Friday, April 29, 2016

How to protect your art online

My fifth article for in the series of "Cost effective ideas for artists" is all about how to protect your art online.

It emphasises all the things you can and should do to protect your art online at no expense to you - other than time spent on sensible measures and responses.

You can find this article on page 66 (the page facing the inside back page) - of The Artist Magazine. This one is in the June 2016 edition.  Other articles are on the same page in previous editions - and the series continues until October!


This article provides an overview and summary for artists of :
  • Facts about copyright
  • How to prevent problems with copyright infringement
  • How to find infringements online
  • What to do if you art is copied in terms of:
    • best use of your time
    • ways to approach those who copy
    • how to get a very fast response and get your art taken down without any expense or resorting to lawyers.
The one page article provides a really useful checklist for filing in case you have any problems. You can then get it out if and when you want to avoid problems or resolve issues!

For those wanting to look in more depth at copyright issues you can find more information on in the Copyright section of my website Art Business Info.
This site provides a reference about copyright, trademarks and brands for artists. Specifically:
You can buy 'The Artist' at all good newsagents in the UK. However you can also subscribe and read it online as a digital magazine.

There's lots of other great content of interest to many artists!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to avoid contamination of watercolour paper

This post is about 
  • how it's essential to avoid contamination of watercolour paper
  • how to make sure you are painting on watercolour paper free of contaminants.
I had a very interesting talk on the telephone this afternoon with Clifford Burt, the Managing Director of RK Burt who told me how contamination is the most frequent reason why watercolour paper causes problems for a watercolour painter.  It prompted me to do some more research and to write this blog post.

One of the interesting conclusions from my research is that I found very little is said in watercolour instruction books about the importance of avoiding contamination of your paper - and some said precisely nothing!

RK Burt Offices at 57-61 Union Street, London SE1 1SG
[Note: RK Burt have been paper suppliers since 1892 and are currently the largest wholesaler of fine art paper in the UK. They were responsible for introducing fine art papers by European suppliers into the UK.]

How can you contaminate watercolour paper?


There are four main ways in which watercolour paper can become contaminated.
  1. YOU can accidentally or negligently contaminate a paper. This is the MOST FREQUENT source of contamination - often due to ignorance or thoughtlessness.
  2. The RETAILER who sells you the paper can be careless in how it is stored and/or allow people with contaminated hands to touch the paper
  3. The ATMOSPHERE contains contaminants - and the paper needs to be protected from these
  4. A MANUFACTURER can accidentally contaminate a paper

How you can avoid contaminating watercolour paper


How YOU handle a paper is really important. 


"more than 90% of all complaints from artists about sizing problems with watercolour papers are due to contamination"
Clifford Burt: How to choose art papers: part three – additives | Artists & Illustrators

It is ESSENTIAL that your hands and ALL the ways in which you process your paper are free from contaminants and in particular detergent. That's because paper is made of constituents which have chemical components that can react with other substances which you introduce.

Easy ways to contaminate watercolour paper


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Artists and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Too many artists suffer from repetitive strain injuries (RSI). In addition, too many artists know too little about:
  • how to avoid RSI
  • how best to deal with RSI
Too often, health and safety issues for artists relate purely to hazards associated with art materials. In my opinion, there is far too little focus on the hazards that certain working practices can have on your anatomy.

This post looks at what is RSI, why artists gets it; how to make it worse and how to make life more tolerable if you get it - and hopefully recover from it.

At the end there are some references to other websites where artists talk about the impact of RSI.

What is RSI?


RSI stands for repetitive strain injury.

RSI is an umbrella term for a range of muscular skeletal disorders rather than a condition.  It's a general term used to describe a related set of problems associated with a variety of very specific injuries or disorders affecting muscles and/or tendons and/or other soft tissue which have very specific names.
  • Type 1 RSI relates to a specific disorder which a doctor can diagnose. These have recognised treatments.
  • Type 2 RSI is a more generalised disorder where diagnosis in terms of a specific condition is more difficult.

RSI for Artists generally afflicts some part of the arm - the fingers, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulders - and can also affect the neck and/or upper back.

RSI Symptoms include:
  • intense pain
  • dull aching or tenderness
  • stiffness
  • throbbing
  • burning
  • tingling 
  • numbness
  • swelling
  • weakness / reduced dexterity
  • cramp
  • inability to grip or lift

Dealing with the intensity of the symptoms can make people very tired.

My particular version of RSI is called tenosynovitis - see NHS page on Tendonitis and other tendon injuries. It runs from the index finger of my right (drawing) hand across the back of my hand, across my wrist, around the back of my forearm into my elbow and then up my arm. I have a semi-permanent swelling on the back of my hand below the index finger knuckle which is where the injury is particularly bad.

