Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who's made a mark? #265

Art Competitions

Call for Entries

Selected artists

Other art competitions

You can keep up to date with the major art competitions on my Page (see top menu) - Major UK Art Competitions

I've had it confirmed that:
  • the Threadneedle Prize has changed dates and, as such, there will be no exhibition in 2015. Here's the announcement and online submission opens on 13 July 2015, 12 noon
The 2015 Threadneedle Prize exhibition, normally held in September/October each year, is moving to the beginning of February 2016. Online submission opens on 13 July 2015, 12 noon. This change in date will give The Threadneedle Prize even greater visibility. We also plan to tour a selection of the 2016 exhibition to Europe. More details will follow.
  • the Derwent Art Prize is not being run this year but you can expect it to be back in 2016. The Call for Entries will go out in January 2016.

Art Exhibitions

Open in London

Open in the rest of the UK

The idea of ‘Provincial Punk’ is an oxymoron but it encapsulates creatively some sort of spirit in my work that still goes on to this day. It is a very creative force, a willingness to turn things over, to not accept the fashion and to have a bit of fun. It is a kind of teasing rebellion; it is not a violent revolution.”
Grayson Perry
  • On the topic of Grayson Perry, there are now traffic jams in Wrabness as the world and his wife and kids turn up to try and see Grayson Perry's house for Essex in Wrabness - see BBC Grayson Perry house: Congestion problems in Wrabness and my blog post about the television programme Grayson Perry's Dream House - tonight on Channel 4 - which was really interesting both in terms of the structure and its content and the way people responded to it. I'm not surprised it's generating crowds - although I guess once the novelty has worn off it will become like Antony Gormley's 100 cast-iron, life-size figures of Another Place on the shifting sands at Crosby Beach.

Open in New York

Closing soon

Plate 6: The After Party (2014) by Henry Hudson
varnished plasticene on board, 183cm x 245cm

Already closed

These were the exhibitions which opened and closed in the last two months

Opening next month

The BP Portrait Award website looks a bit different this year

The exhibition includes works by great masters of the medium from its origins to the 20th century, with portrait miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, flower drawings by Pierre Joseph Redouté, as well as a series of stunning landscape watercolours by John Constable, Peter de Wint, John Sell Cotman, Samuel Palmer, J. M. Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Paul Nash.

Announced for later in the year

The National Portrait Gallery announced a new exhibition will be opening in September - see Simon Schama's The Face of Britain - and selfies

Art Books

  • Paul Riley and the magic of watercolour flowers - For those who'd like a different perspective on how paint flowers - this is about a new book, video and exhibition - about the magic of watercolour flowers - by one of my old tutors.

Art Business

Art Materials

  • Artists and Illustrators has a great article - 7 steps to better pastels - I've been wanting to read for a long time. It's all about how Pastel Society member Sarah Bee uses acrylics, charcoal and gesso can help you get the most out of your pastel art

Botanical Art

  • My new website about Botanical Art and Artists has been up for just over a month - and it's changed quite a lot since I first published it
    • It now also has a news blog and this post explains how I will use in future to highlight news from botanical artists as well as changes to the website
A news blog for Botanical Art and Artists - featuring news from Botanical Artists
as well as changes to the website
  • Last week I also created a new page about Blogging about SBA Diploma Assignments - which has been very well received by ex-students.  This post details which artists have had their past blog posts highlighted alongside the relevant assignment
  • For the record, these are the blog posts about last month's annual exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists


Odds and sods

Here are a variety of posts which I can't think of a heading for!
Cosmo - drawn using pastel sticks in Sketchbook Pro app on my Mini iPad.
  • Celebrate a visual artist on the next £20 note - interesting responses to this post on Facebook - but I fail to see why some of the suggestions for female contenders have quite the weight of male visual artists who might be in the running.  Anyway - at the end of the day it will all depend on who gets nominated!
  • The Royal Academy of Arts is getting a multi-million pound major overhaul with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant - A major overhaul for the Royal Academy of Arts campus - and I got to do a Press View with Alan Yentob and a TV crew from the BBC.

