Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2017 - on Making A Mark

This is a blog post about the most popular blog posts on Making A Mark in 2017 - in two categories
  • normal posts about art - which tend to highlight viral posts and art competitions
  • posts about art on television - which always get a big audience

The Top 10 Blog Posts about Art on Making A Mark in 2017

I'm forever amazed at how some blog posts take off and become viral whereas others that I thought would be popular did less well than I expected.

Top art competitions are very popular - but very 'individual' posts also gained a lot of prominence and went viral in 2017

1.  Let's celebrate the work of Khadija Saye - It's very poignant that the top post should be about Khadija Saye when:

2.  NOT selected by an art competition or open exhibition? - I'm not surprised this comes near the top. It's a perennial favourite - and now listed in my side column as well.
Interestingly I've been asked for and provided written advice to artists in 2017 regarding suitability of their artwork for different competitions.

3.  RA Summer Exhibition 2017 - Call For Entries - a perennial favourite - and I've already got the blog post re. 2018 in draft!  Keep your eyes peeled for when I post it on Facebook, or - even better - sign up to get an email every time this blog publishes a post.

4.  BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist - The BP Portrait Award is one of the most popular of the international painting competitions in the world every year. Little wonder therefore that the publication of the shortlist ranks high!  Interestingly this one was for the mobile version of this post so I'm guessing there was quite a bot of sharing going on....

5.  10 Best Paintings in the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition - While the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is another very popular art competition in the UK, I suspect my decision to vary how I wrote about it (given the painting that won) made this one rather popular. I had a LOT of people writing to me afterwards saying they completely agreed.  It started as follows.....
This year I'm not doing a post that announces the prizewinners in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017. That's because
  • the painting which won is in acrylic on canvas board and is actually eligible for acceptance into the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters! 
  • I have rarely felt so disappointed in the conduct of a panel of judges.
I'm left wondering when are we ever going to discover the next Leslie Worth if we give this prestigious competition over to people who paint with acrylic on canvas not paper so it looks like an oil painting?
this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting.
6.  BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - Selected Artists - I find it fascinating to look up all the websites of the selected artists so I can leave a link to them embedded in their names. It's a major treat to see so many different ways that artists approach portraiture. If you've not taken a look at the websites of those who were selected last year, I recommend you take a look.  Don't forget these are the ones who got through all the earlier rounds are are part of these stats - and these realistically are your chances of getting selected if you enter this year. Except for the fact that the number entering increases every year.....
  • In terms of entries, out of the 2,580 entries from all over the world
    • 1,214 Entries came from the UK - England, Scotland and Wales (47%)
    • 1,366 Entries came from 84 other countries(53%)
  • The judges then reduced this number to their selection of the final 53 for the exhibition (representing 2% of the total number of entries).
Some of this year's selected artists in the BP Portrait Exhibition 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery
L to R: Honest Thomas by Alan Coulson; Jessica by Laura Quinn Harris; Tabitha Moses with Gilda, Liverpool by Hero Johnson; Matt Berry by Martyn Burdon; A Russian Artist in China by Bao Han

7. Watercolour paintings of flowers sell well - This was a post I'd been meaning to write for ages.  Worth repeating why I wrote it - especially to those women who paint flowers but somehow think that watercolour competitions and watercolour art societies wouldn't be interested in what they produce. This is a problem with issues on both the supply and demand sides - and in my opinion, both need to think a bit more about what the public like to see and buy!
Flower paintings are hugely popular with the public. Watercolour paintings of flowers also sell well - particularly when executed by experts.

I find it such a pity that leading open exhibitions of watercolour paintings (by the RWS, RI and Sunday Times Watercolour Competition) don't include more paintings of plant life in general and flowers in particular.

I'd love to know why there's a dearth of flower paintings in watercolour shows - when some of the best watercolour painters in the country paint flowers!
Watercolour Paintings by Rosie Sanders at the Johnathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery

8. Training the Eye - Teaching to Look - This was about hugely informative and stimulating video I came across - about how to get artists to really look. One of those which is ALWAYS worth watching again.