The practical impact is:
  • I can't grip anything in my right hand either tightly or for too long. 
  • I can only draw using certain techniques eg hatching is very easy; drawing small changes in line very precisely is not
  • I can't use my right hand continuously for too long - I need to take lots of short breaks
  • I must use a soft keyboard. I'm completely unable to use a keyboard which has any vibration as I'm in agony very quickly if I do.
  • Sometimes I have to wear a brace which maintains my palm and wrist in one position - but allows me to flex my fingers
My new wrist splint - the last one was very well used!
On the whole I need this less now as I'm much better at protecting myself
(Note: I'm not going to try and describe all the conditions in this post - however I am going to link to decent websites which do provide more authoritative information)

Other common RSI or RSI related conditions


I've referenced the relevant NHS information site which provides an introduction and information about causes, symptoms and treatment
  • Bursitis / Tennis elbow: The sac of fluid around a joint is injured due to a spain or irritated due to overuse /repetitive strain. This leads to swelling. See NHS Choices - Bursitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:  This is where the Median Nerve which passes through the wrist becomes irritated. Symptoms include tingling, numbness and pain of the thumb and/or index finger, middle finger or third finger. Dexterity becomes reduced. See NHS Choices: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dupuytren's contracture: This condition causes the hand to close - with fingers being towards the palm of your hand See  NHS - Dupuytren's Contracture
  • Ganglion - a fluid-filled lump or nodule can be caused by repetitive strain. They often develop on the wrist. See NHS - Ganglion cyst
  • Epicondylitis – inflammation of the area where bone and tendon join, such as the elbow. It causes pain and tenderness on the outside of your elbow and pain when twisting or lifting or bending. See NHS - Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Shoulder Pain eg Rotator Cuff disorder (which I experienced recently) - Normal movement is reduced and painful. Inability to lift or twist the arm. See NHS - Shoulder pain
Other conditions which can also be related or affected include:
  • Osteoarthritis - the most common form of arthritis which often affects the small joints of the hand. Symptoms include joint pain or tenderness. There is no cure but you can reduce its impact and treat symptoms. See NHS - Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - an auto immune disease which damages tendons, cartilage and bone. Symptoms involve throbbing, stiffness and pain. See NHS Rheumatoid arthritis

How do artists get repetitive strain injury?


Artists get RSI for the same sorts of reasons that other people with vocational activities get RSI.

The most common reasons for RSI injuries are:
  • repetitive strain - overuse of the muscles / tendons in a way which is continued
  • poor posture and/or holding the same posture for too long without a break
  • working for too long without a break
  • poor and/or cold working working environment
  • use of tools which require force or can cause a strain
  • vibration of tools held or used
Basically if you exhibit bad posture and keep using the same muscle groups over and over again, day after day for long periods
  • sooner or later you will find that you start to get aches and pains; 
  • those aches and pains will in due course become more painful; 
  • if the tendons or tissue becomes inflamed and/or if the nerve(s) become involved you will experience intense pain;
  • if you continue and don't take appropriate action you may experience paralysis and/or a total inability to perform normal functions.
The other most common reason is that artists don't get enough education in why certain working practices make them a "sitting duck" for RSI.

You may also be predisposed (like me) to problems if you have a connective tissue disorder.

How do artists make RSI worse?


Sunday, April 24, 2016

No sketching allowed? Really?

I'm beginning to find it more than a little tedious that some sketchers are turning into the drawing equivalent of the cyclists who always run the red lights - as if the rules of the road are for everybody else but not for them.

Why such an extreme statement you may say?

Sketching in Art Galleries and Museums


Well the fact is that
  1. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen mass confusion and diatribes about what a "no sketching' sign actually means.
  2. Yet again somebody has seen fit to be alarmist in a newspaper! (See Oliver Wainwright's article in The Guardian - 'No sketching': V&A signs betray everything the museum stands for).  
  3. Yet again we have seen guerilla sketchers on the warpath.
The article has one of the most sensational summaries I've heard in a long time.
No visit should be complete without tripping over a skinny-jeaned student clutching a sketchbook. This draconian diktat denies visitors their art education
I'll give Oliver Wainwright the benefit of the doubt and assume it was written by some sub-editor whose pay is determined by the traffic he generates for articles.  Draconian diktat indeed!

So at this point it seems relevant to post my sketches done in the Victoria and Albert Museum of
My sketch of Constable's "Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill"
11" x 16", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Spinning Around in Gold Hot Pants
from the "Kylie Minogue: Image of a pop star" exhibition
at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007
Note: My pen and ink sketch is of Kylie's infamous gold lame hotpants from the Spinning Around Video which revealed rather a lot and achieved iconic status as a result. They have been on display - in their very own perspex box - at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I popped in and did a sketch on a recent visit when I went to see the exhibition of her clothes (amazing!).

The Victoria and Albert Museum Policy on sketching


This is a quotation from the Victoria and Albert Museum website (my underlining)
Photography and sketching
Photography and sketching are permitted throughout most of the Museum, except in our temporary exhibition spaces.
and a policy statement Guidelines for Using the Galleries (which, as it happens, is inaccessible on the V&A's new website - you have to know it exists to find it!) which clearly states
"10. Sketching is not allowed in exhibitions"
So that's about 95+% of the area of the museum and its contents which can be both photographed and sketched! The ONLY areas which are off limits are the temporary exhibitions.

