Thursday, April 20, 2017

BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2017 - Selected Artists

This year 2,580 artists entered portraits for the BP Portrait Award - but only 53  from 87 countries were selected for the 2017 Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.

This blog post is about those artists who have been selected to exhibit in the BP Portrait Award 2017 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.
the BP Portrait Award 2017 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting
Here are some numbers:
  • 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%)
  • 218 paintings (8.4%) of the original entries made it through to the final judging session at Trinity Buoy Wharf. 
  • The judges then reduced this number to their selection of the final 53 for the exhibition (representing 2% of the total number of entries).
Alan Coulson with his portrait painting selected for the BP Portrait Award 2017
See the names of the selected artists - organised by the country where they live at present - BELOW - plus:
  • links to their websites and 
  • a short summary of their CV 
  • some photos of the artists and/or their portraits
Allocation to country takes detective work! Where I couldn't work out a country I created a category at the end called "unknown". If anybody spots a mistake with a website please let me know via comment or contact me.

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


The Best of the Rest


My commiserations to all those reading this who entered but were not selected for the exhibition
  • My BP "Best of the Rest" will be published on Sunday (subject to receiving enough images of portraits)
  • See my blog post How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017 for my invite to those who failed to get selected for the exhibition
  • At the end of the post, you can find links to my posts about selected artists in previous years. Taken together these are an excellent method for studying the type of portraiture which gets selected for this award.

BP Portrait Award 2017 - Exhibiting Artists


Yesterday I posted about the artists shortlisted for the prizes - see BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist.

Today I must congratulate all those artists who have been selected for the exhibition.

  • LINKS TO THEIR WEBSITES are embedded in their names in the list below (where available). 
  • Previous prizewinners are highlighted in red
  • Those previously selected for the BP have a link to previous portraits (unless they were in those years of the very irritating exhibitor listings where you have to go through all portraits one by one from the beginning and/or there were a lot!)
  • For those without a website see my blog post listed on my Major Art Competitions in the UK page
The Websites of Contemporary Painters in the UK - Get your website sorted BEFORE you enter a juried art competition or miss out on the traffic when the names of selected artists are announced!
The photos below are a mix of
  • portraits sent to me of work selected for this year's exhibition and 
  • images of artists with their portraits due to being selected for previous exhibits.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist

The three artists shortlisted for the First Prize in the 38th BP Portrait Award are:
All the shortlisted portraits feature female sitters and are painted in three different media - egg tempera, oil and acrylic.  All the painters have previously had works selected for the BP exhibition. Each of them is guaranteed a prize - but only one has previously won a prize in this very prestigious art competition.

Below is a summary about each artist. The names of the first, second and third prizewinners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, which will be on the evening of Tuesday 20th June. It must be nice to go to it as a shortlisted artist knowing the worst that can happen is you're coming away with a cheque for a considerable sum of money - somewhere between £8,000 and £30,000.

Tomorrow's blog post will be about the artists selected for the exhibition.  (Artists can start emailing me images of their portraits if they'd like to see them featured in the post)

The BP Portrait Award Exhibition will be on display at the following venues:
  • National Portrait Gallery, London all summer. It opens to the public on 22 June and continues until 24 September 2017 (Admission Free)
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery Exeter (4 October – 3 December 2017); 
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (December 2017 – March 2018); 
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (March – June 2018.)

Artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2017


This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
The prizes for this competition, which attracts entries from all over the world, 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.
In terms of the competition as a whole:
  • The Entry: The shortlist of three was selected from 2,580 portraits by artists from 87 countries (the entry is limited to one portrait per artist). 
  • Selected Artists: Tomorrow's blog post will be about who got selected for the exhibition. I'll be linking their websites to the names of the artists and doing a brief synopsis of the artist and their work.
  • The Best of the Rest: the closing date for How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017- of those not selected - is Friday.

Thomas Ehretsmann


Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann
(300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Age: 42 (Born in Mulhouse France in 06.07.1974)
Nationality: French
Occupation: artist and illustrator. His illustration work has been featured in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Elle Magazine.
Current home:
Art education: a degree in illustration from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Strasbourg
Previous appearances in this award: Vacuum 2 was selected for the BP Portrait Award 2016 exhibition
Website: http://www.thomas-ehretsmann.com/en/
Title / Media: Double Portrait (300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Subject: Double Portrait captures a moment when the artist was walking in the park with his wife, Caroline. The title, Double Portrait, suggest the passage from one state of being to another as Caroline was eight months pregnant at the time.
Ehretsmann was struck by the light on Caroline’s face which he said reminded him of the work of naturalist painters Jules Bastien-Lepage and Emile Friant. 
I met Thomas last year - see BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings - so this is the first year for me that I've met all three artists prior to the announcement!