9. BP Portrait Award 2017: Artists with their paintings - One of the things I enjoy doing most is publishing posts on this blog of the artists who got selected - even if they didn't win a prize.  That's because just getting selected is an honour and something to be celebrated!  This post highlights some of the artists who got selected for the BP - including three of those whose art is shown on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery above.
Plus showing people that selected artists look just like you and me means more people may get up the gumption to 'have a go' next year. Well next year starts tomorrow.....

Hero Johnson with her painting - selected for the BP portrait Award in 2017

10. Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017 - Selected Artists -  This post includes the names of the 78 artists whose 87 paintings and sketchbooks in watercolour media were exhibited in the 30th Exhibition at the Mall Galleries between 19 - 24 September 201 2017. Links to their websites are embedded in their names - why not take a look at the work of artists selected for this exhibition in 2017?

A corner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2017 at the Mall Galleries
- not including the winner (as explained above)
Let's hope that in 2018, in order to avoid the debacle in 2017, the rules reflect suggestions I had
Eligible media includes any water-based media, which includes acrylic, inks and gouache (note it does NOT state that watersoluble oil paint is acceptable!). My own feeling is that it should also state that all works should be on paper - but it doesn't. It would also be nice if the rules made it clear that sketchbooks are also eligible for submission.

Addendum re. art competitions and open exhibitions

I also provide good coverage of the annual exhibitions of the national art societies on this blog.

It's worth noting that none of the national art societies generated the same level of interest or traffic as some of the art competitions.

This year I've also been monitoring the ratio of members to work from the open entry selected for the open exhibitions - with a round-up post for 2017 still to come.

Arising out of that I RECOMMEND:
  • ARTISTS give more thought as to whether art society open exhibitions or art competitions are going to generate:
    • a better chance of selection and/or 
    • a better profile for their art
  • ART SOCIETIES need to think some more about 
    • the ratio of work by members to work selected from the open entry in their annual OPEN exhibitions
    • how to improve their communication and marketing of both the call for entries of their open exhibition opportunity and the exhibition itself so as to improve both the quantity and quality of the artwork - and the sustainability of the society over time.
In 2017 I reverted to publishing Calls for Entries for the open art exhibitions of the National Art Societies - as well as the major art competitions. This will continue in 2018 and I'm also going to continue monitoring the percentage of the annual open exhibitions.

The Top 10 'Art on TV' Blog Posts of 2017

I should preface the listing of these posts by saying I get emails from Sky about their programmes BUT I don't subscribe to Sky and consequently can't see their programmes. I suspect the same applies to rather a lot of those who read my blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sir Richard Long of Land Art

Sir Richard Long - Artist and Sculptor. For services to Art.
The list of people who have been knighted in the New Year Honours List contains the name of Mr Richard Julian Long CBE - otherwise known as Richard Long who at the age of 22 created "A Line Made by Walking" - as 'land art' and as a photograph (gelatin silver print on paper and graphite on board) which "made his name" - and thereafter helped make land art popular.

This is a recent video made about the nature of his preoccupations in terms of art and the art he has made - and the largest retrospective ever held of his work - at Houghton Hall between 30th April to 26th October 2017. It shows him creating his artworks in the recent exhibition - which is fascinating of itself.  (Check out the profile of his eyebrows which are sculptures in their own right!)

Below it are articles about the knighthood and older ones about his work

RICHARD LONG: EARTH SKY from NUA Film and Moving Image on Vimeo.

When the land art comes inside
Temporary exhibition of the work of Richard Long at The Hepworth Wakefield

Articles about Richard Long

About the Knighthood

About his art

Friday, December 29, 2017

Francis Bacon - a documentary and resources about his life and work

Francis Bacon was on BBC4 last night (again). You may have missed him the first time - but you can catch up. I found it fascinating and it explained for me a number of the conundrums about him.

The links below provide access to the programme and an insight to both the programme, his website, his life and his studio.

Francis Bacon's studio at the City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
plus see the links to the High Lane Gallery and Guardian article about it below
These are:
Francis Bacon was the loudest, rudest, drunkest, most sought-after British artist of the 20th century. Twenty-five years after his death, his canvases regularly exceed £40million at auction. Bacon's appeal is rooted in his notoriety - a candid image he presented of himself as Roaring Boy, Lord of Misrule and Conveyor of Artistic Violence. This was true enough, but only part of the truth. He carefully cultivated the facade, protecting the complex and haunted man behind the myth. In this unique, compelling film, those who knew him speak freely, some for the first time, to reveal the many mysteries of Francis Bacon.
“In the wilderness of postwar art he is the towering giant”
Brian Sewell
Image from the home page of the Francis Bacon website
Over seventy works on paper were found in Bacon's Reece Mews studio and these are now in the collection of the Hugh Lane Gallery. They are among the most important discoveries of the project. In all the interviews Bacon gave from around 1962 onwards, he denied that he made any preparatory drawings before he started to paint. Some of his close friends knew that he produced drawings and even owned some of these works, but they followed Bacon's wish to keep them out of the public domain.
On the eve of a major retrospective at Tate Britain, Aida Edemariam visits the artist's studio - painstakingly recreated in a Dublin gallery after his death. But what does this tiny, chaotic space really reveal about the birth of Bacon's art?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Seasons Greetings 2017

Season's Greetings 
to all those who follow 'Making A Mark'
on my blog and/or on Facebook.

Your 'likes', 'follows' and comments are always very much valued wherever you leave them

Wishing you and yours a happy day today and all the very best for the New Year.

Adoration of the Kings (1598) by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625)
National Gallery, London
This is one of those paintings which is yet another perspective on a very old story and comes complete with wonderful draughtsmanship and painting and a wealth of detail.

PS You can see the original photo on my Facebook Page with a couple of other great paintings of winter.

Thank you to the National Gallery and all other galleries which allow us to photograph paintings.

I'm now having a little break and will be back in the New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Major Art Exhibitions in London over the Festive Season

This is a list of some of the Art Exhibitions in London which can be seen in the major Art Galleries and Museums over the Festive Season (December 2017 - January 2018).
  • Each is listed against its host museum or gallery with a short summary 
  • Click the link in the title of the exhibition to find out more details.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square at Christmas

Earlier this year, the statistics reported an overall drop in visits to museums - and the problem with that is if visitor numbers drop then so will the funding in due course.

We certainly can't take museums and art galleries for granted - especially during times of funding constraints.

Neither should museums take visitors for granted and some of them, in my opinion, need to do better in terms of the type of exhibitions they put on.  That's because I'm one of those who have been visiting museums and art galleries less in recent times...

Major Art Galleries and Museums in the UK

British Museum | Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
(6,420,395 visitors in 2016 #3 most visited museum in the world)

The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all 'studious and curious persons'.
  • The BP exhibition: Scythians warriors of ancient Siberia 14 September 2017 – 14 January 2018 - This major exhibition explores the story of the Scythians – nomadic tribes and masters of mounted warfare, who flourished between 900 and 200 BC.
  • Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond 2 November 2017 – 8 April 2018 - By looking at how people believe through everyday objects of faith, this exhibition provides a perspective on what makes "believing" a vital part of human behaviour.
  • The business of prints 21 September 2017 – 28 January 2018 (Room 90) - focuses on some of the complexities of the process, the varied nature of the prints themselves, and the ways in which buyers used or collected them.
  • A physician's cabinet: Sir Hans Sloane’s practices of collecting and cataloguing Until 11 January 2018 - This small display brings together an array of prints, drawings and objects, all related to medicine, that were collected by the founder of the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). 

National Gallery | Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN
(6,262,839 visitors in 2016 #4 most visited museum in the world)

You can see over 2,300 masterpieces for FREE.

