behalf of the Summer Exhibition Committee I would like to say send in your best work whatever its medium or category and we will endeavour to give it space.'
So basically you can submit paintings, drawings, original fine art prints, sculpture, photographs and videos - and artwork for architecture proposals.

How the open submission works

This is the website you need to consult

The is an online art competition.
  • only YOU or a gallery authorised on your behalf can enter your work
  • your initial entry is ONLINE ONLY - and the quality of your digital images does count for a lot (see Video Tutorial: How To Photograph Your Work and How to Photograph Your Work for advice)
  • your artwork will only be submitted to the Royal Academy if you get through the first stage of selection. Basically this means you save the transport costs of getting the work to and from London if it's one of those which does not progress.


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Review: Episode 1 of Landscape Artist of the Year Series 9 (2024)

    I've reviewed every series of Landscape Artist of the Year since 2018 and this is my review of the first episode of the eighth series of Landscape Artist of the Year 2024.  

    It considers:

    • the location and weather
    • the artists' profiles
    • themes arising during the episode
    • who was shortlisted and who won


    The episodes are broadcast at 8pm every Wednesday evening on Sky Arts (on Freeview Channel 36 and Sky and Now TV).

    As always 
    • 48 artists are selected - from c.2,000 applications. 
    • Eight of these artists compete in each heat on location in a pod by creating an artwork within 4 hours  about a selected landscape 
    • the heats are held at each of the six locations which were filmed last summer in Aberdeenshire, Liverpool and Kent.
    • three people are shortlisted and their heat painting and submission artwork are considered together
    • the winner of each heat moves forward to the semi-finals
    • where all the heat winners and one or more wildcards will compete for the three places in the final
    • the three finalists produce two paintings - a commission and a painting 
    • one artist is chosen as Landscape Artist of the Year
    • receives a £10,000 commission to produce an artwork. This year it will be a view of Orkney and its contribution to a sustainable economy. (I think wind turbines will feature!)
    You can access my previous reviews of episodes of Landscape Artist of the Year since 2018 on my Art on Television page.

    Episode 1: Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

    Location and Weather

    Last night it was such a relief to find that the first episode of Series 9 Landscape Artist of the Year had a magnificent landscape. Especially after all those tortuous structures, locations and big buildings in Series 8.

    Part of Dunnottar Castle on the left
    with the pods in the foreground - close to the cliff edge 
    and the wildcards on the far cliff edge
    plus good weather - for most of the day

    The location for the first episode was simply stunning - in an epic way! It certainly provided an immense view.

    The ruins of Dunnottar Castle sits on an outcrop from the rugged North Sea Coast in Aberdeenshire. Both castle and sliffs are are just amazingly photogenic. Do check out the website - embedded in its name - this is the history
    Dunnottar Castle plays a vital role in the safekeeping of the Scottish crown jewels, the Honours of Scotland (in 1651-2)
    So - no complaints from me (compared to last season!). The only thing of concern was whether the pods were firmly weighted down given the close proximity of a very precipitous edge! ;)

    The weather started off very bright and sunny and very slowly deteriorated over the day - although it threw in a rainbow at some point relative to the rain.

    Magical!! Looks like it ought to be a blockbuster.....

    I did wonder how long they had to wait before they got a rainfree spell for the announcements at the end!

    The Usual Suspects - minus one

    Last summer, Joan Bakewell retired from Artist of the Year. The omnipresent team in every episode now comprises the three Judges and now just one presenter. They are:
    • Judges: Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano and Tai Shan Schierenberg
    • Presenter: Just the one - Stephen Mangan
    Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano, Tai Shan Shierenberg and Stephen Mangan
    towards the end - in the rain

    The Artists in the Pods

    Below is a synopsis about each artist - in alphabetical order. 

    LAOTY Episode 1 2024 Artists
    left to right: Henry, Cat, Simon, Jen, Jess, Kristina, David and Alison 

    The next comment - included in Episode 1 only - repeats what I've said in previous years. It would have been good to have had the opportunity to say it before this heat aired as I've never had a heat before with so little info about do many of the artists!!

