Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014 - Call for Entries

The longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK is The Jerwood Drawing Prize - worth £6,000 to the winner.

The call for entries has been made for the prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014. Online registration opened last week and the deadline for online registration: 16 June 2014, 5pm.
The Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition represents and celebrates the diversity, excellence, and range of current drawing practice in the UK.
Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014

Key facts

  • The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the country’s leading award in drawing
Selected from original art works it has established a reputation for its commitment to championing excellence, and promoting and celebrating the breadth of contemporary drawing practice within the UK.
  • This is the longest running annual open exhibition dedicated to drawing in the UK. (It still claims to be the largest - but I have news for Jerwood - there were more drawings exhibited in the Derwent Art Prize!)
  • Entries can be submitted by established or emerging artists who are resident or domiciled within the UK. 
  • It's expected over 3,000 entries will be submitted  
  • Last year's exhibition included 76 drawings by 76 artists - 24 of whom were students
  • Prizes will be awarded to the winning artists at a ceremony on Tuesday 16 September 2014. They comprise.
    • a first prize of £8,000,
    • a second prize of £5,000, and
    • two student awards of £2,000 each.
Winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013
Apocalypse (My Boyfriend Doesn’t Care)
Ink on paper, 183 x 150cm
© Svetlana Fialova

Read on to find out more about the prize and how to enter the 2014 competition.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014 - Call for Entries

The Call for Entries for 27th year of the prestigious Sunday Times Watercolour Competition was published today. Artists are invited to submit up to four works.
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition provides an opportunity for artists across the UK to redefine, celebrate and reward excellence and originality in watercolour and water-based media.  
This post tells you about:

  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • the time table
  • the exhibition

The deadline for submissions 5pm, Monday 2 June 2014. Entry for the 2014 competition is ONLINE.

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2014

Sunday Times Watercolour 2014 Competition Prizes

This is one of the top art competitions in the UK with 
  • First Prize - £10,000
  • Second Prize - £6,000
  • Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize - £1,500
  • Vintage Classics Prize for Cover Art - £500 + win a commission to create the cover art for a Vintage Classic
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2013 Prizewinners


Read on to find out more about:

  • how to enter the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition
  • where you can see the Exhibition in London and around the UK .

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Interest Lists: How to make sure Facebook does not filter the content you want to read

Yesterday I posted about recent changes to the Facebook Newsfeed - see This week's changes on Facebook - and what to do next.  (PS I added new content and updated this after I published it - I thought of a more few things - like the need to NOT like and hide posts from your newsfeed)

Today I want to expand on the idea of how to create and/or share Interest Lists as a way of ensuring you see the content of Facebook Pages or Accounts you want to read.

So this post covers
  • links to my Interest Lists which are now being shared on my Facebook Page 
  • two guides I wrote a while back about why Interest Lists are a good idea and how to create them
  • links to Facebook Help re Interest Lists
The Art Materials Interest List on my Facebook Account
Note the Interests Lists in the left hand column - they starts just below Photos

My Interest Lists


I've now made them all the ones I'm listing below "public" so you should be able to access these if you are logged into Facebook.  I'll be sharing these on my Facebook Page also - I've already shared the Art Materials and Supplies one.
Do let me know if you think I've missed out any good ones! :)

A discussion about Interest Lists today.

Facebook Lists

Below you will find links to the two posts I wrote back in 2012 when lists started to emerge as a way of better managing the Facebook algorithm which decides what you see in your newsfeed (ie it filters out about 80%!)

Do let me know if you're finding anything has changed.

Facebook Basics

You can use Lists for Interests or Friends


Saturday, April 26, 2014

This week's changes on Facebook - and what to do next

You know that happy habit Facebook has of changing things without telling you?

They did it again on Thursday - and I think all the changes we're now seeing are linked to two things
On the face of it, the first change is nothing for to us to get excited about - it's just Facebook trying to muscle in on the regular News newsfeeds that people enjoy following. 

The second change is of more consequence. First of all it has had a major effect on the Pages Newsfeed when in the Facebook Pages mode.

We now need to understand how our behaviour affects:
  • what we see in future and 
  • the extent to which what we do affects what is seen by us and by others.
Let me explain. (For those who prefer art and are missing "who painted this?" - try and puzzle out the painting - I'll fill in the name and artist tomorrow).

