The end of 2015 calls for reminiscing! I know, it is as original as making New Year’s resolutions, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking back once in a while. I must admit I am not a looking-back type of person (I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone what I was doing last year) but it can’t hurt to count your blessings now and then. So what has 2015 meant for me? Lets take stock.
Most Popular Blog Post
I have always loved blogging but this year I have tried to up the game even more by writing regularly about everything arty that interests me and hopefully you. I hope to write for fellow artists as well as collectors and other art lovers. Do let me know what you enjoy most and what you would like me to write about in 2016! In 2015 my most popular blog posts were:
- In Defense of Working from Photos
- The World of Easels
- Busting the Myths of Oil Painting: The Fat-over-Lean Rule
- The 10 Best Lace Painters
- Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition
Best Art Exhibition I have Seen
I only visit London a few times a year but that is where usually the best (and/or blockbuster) exhibitions are. So I don’t get to see them all as I choose carefully for which exhibitions I make the journey. Very much worth it was Savage Beauty at the V&A Museum: an overview of the work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. This exhibition was so theatrical and visually spectacular it simply blew me away. It was a shame there were no souvenirs to take home that oozed the same atmosphere as the show. I would have loved a catalogue featuring pictures of the exhibition in all its dramatic glory instead of the monologue that was on offer. Ah well, memories.
Best Art Exhibition featuring my Work
Out of the 8 exhibitions in which one or more of my paintings were hung in 2015 I must, of course, count the Self-Portrait exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery as one of the highlights of the year. My self portrait (with ruff) was hung in a small exhibition featuring not only major contemporary artists such as Grayson Perry and Sarah Lucas but even more excitingly the likes of Angelica Kaufmann, William Hogarth and Anthony van Dyck. Wow.
(see Blog Post)
Another exhibition highlight did not start in 2015 but came to an end. The BP Portrait Award 2014 exhibition tour ended in Wales in May after being on the road for nearly a year. My 10 paintings have seen all corners of the country and 2015 saw the closure of an amazing chapter in my painting career.
Best Studio Event
In the studio there is always something happening. New works are on the easel, older ones are stacked up against the walls. Children run in and out, visitors and workshop students come in for a peek. The main event this year however, was my decision (it took me a long time to make it!) to aquire my Forever Easel. The Hughes Easel, made in the US, takes pride of place and is used every day. I will never need or want another easel.
Best Silly App
An app called Motion Portrait recently did the rounds on social media. For a day it seemed that everyone had a go at making their own paintings move, or as I did, make Agatha Bas move…. how creepy is that…
Best Painting Highlight
Although I have worked on many paintings throughout the year some do stand out for me. I have had a few private commissions but the public commission for Wycliffe College was such a pleasure and honour to work on. I am very proud that my portrait of their retiring headmistress is now on their walls.
Another highlight was my painting The Moon Rises, which sold at Lime Tree Gallery’s Faces and Places exhibition even before the exhibition opened. The collector saw the painting in the catalogue and immediately purchased it!
Jason Bowyer, Sammy G, Winner of The Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing in the RP’s annual exhibition.
General Art News Highlights
2015 saw the appointment of a new director for the National Portrait Gallery (you might forgive me for feeling a particularly bond with this museum). Dr Nicholas Cullinan takes over from Sandy Nairne who had been in charge for 13 years. In 2015 the world lost art critic Brian Sewell – love him or hate him, he certainly made waves – and historian Lisa Jardine; expert on Dutch and British 17th century cultural history. I watched and enjoyed BBC’s Wolf Hall along with many other tudor lovers, smiled at Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’ and never got round to admire the new Whitworth Art Gallery which is amazing I have no doubt. The BP Portrait Award made a short list of blue paintings this year and again showed its love for hyper realism (will they be swamped with blue submissions from hopeful artists in 2016 I wonder?), while the prize winning portraits in the show of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters were very beautiful, interesting and varied indeed.
Social Media highlights
I have found no way to figure out what my most popular Facebook or twitter posts were in 2015 but I can say that I have enjoyed the interaction with my online friends and fans enormously. I have gained nearly 700 new followers on Facebook this year alone, where I share my latest news on a daily basis. On Twitter I have nearly 1500 followers and I have started sharing on Instagram recently too. I am very active on all of my social media accounts so if you are online, do join me for a chat or some debate.
What a year it was! I hope you, dear reader, have had an interesting and good 2015 as well (as you can see I only focus on the good bits -as I did not mention the loss of my gorgeous dog – I am a forever optimist). I would love to hear your highlights!!
2016 promises to be very exciting as well with my duo-show coming up at Catto Gallery in March and a show at Harley Gallery later in the year. I am very grateful you made it to the end of this blog post – I am sorry it is so long- and to all my readers, collectors, friends and fans who help and support me along my painterly way!