    TIP: If you were selected as a pod artist for LAOTY 2024 - 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!
    That's because what I say about you is largely dependent on what's said about you online! My first port of call is where you see videos of them painting.

    (Note: This week I've got two artists who've claimed domain names but not followed through and created a website before they appeared on television. Plus three who are practically non-existent online.)

    You get extra comments from me if you've already followed me!

    Episode 1 pod artists are listed BELOW in the alphabetical order of their surnames. 
    • Links to their websites (if they have one) are embedded in their names
    • Social media platforms are also referenced. 
    Read the above tip to find out how to get a decent short bio / profile from me
    • Simon Backley (Instagram) - a textile designer from Blackburn. Virtually no info online. His submission was described as "Hopperesque" by Tai!
    • Kristina Chan (Instagram) - She is a Canadian printmaker who has studied in London. She now lives in London and works as an artist between printmaking, photography and public installation. Her submission was a large monochrome work on very thin Japanese paper. She has exhibited regularly in the UK and internationally and has had a number of commissions from important clients. (This profile is updated from the original published)
    • Cat Croxford (Instagram | - landscape artist based in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. She is represented by several galleries including Clifton Fine Art in Bristol and my work can be found at Affordable Art Fair Battersea and Hampstead most years. She also run workshops and painting courses in South Oxfordshire and have written articles for art magazines. She usually starts with a completely black ground. She is mainly interested in painting trees. Of course, to test her ability to paint other things she's allocated to the north east coast of Scotland and a landscape with no trees
    • Jess Gale (Instagram | Facebook) - a contemporary painter who is represented by Osborne Studio Gallery, British Art Portfolio and Athertongreen Art. She currently lives and works in London and Dorset. Born 1967 in Catterick, she first began to paint in 2010 and subsequently trained at The Heatherley School of Fine Art. She mainly focuses on landscape painting - both plein air and studio work - and uses a range of media.

    • Jen Maidment (Instagram / Facebook / Saatchi) A contemporary portrait and landscape artist, from Yorkshire who is currently living in Caerphilly in South Wales. She entered with a tiny painting of her friend's London front garden. She is skilled at a graphic treatment of greens.
    • Henry McAlpine (Instagram) Brought up in Northumberland - which influences his work. He has a First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art from Leeds University before going on to study traditional drawing and painting techniques. He is inspired by nature and Futurism and German Expressionism. Since graduation, has exhibited his art in a variety of exhibitions across the UK and in 2023 he had a painting in the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. 
    • David Schab (Instagram | Saatchi) - a Polish artist who lives in Bristol and produces colourful paintings. Minimal info online.
    • Alison Whateley (Instagram | Facebook | - a textile / mixed media artist who lives in Devon. She uses haberdashery and, in particular, sheer fabrics plus appliqué and free mot to create atmospheric landscapes. She had a textile artwork in the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at the end of last year. As is not unusual with most textile artists she had difficulty with using fabric in a windy situation during the heat but I thought she coped admirably. 
    What I can tell you is that it was exciting, challenging, nerve-wracking and fun. I met the most lovely people and made new friends. But most of all it was an amazing, unforgettable experience.
    Alison Whateley commenting on the heat on Instagram
    Oddly, all three blokes were bearded. I don't remember anything about that that in the terms and conditions....

    The Wildcard Artists

    The wildcard artists were in view of the pods but on a separate headland which also overlooked Dunnottar Castle giving them a certain "on a par" position with the pod artists.

    The gap between wildcard artists and Dunnottar Castle

    INNOVATION: The Submissions

    We have an INNOVATION. I'm not sure whether it's because of the particularly wild location of this first heat, but the submissions are no longer lined up in a tent erected specifically for  viewing the submissions.

    They are now displayed
    • INSIDE the Pod - one easel for the current painting and one easel for the submission
    • ALONGSIDE the developing heat painting
    I comment more about this in one of the THEMES below.

    Submission artwork exhibited INSIDE the pod

    Themes & Learning Points

    Every week, in my review, I highlight what I observed as being some of the themes arising from the location, the day and the nature of the artists in this week's episode.