Woman in Black reading a newspaper (1912) by Rik Wouters
Oil on canvas
Royal Museum of Antwerp

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interviews with six RHS Botanical Art Gold Medal Winners (2014)

This year there were six botanical artists who won RHS Gold Medals at the Royal Horticultural Society's Botanical Art Show last week. This post has interviews with all six.

This is a VERY LONG post and is for those interested in the technical aspects of producing a gold medal winning display of botanical art.

So grab your favourite hot drink and a comfy chair and settle down for a jolly good read!

Additional interviews


This post follows on from my interviews in recent years with other RHS Gold medal winners.
Please also note that their TIPS for creating a Gold Medal display AND how best to present it are listed at the end of this post.

So - on to my interviews with the six artists who won Gold Medals at this year's show.

The ladies with an RHS Gold Medal

This years RHS Gold Medal Winners were as follows - and the interviews follow the order below
  • Hye Woo Shin (Korea) - Heterotrophic Plants in Korea - also WINNER of the Best Exhibit
  • Işık Güner (Turkey/Scotland) - Plants from the woods & forests of Chile - also WINNER of the Best Painting
  • Lynda de Wet (South Africa) - Parasitic Plants in Situ with the Host Plant - this is her blog
  • Louise Lane (UK) - Ophrys (Bee Orchids) of Menorca
  • Nikki Marks (UK) - The Genus Arisaema
  • Sharon Tingey (UK/Scotland) - Sunflowers (Helianthus)

Hye Woo Shin (Korea) - Heterotrophic Plants in Korea


Hye Woo Shin - with her Best Exhibit Award and RHS Gold Medal for Heterotrophic Plants of Korea (Parasitic Plants)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The One Show Summer Art Competition - another way exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts


Details of the The One Show Summer Art Competition have been published. This year, if selected, your work could be hung in an exhibition in the Reynolds Room at the Royal Academy at the same time as the 246th Summer Exhibition i.e. between 16 June – 9 August 2014.

Over 700 people entered this competition last year.

12 shortlisted artists in each category (13-17 years old and over 18s) will have their work exhibited at the RA and six finalists in each category will be filmed for The One Show on BBC1.

Prizes


There are two prizes
  • one for adults i.e. over 18 on 16th April 2014 and 
  • one for teenagers aged between 13 and 17.

Selection criteria


This is the criteria for how entries will be judged.
Works will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Originality
  • Composition
  • Control and use of the chosen medium
  • Ability to follow the guidelines as set out in the Terms and Conditions
Please also note
Following standard industry practice, the BBC may undertake background checks of the shortlisted finalists. The parents or guardians of entrants may be asked questions regarding the entrants and may be asked to sign a declaration on their behalf. Information discovered or that may have been disclosed in this process will inform the decision as to the selection of the finalists.

Who can enter


Only amateur artists can enter this competition. Here's the definitive statement of who is an amateur artist - because the BBC says so!
The competition is not open to professional artists or artists who have already won prizes and awards for their work – only amateurs. To qualify as an amateur, individuals should not earn more than 50% of their annual income from their artworks. The BBC’s decision as to whether an entrant is amateur or professional is final.
You can enter if over 13 on 16th April 2014.

Terms and Conditions

These are:

How to enter


Here's how to enter. Note entry is by post and is NOT digital and entries are NOT returned.

What to send with your entry form

Complete an entry form and send with image of the artwork by post to The One Show Art Competition 2014, BBC Scotland, Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1DA

Type and Size of artwork

  • Work should be on paper or or canvas.
  • Works should be no bigger thanA1, 84cm x 59cm / 33 inches x 23 inches

Deadline for entries

The deadline for entries is 2nd May 2014 - so you need to get your act together if you want to enter!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 10 tips for being an artist

Suzanne du Toit, winner of the BP Portrait Award 2013, has written an article for the BBC on her top 10 tips for being an artist.

They're not just about being a portrait artist. Indeed a botanical artist friend of mine said she could identify with every one!

Suzanne du Toit with the BP Portrait Award 2013
(Left: Sandy Naire, Director of the National Portrait Gallery
Right: Joanna Trollope, Author,
guest presenter and one of this year's Judges)
So what are they?

