Monday, December 05, 2016

£30,000 BP Portrait Award 2017 - How to enter and how to get selected

This is my Annual Guide to the Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2017 - how to enter and how to improve your chances of being selected for the major annual exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery next summer!

In 2016, 53 artists had their portraits selected for the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award - out of 2,557 entries from 80 countries

Will you be one of those artists in 2017?

The wall of prizewinners in 2016 - left to right First, Second and Third

What this post covers

People who win prizes read this blog post! ;)

This post covers the Basics
  • a review of the entry details 
  • what's different this year - the deadline is earlier! (If any of you spot anything else that has changed please leave a comment and I'll do an update.)
Plus context and background (this provides an answer to the question "What do the portraits that get selected look like?")
  • The Judges - I tell you something about each Judge and give you links to find out more
  • I also link (at the very end) to all my blog posts about the BP Portrait Award in the last 10 years - covering selected artists, interviews with the prizewinners and exhibition reviews - and my videos of past exhibitions.
Plus - at the end of this post - you can find my take on
  • how to get selected my suggestions for ways to improve your chances of selection - in terms of both your art and your approach to the competition
  • reasons why this is a competition worth entering - including details of the significant prize money.

How to enter for those who don't like the small print

The website contains:

What's different in 2017

The most important thing to tell you is that
  • the closing date has been moved and is now a week earlier!
  • The closing date for entries is 26 January 2017.
  • Entry forms and payment of entry fees must be completed by 23.59 on Thursday 26 January 2017.
If any of you spot anything else that has changed please leave a comment and I'll do an update.


There are no changes to the entry process or eligibility for this year’s exhibition.
..however they have moved the deadline for entries back a week!

The Rules provide the full and complete information for every entry.

They are complemented by The FAQs about How to Enter which focuses on:
  • the digital entry
  • the judging process
  • your entry
Both are much easier to read now they're on a white background.

We can only live in hope that at some point the competition organisers will make the rules even more readable by
  • increasing the font size still more (it's online - no need to be concerned about how much paper is being used!)
  • increase the line spacing - so words are more readable (i.e. the font size has increased since 2016 but the line spacing remained unchanged so the words are now even more compressed)
  • and/or convert The Rules to a pdf document like the FAQs!
I recommend you read The 2017 Rules three times! That's because the worst mistakes you can make when entering art competitions is to
  • create a work for a competition 
  • and then realise that it isn't eligible 
  • submit it before you realise you breached the rules eg signed it on the front!
  • or you can't present it in the right way by a deadline
  • and/or you're in a rush at the end and are not quite sure what you need to do - which is when mistakes get made.
All due to the fact YOU didn't read the terms and conditions and/or the rules properly.

Note in particular that works can be disqualified - even if selected for exhibition - if they have not adhered to the rules!

Every year I try and make the rules more accessible. I review and revise it each year. I've split the rules up into sections relating to
  • the artist
  • the portrait

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Drawing Year - end of year exhibition

...otherwise known as the The Drawing Year 2015—16 Postgraduate Programme end of year exhibition is now on
at: the Royal Drawing School Shoreditch
until: Tuesday 17 January 2017 (Monday to Friday 9am—9pm)

It opened on Friday and includes over 300 works by the MA level postgraduate students.

It's always worth taking note of what The Drawing Year students are up to as many of them go on to feature prominently in the "selected artists" lists I post on this blog in relation to prestigious national art competitions from time to time - and some of them win the big prizes!

The Best of The Drawing Year
Drawings by Matthew Booker, Emma Inge and Eleanor Watson
It's also a good indication of the nature of contemporary drawing - the nature of which might surprise those who favour the photorealistic version of drawing.