Techie stuff 

Photographing artwork

  • How to photograph your artwork is a very good article in Artists & Illustrators about photographing artwork which goes beyond the normal stuff that gets written. So far it's been shared 24.5k times!

Google and websites

I'm still trying to update websites and I'm still trying to fit in a proper break. It's not working too well so far.

and finally......

As I indicated in 14 good years my cat Cosmo, who starred in Sketching 365, is coming to the end of his life. It's day by day at the moment - with every day after the end of this month being a bonus. Early this week he was really down and today he's been (relatively speaking) quite perkie - and I'm up and down with him also....

If I disappear for a while you'll know why.

Cosmo asleep - drawn using a pen and ink app on my iPad Mini

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Paul Riley and the magic of watercolour flowers

A NEW book - The Magic of Watercolour Flowers by Paul Riley
I'm a huge fan of all artists who paint flowers - and they certainly don't have to be strictly botanical!

A very long time ago one of the first tutors I had when I was trying to get back into painting was Paul Riley. Those of you familiar with the The Artist magazine will know he is a regular contributor, writing on a regular basis about watercolour painting.

One of the things I really liked is that he doesn't paint like a lot of other artists. Instead he paints in a very calligraphic way - and really enjoys using all sorts of different brushes. His courses were where I learned all about the various brushes used in the East.  Plus Paul is a painter who loves colour and isn't in the least bit bashful about using it!

Anyway, he's now been painting for 50 years and is still going strong. This is his website - Paul Riley Art and this is the website of Coombe Farm Studios - which is the related family business which delivers workshops by Paul and other artists. I've certainly enjoyed the location down in Devon and the courses there in the past.

The Magic of Watercolour Flowers

However the reason for this post is a new book and an associated video plus exhibition!

The Magic of Watercolour Flowers is his new instruction book - published next month by Batsford (I've got his last two books and they're both very good.)

Plus below you can see the new book has also prompted a new video about Paul painting flowers in watercolour.  It's very typical of the man and the way he paints.

    I also recognise very many of the locations and the blossom from time I've spent there in Devon - and I've drawn and painted some of them!

    PLUS this is the exhibition The Magic of Watercolour Flowers  associated with the video and the new book. It's on at Coombe Gallery in Dartmouth and opened to the public yesterday and continues until 16th June 2015.

    So - if you love painting flowers and want to try and broaden your skills, I'd definitely recommend a bit of a closer look at a different perspective on how to paint flowers in watercolour.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Hogarth and Henry Hudson

    crop of the first plate Leaving China New Hopecopyright Henry Hudson
    The other day I went to see a quite remarkable show called The Rise and Fall of Young Sen by a young artist called Henry Hudson at Sotheby's Gallery.  If you get a chance to see it before it closes on 29th May I really recommend you visit - and be amazed.

    If you do go, be prepared to stay a while, there's an awful lot to see!

    The show - and the work - is remarkable for four reasons:
    1. Hudson set himself the challenge of creating a contemporary version of Hogarth's series of images on a moral purpose and has pulled it off. His series of 10 panels is amazing - and then some!
    2. He works in plasticine - it's varnished prior to exhibition.
    3. It's big! He refers to the individual panels weighing something similar to a bronze.
    4. He sold most of the works before the show opened.
    Just to give you some sense of the size of this endeavour - here's a view of six of the ten panels in Sothebey's Gallery. At the end of the gallery you can see two people standing in front of one of the panels.

    The Rise and Fall of Young Sen - Plates 5-10
    Sotheby's Gallery
    copyright Henry Hudson
    In this instance, updating the series to the present day has involved switching the individual to a young Chinese man who comes to the west to study medicine but who then becomes distracted by the art world and begins a journey through various aspects of the contemporary art scene.

    The Autopsy at King's College
    There's a myriad of references to contemporary events in the image
    Plus spot the reference to Damien Hirst's works
    copyright Henry Hudson
    I kept being bemused as to which Hogarth series the contemporary version was following. There's an element of A Rake's Progress with a smattering of Marriage à-la-mode and Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) in this instance updated to drugs rather than alcohol.  