Top 10 tips for being an artist


These are the headlines for her top 10 tips - but you need to read Top 10 Tips: Award-winning artist Susanne du Toit to find out her reasons for these tips. It's a jolly good and recommended read.
  1. Surround yourself with like-minded people
  2. Find the art form that you love the most
  3. Be able to endure working alone
  4. Accept your limitations
  5. Know your subjects
  6. Don't rush, take your time
  7. Use photos to help you, but don't work from them alone
  8. Be prepared for people not always liking your work
  9. Paint for yourself and be honest
  10. Remember what is important to you and pursue that

Monday, April 21, 2014

21st April 2014 - Who's made a mark?

This is the first of my "Who's made a mark" posts in a while.  It's a round-up of my posts on this blog and on Facebook PLUS it's interspersed with other news I've noticed as I get back to more normal life.

During my time writing the book I've had a couple of major milestones

The Making A Mark Facebook Page yesterday - with 2,001 likes
Many thanks to all those regular readers, visitors and followers of Making A Mark. 
I love hearing from you if the blog has made a difference to your lives......

After the hiatus I'll start by just briefly mentioning what's coming up on my blog in the next week:
  • a call for entries for an important new art competition
  • interviews with the six botanical artists who became RHS Gold Medallists last week
  • a return for "Who Painted This?"
  • and a big thank you to all the artists who contributed images to my new book
 PLUS a video of the biggest exhibition to open in London recently!



Art Genre

Botanical Art

  • We're into my favourite phase of the year with the RHS Botanical Art Show closely preceded or followed (as happens this year) by the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists. So far I've written three posts about the RHS Show:
  • Meanwhile Gaynor Dickeson wrote a fascinating account over several posts on her blog
    gaynorsflora about what it was like to prepare for the show and then be there. There are several posts starting on 6th April - as she gives an insiders' perspective on what's involved with exhibiting at this show. I recommend you start around about the beginning of April as she starts her count down to the exhibition and all the last minute things you need to think about and do. It's recommended reading for all those who aspire to do the same!

Drawing and Sketching


Portraiture


  • Simon Weston portrait unveiled at National Portrait Gallery - It was great meeting both Simon Weston and Nikki Pihiliips who painted his portrait at the NPG.  It was also a privilege to see somebody see their own portrait for the first time. His mum said "It's him to a t." His family are all very pleased with it. Simon was voted for by the British public as being the person they most wanted to see in the NPG.
The framer, Simon Weston, Nikki Phillips (the artist) and Fiona Bruce

Watercolour Painting

Art Books


  • One of the best people I know in terms of drawing and drawing books is Sarah Simblet. This is Sarah Simblet and The New Sylva - a video about a new book she's been working on - it includes 200 drawings of trees in the UK

Art Business and Marketing

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Grayson Perry on television in 2014

Grayson Perry CBE RA - artist and contemporary social anthropologist is set to wow us with more of his fresh insights into contemporary society and the place of artmaking within it with two new television programmes due to be aired later this year. They are:
This follows his stunning success and increasing popularity associated with recent television and radio programmes and art exhibitions including:
  • his first Channel 4 series All In the Best Possible Taste (Channel 4, 2012) which won a BAFTA for his exploration taste and class
  • The Vanity of Small Differences - his series of tapestries produced as a result of the Channel 4 series. Perry and his gallery gifted this major work to the Arts Council Collection and the British Council.  It is currently touring the UK supported by Channl 4. the Art Fund and others. Remaining dates are:
    • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (14 February – 11 May 2014)
    • Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool (23 May – 10 August 2014)
    • Leeds City Art Gallery (late August – October 2014).
    • Also available as an iPhone/iPad app which I highly recommend for those unable to get to see the tapestries. 
  • Perry's 2013 Reith Lectures - still available as a podcast (links to MP3 recordings below) - and well worth downloading for posterity - even thought the BBC has determined they will be available indefinitely!  They related to:

From The Vanity of Small Differences - a portrait of taste in writing
the names of cultural and style icons form what appear to be
textile ribbing but are in fact words (eg Picasso, Proust, Purcell, Matisse, Wagner)
Image credit: Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close (detail), 2012
by Grayson Perry © the artist

Who are you? - the new Grayson Perry Series


Three hour long films film Grayson Perry meeting people and then producing their portraits.

The people have been chosen because they are facing "a moment in their lives when they need to define who they are". The challenge for Grayson Perry is to distil his encounter with them and the impressions he gained into a portrait.

The portraits range from miniatures, to large tapestries, statues and ceramic pots - which was the medium he first became known for.  I'm sure they will all include a few well chosen words from Mr Perry! (see the above image for an example of how he works).