Let me repeat that for all those who scan read and miss the point completely

SKETCHING IS NOT BANNED IN THE MUSEUM - JUST IN THE TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS


As the article recognises - but way beyond the point at which the scan readers will have switched off....
The V&A has been quick to point out that sketching is still welcomed in the rest of the museum, and that the rule only applies to temporary exhibitions
The article makes the point that the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A in 2012 was the breaking point when it came to sketching in exhibitions.

Long queues or sketching?


Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: SBA Exhibition 2016 - Shape, Pattern and Structure

In this review of the 2016 annual exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists (SBA) I'm going to focus on the various art media used for artwork submitted and accepted into the 2016 exhibition.

Sandra Armitage, President of the SBA, with her watercolour paintings
View of the centre of the exhibition
First a number of points of interest relating to the exhibition itself.
  • I found I had a lot of difficulty this year in recognising people's work (unless they were doing 'more of the same'). It seems that the theme of 'Shape, Pattern and Structure' really made some people think and they tried drawing and painting new (for them) plants and flowers. Personally I enjoyed people flexing their artistic muscles and doing new things. However I have a lot of empathy for those that didn't meet the challenge. I suspect the image of your chosen subject is in the same place as mine - in your head!
  • Next it's worth noting that fewer works were hung this year while the standard of quality work was definitely maintained. In part I understand that more larger works were submitted. What I noticed were more smaller works as well. I think maybe the differential entrance fee - depending on size is tending to produce works at the extremes rather than in the middle!
  • However - one thought to ponder on. I went out for lunch recently with Anne-Marie Evans who spoke with conviction about the need for botanical artists to emphasise form as well as accuracy in draughtsmanship and skills in painting.  It's a characteristic of the expert artist. You can't get a 3D feel for a plant unless you can see it and to see it you have to acknowledge in your head that it is there and then seek to work at ways to create 3D through 2D. Ever since the lunch I've found I've been looking at botanical artwork with new eyes - and I have to say she is right! There are some works in the exhibition which are beautifully painted but which lack the form they need and which is clearly evident in the best work. "Is it 3D?" is one of those notes that it's very easy to pin up in your studio and reference on a regular basis!
Not all artwork is conventional or traditional botanical art!

Paintings in different media


Watercolour


The exhibition includes some excellent paintings in watercolour.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Legal and trading names for artists operating as sole traders

Did you know that if you are an artist who operates as a sole trader in the UK you must:
  • register your sole trader operation with HMRC - and in so doing your must also.....
  • register your business name with HMRC 
  • use your personal name on any business documentation if you are a sole trader?

Becoming a sole trader

A sole trader is the simplest form of legal entity for your business. You can go on to become something else later if you want to.

The characteristics of a sole trader are:
  • you work for yourself i.e. you are a "self-employed sole trader"
  • you run your own business
  • you are personally liable for any losses you make (i.e. you could become bankrupt as you have no limited liability such as that enjoyed by a company)
In order to become a sole trader you need to:
  • have a National Insurance number. In order to get a National Insurance Number you must have the right to work or study in the UK.
  • register for self-assessment with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). That's because you are required by law to complete a self-assessment form if you are self-employed.
  • trade under your own name or choose a business name
This page on the government website explains how to set up business as a sole trader in the UK

Naming your sole trader business


You need to register a name for your business no matter what legal structure you choose for your business.
You can use your own name or trade under a business name
As a sole trader, you are required to include your own name and business name (if you have one and use it) on
  • any official paperwork e.g contracts
  • invoices 
  • bank accounts.

Choosing a Legal Name

There are rules for naming your business

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website has a page which tells you how to go about choosing a name for your business.

As I've indicated in relation to website names (see It's all in the domain name), it makes a lot of sense to be known by your own name for business purposes.

In the future, if you change any of the following you are required to tell HMRC about the change - and what the new name or address is
  • your name, 
  • business name or 
  • your personal or trading address.
If in future, your business becomes a company it can't use a name that's the same as another company's name. 

Using a business name

In the UK you are allowed to trade using a name that's different to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.

However there are constraints. For example government regulations (The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014) define the terms which you cannot use in your business name on pages 4, 5 and 6.

If you want to use a business or trading name containing contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression you would need to get permission

In addition, a business/trading name MUST NOT
  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’

Monday, April 18, 2016

Society of Botanical Art 2016 - Certificates of Botanical Merit

The announcement about which artists have won Certificates of Botanical Merit (CBM) comes after the prizes at the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists each year.

I've known more than a few artists who have been more pleased about their CBM than their prize!

Heidi Venamore was awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit for her Acanthus mollis
and then graduated the following day from the SBA Distance Learning Diploma - with Distinction
The expert judge for 2016 was Lucy T. Smith, botanical illustrator employed by the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. She won the Margaret Flockton Award in 2014 and the Jill Smythies Award for Botanical Illustration, awarded by the Linnean Society of London in 2004 .

Lucy awarded the CBMs for images which fulfilled the brief of describing the plant accurately and well rather than according to a strict botanical illustration brief.

Here's some pics of people with their work and/or getting their much prized CBM Certificates.

Polly O'Leary with her work and her Certificate
This is Polly's first Certificate of Botanical Merit and it's unlikely to be her last!

