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:

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Putting on an Art Exhibition - Behind the Scenes at the Royal Ulster Academy

Anybody wondering how a prominent art society runs an open entry art exhibition would benefit from taking a look at a really informative video made by Northern Visions Television (NVTV).

Behind The Scenes at the RUA from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo.

The film is about the 136th annual exhibition of the Royal Ulster Academy of Artwhich runs for three months at the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, BT9 5AB (6th October 2017 – 7th January 2018)
Mo McDevitt goes behind the scenes in the build up to the 136th RUA exhibition at the Ulster Museum. The exhibition features 371 works in a variety of mediums.
It opens up and follows the entire process from the Academy's perspective of what happens in creating an exhibition from start to finish in terms of:
  • the artworks arriving at the second stage of the open entry. 
  • (Prior to this they had 1,800 digital entries from North and South of Ireland and 23 other countries - which were sent to 10 Adjudicators on a DVD for review to get them down to under 400)
  • the exercise of the three paddles by the 10 Adjudicators for accepted, rejected and not sure - and artists will be able to see what sort of distance their art gets looked at in person and for how long. (Some may be surprised - but the process used in this video is entirely normal)
  • comments about the difference between the digital image and the actual artwork
  • the anonymity of the presentation i.e. they are given the name of the artwork and the technique - and that's it
  • the use of one wildcard for each Adjudicator - to ensure one artist is exhibited
  • how submitting more than one artwork can create a more positive impression of the artist's work
  • how they use 10 selectors every year - and how the panel members change every year - so the selection is now skewed by a few people (and this is the first year of an all female jury)
Interestingly, the RUA only allows its members to have TWO artworks in the exhibition as a right - and these are NOT moderated.  They had seven new associates this year.

They also struggle with the fact that they do not have a home.

Hanging the exhibition

An opening still from the video - a crop of The Artists Children by Jackie Edwards
Oil on linen, 130 × 110 x 3.05
- which I thought was very effective
The video also looks at how they hang the exhibition - and I have to say both artwork and the exhibition looks absolutely splendid.  The co-ordination of colours and management of contrasts are excellent.
"It's not about putting the big names up front and the lesser names behind the door"
The video also looks at
  • the adjudication of the medals for work
  • artwork in the exhibition
  • the wider educational events associated with the exhibition.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Getty Museum under threat from Skirball Wild Fire

The Getty Centre is currently very close to the latest fire in California (the Skirball Fire) which shut down nine miles of I-405 - one of the busiest freeways in the USA during morning rush hour.

This post demonstrates people's concerns and the museum's current response.
The Getty is in a very restrained way communicating what is happening via its Twitter account above and website below. The announcement in red states
The Getty Center and the Getty Villa will be closed to the public Tuesday, December 5, and Wednesday, December 6, to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region.
Getty Website
and on Facebook where they state

The latest from Twitter....

The current fire dubbed the Skirball Fire, was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday.  The hillside which is engulfed in flame is just the other side of the freeway from the Museum and the obvious concern is that the fire might jump the freeway given the strength of the Santa Ana winds.

The Getty Centre is not in the mandatory evacuation area - it's in the yellow (be ready to go) zone to the left of the freeway

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

£35,000 BP Portrait Award 2018 - How to enter and how to get selected

The value of the awards for the BP Portrait Award 2018 have been significantly increased - but that's not the only reason to consider seriously why it's a good idea to enter this exhibition.

Yesterday I wrote about What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like? going back to 1990. That's because 2018 marks the Portrait Award’s 39th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 29th year of sponsorship by BP - and over a decade of me being invited to the Awards Ceremony and taking photos of and interviewing artists who win the awards

Below you can read about:
  • why every aspiring portrait artist should enter the BP Portrait Award
  • how the awards have changed for 2018
  • my Annual Guide to the Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2018 - how to enter
  • how to improve your chances of being selected for the major annual exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery next summer
before you submit your digital entry prior to  the deadline of 22 January 2018. 

In 2017, 53 artists had their portraits selected for the 2017 Annual Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award - from 2580 entries from 87 countries. (2016: comparable numbers were 2,557 entries from 80 countries)

People who win prizes read this post every year. Maybe this year it will be your turn?

Giving the awards a polish before the BP Portrait Awards Ceremony 2017 starts

Why you should enter the BP Portrait Award

As last year's winner, Ben Sullivan, emphasised in my video interview with him the REALLY IMPORTANT important thing is to be INCLUDED in the exhibition rather than win a prize.

That's because being included in the exhibition is the best possible marketing of your work to those who may be thinking of commissioning a portrait. 

Ben exhibited in 13 exhibitions in total and every one for the last 11 years prior to his win this year. His style is very attractive for those who want a realistic but not photographic portrait and he has earned a lot of commissions over the years.

Now that's he's won first prize we won't be seeing his portraits in the exhibition any more....

It's time for someone else to reap the benefit of being included in the exhibition.