All of the works will then be shown in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - alongside portraits in the permanent collection. This is being timed to accompany the transmission and since Channel 4 says later this year and the NPG has its exhibitions up to October already listed - I'm going to take a guess and say it'll be an exhibition opening in November which will turn into a mini-blockbuster over the Christmas holiday period!

A complete range of contemporary human life - not previously covered in the "Vanities" - are his sitters for a portrait. They include:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shortlist announced for BP Portrait Award 2014

Two elderly women and a homeless man painted by an international shortlist of three male artists are in competition for the £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2014.

These are:
  • Thomas Ganter (Germany) for Man with a Plaid Blanket
  • David Kassan (USA) for Letter to my Mom and
  • Richard Twose (UK) for Jean Woods.

The second and third prizes in the 35th year of this internationally prestigious art competition are worth £10,000 and £8,000.  

The winner of the BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 will also be announced at the Awards Evening on the evening of Tuesday 24 June 2014 (the date is in my diary!)  I really like the idea that nobody has any idea who this will be until the night itself.  Should make for a big turnout by those aged 18 to 30! 

Exhibition

Man with a Plaid Blanket
by Thomas Ganter, 2013
160 x 60 cm oil on canvas
© Thomas Ganter
The BP Portrait Exhibition will be held in London, Sunderland and Edinburgh:
  • the National Portrait Gallery in London (26 June – 21 September 2014). Admission is free - and this is always a very popular exhibition with lots of visitors. 
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (4 October, 2014 – 16 November, 2014) and 
  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (28 November – 12 April, 2015.)

Artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2014

I've got the high resolution images of these portraits and I have to say I'm extremely impressed by all three and can make a case for each of them winning.

My gut says Ganter will win. There's something very penetrating and yet enduring about that portrait and themes it raises. Plus I've never ever seen another painting like it in the BP and originality counts for a lot.

Thomas Ganter

Age: 40
Nationality: German
Occupation: Artist and illustrator
Current home: Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Art education: ?
Previous appearances in this award: ?
Website: none
Subject: Karel, a homeless man
After being in a museum, I saw a homeless man and was stunned by a similarity: the clothes, the pose, and other details resembled what I just saw in various paintings. However, this time I was looking at a homeless person wrapped in a blanket and not at the painting of a saint or noble in their elaborate garment. By portraying a homeless man in a manner reserved for nobles or saints, I tried to emphasise that everyone deserves respect and care. Human dignity shouldn’t be relative or dependent on socio-economic status’. 
His shortlisted portrait invites the viewer to contemplate the coexistence of wealth and poverty.

Karel, who tries to earn some money by cleaning car windscreens in the artist’s neighbourhood, attended five sittings for the portrait. After these, in which the head and the hands were painted, Ganter used a life-sized doll, and painted the clothes and the blanket before finally adding the artificial flower at the bottom right.

Letter to my Mom
by David Jon Kassan, 2013
124.5 x 81 cm oil on aluminium panel
© David Jon Kassan

David Jon Kassan

Age: 37
Nationality: American - born in Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation: Artist
Current home: Brooklyn, New York
Art education: ? however he has two lists of recommended books and recommended materials
Previous appearances in this award: ?
Website: http://www.davidkassan.com
Blog: http://blog.davidkassan.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kassan
Interview with the artist on Youtube
Subject: Letter to my Mom is a portrait of his mother.

You can see much larger images of this portrait on his website.

His portrait is the product of a request to his mother and father to sit for him in his studio in New York City while his parents made a brief stop on their way to Europe.
My work is very personal and heartfelt. It’s my visual diary, so my family and loved ones make up a large part of what and why I paint. My parents have always been inspirational to paint. This portrait is a letter to my mom, who hates it when I paint her. But I tell her in the painting that by painting her, it is my way of spending time with her, contemplating our relationship and time together, my earliest memories’. The Hebrew text painted onto the portrait above the sitter reads: ‘Dear Mom,/ This painting is my way to spend more time with you./ My way to meditate on our life together./ And all of the earliest memories I have/All of my earliest memories from you’.
Mothers are perennial and enduring sitters for BP portrait artists! Kassan's mother had sat for him a few years before and was reluctant to sit for him again. In order to persuade her, he had to bribe her by offering her a painting of his son Lucas.  I think all mothers should hold out for a bribe like that!

Personally I think the letter idea has a strong appeal.

The painting also reminds me a lot of Aleah Chapin's portrait from two years ago which in a way I'm surprised about.  The notion is that "me too" paintings should be avoided at all costs.  However this is a very fine painting judging by the high resolution image I've seen.  Maybe the similarity is to do with a style of painting in New York?

My reservation about this painting is I just don't quite see a painting which doesn't include the eyes actually winning this award.

Jean Woods
by Richard Twose, 2014
90 x 60 cm oil on board
© Richard Twose

Richard Twose

Age: 51
Nationality: British
Occupation: Teacher and artist - he currently teaches Painting and Drawing and Art History at a sixth form college in Bristol
Current home: Bath
Art education: ?
Previous appearances in this award: ?
Website: http://www.richardtwose.co.uk
Subject: Jean Woods, a 76 grandmother living in Larkhall, Bath

Richard Twose first saw the sitter of his portrait, Jean Woods, when she was working in a shop in Bath. His daughter told him that she was the grandmother of a friend after he saw her again in Channel Four's documentary Fabulous Fashionistas which was a.....
Cutting Edge documentary meets six women with an average age of 80, who are determined to look fabulous, have fun and redefine old age!
After calling her and asking her to sit for him, he was struck by her professionalism as a sitter –derived from her recent experience as a fashion model and from a quality of stillness she seems to possess naturally.

He was impressed not only by her striking looks and contemporary, edgy style, but also by the depth of character in her face.
Sometimes as Jean was talking, especially about her much-missed late husband, she reminded me of Rembrandt's Portrait of Margaretha de Geer. Jean has a similar intensity and honesty in her gaze. I wanted to capture that sense of someone who has learnt to be almost fearless, looking forward to life still but with a great richness of experience behind her’.
It's a fine portrait and well painted. However I find Jean Woods more striking in the photographs of her - click the links above to see what I mean.

Judging Panel

This year’s judging panel are:
  • Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery (Chair)
  • Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery
  • Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath
  • Joanna Trollope, Author
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP
  • Jonathan Yeo, Artist

Observations about the shortlisted works


Note that:
  • not one of the portraits is a portrait of just a head.  As I've pointed out in previous posts (see below), the panel want to know whether you can do more than paint a head - because that's what commissions for the NPG usually involve.
  • all portray the individual above the waist
  • all make a feature of the hands - demonstrating abilities in that very important area
  • colour palettes are very varied but impressive - these are people who know how to use colour
  • backgrounds are not flat - even if one is flattish

Relative sizes

I did a little exercise to check the relative sizes. This was prompted by being stunned when visiting the exhibition by the very different sizes of some of the artwork of shortlisted artists in previous years.  I cranked up Excel and starting counting cells and then overlayed the artwork - and then thought again and lined them up as if on a wall.

Relative size of the three portraits
Left to right: Ganter, Kassan and Twoze

BP Portrait Award - previous years


I've been covering the BP Portrait Award for some years and have an extensive archive of posts relating to previous competitions which I know are much studied by those contemplating an entry!

BP Portrait Award - Shortlisted artists on Making A Mark:

BP Portrait Award 2012

BP Portrait Award 2011

BP Portrait Award 2010

BP Portrait Award 2009

BP Portrait Award 2008

BP Portrait Award 2007

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sarah Simblet and The New Sylva - a video

Back in 2008 I did a drawing class with Sarah Simblet about Drawing Trees at the National Gallery. She talked about a major project she had embarked upon to draw trees.

Little did I realise at the time this would lead her to illustrating a new and revised version of a very old book about trees. The New Sylva - published this month - is an updated book about trees which takes as its starting point John Evelyn's Sylva (A Discourse of Forest Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty's Dominions) published in 1664 - which was the world's first book about Forestry.

That wasn't illustrated - and this one is - with 200 new pen and ink drawings of more than 100 tree species.

Images from the book can be viewed on Facebook
The original book was for landed estates which grew trees. The new book is for everyone.

You can:




The events associated with the publication of The New Sylva are all located as one might expect at arboreta and botanical gardens

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal for Botanical Art

Last year I wrote Ten Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal for Botanical Art - which proved very popular with botanical artists around the world.  So this year I'm back with more Top Tips from this year's "crop" of Gold Medal Winners

Gold Medal winning Exhibit of Parasitic Plants in Situ with the Host Plant by Lynda de Wet
The painting second from left with the red spot was bought for the collection kept at the RHS Lindley Library 
Last year the tips highlighted were as follows

1. Only submit top notch work
2. Find a Helpful Grower
3. Never ever forget that the RHS is a Horticultural Society
4. Get the Botany right - know what to show and highlight
5. Practice to achieve top quality
6. Size your work to fit the Panels
7. Have a good team behind you
8. Take care with your presentation
9. Start very early!
10. You need many more business cards than you think possible!