The Drawing Year

The Drawing Year is a one year postgraduate level course run by The Royal Drawing School founded by HRH Prince of Wales (and previously known as the Princes Drawing School).
The place to learn to draw. Drawing is a primary language. It is a crucial route to innovation across the creative disciplines and beyond, from fashion, fine art and animation to filmmaking, product design and engineering.
Important features of the Drawing Year are:
  • post-graduate MA level 
  • full-time
  • bursary/scholarship approach i.e. no fees
  • free studio space
  • one year - three terms of 10 weeks each
  • Students are expected to attend:
    • a minimum of two taught full days a week at classes
    • Wednesday evening forum, lecture series and 
    • personal studio practice days.
The Drawing Year is a full scholarship MA-level course offering up to thirty students the opportunity to focus on drawing from observation for one academic year. There are no tuition fees for The Drawing Year – all students are awarded a full scholarship and receive a free studio space.
Find out below how to learn more about the course and how to apply for a place.

The Drawing Year postgraduates 

Those taking part in this exhibition are as follows.

I was rather surprised at the extent to which students didn't have websites and/or have done little to make themselves easily found on Google.
  • Euphrosyne Andrews
  • Daniel Blumberg
  • Matthew Booker, 
  • India Boxall, 
  • Becky Brewis Becky graduated from Oxford University of Oxford in 2010 with a degree in English (2.1) and then spent a delayed postgraduate year at the Royal Drawing School doing The Drawing Year (MA-level bursary) September 2015-December 2016 (Twitter)
  • Grace Exley Prior to the Royal Drawing School, she studied at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. This is a podcast about her drawings.
  • Oscar Farmer
  • Aisha Farr - studied English and Ancient Greek at the University of St Andrews and UCL prior to The Drawing Year.
  • Holly Froy
  • Shanti-Om Gorton - graduated from Brighton University with a BA Fine Art Painting
  • Thomas Harrison - While a student on the Drawing Year, Tom Harrison had a drawing of a view from a flat selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015. He then went on to win the £8,000 First Prize.  This is a blog post about that achievement - Below are two more views of the view of scaffolding from a flat.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The only English painter of 'Loving Vincent'

Sarah Wimperis is the only English painter on the painting team who have created Loving Vincent - the world's first fully-painted feature film which brings to life the paintings and subjects of Vincent van Gogh - and Vincent himself.

Some 100+ members of the team have been painting 62,450 frames in oil paint - in the style of Vincent Van Gogh - over the last six years

The makers of the film claim that if all the paintings were laid on the ground they'd cover an area the size of London AND Manhattan!

Sarah is based in Cornwall and works full time as a professional artist and illustrator. She is represented by the Beside the Wave Gallery in Falmouth.

She signed on for a job in Poland which sounded intriguing and unique and which she thought would take five weeks. In the end it turned out that she was involved for five months during 2016.

The BBC recently made a film about the process used to create the film and their correspondent went to meet Sarah in Gdansk where the film was made.  

The BBC finds Sarah Wimperis at work on a painting for Loving Vincent
This short video is very much recommended viewing - the process (as explained by sarah) is absolutely fascinating.

You can also see on the website:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Deanna Petherbridge on Drawing

Ten years ago, I went to a series of lectures by Deanna Petherbridge called Drawing towards Enquiry at the National Gallery in London in 2006. She is the only person I know who has been both Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art and the Arnolfini Professor of Drawing at both the University of the West of England, Bristol  and the University of London.

Tomorrow a new exhibition of her work Deanna Petherbridge opens to the public at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (which is one I'm fond of as I used to pass it every day on my way home from school).  Dates are 2 December 2016 – 4 June 2017
Travelling extensively through Europe, India, the Middle East and Far East, her detailed monochrome drawings are inspired by diverse landscapes, cities and cultures: from mathematical patterns of Islamic design, to rustic Umbrian dwellings and Manchester’s industrial cast-iron structures. Detailed geometric studies or free inventions in brush and wash, her distinctive works deal with the impact of colonialism, industrialisation and warfare. Her passionate condemnation of present conflicts is expressed in the 2016 triptych 'The Destruction of the City of Homs'.
Cover of
Deanna Petherbridge: Drawing and Dialogue
A new book about drawing Deanna Petherbridge: Drawing and Dialogue has also been published by Circa Press and the launch is this evening.

Previously she has published
Her academic credentials are impressive:
  • 1995 to 2001 - Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art from where she launched the Centre for Drawing Research, the first doctoral programme in drawing in the UK and ran an extensive course of drawing workshops and open lectures for the whole college.
  • 2002 to 2006 - Arnolfini Professor of Drawing at the University of the West of England, Bristol
  • 2007 to 2009 - two year Research Professorship at the University of Lincoln 
  • 2009 to 2012 - Visiting Professor of Drawing at the University of the Arts London. 
Deanna Petherbridge CBE is an artist, writer and curator primarily concerned with drawing. (Her profile on her website)
Deanna Petherbridge in her Drawing Studio
This is a video about Deanna Petherbridge talking about Drawing. She's very articulate and intense and you need to concentrate to follow what she is saying. It's fascinating to hear her talking again ten years after I first heard her talking about drawing.

The Drawing towards Enquiry. Enquiry towards Drawing lectures in 2006 covered
  • The Poetics of Line
  • Expressive Bodies and Personal Identities
  • Playing with the Provisional: Sketching in Art & Design Practice - see my review Playing with the Provisional
  • Caricature, Crassness and Cruelty - see my review Crassness and Cruelty
  • Obsessive Drawing
  • Mickey Mouse and Manga: Drawing and Popular Culture.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ING Discerning Eye 2016 - award winners and review

A total of 727 works - including paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings and photographs - by 405 artists are on show at the ING Discerning Eye exhibition from 17 - 27 November 2016 at the Mall Galleries in London.
The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. 
Each of the selectors has curated an exhibition from works by artists they have personally invited to exhibit, as well as artworks submitted through the Open Call for Entries. The result is six smaller exhibitions within one, each with a very distinct personality.

The unique nature of the ING Discerning Eye is that the exhibition looks very different every year - because both selectors and the way they like to hang their chosen works varies each year.

Unfortunately my osteoarthritis was playing up yet again (it's the timing - wet November evenings are never good for mobility!) and so I missed a lot of the Artists PV last Thursday - and went home before the prizes were announced as I can't stand without sitting for any length of time. However thanks are due to Parker Harris who let me photograph in the period between the end of the exhibition for that day and the opening of the PV. Which means I have photos which actually show you what the exhibition looks like rather than a lot of people's heads with paintings peeping out behind the heads!

This post will highlight:
  • something about each of the six mini exhibitions in the galleries
  • artwork I liked
  • who won which prize (and which curator chose the work!)
I'm going to do something I've not done before which is order the prizes by the selector who invited or picked the work. The link in the
  • name of the artist is to their website (or a gallery website) - where you can see more of their work
  • title is to the work on the ING Discerning Eye website.

Artist: Dan Coombs

artist and writer, currently visiting professor at Haute École d’art et de design in Geneva, 

An eclectic choice by Dan Coombs
I wasn't too sure about Dan Coombs wall to start with. It looked a lot more eclectic than most I've seen at the Discerning Eye before and without any obvious rhyme nor reason.  Some of the juxtapositions seemed very odd.

Louisa Crispin had to bend at the knee in order for me to get a photo of her
Decaying Eringium without it being swamped by the painting above!
Then I learned the story behind it.

Dan Coombs's approach to curating the exhibition:
  • he invited 60 individual artists to each select one work to submit to the exhibition - however he has no knowledge of what was arriving until he came to hang the exhibition.
  • He selected a further 78 works from the open entry and created what is possibly the biggest ever exhibition in the history of the ING Discerning Eye.
When it came to the hang he started with the orange in the middle and then connected paintings from there and worked out across the wall.

When I looked at his wall again with this in mind it made complete sense!

It makes me wonder whether each of the exhibitions should have a short narrative by the curator next to them commenting on how they selected works and hung them. I think visitors would find it very interesting.


Surge Tide, Saligo Bay (£1,750) by Chris Bushe

Artist: Chris Orr RA

Royal Academician Chris Orr RA.

He commented on the process of selection.
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