Billy Showell receiving her SIXTH CBM from Dr Stephen Dowbiggin OBE
Billy Showell has won five CBMs prior to 2016 and this is her sixth!  It's also an extremely unusual and very striking painting - which you can see below.

Christiana Webb receiving her CBM from Dr Stephen Dowbiggin
Christiana was also Highly Commended for the Joyce Cuming Award - and an image of this has now been added into yesterday's post - Prizewinners - Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2016

As was Margaret Fitzpatrick - seen here turning away after collecting her second award.

Another smiling artist - Margaret Fitzpatrick picks up her CBM.

Certificates of Botanical Merit


The artists who have been awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit in 2016 are below followed by images of their work and/or being presented with their Certificate.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Prizewinners - Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2016

This post is about the prizewinners at "Shape, Pattern, Structure" the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists.  This year there are 573 paintings, drawings and prints, 10 Miniatures and 17 works in three dimensions (glass, sculpture, jewellery).

Julie Whelan won the Margaret Granger Memorial Silver Bowl
for the best painting by a member elected in the previous two years
The show is on at the Central Hall Westminster in London (opposite Westminster Abbey) until 23 April . It's open every day from 11am to 5pm and admission is free.

Details about the demonstrations and tours during this next week are at the end of this post.

the entrance to the SBA "Shape, Pattern and Structure" Exhibition
Watercolour paintings by Sharon Fox are either side of the entrance


Prizewinners


Today this post is about Prizewinners - with a post about those who won the Certificates of Botanical Merit tomorrow.

I'm afraid I'm missing a few images. I had intended to go back on Friday and fill in any gaps I found when I downloaded my photos on Thursday night. However my knee had other ideas and did its very best to try and dislocate and I'm unable to return until my knee brace arrives!  If anybody else has got images of the prizes missing an image please let me know!

The Joyce Cuming Presentation Award


This is probably one of the most prized awards and is a sterling silver Almoner’s plate which is a legacy from Joyce Cuming. The winner also receives a certificate. Judges also produce a list of people who were Highly Commended during the selection process.

This year the prize is awarded to Janet Pope who was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness.

Exhibit by Janet Pope SBA
Those identified as highly commended for this award are:
Botanical illustration of Spanish Aquatic Flora by Marta Chirico
ink on polyester paper (3 x £650)
Dawn Wright with her painting of Landurrows's Little Treasures
Her other paintings are in the column to the right

Kelp and Bladderwrack by Christiana Webb

The Margaret Granger Memorial Silver Bowl


This award is given in memory of Margaret Granger for the best picture by a member elected in the last two years. As a prize it's an excellent incentive for a new member to create a memorable impression.

The 2016 winner is Julie Whelan SBA who was accepted as a full member of the SBA this year. (see below and the picture at top). Julie's paintings are most unusual as they form the basis of a pattern repeat using botanical art as the motif.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Private View - Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

This is where I am today - at the Private View of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists (SBA).


The exhibition is in the Aldersgate Suite at Central Hall Westminster - opposite the West Door to Westminster Abbey. You'll see a great big SBA banner hanging outside the entrance door!

It opens to the public tomorrow and is open every day until the 23rd April between 11am and 5pm. Entry is free.

Below are a couple of my works which are in the show.  There will also be some 600+ other works for botanical art fans - in various media but predominantly watercolour and coloured pencils - plus a display of the work by the students on the SBA's Distance Learning Diploma Course.

It's a very sociable and friendly exhibition - with lots of demonstrations and opportunities to take a tour of the exhibition.

Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) - bud and bloom
coloured pencils, 13" x 11"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The interesting spotty pattern on the lotus bloom is due to the fact that I completely forgot that I need to dress in something dark without a pattern when taking photos of glazed works!

Nopal de Cerro (Opuntia lasicantha)
coloured pencils, 14" x 14"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: Alexander Goudie RP RGI: A Retrospective

I had the pleasure of viewing a very good looking retrospective exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpture by the late Alexander Goudie yesterday (father of Lachlan Goudie) in the Threadneedle Space of the Mall Galleries.

The artist died in 2004, however he left a considerable body of work and a website is maintained and exhibitions are held periodically of his work - although most are in Scotland.

This is a rare opportunity to see some of his wonderful work in London.

View of the exhibition which displays the visual styles and artistic talents of Alexander Goudie
The exhibition also distinguished itself yesterday by being an exhibition which sold a very considerable amount of work in the first hour. I think the collectors were out in force yesterday! I'm not surprised - there is some very nice artwork on display by an artist who has the ability to be theatrical but also knew how to keep things simple. I was particularly impressed by some of the sculptures - in bronze and bisque - and his watercolours paintings.
Alexander Goudie RP. RGI. (1933-2004) is widely acclaimed as having been one of Scotland’s finest figurative painters.
The Private View is being opened this evening by Sir Jackie Stewart who is known to be a major supporter of all things Scottish and has been a major collector of Scottish Art for some years.

Below you can see views of the exhibition - which I very much recommend that people take a look at this week if in London and/or visiting the Mall Galleries.