This year, as last, his paintings comprises multiple layers of semi-transparent acrylic paint - painted in very small hatching marks. He's also a master of tone control in muted and darker passages of the painting.

I met Thomas last year at the preview

Benjamin Sullivan


I've had Ben Sullivan 'tagged' as a future BP Portrait First Prizewinner for as long as I've been writing this blog and covering this competition!

He paints absolutely beautifully and also captures extremely good likenesses of everybody he paints.

He's exhibited in every BP Portrait Exhibition every year since 2006. I love the fact that in addition to his regular commissions, he also paints his family. It was wonderful to finally meet up with Ginnie and Edith, their new baby, at last year's Awards Ceremony when Ben won 3rd Prize. She was such a big hit with everybody, I'm not in the least bit surprised in the choice for this year's portrait!

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017

The consolation prize for the 218 artists...
  • who made it through to the final round of the BP Portrait Award 2017 
  • BUT did not get selected for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery 
....is my "Best of the Rest" blog post!

This week the selected artists for the BP Portrait Award 2017 will be announced.

In 2016, I had my first My "Best of the Rest" from BP Portrait Award Entries blog post for the very high calibre portraits that did not make it through.  It was enormously popular and I think identified very clearly what a high standard of portraiture gets submitted to this competition.

So I'm going to do the same again this year - which I suspect will please all those who have been asking me am I doing it again.

Subject to enough submissions I'm happy to display "the ten best of the rest" i.e. of submissions sent to me for review that were not chosen for exhibition by the BP Portrait Selectors this year. Below you can find out how...

The first artist, Justin Russell, has pre-selected himself through submitting his portrait early! (see below). Justin is a London based artist, specialising in realism and hyper-realistic painting. Justin made it through to my best of the rest top 10 in 2016.

Mr Cyril by Justin Russell
oil on board, 120 x 90cm

Rejected to selected


This invitation is ONLY extended to those artists whose portraits were rejected by the BP Portrait Portrait Award 2017 Selection Panel.

What I need from the artists whose entries were rejected is:
  • TWO digital images
    • your portrait as per the image you submitted (I want good images to review). I'll then downsize the images of the ten best and make them web-ready for the blog. They will be displayed @72 dpi with the longest dimension being no bigger than 600 pixels 
    • PLUS a scan or photo of your 2017 rejection letter from the competition showing the date, the email address of the NPG and the name of the sender of the email + your name, competition number and the outcome of selection. (I'm no fool - I don't want to be drowned in portraits from those who forgot to send their entries in or got rejected in previous years!). 
  • PLUS dimensions and media of the portrait in your email
  • PLUS your website domain URL. I will provide a link to your website if your portrait gets posted - much as I do for the selected artists.
  • receipt of your entry by Friday 21st April.

The likelihood is that all my "best of the rest" will be selected from the final 218 artists. However, if you think your portrait is really good and you've previously been selected for the BP Portrait Award please also submit your portrait and rejection letter for 2017 (as per instructions above) to the email address below.

I'll post my "Best of the Rest" post next Sunday.

Selected for the BP Portrait Award?


If you've been selected for the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition - and want an image of your painting included in the "selected artists" blog post on Wednesday, please do the same as above - but include your selection letter!

Where to send your email entry


This web page gives you my email address - on the top right, under the pic of me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Noli me tangere

"Noli me tangere" is a phrase which has generated paintings across the centuries.

It's particularly relevant to Easter Sunday as the phrase is the Latin version of what Jesus Christ is supposed to have said to Mary Magdalene when she saw him after his resurrection (John 20: 14-18) - which is, of course, what Easter Sunday is supposed to be all about.

(This post is to counterbalance the Easter Bunny festival we seem to have these days!)

Scenes from the Passion of Christ by Hans Memling by Hans Memling
oil on panel
Galleria Sabauda, Turin
click the link to see the entire picture
'Noli me tangere' variously translates - depending on whether you are looking at
  • the Greek source - "cease holding on to me" or "stop clinging to me"
  • or Latin derivation "don't tread on me" or "don't touch me."
Below are images of the various paintings titled Noli me tangere - in chronological order, with details of who painted them. Paintings are sourced from Wikimedia Commons (link in the title). The location cited in the caption often links to the information page about the painting at the gallery, museum or church where it is now.

