Championing contemporary figurative art - Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition

8 to 23 May, 10am to 5pm
Open until 7pm Thursdays

Mark your diary for this prestigious exhibition that celebrates the diversity of contemporary portraiture.

The work is in styles from the photo-real to the painterly, the traditional to the challenging, and the sitters just as diverse with a broad range of fascinating characters spangled by a glitter of celebrities.

Come and simply enjoy the art and characters on the wall or choose to engage further. Portrait commissions are the lifeblood of the art of portraiture so, to encourage people to commission portraits, an art consultant is available in the galleries throughout the exhibition to advise and ease the process.

The exhibition is formed of work by our distinguished members and enriched by over 100 portraits from emerging non-member artists who compete to be exhibited.

Admission: £3, £2.50 Concession, Free to Mall Galleries Friends, National Art Pass holders and under 18s

For more info see the following links:

More oil paintings for the "Water, Water everywhere" exhibition...

It's been over a year (may well be even longer) since I last visited this location but in the past it has provided some good subject matter to paint. It's the River Welland and this section is the border between the counties of Rutland and Northamptonshire (the middle painting is on the Northamptonshire bank) not far from the village of Duddington.

Detail from "Snow covered teasels", Rutland. Oil.
Alistair Butt © 2014 - #AB 021412

A heavy (for this part of the world anyway) fall of snow (over night) and then clear sky provided the ideal conditions and it took on more than a few seconds to work out what I would be doing for the day... looking for snow related subjects. The snow stuck to every thing which was very nice, hence the teasels in the foreground of the painting.

Detail from "Bright day with Hoar frost and snow", Northamptonshire. Oil.
Alistair Butt © 2014 - #AB 021413

This view is from the opposite bank but a few mts/ft back. The downside of getting onto the opposite side at this time (winter) of year (increase in water level) is the walk back into the village and then out onto the other bank. In summer, with 'usual' lower water levels and a pair of wellingtons helps with wade across the stream and therefore half the walk.

A quick look, one may think these two paintings were done from the same day but they are in fact a year apart. The above had the added interest of hoar frost covering the trees and vegetation with snow from a few days before.

Detail from "Morning sun on frosty ground", Rutland. Oil.
Alistair Butt © 2014 - #AB 021409

The top two paintings location is just behind the left hand tree. This morning it was very cold, more cold than the snow paintings with a good covering of frost but thankfully as the sun rise into the sky a lovely warm glow enveloped the landscape in front of me. What more could a landscape artist ask for...

Calling all Marine Artists - RSMA submission opens

The RSMA (Royal Society of Marine Artists) seeks submissions of painting, printmaking and sculpture that depict the sea and the marine environment, including harbours and shorelines, traditional craft and contemporary shipping, creeks, beaches, wildlife - in short anything that involves tidal water.

Acceptable media: Oil, acrylic, watercolour, original prints of any media, drawings, pastels, or sculpture.

Submit your works online now

A selection of Awards and Prizes to be won!

For more information and inspiration visit:

The search for the right angle... oil paintings of a Derbyshire stream.

These two paintings are from the same day, although about two hours apart and the reference gathered on the return trip from an exhibition at the NEC (Birmingham) - i.e. making the most of the trip.

I'd planned this visit so that I was at this river as the sun moved across the rivers path and thus allowing me the chance of getting some nice highlights on the water plus the added bonus of dramatic back lighting that I wanted. It was then a case of being on the correct section of the river at the right moment...

Detail from "The perfect afternoon spot...", Derbyshire. Oil.
Alistair Butt © 2014 - #AB 021413

While I haven't placed him in the painting there was a man fishing (about where the 'A' is). He had know idea is was there until I stood up having gathered all the reference material I needed. There was much more dried vegetation alongside the river this year, maybe due to not having been very cold, very wet yes...

Detail from "Sparklers", Derbyshire. Oil.
Alistair Butt © 2014 - #AB 021415

As the afternoon went on the clouds got more dramatic, I half though I may get wet and it's a good half hour walk back to the car. Thankfully that didn't happen and the sun stayed clear of cloud resulting in the above view. The river does a sharp 180 bend in front of the tree... sadly, although I was there for some time the sheep (just below distant tree line) never came any closer even though in the past I've seen them beside the far bank. Can't have everything...