Self-portrait - Homage to Van Gogh (Sold)
note the Van Gogh references in the background and foreground.
I gather Goudie also loved painting sunflowers!
Self portrait on the left, summer paintings from Brittany
and a painting (Cancan) and sculpture of his wife
Two watercolour paintings
The Day's Catch
Irises (sold)
His wife Marie-Renee Dorval is French and I had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday. She figures in a lot of the paintings.

The family spent their summer in Brittany where he painted all the time.  

His paintings of Breton ladies are wonderful - but I also particularly liked his watercolour paintings of flowers and fish.

His bisque sculpture of Le Marin is outstanding - I kept walking round and round it as it has fabulous presence and detail at the same time.

Goudie had a long-standing love affair with the Scottish tale about Tam O'Shanter and made a number of paintings on this theme. This is a BBC article about Alexander Goudie and the witch from Robert Burns' poem

If you're interested in this Scottish artist I recommend 

An amazing painting of Tam O'Shanter - The Chase
meets the stunning painted bisque of a Breton fisherman  "Le Marin" (sold)

More about Scottish Art


In addition to the exhibition, there's also An evening of Scottish art at The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 14th April 6.30pm - but this is now fully booked. These are the speakers you will miss!

Speakers include:
  • The broadcaster Andrew Marr
  • Alice Strang (Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland)
  • James Knox (the Director of the Flemings collection of Scottish art)
  • Deborah Clarke (Senior curator of the exhibition ‘From Caledonia to the continent’ at the Royal Collection)
  • Nick Curnow (Vice Chairman of the Scottish auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull)
  • Lachlan Goudie ROI (Artist and broadcaster, ‘The Big Painting Challenge’, ‘The Story of Scottish art’)
  • The evening will be moderated by Dr Bendor Grosvenor (Art dealer and TV art historian, ‘Fake or Fortune')

Monday, April 11, 2016

Picasso Portraits exhibition at NPG to highlight his approach to portraiture

An exhibition of Picasso Portraits will open at the National Portrait Gallery on 6 October (until 5th February 2017). It will include over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before. The exhibition has been developed in association with the Museu Picasso, Barcelona.
The exhibition will surprise and confront one’s preconceived ideas of what a portrait should be and how a portrait by Picasso ought to look like.’Bernardo Laniado-Romero, Director, Museu Picasso, Barcelona
This will be the first major exhibition in the world of Picasso portraits in 20 years - since the 1996 Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation show, curated by William Rubin, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Grand Palais, Paris. That exhibition focused on the biographical and on the people in Picasso's life. As such it drew no distinction between proper portraits and drawings and paintings (eg reclining nudes) which happened to involve one of his muses. It was a much bigger exhibition as a result.

This new exhibition - of some 75 works - will be much more interesting in that it addresses the question not asked or answered by the New York exhibition - "what is Picasso's approach to portraiture?".  The curator is Elizabeth Cowling, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh.

Picasso never painted on commission and hence his portraits were never required to flatter or tell a story of a life. There was no requirement for interesting backgrounds!  Instead he painted only those people he knew well and over time as his relationships developed - and waxed and waned - his approach to his portrayal of each individual changed.

Instead of a biographical focus, it will focus on the shift in styles and the type of approaches used by Picasso when creating portraits over time.

  • Portraits within this context will be ones which are supposed to be about the people who are the subject of the drawing or painting. 
  • It will exclude paintings which are paintings of people but occur within the context of paintings which are not portraits e.g. they are a symbolic response or bigger idea such as in Picasso's Weeping Woman which like Guernica is a response to an atrocity.

All phases of the artist’s career will be represented, from the realist portraits of his boyhood to the more gestural canvases of his old age. Indeed the exhibition will demonstrate the complete portfolio of his skills, methods and techniques in relation to the development of a portrait. 

Who knew he was skilled at caricature - or that he did several naturalistic drawings of the individuals he caricatured in advance of the caricature?

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (autumn 1910)
Oil on canvas, 39 9/16 x 28 9/16 in. (100.4 x 72.4 cm)
Pablo Picasso, 1910;
Drawings and paintings to be included in the exhibition include:
  • the extraordinary cubist portrait from 1910 of the German art dealer and early champion of Picasso’s work, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, loaned by the Art Institute of Chicago (see above); 
  • a 1938 portrait of Nusch Eluard, acrobat, artist and wife of the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard
  • a group of revealing self-portraits 
  • portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s intimate friends, lovers, wives and children - including Guillaume Apollinaire, Carles Casagemas, Santiago Rusiñol, Jaume Sabartés, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, Fernande Olivier, Olga Picasso, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Picasso
  • Portraits and caricatures inspired by artists of the past – Velázquez and Rembrandt among them – with whom he identified most closely.

The exhibition has important loans from the artist’s heirs, private collectors and various important galleries in Europe and the USA. Those institutions which are lending paintings include:

  • The Museu Picasso, Barcelona is lending most generously to the National Portrait Gallery. 
  • the British Museum; 
  • Tate; 
  •  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; 
  • Musée national Picasso, Paris; 
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris; 
  •  Musée national d’art moderne de la ville de Paris; 
  • Museum Berggruen, Berlin; 
  • Fondation Hubert Looser, Zurich; 
  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York; 
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; 
  • Art Institute of Chicago; 
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art and 
  • the National Gallery of Iceland. 