Room 34 - Great Britain 1750-1850 - walls of Turners, Constables and Gainsboroughs etc
  • Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell 20 September – 7 May 2018 (Ground Floor Galleries) - The Burrell Collection holds one of the greatest collections of Degas’s works in the world. Rarely seen in public, this exhibition marks the first time the group of 20 pastels has been shown outside of Scotland, since they were acquired.
  • Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites - 4 October 2017 – 2 April 2018 (Sunley Room) - Discover how van Eyck’s 'Arnolfini Portrait' was one of the beacons by which the Pre-Raphaelites forged a radical new style of painting
  • Monochrome: Painting in Black and White - 1 November 2017 – 18 February 2018 (Sainsbury Wing) - Explore the tradition of painting in black and white from its beginnings in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into the 21st century
  • Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland15 November 2017 – 4 February 2018 (Room 1) - See all four versions of Gallen-Kallela's Lake Keitele; one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery

Tate Modern | Bankside, London SE1 9TG
(5,839,197 visitors in 2016 #6 most visited museum in the world)

Based in an ex Power Station next to the Thames, this is the single most popular dedicated contemporary Art Gallery in the UK. It focuses on international contemporary and modern art post 1900.
  • A Russian theme at Tate Modern to mark the centenary of the October Revolution
    • Ilya and Emilia Kabakov - 18 Oct 2017 – 28 Jan 2018 Russian-born conceptual artists
    • Red Star Over Russia - 8 Nov 2017 – 18 Feb 2018 - explores artworks made by Russian and Soviet artists over five decades, from the first revolution of 1905 to the death of Stalin in 1953
  • Modigliani - 23 Nov 2017 – 2 Apr 2018 - The most comprehensive UK survey of Amedeo Modigliani’s work; also includes works by his contemporaries including Brancusi and early Picasso
  • Hyundai Commission: Superflex one two three Swing! - Until 2 Apr 2018 
Swing! invites us to realise this potential together. Swinging as three, our collective energy resists gravity and challenges the laws of nature.

Tate Britain | Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
(1,081,542 visitors in 2016; #60 most visited museum in the world)

The home of British art from 1500 to the present day
I am completely horrified at how the funds/marketing/attention goes into Tate Modern and Tate Britain is left to languish such that visitor numbers now diverge in a very significant way.  It's about time somebody started holding the people responsible for the Tate to account for ignoring the home of British Art....

View of one of the galleries in the Impressionists in London exhibition

Victoria & Albert Museum | Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
(3,022,086 visitors in 2016 #6 most visited museum in the world)

The V&A is staging a month-long musical celebration of Christmas across its South Kensington and V&A Museum of Childhood (in Bethnal Green) sites. The festive period will be celebrated through music from opera to Christmas number ones - but most of this has already happened.
  • Winnie the Pooh - Exploring a Classic - Until 8 April 2018 - Winnie-the-Pooh is one of the best-loved and most successful children’s characters of all time. 
  • Opera: Passion, Power and Politics - Until 25 February 2018 - Together the V&A and the Royal Opera House present a landmark exhibition exploring a vivid story of opera from its origins in late-Renaissance Italy to the present day
  • Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion - Until 18 February 2018 - Discover how Cristóbal Balenciaga's exquisite craftsmanship and innovative designs shaped modern fashion

National Portrait Gallery | St Martin’s Place London WC2H 0HE
(1,949,330 visitors in 2016 #30 most visited museum in the world)

The National Portrait Gallery is completely dedicated to portraiture and holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world.

View of the Cezanne Portraits exhibition

Royal Academy of Arts | Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD
(1,285,595 visitors in 2016 #42 most visited museum/art gallery in the world)

The Royal Academy is home to the most prestigious art society in the UK. Noted more for its blockbuster exhibitions and summer exhibition than visitor numbers on
a routine basis.
  • From Life - 11 December 2017 - 11 March 2018 - this exhibition takes a look at the tradition of drawing from casts and life models and how this relates to the practice of artists today.
  • Dalí / Duchamp - 7 October 2017 - 3 January 2018 - Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp maintained a lasting bond of friendship and mutual admiration throughout their careers. This is the first exhibition to throw light on their surprising relationship and its influence on the work of both artists.
  • Etching: The Infernal Method (Art Sales at the RA) 15 September 2017 - 19 February 2018 - This selection of works for sale by Royal Academicians is curated by Norman Ackroyd. Invited artists celebrate the diversity of contemporary etching practice. 
Burlington House - home of the RA

Serpentine Galleries | Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA (Closed on 24, 25, 26, 31 Dec & 1 Jan)
(1,187,621 visitors in 2016; #49 most visited museum in the world)