This year we have some different ones. The quotations you will find in each section come from either the Guidance or the Regulations relating to the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Show held every year in the Lindley Hall.

1. Be happy - do what you love


Işık Güner with her painting of Gunnera which won
Best Painting in RHS Botanical Art Show 2014
This one came from the winner of both a Gold Medal and Best Painting in the show Işık Güner.

She thinks artists can work really long hours on a project when they truly enjoy what they do. Having the right subject can make for a really relaxed and meditative time and really make you happy!

I have to say I'm very much in agreement with this. There has to be an emotional connection between subject, media and artist for an artist to achieve their best work. Plus when tackling a long complex project it's always best if you love your subject!

TIP #1: Truly enjoy what you do


2. Do not rush!


This one is the result of various comments from different people. Some of the exhibits had a long gestation period while artists collected all the material they needed BEFORE they settled down to paint.  They emphasised the real importance and positive impact of very thorough preparation.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

15 Top Tips for presenting work at an RHS Botanical Art Exhibition

There are two important aspects of artwork in the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition - the artwork and its presentation. The latter is very important - as discussed below.

Poor presentation will certainly lose you marks and downgrade the level of medal that might be achieved by the paintings exhibited.

So here are 15 top tips culled from the Gold Medal winning exhibitors this year (and in previous years).

[Note: I've spent the last two days at the RHS Botanical Art Show in the Lindley Hall in Westminster. This is the first of my blog posts about this show.  I've got at least two more planned this coming week relating to More Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal and interviews with all six RHS Gold Medallists.]

Part of the RHS Botanical Art Show 2014

1. Presentation matters


Presentation really matters - a lot! These are the criteria used by the RHS when assessing an exhibit. They include (and I've highlighted in bold) points which are particularly relevant to presentation

Friday, April 11, 2014

RHS Botanical Art Show 2014 - Medal winners

Below you can find a list of the awards made this morning at the RHS Botanical Art Show 2014 at the RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster.  The exhibition continues tomorrow.

Best Botanical Painting - by Işık Güner

RHS Best Botanical Painting - Işık Güner 

RHS Best Exhibit of Botanical Art - Hye Woo Shin


RHS Gold Medal - Botanical Art

  • Hye Woo Shin (Korea) - Heterotrophic Plants in Korea
  • Işık Güner (Turkey/Scotland) - Plants from the woods & forests of Chile
  • Lynda de Wet (South Africa) - Parasitic Plants in Situ with the Host Plant - this is her blog
  • Louise Lane (UK) - Ophrys (Bee Orchids) of Menorca
  • Nikki Marks (UK) - The Genus Arisaema
  • Sharon Tingey (UK/Scotland) - Sunflowers (Helianthus)

RHS Silver-Gilt Medal (Flora)

  • Nilavan Adams (Australia) - Veggie Might
  • Sansanee Deekrajang (Thailand) - Plants and shadow
  • Jane Fisher (USA) - Field corn
  • Verene Kutter (Switzerland) The Genus Anemone in Flora Europeae
  • Angela Petrini (Italy) - Exotic flowering trees of Italy
  • Yoshiko Kamei (Japan) - Iris
  • Gaynor Dickeson (UK) - Small is beautiful; Crab apples explored
  • Valerie Dugan (UK) - Wild Orchids of Britain
  • Caroline Frances-King (UK) - Arboreal Elements
  • Sally Pond (UK) - 'Of autumn mists and mellow fruitfulness'
  • Penny Price (UK) - The life history of Castanospermum australe 'Black bean tree' or Moreton Bay Chestnut
  • Fran Thomas (UK/Scotland) - Native Scottish marginal pond plants (Rumex aquaticus, Menyanthes trifoliata, Iris pseudacorus, Caltha palustris, Lythrum salicaria & Petasites hybridus)

RHS Silver Medal (Flora)

  • Beverly Duncan (USA) - Winter Branches - Natives of the Northeastern U.S.A.
  • Tiziana Fontana (Italy) - Sardinian Grapes
  • Anna Lu (Singapore) - Orchids

RHS Bronze (Flora)

  • Olivia Chambers - Roots, Shoots, Stems and Flowers

I'll be doing more posts about the show - including interviews with the RHS Gold Medal Winners and top tips for producing botanical art.