Innovation on ticketing - £5 Fridays

A new special ticket offer and learning events will will be introduced as a result of funds from the exhibition’s sponsor Goldman Sachs.

  • every Friday morning throughout the run of Picasso Portraits, the first 100 tickets will be £5. 
  • a wide ranging Learning programme linked to the exhibition is also supported by the sponsor


PICASSO PORTRAITS at the National Portrait Gallery: 6 October 2016 -5 February 2017
Sponsored by Goldman Sachs
Tickets with donation: Full price £19 / Concessions £17.50
Tickets without donation Full price £17 / Concessions £15.50 (Free for Members and Patrons)
www.npg.org.uk/picasso or 020 7321 6600
£5 Fridays with Goldman Sachs: The first 100 tickets for every Friday morning during the exhibition are just £5
PICASSO PORTRAITS ON TOUR
Museu Picasso, Barcelona (17 March–25 June 2017)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

204th Annual Exhibition of Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours #1 - Prizewinners

I visited the 204th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI) on Friday last week.

This is the first of two posts as I'm going to pop in again tomorrow after a meeting elsewhere.

RI President Andy Wood giving a talk/tour of the exhibition

Two major watercolour exhibitions in London


The big bonus for those visiting London in the next week is that they can visit two exhibitions by national societies of watercolour artists

If you only have time to visit one I know which I'd choose!


RI Prizewinners

I wasn't there for the prizegiving so I don't quite understand why the Turner Medal was not awarded at this exhibition - as it has been in recent years. I'll try and find out what has happened.

The prizewinners at the Annual Exhibition in 2016 are listed below with images.

Prizes were awarded by John Whittingdale OBE PC., Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Andy Wood, President of the R.I.

The most valuable prize is The Leathersellers Award of £1,000 awarded to an artist aged 30 or under. (One for all young artists to aspire to!)

The Leathersellers Award
Top left: First Prize (£1,000) Rikishi to Zi Ling
Right: Second Prize (£750) Working Alone by Filipe Miguel das Dores

Zi Ling, the artist winning first prize was born in 1985 in HuangShan in Mainland China. She's currently based in Beijing and London. Her education to date has included studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Chelsea College of Arts and Central Academy of Fine Arts China. You can see a better version of her prizewinning painting on her website.

Second prize has generated some press coverage for the artist Filipe Miguel das Dores 
"Working Alone" shows the facade of the Portuguese Bookshop at night, illuminated by street lamps and a light shining from one of the floors of the building window, denouncing someone working solitarily the night.
He also won The John Purcell Paper Prize in this exhibition last year.

The Matt Bruce RI Memorial Award (£500)
Cambridge Riders by Chien Chung-Wei
Sadly, my photograph of this work does not do it justice. I had difficulty finding a way of photographing this painting due to its position. There are profound  difficulties with reflections which arise when a glazed painting is put in a corner

However I had no difficulty recognising the scene - having ridden that street on my bike many time c. 40 years ago! It's an excellent watercolour using a limited palette. I was also very impressed with the Chien Chung-Wei's website and do commend you to click the link to it which is embedded in his name.

Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial prize (£250)
Ladram red by Frances Hatch

Otter Sandstone, Mercia Mudstone, gouache on Khadi paper. 133x95cm unframed
I was certain I'd got a photo of this work but apparently not!  This painting involves the artist working with the earth of the place where she paints and other normal constituents of watercolour paint. She's also added in some gouache for the blue colour.

The Winsor & Newton / RI award (£250)
for the group of paintings which is judged to be the most outstanding
contribution to the exhibition
David Parfitt RI
You can see this group of works on the end wall with a number of other prizewinners, one of whom is....

The Cass Art Prize (£200)
(top) Trebarwith, North Cornwall by Bob Rudd RI
The prize is £200 of art supplies from Cass Art. It's awarded on annual basis to the painting demonstrating the most original use of colour - and the work at the top of this group of works by Bob Rudd is certainly extremely colourful. Bob Rudd seems to be capable to get an intensity of colour which eludes other painters.

There's a huge version of this painting on the home page of his website.

Mall Galleries Greeting Card Prize
Corners of the Evening (
£6,200) by Deborah Walker RI

The painting at the top of this group of two paintings by Deborah Walker is making me think where she got the perspective from and I can only think this must be the view from the top of the London Eye!

Obviously a view like this will be very popular with visitors to the Gallery who will be able to buy the Greetings Card!

Debra Manifold Memorial Prize
(Top left) Lavender Sky (£895)
(Top right) Moon Showers (£895)
by Naomi Tydeman RI
Naomi Tydeman continues to do wonderful and secret things with additives to watercolour which makes the paint do strange and wonderful things.

This is the sort of watercolour painting which I enjoy viewing very much. An artist who is in total control of her medium and also produces aesthetically pleasing paintings as well.

I wish there were more like her - and I guess I'm not alone.

The Escoda Barcelona Award
Evening Light, Paddy's Gole SG by Ann Kilvington

The prize is a set of Escoda Brushes. There's lots of interesting scumbling and mark-making in this painting.