Two galleries in Kensington Gardens

Saatchi Gallery |
(1,003,376 visitors in 2016 #66 most visited museum in the world)

I'm not a fan and I've never visited - but that's because I have an aversion to marketing which is too clever for its own good.  Saatchi still hasn't managed to offload the running costs to the government via a capital 'gift'.
Work from some of the most deliberately provocative and wonderfully troublesome artists working in Russia
  • Bricklive: The Ultimate Interactive Lego® Adventure25 November 2017 - 7 January 2018 - "the perfect trip out for the entire family. "
  • Salon 003: Calder on Paper: 1960 - 1976 - 27 September 2017 - 7 January 2018 - A collection of earlier works on paper by Calder dating from 1939 - 1959 - simultaneously displayed at Omer Tiroche Gallery in Mayfair, Londonso that  two separate time periods in his career, in two separate locations create a comprehensive retrospective. 

Courtauld Gallery |  Somerset House, Strand, London WC2 0RN

A small gallery near Somerset House with a very impressive collection of art.  Make the most of it prior to its closure for refurbishment - see my blog post Closure of the Courtauld Gallery - more details
  • Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters & Bellboys - 19 October 2017 – 21 January 2018 - Soutine was one of the leading painters in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s and was seen by many as the heir to Vincent van Gogh. This major exhibition is the first time he has been exhibited in the United Kingdom in 35 years.
  • Drawing Together 30 September 2017 – 2 January 2018 (The Drawings Gallery) - Drawing Together seeks to stimulate new insights by presenting unexpected pairings of drawings from The Courtauld Gallery’s collection and by living artists. These pairings reveal inevitable contrasts, but also highlight underlying similarities in the exploratory processes of artists across centuries.

Wallace Collection | Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN

The Wallace Collection is an art collection in London open to the public in a square just north of Oxford Street and Bond Street tube.

Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art | Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

A gallery dedicated to the display of botanical art and artwork related to botanicals.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rembrandt - a case study in light and dark

Google Art and Culture is currently displaying a very interesting case study in the portrayal of light and dark in a painting by Rembrandt.

A Case Study of Light and Dark is a slideshow which highlights - in detail and close up - how Rembrandt conveys both light and dark
  • in different places within a portrait 
  • relative to the light source and 
  • relative to the form and local colour of the subject.
Do take a look - I know some with find it VERY educational. For others it's an excellent refresher of what we already know but maybe sometimes forget!

The painting is a Bust of an old man with turban (1627 - 1628) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn from The Kremer Collection


PS You may have noticed I'm posting shorter posts borrowing from other sites. That's because it's Christmas and I have other "things to do"! :)  Future posts will be similar and/or will display paintings of the season or Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

VIDEO - How to make a Fine Art Paint Brush x 2

I posted a video about how a make a paint brush for artists to my Facebook Page and it's proved very popular.

So I thought I'd share it again for all those who missed it and all those who don't use Facebook
  • However I've now found the ORIGINAL video on the Science Channel - Making Artists' Paintbrushes Is An Art In And Of Itself! (3 minutes) - which was "rebranded" by a media channel!
  • PLUS another video by Da Vinci about Da Vinci - Fine Art brushmaking (12 minues)  This is a much more comprehensive video.

Screenshot from the Da Vinci Video 
You can see a bigger version of both videos on Facebook if you click the bottom right hand corner of the video and then open it in YouTube - but it's in HD which gives excellent definition in this size.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Not a fan of the new hang of the Early 20th Century Galleries at the National Portrait Gallery

One of my favourite galleries at the National Portrait Gallery is the early 20th Century Gallery. It's about people who were mostly dead before I was born but whose names often cropped up in terms of culture (art / music / literature / drama) or the endeavours of the military, the statesmen and the social reformers.