If you'd like to be alerted when these are posted you can subscribe to this blog (see side column).

More about Botanical Art

Işık Güner and Fran Thomas talk to Julia Trickey about watercolour paints
- Julia is using Daniel Smith for the demonstration
Ann Swan's coloured pencils

You can find more resources about Botanical Art in my resources for artists websites:

Video: Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - Annual Exhibition

This is a video panning around the walls of the 202nd Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

view of the West Gallery at the RI Annual Exhibition 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
  • 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
You can of course get a much better view of the paintings by paying a visit to the Mall Galleries - the exhibition continues until Saturday 19th April 2014. (Note: It's closed on Sunday because the Mall is closed to the public because of the London Marathon)



If you're inspired to contribute an entry for next year's exhibition go to How to exhibit on the RI website

My apologies for the quality of some of the film - I was walking sideways and trying to dodge people setting up for the evening event - which accounts for some of the mini iPad angles!  However I did at least manage to switch on HD this time!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pop Up Studio at the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition

The RHS London Orchid and Botanical Art Show is open to the public on Friday and Saturday this week at the RHS Horticultural Halls (Lawrence & Lindley Hall) in Westminster, London SW1P 2PE. The Botanical Art Show is in the Lindley Hall.

This year there are going to be nearly 30 botanical artists exhibiting and hoping to win a much coveted Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal.   This show always has a strong international flavour and 2014 is no exception with artists flying in from Australia, Thailand, South Korea and the USA.

For the first time this year, the RHS has decided to have a Pop-Up Studio in the Lindley Hall where you can meet practising botanical artists - some of whom have won a Gold Medal or two!

What follows is a summary of the document who explains who's painting!


  • winner of four RHS Gold Medals
  • botanical artist - working in watercolour She is particularly drawn to specimens that are less than perfect, especially autumn leaves, seed heads and fading flowers.
  • experienced tutor  
  • her work is held in the RHS Lindley Library and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, USA. 
  • In 2014 Julia’s illustrations can be seen on Royal Mail Post & Go British Flora stamps.
Julia Trickey with her exhibition of Nature in Waiting which won an RHS Gold Medal in 2013


Jessica Shepherd - website http://inkyleaves.com | blog Inky Leaves
  • a botanical illustrator who trained as a botanical taxonomist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • currently works in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
  • uses her scientific training when illustrating plants for publications and exhibitions. 
  • currently involved in a personal diary project "illustrating every single plant I have used over a twelve month period."
  • she enjoys challenging current perceptions of botanical art and how it can be used in the 21st Century. 
  • a member of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society
  • she has two paintings in the Shirley Sherwood Collection of Botanical Art.
Emma Hardicker website http://www.emmahardicker.com
  • a printmaker whose work has featured in the V&A and London Design Festival. 
  • produces stylised floral designs as limited edition prints and fabrics. 
  • She sketches her designs in the garden, then uses traditional silk-screen printing methods with a lot of experimenting and colour mixing to produce eye-catching designs.
Hannah McVicar - website http://www.hannahmcvicar.co.uk
  • an illustrator and printmaker (screenprinting). 
  • produces floral illustrations for books, magazines and packaging. 
  • Her illustrations were recently compared to William Morris in a review in the New York Times.
  • works on commission - clients include The Times newspaper, Gardens Illustrated magazine and Ebury Publishing. A Graduated from Falmouth College of Art, in 2004.
  • exhibits colourful and vibrant collections of floral screenprints internationally and throughout  the UK.

Liv Healey - website http://www.livhealey.com
  • initially worked with textiles, mixed media and layering digital designs. 
  • has recently worked on a set of prints and paintings inspired by plants and nature. The works are a combination of watercolours, inks and acrylics - with strong ink outlines and vibrant colour splashes 

Ann Swan - website http://www.annswan.co.uk | Facebook

  • winner of four RHS Gold Medals
  • an internationally acclaimed botanical artist well known for her fine detail, vibrant colours and strong contemporary style.
  • an accomplished teacher, always evolving and incorporating new techniques into her work. She teaches around the world and from her Wiltshire studio, and runs holiday workshops in Europe.
  • Author of ‘Botanical Painting with Coloured Pencils’,
  • Exhibitions include The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1994 and the Hunt Institute’s 8th International Exhibition in Pittsburgh USA. 
  • Ann recently retired as a judge on the RHS Picture Panel 
  • her work is represented in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Collection and the RHS Lindley Library. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 - Call for Entries

Entries for the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 close on 1st May.