Schmincke Award
Noon in the Olive Grove by Richard Thorne
This is a very striking and intense painting in terms of colour.

Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award
Aunty Grace WW2 Nurse by Julian Bray
This is one of those lovely paintings which is entirely representational and at the same time has distorted perspective in a very clever way. It also plays with the impact of lighting and its impact on both colour and tone.

Dry Red Press Award
Naughty Puss! by Janet Skea RI
The winning work is published as a greeting card. This artwork is actually a collage of paper painted in watercolour and some textiles which texture and interest.

Additional Prizes


  • The Neal Meacher Sketch book prize was won by Roger Dellar RI ROI PS
  • The John Purcell Paper Prize was won by Brian Robinson (I didn't spot this one and need to go back and find it!)

Saturday, April 09, 2016

My "Best of the Rest" from BP Portrait Award Entries

The portraits I've selected below are my "best of the rest". These are entries to the BP Portrait Award that didn't make it through to the final 53 of the BP portrait Award - and the exhibition (This is my my invitation to the "best of the rest" - of those not selected).

However some made it past the digital stage and were one of the 439 that got in front of the judges. Of those some of the portraits below also made it all the way through to the penultimate judging of the last 209 paintings.

It was interesting doing the selection process. It was very easy to discard some and very easy to say 'definite' to others. The difficult part is deciding the ones that came in the middle.

I did my selection without looking at all at the copies of the competition emails that the artists had to send me to demonstrate they were genuine entries. These indicated at which stage the painting got to. For those who made it through to the last two stages I've indicated this under the portrait.

It was really interesting to see the extent to which my choice coincided with that of the judges!

I've commented on each portrait and indicated what I liked and what aspects caught my eye.

At the end of this post I've set out some learning points derived from the process of looking at the digital images of the portrait paintings submitted - which after all is the way the initial selection is made.

I hope any aspiring BP portrait painters find tribute to the those who didn't quite make it useful - and if you do, I'll repeat it next year.

So do please let me know what you think about the process.


Top Ten Best of the Rest

The first five for me were out in front - as reflected by my comment in the caption.

Portrait (title?) by Justin Russell
oil on board,  62cm wide x 90 cm high
[Last 209 paintings + a definite from me]
Justin's style is hyper realist. It's the type of painting we often see in BP Portrait where each hair and skin pore has been lovingly portrayed. It's a very good portrait - because that angle is far from simple.

My guess - and it is only a guess - is that the 'thing' at the top left corner is very probably what excluded this portrait from the final cut - which would be a real pity if this is what made the difference. When you're having to choose between paintings you like a lot, it pays not to give the judges something to dislike!

That or the fact we always get a fair few hyper-realism paintings in the BP and hence the competition is strong and only the very best make it through.

A portrait of the artist's Uncle Frank (2016) by Frank Oriti
Oil on panel, 20”x16”
[Last 209 + a definite from me]
As I commented about the last painting, there's always going to be stiff competition for the paintings which are heavy on the realism. This one reminds me a bit of Alan Coulson's painting of Ritchie Culver the chap with the cool beard - but a little more aged!

I thought I recognised the style and the quality and I was right - Frank has a painting in the BP Portrait Award 2015. He's got a very strong body of work on his website.
Frank Oriti was born in 1983 and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his B.F.A. in Two-Dimensional Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2006

Thursday, April 07, 2016

BP Portrait Award 2016: Selected Artists

53 artists out of 2,557 entries from 80 countries have had their portraits selected for the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award.
  • 439 (17%) of the original entries made it through to the final judging session at Trinity Buoy Wharf. 
  • The judges then reduced this number to 209 paintings (8%) and 
  • the final step was the selection of the final 53 for the exhibition (representing 2% of the total entry).
You can see their names - plus links to their websites and a short summary of their CV below - organised by the country where they live at present (when available). If anybody spots a mistake with a website please let me know via comment or contact me.

My congratulations to all those who have been selected.

SELECTED ARTISTS ARE INVITED to send me a copy of the image of their selected work - to feature in this blog post - along with a copy of their confirmation email. See the side column for how to contact me.

Commiserations to all those that made it through the first stage but were not selected - especially those that made it to the final 209. The BP "Best of the Rest" will be published on Sunday. (See my blog post BP Portrait Award: The Best of the Rest for my invite to those who failed to get selected)

....but first the story of one selected portrait by an artist I've been following for a while. I'm delighted to see Jane Gardiner has a portrait in the BP - especially given the challenge of recent surgery!

To sense what is coming by Jane Gardiner- a portrait of landscape painter Julie Arbuckle
"Last May I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint for extensive periods after carpal tunnel surgery, so asked for people to come and sit in the weeks after to get reference material to work with once the hand was fully recovered. I was looking to explore how people use props to tell stories about themselves and provided a range of crowns/ears/masks and so on that I’d made for them to choose between at each session. Julie is a landscape artist (which might partially explain the landscape format) based near Glasgow whom I had met several times through mutual friends/ at openings and had long wanted to paint, so I was delighted when she volunteered. She was a terrific model and we had a lot of fun playing dress up. She commented that everyone should wear ears more often and I think would like to have taken them home.
During the session I did some sketching and a little oil colour study, as well as taking over a thousand photographs. Once my hand had started recovering enough I did drawings based on this reference material, from which it was clear this pose had potential. However, when it came to making the painting I reversed the tonal graduation as having Julie face into the dark felt more appropriate. The paint was kept loose, neutral and thin except in the lit portion of the face to similarly suggest a process of becoming and change, with the uncertainty that brings. My hand was recovering much slower than expected and later Julie told me it had been a very intense, challenging and cathartic time in her life. I feel that these factors have very much feed into the final painting. It was finished on Christmas Eve, after having delegated the Christmas preparations.

Selected Artists - 2016 BP Portrait Award Exhibition


There were 1,241 entries from the UK (48.5%)  and International Entries 1,316 (51.5%). I do wish the NPG would also provide gender data re the entries.

I THINK I'm detecting more BP Portrait Award novices than usual. Maybe a fresh pair of eyes looking at the entries has influenced this?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

£30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016 - The Shortlist

Three very impressive and very different paintings have been shortlisted for the £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016. Each of them is guaranteed a prize. 

They are:
  • Girl in a Liberty Dress by Clara Drummond - a portrait of her friend and a fellow artist
  • Hugo by Benjamin Sullivan - a portrait of the poet Hugo Williams; 
  • Silence by Chinese artist Bo Wang - a portrait of his dying Grandmother.
Both Clara and Benjamin have been selected a number of times previously. In fact Benjamin has been labelled by me as a future BP Portrait Award winner a number of times! However Bo Wang is selected for the first time.

They're brilliant portraits - I love them all! I've also got the big high res images of them and after close inspection I'd find it very difficult to choose between them.  However if you read on, you will realise that past experience suggests one is a clear front -runner......

The portraits and artists are highlighted below

In terms of the competition as a whole:
  • The Entry: The shortlist of three was selected from 2,557 portraits by artists from 80 countries (the entry is limited to one portrait per artist). 
  • Selected Artists: More about who got selected for the exhibition tomorrow when I will link websites to the names of the artists whose portraits have been selected to be in the exhibition
  • The Best of the Rest: the closing date for my invitation to the "best of the rest" - of those not selected - is Friday.

Shortlisted artists


The BP Portrait Award is said to be the world’s most prestigious portrait painting competition - with total prize money of £60,000. 

Just being selected, never mind shortlisted or winning a prize is a great honour.
The prizes are as follows:
  • First Prize: £30,000 plus a commission worth £5,000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection, to be agreed between the Gallery and the artist. 
  • Second Prize: £10,000 
  • Third Prize: £8,000. 
  • The BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 will be awarded to the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30. 
Who has won which prize will be announced at a special Evening Reception at the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery on the evening of Tuesday 21 June 2016 - and prizes will be presented by athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Girl in a Liberty Dress by Clara Drummond


Clara Drummond is shortlisted for the first time.

Girl in a Liberty Dress
oil on board, 260 x 370 mm (10.2 x 14.5 inches)
copyright Clara Drummond
There's lots to like about this portrait.

The oil in this portrait is applied very thinly and sensitively almost in the style of a watercolour painting. - a technique which we sadly see far too little of. It reminds me very much of the way in which Jennifer McRae (a former BP prizewinner) works - it's all about the composition, tone and the draughtsmanship. There are also echoes in the pose of Jane Morris who inspired any number of portraits.

  • Age: 38 years old (b. 27 September 1977)
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: artist
  • Current home: Cambridgeshire (born in Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Art education: Prince’s Drawing School. (She studied studied modern languages at Cambridge University)
  • Previous appearances in this award: previously selected five times for the BP Portrait Award Exhibition (2006, 2009, 2013 and 2014)
  • Previous notable portraits for this award: Iris Palmer for BP Portrait Award 2009, and her friend, actor Ben Whishaw (2005 exhibition).
  • Websitehttp://www.claradrummond.co.uk/
  • Title / Media:  Girl in a Liberty Dress (260 x 370 mm, oil on board)
  • Subject: Friend/artist Kirsty Buchanan (also painted for her exhibited works in the BP Portrait Award in 2013 and 2014)

The model Kirsty is a friend and fellow artist - and the subject of two previous works which have been selected for the BP Portrait Exhibition. On this occasion, both artists were working with the William Morris Society archive on an exhibition at the time and were looking at the hand drawn patterns for fabrics, wallpapers and tapestries by Jane Morris and May Morris, William Morris's wife and daughter. Hence the Liberty Print dress seemed appropriate for the context of the time.

Drummond says of Kirsty that
she is inspiring because she is always immersed in the ideas around whatever she is making at the time, history, nature, mythology and art all feed into her work, so when I am drawing or painting her it feels more like a collaboration than a portrait sitting.'

Hugo by Benjamin Sullivan


Benjamin Sullivan is shortlisted for the first time.

Note this is the ONLY one of the three paintings which demonstrates torso, head and hands - and I refer people back to last year's analysis of the paintings selected and my observation
all the portraits which have WON the BP Portrait Award since 2010 have all included hands
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