I find it fascinating how one single theme - and a phrase - can generate so many different interpretations by different artists over time - especially since the artists are like a roll call of the greats!

Below you can see the development of art by Giotto, Duccio, Fra Angelico, Memling, Botticelli, Dürer, Titian, Holbein, Poussin, Lorrain

No. 37 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 21. Resurrection (Noli me tangere) (1304-06) by Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – 1337)
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua
Giotto completed a fresco cycle in The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. The frescoes narrate events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ and cover all the walls.

There are various online images of the Giotto fresco relating to the resurrection (Noli me tangere) because of a recent full-scale restoration of all the frescos in the chapel (hence 'before' and 'after').

This 2015 blog post is worth a read The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

Noli me tangere (Maestà de Sienne) (c.1308-11)
- by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319) 

Tempera and gold on wood, 51 x 57 cm
Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana del Duomo, Siena
I'll never ever forget when I was introduced for the first time to The Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna in Sienna.  Several individual paintings make up an incredible impressive altarpiece which was installed in Siena Cathedral on 9 June 1311. The reverse comprises a combined cycle of the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ in a total of forty-three small scenes. This is one of those.

In this painting, the landscape plays a major part in emphasising the posture of Mary Magdalene.

Noli me tangere (c.1440-1442) by Fra Angelico (1395-1455)
Fresco, Height: 166 cm (65.4 in). Width: 125 cm (49.2 in)
San Marco, Florence
This fresco by Fra Angelico is in the former Dominican Friary of San Marco in Florence - now the Museo Nazionale di San Marco. The Museums of Florence website tells you more about it and the art it contains


One of the things which struck me while reviewing the painting is what a major part vegetation plays in many of the paintings - and the variations as to whether it was local to the painter or more associated with the Middle East.

Advent and Triumph of Christ (detail) 1480
by Hans Memling (1433-1494)

oil on oak, 31.89 inch wide x 74.41 inch high
Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
I'm a big fan of Hans Memling (in terms of paintings I've personally seen) but am not very well acquainted with all his works. I had no idea he had painted the 'Passion of Christ' as a complete painting (see the painting at the top). In that the meeting between Christ and Mary Magdalene is tiny.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2017 - Call for Entries

This is my annual post about the Call for Entries for the 30th Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. For the 2017 competition, you will find below:
  • a summary of the process
  • tips for those thinking of entering this prestigious watercolour competition; and
  • plus links to all the blog posts I've written in previous years about the exhibition, who won prizes and who got selected - and their websites!

The Call for Entries - Process and Key Points

this competition aims to celebrate and reward excellence and originality in the genre of watercolour painting.
This post provides an overview of the whole process plus key details relating to
  • key points you need to know - and not forget!
  • who can enter
  • what you can enter
  • how to enter
  • the time table
  • the prizes
  • the judges
  • the exhibition
For those who know the STWC of old the most important change this year is that Smith & Williamson appear to have pulled their sponsorship - so no prize for cityscapes and no additional tour to other venues in the UK - which is very sad.

Winners Wall in the 2016 Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

What you really need to know

The judges will be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water-based medium.
  • The deadline for submissions 5pm, 26th June 2017. 
  • Open to all artists painting in watercolour who currently live (legally) in the UK
  • Entry for the 2017 competition is digital and ONLINE.
  • up to 4 artworks can be submitted @£15 per work entered
  • Your digital file for submission needs to be 300 dpi with a jpeg, tif or png file size of 500kb or less
  • You'll find out on 4 July 2017, via email, whether or not you have been selected for the final judging in front of the selection panel.
  • You only submit your watercolour if you're shortlisted. You need to deliver work to London on 14th or 15th July 2017
  • This is the official website. Plus these are the rules
  • The top prize is £10,000 BUT the prize pot has been cut (details below). 
  • It's unclear whether there is going to be a tour this year

I RECOMMEND that:
  • You review the images from past exhibitions (see blog posts reviewing past SWC exhibitions at the end of this post)
  • you review the Facebook Page for the competition - which demonstrates the diversity of ways in which watercolour can be used 
  • Have a go and enter two works
  • The cost relative to the achievement and the experience is negligible
This gives you a sense of size of the artwork selected last year

Eligible artists - who can enter


  • The competition is open to all artists born or currently resident in the UK (i.e. you don't have to be a British citizen). 
  • There are no age limits for artists wishing to enter.

What you can enter

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