Thursday, February 04, 2016

Lewis Hazelwood-Horner wins £20,000 Threadneedle Prize 2016

The winner of The Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2016 of £20,000 is Lewis Hazelwood-Horner.

The competition is the leading open competition for figurative and representational art and the exhibitions are held annually at the Mall Galleries.

The prizewinning work is called "Salt in Tea". Lewis has also won a solo exhibition for a wider body of his work at Mall Galleries later this year.  Lewis has been painting the people involved in London based craft industries - traditional craftsmen - for some time and I'm sure we're going to have a treat when the exhibition is on display!

Salt in Tea by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner
This prize-winning painting followed a two ­year residency at the bespoke umbrella shop James Smith & Sons on New Oxford Street (the shop once seen is never forgotten!) in London. The title refers to when the craftsmen jokingly put salt or too much sugar in one another’s tea.  The setting is the basement where the umbrellas as made.

In terms of practice, his painting has a very textured surface - reminding me a lot in places of paintings by Lucian Freud
Painter Lewis Hazelwood-Horner’s work is concerned with the efficiency of the artist’s practise. The paint is generously applied to the canvas but in using the primed surface as a pallet little is left to waste, resulting in thick textured paintings.
Lewis recently graduated from LARA - the London Atelier of Representational Art (2012-14) – LARA - this is an interview with Lewis on the Lara website.

winner Threadneedle Prize 2016
Salt and Tea - Winner of the £20,000 Columbia Threadneedle award for figurative and representational art.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Urban Sketching doesn't happen in colouring books

I'm very disappointed in North Light Books.  I used to think they were a great publishing firm for artists. I always used to look out for their new publications and was delighted when I found out my book would be published by them.

The reason I'm disappointed is that North Light Books have put out a Call for Entries for urban sketchers to contribute pen and ink art for a COLOURING BOOK!

the beginning of the Call for Entries
(The referenced sketch is from a VERY different sort of book by Marc Taro Holmes - as you can see from the title
Make sure when signing a book contract that your sketches can NOT be used for colouring books!)
I'm not a fan of Colouring Books. I used to enjoy them when I was a small child. I can sort of see the meditative point of the mandala types ones. However they are essentially for people who like colour and colouring and they are very definitely NOT about drawing and sketching.

The thing is colouring books are selling in the millions.

They are the latest fad. They're keeping WH Smith's bottom line looking good right now.  If you put "drawing" into Amazon, and search for the featured books all you can see is colouring books.   Try it.

It's very, very depressing. People colour in a design and think they're drawing.

Let's be very clear. Colouring books do NOT teach anybody about how to draw or sketch.

It's therefore very sad that a movement like urban sketchers - which does place an enormously helpful emphasis on going 'on location' and 'drawing from observation' - using hand and eye - should in any way be associated with a Colouring Book - irrespective of whether or not they were asked (and I don't think they were).

I've written to Kristin Conlin, the Editor of North Light Books - in response to the invitation to contribute that was sent to me - and told her what I think of this latest 'wheeze'.

Here's some extracts
I take an extremely dim view of what North Light Books is doing with this sort of email.

. It's emphatically NOT about colouring books!

I want to emphasise that IMO your book  can in no way, shape or form can be associated with "urban sketching"!
I'll also be writing about this idea on my blog and the London Urban Sketchers Blog and will be emphasising to artists that

  • urban sketching is ALWAYS DONE ON LOCATION AND FROM OBSERVATION - and NEVER EVER by copying the work of other urban sketchers
  • Colouring books with pre-printed sketches do NOT help people to become better urban sketchers - quite the reverse. 
Sadly, I think urban sketchers who want to see their drawings in print will ignore the underlying philosophy of urban sketching and will grab the opportunity to send in their pen and ink drawings.

I'll be very sad if they do...

If anybody reading the email from Kristin Conlin feels tempted to do this, all I ask is that they reread the Urban Sketchers Manifesto first - and reflect on it.

Maybe North Light Books could do the same?
Our Manifesto

  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
This is another extract from my email.
If and when you publish this book, I shall make a point of reviewing it on my blog and on Amazon. I think you can by now guess what I will be saying! I would imagine rather a lot of other urban sketchers might do the same.
So the questions for all urban sketchers are:
  • Do you want to get out and about and use your hands and eyes to draw and remain true to urban sketching? 
  • Or do you want two free copies of a book - so you can sit at home and colour it in?
What's your view?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

RHS Botanical Art 2016 - Selected Artists

Thirty five botanical artists have been selected by the RHS Picture Committee to exhibit at the dedicated RHS Botanical Art Show 2016 in the Lindley Hall in the City of Westminster on 26-27 February 2016. This is the largest number of botanical artists in one RHS Botanical Art show during the time I've been visiting.

Below you can find
  • A list of the artists exhibiting in 2016 organised by the country of origin and/or where they live
  • The subject matter for their exhibit is also listed. Some of them sound absolutely fascinating.
  • I've added comments about the individual based on what I know about them or what I can glean from their website or other related sites.  These are intended to give you an idea about what sort of things people exhibiting botanical art with the RHS might get up to when not preparing for this exhibition. I hope budding botanical artists might find this information useful!  (TIP: when planning to exhibit make sure you have a website and that it's up to date!)
This was the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2015 - this year the stands have been changed.

Selected Artists

I recognise quite a few names and have indicated those who I know who have already been awarded an RHS  Gold Medal. I'm also including photos of those individuals I've previously met at Botanical Art Show when winning a gold medal!

It's going to be a great show - and I predict a stiff competition! Looks like we might have a lot of orchids and woody buds to look at.


  • Julie Nettleton: ‘Xanthorrhoea sp., Grass Trees’. Xanthorrhoea is a genus of majestic Australian native plants which can grow for hundreds of years.  I'm particularly looking forward to meeting Julie. She's a hugely talented artist and her amazing painting of Banksias was the 'exhibition image' for the 14th International Art Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration at the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation.  A slice through this drawing is the banner image for her website. I'm guessing, based on her website, that her exhibit will be related to her current project - and it looks as if the paintings will be spectacular!
Currently I am working on a major project to produce a monograph of significant Australian native plants growing in the North Head Sanctuary, Manly. The site is one of Australia’s last remaining pockets of bushland known as Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. Here a rich diversity of native heathland plants grow on ancient, nutrient poor aeolian sands. It is classified as an endangered ecological community so the recording and celebration of what survives is important.
  • Sandra Sanger GM (2010, 2013): ‘Orchids: Paphiopedilum and Australian Natives’. I met Sandra - who is based in Melbourne - when she won Gold in 2013. Sandra was also Highly Commended by the judges of the 2014 Margaret Flockton Award.  I know older artists will be interested in the fact that Sandra only started doing botanical art after she retired!

Hong Kong (China) 

  • Mark Isaac-Williams: ‘The Invasive Chinese Banyan Tree’. From a seedling to a 500 year old house tree, Ficus microcarpa is relentless.  He exhibited at the 17th Annual Filoli Exhibition, USA in 2015


  • Simonetta Occhipinti: ‘The Citrus Fruits of Medici Family’. A study of the ancient collection of citrus fruits which were first grown in the Medici family's Villa in Castello, near Florence, and in the Giardino di Boboli (Palazzo Pitti) in the centre of Florence, at the end of the sixteenth century. Simonetta does not appear to have awebsite and I couldn't find any information online. However I did find a very interesting website about the Medici Citrus fruit and more about the fruit on this nursery site!
The collection of Medici citruses has survived to the present day, despite the many events that took place through the centuries, and is preserved in Florence, in the garden of the Villa Medicea di Castello and the Boboli Gardens. This collection is of particular botanical and historical interest and consists of about a thousand potted plants, large and small, old and young, but in all cases extremely valuable, as they are all descendents of the Medici cultivars.
  • Lidia Vanzetti GM (Italy): ‘Grapes of the Piedmont’ I had the pleasure of meeting Lidia in 2011 when she won a Gold Medal. She also exhibited at the 13th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration at the Hunt.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to avoid frames eating your profit

This is the second in my series of ten articles about how to be a cost-effective artist - for "The Artist" magazine.

This one is about framing.  That's because framing has the potential for eating into any profit you make in a major way. However there are a number of different ways to contain costs and this article suggests some of the ones I know about.

What's your best tip or favourite tactic for keeping a lid on your framing costs?

The top of my article on page 66 of the March edition of The Artist Magazine
It's now available online and at all good newsagents

Friday, January 29, 2016

Notes on the pastel portraits and techniques of Jean-Etienne Liotard

These are some notes I made when visiting the exhibition of artwork by Jean Etienne Liotard at the Royal Academy of Arts - after I saw the new exhibition 'Painting the Modern Garden' on Wednesday.

I'd been meaning to visit this exhibition for quite some time as it includes a lot of pastel portraits and I wanted to take a close look at them from a technical perspective.

If you like pastels or create art using pastels and have the time to visit before it ends of Sunday then I'd recommend you do so if only learn more about pastel paintings were created in the 18th century.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, 1762
Black and red chalk, graphite pencil, watercolour and watercolour glaze on paper, heightened with colour on the verso, 31.1 x 24.9 cm 
Cabinet d'arts graphiques des Musees d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. On permanent loan from the Gottfried Keller Foundation, inv. 1947-0042
Photo Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes 

So here are the notes interspersed with images from the exhibition.
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