Thing is I'm not sure I like the rehang. Take a look at my photographs and I think a lot of you who are familiar with the Gallery will see what I mean.
Windows have been replaced with a wall - to provide more hanging space
The creation of these new galleries has been made possible by a grant from the DCMS/ Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund, and sees a number of recently acquired portraits go on public display for the first time.
National Portrait Gallery - Early 20th Century Galleries - refurbishment of rooms 30 and 31
It now looks like a very old fashioned gallery whereas before I always thought of it as quite modern (just as the 20th century broke away from Victoriana) and a major relief from all the heavy duty traditional galleries in most of the rest of the National Portrait Gallery.  To my mind there has been no attempt to make it seem in any way in tune with the design and decor of the period from 1900 up to 1960 - a time in which there were massive changes in the way things "looked".

It also had light (i.e. windows) and ways of displaying the art which meant you saw the art but not the thing it was attached to.

Now the windows have been blocked out to provide additional hanging space and everything is hung as if they are regimented "stuffed shirts" - which is precisely what I don't like about the way that many portraits are sometimes hung in portrait galleries.

Plus it's got an overwhelmingly depressing feeling associated with far too much grey and brown.

Very grey and brown....
One area I do think they've improved is the military corner devoted to the "high ups" in the First World War. However pre 1950 Britain also included the Second World War and this is much less evident.  Maybe nobody did the portraiture to compete with that completed for the First World War?

The Army and Navy - life-size First World War group portraits reunited for the first time in decades
Three life-size First World War group portraits, considered the Gallery’s most important commission made shortly before the armistice on 11 November 1918, will also be reunited for the first time in decades. The recently restored, Naval Officers of World War 1 by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, will sit alongside its companion pieces, General Officers of World War 1 by John Singer Sargent and Statesmen of World War 1 by Sir James Guthrie in an entirely new room devoted to the First World War.

Plus individuals at war

The Statesmen and the First Lord of the Admiralty during WW1 (Churchill)

It also takes a very chronological approach to portraits whereas before portraits were grouped by topic
Split into four main periods: The early 20th century; The Great War; The interwar years and the Second World War and Post-War recovery, the portraits on display show individuals from various walks of life depicted at similar moments, in an era of radical and rapid change.
This is Room 30 (and the portraits on display) - this focusses on the Great War from 1914 to 1918 and others from that period of time

....and this is Room 31 (and the portraits on display) - which focuses on 1914 - 1959 and:
  • The First World War
  • The Interwar Years: 1920s and 1930s
  • The Second World War and Post-war Renewal
I think the thing it made me realise was just how few portraits there are of quite significant periods of the last century - and how neglected certain aspects of the country have been.

For example, where are all the manufacturers?  What about the inventors (Barnes Wallis and John Logie Baird get a look in but as for others...?

To me it comes across as a cultural elitist perspective of the cultural elite!

....and as for diversity - well there's plenty of well known members of the LGBT community - but you're not going to see many if any black faces.

To me it feels like a hang which lacked a critical critique from those outside the curatorial community.

artists of the early 20th century

writers of the early 20th century

Group about to have a lunchtime "talk"

Early Lucian Freud and a bust of a young Lucian get a look in for the first time
‘The 20th century was an era of breath-taking changes. An individual born in 1900 occupied a world that saw the advent of powered flight and, within a lifetime, the conquest of the moon. Society broke free from Victorian constraints and the independent status of women was hugely important. The newly hung galleries tell these amazing stories. They bring together portraits of the men and women who were responsible for the developments that transformed Britain by ushering in the modern world. From the Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton to the Pop artist Pauline Boty, in their different ways they are all inspirational pioneers.’Paul Moorhouse, former Senior Curator of the 20th Century Collection at the National Portrait Gallery , London and curator of the new galleries
‘We are delighted to be opening our transformed early 20th century galleries to the public, with a completely new hang and interpretation of the Collection, and we are grateful to the DCMS/ Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund for their support. Visitors will be able to walk through the first half of a century that saw radical and sweeping changes, while the juxtaposition of portraits from the same era reveals the range of artistic styles that co-existed at the same time. This new approach will help inform our major transformation project, Inspiring People, which will see a comprehensive re-display of our Collection for the first time across all our galleries, from the Tudors to now. ’Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London
I recommend you go and take a look for yourself and decide for yourself whether the new hang is an improvement.

Personally, I'm now dreading what's going to happen to the re-display of the rest of the galleries......

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? ;)