Friday, December 15, 2017

'From life' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts - articles and courses

'From Life' is a new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which opened this week. It's about  looking at what it means to different artists to make art from life.  

I've not yet seen it but will certainly be going to take a look as I'm a major advocate of the benefits to be had from drawing from life.

The exhibition is on display in The Sackler Wing of Galleries and Tennant Gallery and runs until 11 March 2017. If coming toLondon over the Christmas Break note that the RA will be closed 24-26 December, and open only from 12-6pm on 1 January.

Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy (Somerset House), 1808,
Richard Harraden, after Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin,
Etching, aquatint and watercolour, published in Ackermann's 'Microcosm of London' 1 January 1808.
19.7 x 26 cm. Photo (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London
The RA website does contain benefits for those who cannot get to see it just yet.  For example it contains some interesting articles about working from life.

In addition there is an extensive listing of events and some weekend practical courses associated with drawing the life model.


Here are the articles I think are worth taking a look at

Associated events

Early dates for events associated with the exhibition (eg Drawing: The Essentials)  are predictably very nearly booked out already if it involves actual drawing! 

I have never ever been able to grasp why it seems to be completely beyond the imagination of the RA to put on a LOT more events of the same nature during an exhibition. If practical art events get booked out quickly it's because there is a demand for them!

They could always try putting more on and contributing some funds to their massive development activities!

These are the practical courses which may still have spaces available:
participants are offered a rare and exclusive opportunity to experience working in the RA Schools. Experience practical tuition intended to be a palpable historic echo of the RA’s creative and practical artistic methodologies. This will include introductions to working from the original antique classical cast, an insight into basic anatomy techniques, and drawing from both male and female life models in the atmospheric and historic setting of the Royal Academy life drawing room. The course will also include a group visit to the From Life exhibition to view relevant works on display from the RA’s historic collection.
In addition there are number of events and courses which targets those with disabilities.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How do you get your art ranking in Google? Your NEW Google Guide to SEO

How do you get your art ranking in Google?  That's what most artists want to know when they go online.

These days most professional and many semi-professional artists operate online using a website and/or a blog.

However this is only effective if people can find that website or blog when searching for you or the sort of art your produce.

Many - but certainly not all - artists also know that to enable people to find their website they also need to has at least a passing acquaintance with SEO i.e. search engine optimisation. This is the legitimate process of making your site rank better in search engines.

Yesterday Google launched a launch of a NEW updated SEO Starter Guide 
(I suggest you bookmark this link - it's important) 

This is the first major update since 2010.

Below I provide an overview of the content and what's different. The main difference is that due to the overlap between the previous Guide (a pdf file) and the Webmaster Academy advice which was online - the two guides to what to do re SEO have been MERGED!

The NEW Starter Guide MERGES
the SEO Old Starter Guide PDF (c.2010)
 and advice from the Webmaster Academy

I'd recommend everybody take a look at the new guide and check out whether they are following all the recommended practices.

The contents are listed below - click any link to find out more about what Google recommends if you want to do well on Google
This guide won't provide any secrets that'll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.

What's different?

I always like those pages which explain what's different in this issue compared to previous versions. Unfortunately Google hasn't issued one! So I went looking to see whether anybody else had detected any differences between previous recommendations and this new presentation.

The differences I'm seeing highlighted relate to:
  • The new guide MERGES the Webmaster Academy and the old SEO Starter Guide PDF (2010) into one resource section online.
    • It can be found under "Search Console Help" - this is the service Google offers to help you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results.
    • It has much fewer pics - and these tend to be monochrome - and some beginners may find it less friendly than the old 2010 document.
  • The imperative for the update seems to have been MOBILE!
    • the progress in technology and 
    • how things work on mobile devices - which is now very different from how it was in 2010 
    • sites used to have seperate mobile pages rather than using the responsive templates which most modern sites now use.
  • The author of the official announcement chose to emphasise the following
The updated version builds on top of the previously available document, and has additional sections on the need for search engine optimization, adding structured data markup and building mobile-friendly websites.
  • Hence new sections for:
    • the need for search engine optimisation
    • how to add structured data mark-up - (which I shall be reading as I still haven't figured that one out!)
    • building mobile-friendly websites - see Make your site mobile-friendly which emphasise the best practices for creating mobile-friendly websites that can be accessed by all devices. 
I've just checked the latter in relation to my existing advice in How to be mobile-friendly in the Websites for Artists section of my website Art Business Info for Artists - and I'll now be rechecking a load of links to make sure they're accurate and properly descriptive of the new places they're now being redirected to!

Below are some articles which seem to address the issues re. what's changed

The two below essentially say "It's happened" and revise what the Google blog post says! I'm actually really surprised there hasn't been more analysis online by now.

If you have queries please don't ask me! Rather try using the Google Webmaster Forum where you can connected with other webmasters and top contributors in the Google Webmaster Tools forum.

Here also is the new Google Page for Get support for your site.

Google Search Console

Here are the current contents of this Google service

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Banksy: an auction in New York and "photographed" in Bethlehem

Yesterday Forum Auctions in New York auctioned 40 commercially produced prints and other artwork certified by Banksy’s authentication service Pest Control.

This is how Street Art becomes commercially lucrative.
  • Each print has a detailed condition report
  • Each print comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by The Pest Control Office - which acts for Banksy in relation to authentication of all prints, artwork and sale of new art
We answer enquiries and determine whether he was responsible for making a certain piece of artwork and issue paperwork if this is the case. This process does not make a profit and has been set up to prevent innocent people from becoming victims of fraud.
The rare signed example of Girl with Balloon (2004) went for $110,000 - within the estimate of $80,000-$120,000

By way of contrast his only editioned wood sculpture, Watchtower (2007) failed to reach reserve and was not sold.