Last year some 1,800 artists entered the competition and 84 artists were chosen to participate in the regional heats. Below you can find about the competition and how to enter.

Before reading on you do need to think about the implications of this being a competition with a time limit of four hours for the production of a portrait. This favours some media over others and the fast worker over those who are slower. It therefore cannot be about finding the best portrait artist so much as the one who produces the best work within defined time limits.

About the competition

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 will aim to discover and nurture artists of all capabilities who want to showcase their skills, whether amateur, professional or hobbyist.
The competition invites artists shortlisted from the entries to one of six regional heats over summer 2014.

The heats will take place in:
  • London on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th May
  • Dublin on Sunday 15th June
  • Edinburgh on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th July
  • Cardiff on Sunday 13th July
One change this year is that this year there are six groups of 12 artists rather than four groups of 21 and so the artists will get more of a chance to get to know each other.

The winners from the heats will then take part in more extraordinary portrait challenges with
  • the semi-final to be held in London and 
  • the grand final taking place at the National Portrait Gallery. 
The overall winner will be chosen by the series’ judges together with Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

The competition is to be filmed over the summer. The plan is then to broadcast the programmes about the heats and the final on Sky Arts in October (8 x 60 minute series, 1 x 90 minute final, starts October on Sky Arts 1 HD)

What the artist needs to do.... 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Complete the draft and then upload it.......

one of the images in the book
It's a 2 minute contour drawing,
done in a life class
Today is upload day - via Dropbox.  My book about drawing and sketching has started its journey to the Editor.........

Not quite sure when that journey is going to end as.....

It's going very slowly.........
  1. Complete draft of book about drawing and sketching (done)
  2. Get all your images in from contributors (done)
  3. Get the copyright form from all the contributors of images (very nearly done - only people away from home to do)
  4. Find all your own images (very nearly done - I thought I knew where they all were!!)
  5. Realise that your own images need a new scan @300 dpi or a better photograph (expletives deleted!)
  6. Create all the new drawings for the "how to" sections (virtually completed - placeholders in place)
  7. Create new "Chapter / section / subsection folders" on Dropbox so 300+ images can be found easily by the designer
  8. Upload or copy/move images to new folders (this takes a looooooooong time)
  9. Maintain control sheet for number of words, number of pages, number of double page spreads, number of figures, what's been uploaded etc. etc. etc
  10. Upload text to folders.
That's not forgetting that I also need to keep making cups of tea and giving my back and eyes a break!


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fridge Magnet Art

This is what the bottom half of my (eyelevel) fridge door looks like - decorated with fridge magnets from various top art galleries and museums.

My Fridge Magnets
There's something of a colour theme coming through - and also an indication of which artists I like. There are more artists I like but who are not as yet represented and that's only because I haven't got hold of any of their fridge art as yet!

This is a collection from art galleries and museums and exhibitions in:
Most of the ones you see for purchase online are rather lurid all the way through to totally OTT! I much prefer to get mine from the museums.

Do you recognise any of them?

What does your fridge door artwork look like? (Feel free to drop a link to your fridge art below or in the thread I'm starting on my Facebook Page)

Link: Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums in the World - I'll be updating this in the near future.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Why social media matters in 2014

Ever wondered whether you ought to be doing more on social media - but didn't know where or how to apply your efforts?

Watching this video about the 10 social media facts and statistics in 2014 will help you decide. It's focused on the USA however the majority of the themes will travel - such as the very heavy gender bias on Pinterest.

You will find your jaw drops when you read some of the statistics!  You may also be surprised by the coverage of sites you've never heard of.



It is worth trying to keep up with how countries vary if you're focusing on targeting your artwork on a specific country

For example a recent report by Neilsen suggests that 80% of UK users access Twitter via their mobile

Read 
UK Twitter users are more mobile and 
80% of UK users access Twitter via their mobile

Art Marketing on social media



My take on all of this is that:

  • if you are aiming to sell artwork to people under the age of 45 you have got to be social media savvy 
  • PLUS your websites and blogs need to be accessible via mobile devices

If you're targeting the older art collector who likes visiting art galleries then it's probably less important to be conversant with social media - for now.
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