    However what struck me the most was the overwhelming amount of content. It's also not unlike Grayson Perry's The Vanity of Small Differences - particularly in relation to size, perspective and the emphasis on drawing out lots of small but important details. However there's an awful lot more 'content' in these Henry Hudson artworks.

    3. Protest and Performance
    spot the National Gallery in the background
    copyright Henry Hudson
    I'm not in the least bit bothered by the similarity. I'm just really pleased that there is yet another artist who is interested in narrative art and social comment on contemporary behaviour!  The fact that like Grayson Perry, he's chosen to make his artwork in a medium not much seen in galleries these days is all the better!

    These are links to:
    His website also explains the process of how he works

    You can see more of his work on his website - including the drawings which appear to be an essential part of the process.

    Below you can find images of some of the works in the series.

    What isn't mentioned so much is the fact that the series is laden with references to art - both historical and contemporary. In fact it's quite a heavy duty work-out in the "spot the cultural reference" department.

    There's everything from a reworking of The Third of May by Goya (and Manet) in the final 'plate'

    a crop of The Execution
    this tells the story  Young Sen's return to China and his beating and final demise
    copyright Henry Hudson
    to echoes of the faces painted by Francis Bacon (plus spot The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron)

    crop of Rehabilitation
    copyright Henry Hudson
    in the remarkable work about Rehabilitation - which in turn echoes the paintings of St Remy by Van Gogh topped off with images associated with Jeff Koons and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

    copyright Henry Hudson
    These are links to articles about the exhibition and the artist. The universal theme is how the series took over his life and consumed all his time for a very long period.

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Society of Botanical Artists - Diploma Assignments

    Students of the Society of Botanical Artists' Distance Learning Diploma Course come from all over the world.

    Over time, rather than being isolated in their studies and studios, they've come up with a few ways to keep in touch over the 27 months as they work their way through the various assignments and their portfolio and the work for assessment at the end of the course.

    One is the Facebook Group for Botanical Artists (3,426 members as of today - and climbing all the time). Another is blogging and there are now quite a few botanical art blogs!
    Along the way some of those studying for the Diploma decided to share what they were doing and how their assignments were going on their blogs.

    Then they started to share the feedback they got - plus tips for how to do things - and the process they were using to develop their artwork....

    I've been watching and reading some of these blog posts for a long time. It suddenly struck me that they were a resource that could be lost if not made a tad more accessible. (For example, just as they are always lost forever if similar posts are made on Facebook - because that archive is not easily accessible if at all)

    Hence why I've now created a new page devoted to blog posts about SBA Diploma Assignments on my new website Botanical Art and Artists.

    Each of the assignments is listed in order:
    • they include the outline of what is involved in each assignment
    • this is followed by blog posts which relate to this Diploma assignment (note the numbering has changed of late)
    Artwork produced by the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Students
    - as seen at this year's SBA Annual Exhibition
    So if you're starting the SBA in January 2016 - or have already started and are a bit stuck with your current assignment - why not go and have a read of some of the blog posts!

    I'd like to thank all the ladies whose blog posts have been included on the page. The name of the blog is indicated in italics.  Those whose names are highlighted in red were awarded a Distinction for their Diploma.

    • Vicki Lee Johnston DipSBA(Dist.) (Vicki Lee Johnston - Botanical Art- Lives in Western Australia - and of course all the seasons are out of synch with the course! Vicki graduated from the Diploma Course with Distinction and I found her posts very helpful.
    North America - Canada & USA
    • Laura Ashton DipSBA BAC (Laura Ashton Illustration and Design) - Lives in Canada. In 2014, Laura Ashton was awarded a Diploma with credit and the Jantien Burggraaff Memorial Award for progress. In 2015 she became a member of the Botanical Artists of Canada. 
    • Lori Vreeke (Art by Vreeke) - Lives in California, USA. Her assignments are completed in coloured pencil
    • Helen Cousins (Petals and Paints) Started January 2014 and due to complete early in 2016. Helen is currently studying medicine in Southampton. Helen's posts are excellent in providing feedback on how her assignments were marked thus providing lots of information for those currently studying or thinking about doing the Diploma course.
    • Jarnie Godwin AssocSBA DipSBA(Dist.) (Sketchbook Squirrel) - Jarnie was awarded a Distinction for her Diploma work
    • Jessica R Shepherd DipSBA (Inky Leaves) - Lived in London and now lives in Spain
    • Dianne Sutherland (Dianne Sutherland - botanical artist) - Dianne was awarded a Distinction in 2011; she's one of the Moderators of the Facebook Group and has been an artist and illustrator for 30+ years.