Girl with Balloon on the Forum Auctions website
However while yesterday some newspapers were highlighting the auction - with major image features of his work (eg see Banksy artworks up for auction in New York – in pictures), today there's no mention of the auction online

Not all the work sold - however:
It's difficult not to reach the conclusion that the sale of works by Banksy has almost become predictable if not prosaic.

A fresh sighting of Banksy?

Today - to underline the excitement the auctions result did NOT generate - the major reference to Banksy in the news was absolutely nothing to do with the auction

The topic going viral on Twitter related to whether or not he was photographed in Bethlehem next to what is apparently a brand new Banksy artwork which according to Hyperallergic features on his website - although I couldn't find it!

The image shows a man in cargo shorts, sneakers, and a white fedora looking over his shoulder as he stands next to a fresh Banksy piece, which currently greets visitors to the artist’s website. Painted in a doorway near the Chapel of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, the mock holiday message reads: “Peace on Earth *terms and conditions apply.” The man holds a can of spray paint and a stencil in the shape of a star matching the one in the mural.Tourist in Bethlehem Believes He Photographed Banksy Wearing Cargo Shorts | Hyperallergic

...and so - what will remain forever perennial and viral and newsworthy is the quest to identify Banksy's identity!

Of course it could all be an elaborate marketing ruse for The Alternativity on BBC2 at 9pm on Sunday 17th December - also announced by the BBC yesterday! (see Danny Boyle and Banksy's 'Alternativity' to be on BBC Two)

Or is there such a thing as coincidence? ;)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Call for Entries - Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2018

Portrait artists around the world have six working weeks left to enter the Annual Open Exhibition (2018) of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in May 2018.

The deadline for entries is noon on Friday 19th January 2018 
The RP seeks submissions of new and traditional artistic models and perspectives in portraiture

This about the Call for Entries. This post covers:
  • why enter this exhibition 
  • exhibition metrics for 2017 - what percentage of the open entries were exhibited and what percentage were open entries relative to members
  • who can enter
  • what artwork is eligible for entry - and what is not
  • how to enter - and what to watch out for if entering from overseas
  • a review of the metrics associated with the annual exhibition in May 2017 - including the number of works selected from the open entry, the number of non-member artists who got to exhibit and the average number of artworks hung by a non-members.
  • the prizes - including the NEW £2,000 RP Award for portraiture on a theme
  • the exhibition - in 2018

Why enter this exhibition?

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters aims to:
  • Showcase contemporary portraiture - by offering both an annual exhibition and a permanent collection.
  • Encourage and support emerging talent - by awarding valuable prizes.
  • Encourage the study of portraiture with talks, debates, lectures and demonstrations.
  • Facilitate commissioning of portraits by providing a service at the exhibition and within London
  • Elect new Members - on the merit of their work.
The major benefits for artists entering the exhibition are:
  • the cash prizes are excellent - and they don't all go to members!
  • you can submit drawings or fine art prints as well as paintings
  • the exhibition is virtual (i.e. online) as well as physically present in the galleries
  • the Society runs a commissions process throughout the exhibition. So even if you do not sell your portrait you may well get a commission to produce a portrait
  • it probably has the best attended private view of any of the societies. Clients love seeing their portraits on the walls of this exhibition - and lots love the chance to attend!
This is my blog post providing a Comparison of the RSPP Open and BP Portrait Award Competition

Private View May 2017 - North Wall of Main Gallery

Exhibition Metrics for the 2017 Exhibition

The 2017 RSPP Exhibition at Mall Galleries, London,
  • displayed 219 works by nearly 150 different artists 
  • of which 112 works (51%) were by members or associates 
    • 1,963 entries were submitted by non-members 
    • only about 5% of the works submitted via the open entry were selected for display in the exhibition
    • about half the portraits (49%)exhibited are by artists who are non-members.
Here's my summary of the 2017 exhibition(from my review)
  • fewer portraits of celebrities plus more low key portraits of well know people
  • commissioned portraits of the corporate and academic bods were less evident
  • the hang is better this year - a better mix of portraits in the main gallery and interesting work in all three galleries
  • reflects diversity in terms of ethnicity and gender much better than ever before
Private View May 2017 - Threadneedle Space

Call for Entries

Who can enter

Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at their Annual Exhibition 2018.
Any artist over the age of 18 can enter. That means:
  • you can live anywhere in the world
  • you don't have to be a professional portrait artist
  • you don't have to paint - other media are also acceptable (see below)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Forbes Pigment Collection

The Forbes Pigment Collection contains an assortment of over 3,000 synthetic and organic pigments that helps conservators, curators, and students study and safeguard artworks.
Pigment is a very small particle of coloured material that is mixed in with a binding medium. The pigment gives paint its colour.Narayan Khandekar Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies and Senior Conservation Scientist
This post is about:
  • an overview of the history behind the collection
  • a video of what it looks like and what it does
  • images of pigments in the collection
  • reading material (at the end) for the colour nerds who love this sort of thing (like me!) 

Tubes of pigment 
The collection of pigments was created by the late Edward Waldo Forbes, former Director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University (1909-1945).

He regarded the Museum as a laboratory for art history. He founded the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, which was later renamed the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard University.
  • the latter now houses the core collection of pigments from the Forbes Collection
  • Forbes' own private collection of pigments is located at the Institute for Fine Arts Conservation 
The collection provides material which enables pigments in paintings to be identified for both restoration and conservation - and to negate claims being made for fake paintings! 

This is a video about the collection and how they are protected

Interestingly the Museum of Fine Art in Boston has a page which unpicks the pigments down to their chemical composition.

To see what each pigment is made of: