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