    I learned a lot from this exercise

    Vicki Lee Johnstone - with her Diploma with Distinction
    The first thing I learned is that it's not difficult to predict who will be awarded a Distinction from their assignment work during their course of studies - and often from an early stage. 

    It's something to do with the commitment and the approach to research and preparation. 

    It's also something to do with the character of an individual who does NOT choose the easy option but rather chooses a challenge.  

    It reminded me very much of the character of and the processes employed by the artists I meet who win RHS Gold Medals for their botanical art.

    The next lesson I learned is that just as the standard of Diploma work produced at the end of assignments has progressively improved in recent years, so too has the standard of work produced for the Diploma assignments.

    What struck me very forcibly is that it's never too early to start taking this form of art seriously and that putting time, effort and research into the process of producing an artwork pays off in the long run.

    Before long they're going to have to start a pre-Diploma Certificate Course to get people up to the standard they need to be to take on the Diploma!

    The final lesson was the sheer pleasure to be gained by following somebody's journey and watching them improve how they work and what they produce as a result of a structured process of learning. As somebody who has a degree in Education and qualified as a teacher a very long time ago, that's an experience I never ever tire of.

    and finally......

    This Diploma course has had a hugely positive impact on the calibre of work shown in the SBA's Annual Exhibition.

    It also generates tuition fee income for the society which is paid over in fees for those who teach and assess the course.

    I'm just left wondering why more art societies don't develop their own Diploma Courses......

    A Making A Mark Interview with Margaret Stevens is the interview I did back in 2009 with the past President of the SBA Margaret Stevens PPSBA, FSBA. Margaret was the first Director of the Course. She was also the person who got it off the ground and the person who wrote the four SBA books which are set texts for the Diploma Course. It's an education in how to get an art society involved in improving standards of artwork.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    Celebrate a visual artist on the next £20 note

    The Bank of England is asking the public to make suggestions as to who should be on the next £20 note. 

    It must be somebody British and noteworthy in the field of visual arts.

    At the end of this post
    • I'm making my own suggestions
    • I'm asking you who YOU think might be an appropriate person to represent visual arts in Britain.
    The new Banknote Character Advisory Committee decided back in 2013 that the next £20 note should celebrate the field of visual arts. That might possibly be something to do with the fact that Sandy Nairne, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery is one of the external members on that Committee! :)
    Members of the public will have two months to nominate people of historic significance from the visual arts including artists, sculptors, printmakers, designers, craftspeople, ceramicists, architects, fashion designers, photographers and filmmakers – whose work shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society. The public can nominate characters from within the field of visual arts on the Bank’s website.
    It's important to note that the Bank will
    • NOT represent living characters on its notes, with the exception of the Monarch. 
    • NOT identify individuals who would be unduly divisive
    • ONLY include a recognisable and usable representation of an individual within a banknote design. This is because banknotes are designed to be easy to authenticate and difficult to counterfeit. 
    Nominations can be made until 19 July 2015. To nominate please visit the Bank of England website and complete the nomination form

    Note about the process

    Back at the end of 2013, the Bank of England decided that the public should have much more involvement in the choice of people to include on banknotes.


    For some reason, Jonathan Jones of the Guardian has once again been told or has chosen to be controversial (others would call it downright rude!) in Should the public vote for the artist on the new £20 note? No way – they've got terrible taste. He's decided that "the people" cannot be trusted to vote because too few do and it is then too easy to sway the vote.