8 Reasons to enter this competition

Monday, December 04, 2017

What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like?

This is about BP Portrait Award Winners and 
  • the portraits they paint than won the BP Portrait Award; and 
  • the commissions they undertake for the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Below you can find a chronological list of names of all the past winners of the BP Portrait Award - together with
The BP Portrait award winners wall in 2017
- much smaller portraits compared to most previous years
What I didn't know before I produced this listing is that:
  • not all winners produce a commission. Typically the international artists have not painted a portrait of a 'significant Briton' commissioned by the NPG 
  • there is sometimes a very long gap between the BP Portrait Award win and the production of the commission. I can only imagine that this is because some effort is made to match sitter and painter and that prior commitments and available dates don't always work out as the NPG might wish.
ALERT This post a preamble to my next blog post which will be about the Call for Entries for the 2018 BP Portrait Award.

BP Portrait Award Winners

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Review - Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2017

I visited the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters last week.

The exhibition was on Tuesday 28th November by Philip Mould the gallery owner who is also host of the popular TV programme ‘Fake or Fortune?’

View of one half of the Main Gallery
This blog post covers
  • how you can - and cannot - see the art
  • a summary of what I noticed about the show - in terms of both numbers and artwork
  • shout outs for 
    • the artists whose work I liked best in the show
    • those artists who have sold two or more paintings
    • the prizewinners  
  • and finally a listing of past blog reviews of this annual exhibition if you'd like to understand more about this exhibition prior to submitting your paintings next year.
Coastline and beach scenes in the North Gallery
The Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) helped to develop the tradition of oil painting in the UK. Established in 1882, it gained royal status as an art society in 1909.

I RECOMMEND this year's exhibition:

  • it has LOTS of artwork of a high quality by both members and non-members - with a mixed hang across the main and north galleries 
  • a high percentage of the artwork is in oils (but not all). 
  • you can see many and varied ways of applying oil paint to a support to create a picture.  You can also see the extent to which the use of acrylic can mimic oil paint - or not.
  • The exhibition has a huge variety in terms of painting styles, palettes of colour, brushwork and subject matter.  
  • Most of it looks as if was painted using a brush and NOT photographed using a camera. The exhibition also includes some very painterly work.

I'm not quite sure when the ROI started to let people submit work in acrylics but I do wish they'd:
  • either change their name 
  • or stick rigidly to this being an exhibition of oil paintings.
I think it's misleading to do otherwise... It needs to be one or the other.  I was pleased to see the extremely high percentage of the exhibited work is in oils. Hopefully this is an aspect of the society that can be addressed over time.  

It's was VERY interesting to note that ALL the young artists selected for the Young Artist Award ALL painted in oil.

I used to go to the PV nut now tend to choose to see an exhibition in the mid/late afternoon (when it tends to be a bit quieter) just after it has opened. It means I can see the art properly and also get decent photographs of it hanging in the gallery - which is virtually impossible on PV days.

How you can - and cannot - see the art in the exhibition 

Some large paintings in the exhibition

You can see The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries until Sunday 10th December 2017. The galleries are located in The Mall (near Trafalgar Square), London SW1 - this is a google map showing the entrance. Hours are 10am-5pm daily including weekends, (and it loses at 1pm on the final day).

If you're a fan of ROI member and plein air painter Peter Brown ROI NEAC PS Hon RBA RP (aka Pete the Street) then, from Wednesday 6th December, you can also see Pete's solo exhibition at Messums in Cork Street as well as the ROI exhibition.

Next week, the members of the ROI are available to meet visitors include:
The first work you encounter in the North Galleries
You can see selected works from the exhibition online if you keep scrolling down the page.
  • If you click the TITLE of the painting you can find out more about it and how to buy it - and click again to find out more about the artist
  • You can make an enquiry about buying a painting online
However it's NOT actually possible to see ALL the artwork online - which I think is both a pity and not helpful to overall sales.

Now people are so used to buying artwork online, it's absolutely vital to have a very accessible virtual art exhibition (online) as well as a physical art exhibition (in the gallery) - especially if an art society wants to promote its online sales for all the artwork exhibited.

That means ALL members gearing up to produce good quality digital images - or not having their work online.  (Non members already have to do this as the submission is now based on digital files.)

It would seem that rather a lot of ROI members have not yet done this because, very oddly when I look at the oil paintings in the Mall Galleries own online "Buy Art" gallery, most of the oil paintings seem to be by artists from other art societies - or non members exhibiting in the ROI exhibition!  Which does really seem a bit odd!

A small selection of the paintings I liked

I loved this stunning painting of an apple with a Holbein blue background by Alex Callaway RBSA. A very strong contender for my "Visitors Choice" vote. Alex is a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) and an Associate of the Art Renewal Center (ARC). While highly realistic it's also fantastic at both showing colour and form of the apple and its leaves. The background also reminded me somewhat of Holbein portrait paintings.