Subject finding trip #2 - North Yorkshire Moors

In contrast to the Lake District trip, this also combined the delivery of my three paintings for the RSMA exhibition at the Staithes Gallery, Staithes, North Yorkshire which has the private view today and continues until the 27th April. 20+ of the members are taking part in the exhibition so it should be a great show.
If you are in the North Yorkshire coast area please do visit the gallery.

Another contrast was the weather, mostly overcast with brief spells of sun or hazy sunlight.

Just after dawn, 6:30 and while the night was clear, hence the heavy frost, frozen water and slippery roads the increasing wind brought in cloud from the North Sea. What doesn't come across is how cold it was, within a few minutes sketching came to a stop as addition layers were put on... then having done that, it was something warm to drink.

 Some parts of this area can be bleak, by there's lots of bird life (even more so at this early hour) and the local sheep...

An hour later, 'slightly' better light with a blue patch of sky 'near' the sun gave some hope of getting something really nice.

 Some interesting layers with the clouds but as time passed less hope of seeing 'full' sunlight again.

By 9:00AM the frost had melted and while there was the odd patch of clear sky it never happened to be where the sun was...

Not sure what this was in the past, old farm house/buildings but a wonderful location with views down the valley and across to the mountains to the right, although on this day the tops were covered by low cloud. One of the local farmers came over in this Landrover to see what I was doing.

After that it was, head for the Yorkshire coast and Staithes, dropped off the paintings and met David Allen RSMA at the gallery. I did have a walk around Staithes, but the lack of sunlight resulted in a shorter than expected visit. It was then down the coast to Whitby for lunch (fish and chips) and then back into the North Yorkshire Moors as I headed towards home. Still more weather related things as I weaved my way across the Moors. Some heavy rain, hail and then snow on the higher ground - a real mixed bag of a day...

The Threadneedle Prize: Figurative Art Today - online submission is now open

One of the most valuable art prizes in the United Kingdom, The Threadneedle Prize champions the most interesting figurative artists working in the UK and Europe today and offers the winning artist a cash award of £20,000, along with his or her own exhibition at Mall Galleries in 2015.

This year's selection panel comprises:
Highly regarded Arts Commissioning Editor and Art Critic at The Times, Nancy Durrant;
Internationally exhibited and collected sculptor, Kevin Francis Gray;
Independent Advisor and Curator at the Hiscox Collection, Whitney Hintz; and
Gallerist and Founder of Art Dubai, John Martin, who has two gallery spaces in London.

Artists of any nationality, aged 18 or over on 1 January 2014, presently living or working in the UK or Europe can submit.

You can submit paintings, drawings, original prints, sculpture, mixed media constructions, small scale installations and reliefs. Artists are encouraged to submit fresh and intriguing works that are strong and topical observations or interpretations on the world around us.

Find out more:

Subject finding trip #1 - Lake District

Sorry for not posting for some time, lots of work... anyway, below are some pictures taken on my last trip to the Lake District. A trip up one of many interesting valleys, Langstrath. It is a long valley (hence the name) and can take a hour or so just walking, add in finding the best view, doing sketches, food/drink etc and time passes all to quick. Some readers will know that I visit this valley more often than I should and have reported on it before but each trip always provides something different... this time (two days) superb light, snow on the higher ground and lots and lots of water...

The first waterfalls... Galleny Force. More interesting views to be had lower down on the foreground rocks.

Lookig back towards Stonethwaite and into Borrowdale. The above falls are behind the lower trees (right hand side)

Turning around there are more falls, some care and fence jumping needed - not the place really for taking to long over sketching... but the noise from the water was great

The first real view up Langstrath... no that's not the beck (behind trees to left) but the footpath. As mentioned lots of water...

A subject much painted by artists and why not...

Further up, another favorite location of mine, more rapids... always interesting clouds on this day, highlights on the water and snow on Bowfell.

A look back down the valley

 Again, more waterfalls and rapids...

And the view back. The odd tree does make it in this valley.

The Langstrath Beck goes through a number of narrow gorges (shown below) while above shows below the gorge with the crystal clear and deep water - in 'summer' a great place for a swim.

 Above the gorge, a different feel... at least for a while (more waterfalls etc) but that's as far as I managed.

Next day... less cloud for some of it...

Footpaths are on both side of the Langstrath Beck, yesterday I was on the other bank. Above again shows the clear water with thousands of pebbles to draw, never mind paint.

 Again the waterfalls seen in picture number three but from the other bank.

The meeting of Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill as they then head towards Stonethwaite and Borrowdale