    I think he's got it badly wrong. This is not an art competition, nor is it a taste competition!

    It's not even a competition! It's about making suggestions so a Committee can get a sense of which individual has the most resonance with the British public. It's not about who painted the best pictures - it's about which visual artists have captured people's imaginations and who are the British public most attached to - and why would they like to see them on their £20 notes.

    Here's a couple of examples of what I mean:
    I'm certainly not one of the 'nay sayers' like Jones.

    Instead I'm one of those who encourage people to vote on the basis that very often people do genuinely come up with suggestions which surprise the art establishment! So......

    Who do you think ought to be on the next £20 note?

    First - Will you be voting?  I'm going to make a suggestion but my long list is a bit too long at the moment!

    Second - Which dead visual artist will you be nominating?

    I'm going to start a long list below and will add to it as names get suggested.

    The Long List

    I've come up with some suggestions.


    Charle Rennie Mackintosh


    Uncontroversial artists who I would imagine might have a lot of support would include
    • Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) – one of the few who is both an effective portrait and landscape painter - but I can't quite see him getting a groundswell of support
    • Nicholas Hilliard - an interesting choice since the portrait on the note is in effect a miniature and he one of the most famous miniature painters. He's also one of the very few early English artists whose name is well known. I also rather like the idea of this self-portrait being used for the £20 note!
    Earliest selfportrait of Nicholas Hilliard 1577
    • JMW Turner - I should think would be a very popular choice - and no worse for that! His youthful self-portrait is also well-known and would make for a good portrait on a bank note.
    Self portrait by Turner c.1799
    • John Constable - another popular choice?
    • Stanley Spencer - I should think that aspects of his marital life and unconventional perspective on religion might be a bit of a problem - and put him out of the running.
    Stanley Spencer - self portrait 1914
    This is the face of the man who painted all those memorable 1st World War paintings
    see 'Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War' at Somerset House

    I immediately thought of Grayson Perry - but he'd have to meet an unfortunate end very quickly to make him eligible!  Anyway here goes with the rest....
    • Josiah Wedgewood - this is a man who not only founded a very famous British pottery company which exported all over the world. He is also responsible for the industrialisation of the manufacture of pottery. I would have thought he's got to be in the running.  His image could also be characterised as if it was a ceramic Wedgewood bust or miniature.
    Bust of Josiah Wedgwood
    completed in 1864 by Giovanni Fontana (1821-1893),
    Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England
    • Bernard Leach - a possibility but he doesn't quite have the weight of credentials or popularity behind him - and his face is unknown


      • William Morris - his socialist credentials might put him out of the running re. the uncontroversial front
      Portrait of William Morris, aged 53


      • Charles Rennie Mackintosh (again) - a very familiar image and, I would imagine, a very popular choice. He is, of course also an architect and a crafts person.

      Fashion designer

      • Alexander McQueen - one of the very few to have the weight to compete - but maybe a bit too recent?


      • David Lean springs to mind - and he has a very chiselled face which would be both recognisable and look good on a bank note.


      • Eadweard Muybridge - a face that is totally unknown of a photographer who is very well known. He pioneered studies of motion. However is he uncontroversial given the fact that he shot and killed his wife's lover, but was acquitted in a jury trial on the grounds of justifiable homicide.
      Sequences by Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904)
      of himself throwing a disk, using a step, and walking


      • William Hogarth - English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist. He has the advantage of covering a number of bases like Mackintosh - however I always think of him as a printmaker. Of course if this protrait were to be used, it would also win over the dog lobby!
      William Hogarth
      • Sir Henry Moore - my reservation with this one is I'm not sure he's well known as a 'face' even if his sculptures are extremely well known and very recognisable
      • Dame Barbara Hepworth - would be in the running but for the fact she's already had a museum named after her!
      I think my favourite so far is Charles Rennie Mackintosh - with Nicholas Hilliard as a close second. I wouldn't mind in the least if it were Sir Henry Moore and they could work out how to make him recognisable.

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