Cropped view of the First Prize winner ‘Imara in her Winter Coat’ by Charlie Schaffer, the Second Prize winner ‘The Crown’ by Carl-Martin Sandvoid and the Third Prize winner ‘Quo Vadis?’ by Massimiliano Pironti

Every year I am looking forward to the BP Portrait Award with joy and trepidation. As an artist with focus on portraiture, I am eager to discover what is the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world has to offer. After all, their aim is to present the very best in a contemporary portrait painting.

However, I am also writing from the point of view of a spectator. As a spectator, I have clear expectation to what kind of experience I want to get out any exhibition of similar magnitude. …


In June, I saw the social media exploding with photos of men. My friends’ tributes to their dads; so many memories, so much love. It made me think of my father, although I have no memories of him except from one.

I was sixteen when I met him for the first time, the same age as he was on the only photo I had of him. It’s true you don’t miss what you don’t know, so there was no feeling there was something missing from my childhood. I was conditioned not to think so much about him.

But still, I…


The director of Galeria Artelibre, José Enrique González

On March 7th, Galería Artelibre opened the doors of the magnificent Bantierra del Coso Building in Zaragoza to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. The exhibition features the works of 166 realist artists from around the world, the largest ever collection of works in one of the smallest formats possible.

The director of the gallery, José Enrique González, created this unprecedented show by personally inviting each artist to create a small piece of work measuring 20x20 cm to be made especially for this exhibition. His intention was to bring together the greatest display of realist art in small format.


ModPortrait is the international figurative portrait competition taking place in Spain. In the fifth year of its existence, the competition became one of the major events of contemporary figurative art.

Founded by the Gallery Artelibre and its Director José Enrique González, the competition focuses on the best of realist and hyper-realist art today.

The annual exhibition is displayed in two spectacular museums of contemporary art.


Images: top right Transformation by Michael Bergt; centre Miranda by Meghan Cox; bottom Portrait of Gifty from Shitima by Huey Glynn-Jones

2018 marks the BP Portrait Award’s 39th year at the National Portrait Gallery. The popular annual award aims at encouraging artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture.

As someone who earned my bragging rights for life by taking part in the most prestigious portrait competition in the world, I always pay tribute to the annual celebration of contemporary portraiture.

It might be a celebration for the exhibiting artists, but every year the art critics either groaned at or shrugged it off. …


Hands #1, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in, 2011

“In the beginning was the Word” is a short description of why I became aware of Daniel Maidman’s work and artistic career. His writing compelled me to follow him in his endeavours for a decade — and what an inspiring journey it was.

Stephen Fry — the master of language — once commented that people seem to be able to find sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words these days. If that is true — and I believe that it is — then Daniel’s writing is the exception that proves the rule.

There is a beauty in the way he…


Highland Matriarch, oil on linen, 30 x 36 inches

Judy Takacs is one of the first American artists I connected to through Facebook. One day, I received a friend request from her and by simply accepting I discovered the colourful and different world of female images. As we continued to communicate, the warm and vivacious personality of the artist revealed itself through her prevailing positivity, her love of good conversation – and her appreciation of distinguished red wine.

What appealed to me is how her vibrant figures of real, living women measure up against idealised images of the female body that we are seeing every day.

Although representation of…


Deliverance, oil on canvas, 36 x36 inches

I became aware of Teresa Elliott’s work in 2012, when her painting ‘Deliverance’ has earned a top award at the 2012 Art Renewal Center International Salon.

It is a truly striking piece. Described with words, it’s a realistic work showing three adolescent children interacting in a natural pool of mud. One would imagine that a lot of mud in a painting wouldn’t necessarily involve a feast for the eyes in terms of interplay of saturated colours and light — but that is exactly what is enticing about this painting.

Seeing this one work made me curious about what else the…


Tempus ad Requiem XIX, acrylic on panel, 28x28 cm

Lorena Kloosterboer is a Dutch-Argentine realist artist focusing on contemporary still lifes painted in acrylics. She currently lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.

This description is the correct presentation of the artist, yet it doesn’t do any justice to what Lorena is doing.

In today’s art world, it takes a certain courage to focus mainly on a humble subject matter of still life — a genre that is more associated with the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Old Masters than with contemporary art.

Since its origins in in sixteenth century Antwerp, the still life as a genre has always been considered as…


Vortex, oil, metal leaf on panel, is 36" x 36"

My first encounter with Steven DaLuz’s work was in a crowded world of online art. I was browsing for something else, but his abstract heavenly landscape made me stop, as if I found what I was looking for.

Sometimes a brief moment is all it takes to connect with an image, and that image brought back the recollection of the lucid dreams I used to have as a child. Those dreams included the golden light, the flying, sometimes with wings, sometimes not – but there was always the feeling of joy and freedom. …

Natalie Holland

I am a realist artist with a passion for writing. www.natalie-holland.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store