SAA True To Their Principles, A Magazine Feature And "Sangria" Is Shortlisted
Well what a summer it's been. And where do I start? At the beginning, I guess. The beginning of the summer, that is, and my long-anticipated trip to the SAA's It's All About Art event in London last July. Family and friends descended, with myself, to the Business Design Centre to see my painting, Ena Harkness, hanging in all her glory at the Exhibition and of course to collect my promised Artist Of The Year (Flowers & Gardens Category) Award (see previous blog). Except it didn't happen. Nope. No award - just a "well done" from the SAA Chairman, John Hope-Hawkins. Oh. That wasn't what I (and an army of other category winners, including a tearful little girl who had won Junior Artist) were lead to believe, in letters and emails we received. There were five awards presented only, given by the lovely Lachlan Goudie. And that was it. Many faces were looking at each other quizzically, wondering when we would be getting our awards once these five were handed out. It soon became clear that we weren't getting them... many unhappy winners who had travelled from all over the country to attend and collect their award for their winning artwork. Still, it was a good day and it meant I got to spend a whole day with some family and friends whom I don't get to see that often. So all was not lost. But I was fuming inside. We had a lovely meal at Bill's (all thirteen of us) in Islington, but the service was crap - that's another story entirely.
Upon returning home to Cheshire I penned a letter to the lovely SAA Chairman whom I had met on the day, letting him know just how I felt and wanted an explanation as to why lots of people were invited to the Business Design Centre from all of the UK only to arrive all excited but leave disappointed. The following day we had gone back up to our caravan on the outskirts of The Lake District when I received a phone call, not from John Hope-Hawkins but from the Managing Director, Richard Hope-Hawkins. To say he could not apologise enough was an understatement. He was genuinely angry that the awards ceremony had been cut down to a few winners and not all, and no-one had thought on to let him or The Chairman know. Now, on their website they have a list of Principles that the SAA stick to and a Personal Guarantee by the top man himself which reads `"At the SAA we pride ourselves on offering the best possible service and support to all who love to paint. We love to receive ideas from members and to hear about your painting activities. However, de spite our best efforts, sometimes things go wrong. We can only put them right if we know about them. So please do contact me if you ever have any cause to complain about any of our services or products. We will sort it out" signed John Hope-Hawkins. Despite the fact that the clock could not be turned back and the upset and disappointment be undone, Richard apologised unreservedly and doubled my winning £100 of art supplies to £200, with a promise that nothing like this would ever happen again. What else could he do? Not a lot really. All I wanted was an explanation and an apology for their monumental cock-up at our expense. In my book the personal phone call of apology went a long way in showing me that yes, sometimes they do get it wrong (even on a grand scale) but they have stood by their Chairman's Personal Guarantee and done their best to put it right. And will I be entering any of The SAA's competitions in the future? Damn right I will. After all, I have a personal guarantee that if I have any problems in the future to call his direct line. And believe me, I will.
The SAA was not the only competition I entered this year and so far my oil painting "Sangria Whatever The Weather" has been shortlisted in the Ken Bromley Art Supplies Cover Competition. The winning artwork will be featured on one of their catalogue front covers and it was all done by public vote so `i pestered everyone to death to get online and vote for me. Whether I have won or not we will find out in the next week or so. Their is some pretty strong competition amongst the eclectic mix of artwork, so it is anyone's guess. I am just pleased to have got to the shortlisted stage!
The industry magazine Artists & Illustrators magazine have also ran their own Artist Of The Year competition (they're all at it, so one has to make hay whilst the sun shines) and of course with my category win with the SAA, `a probably over inflated ego spurred me on to enter a few more competitions. Why not? Why not indeed. So I have entered my oil painting "Hot Toddy" and to my amazement it has been featured in the September Edition of their magazine in their gallery (page 41 - go and buy a copy!), along with some other entrants paintings. I can remember how delighted I was when The Artist's magazine's website, Painter's Online, featured my Juicy Lemons n Limes in their Paintings Of The Month way back in 2013, but I was overjoyed with this one - a real magazine that people can buy, take home and read. Wow. The winner will be announced in October. So watch this space.
And in between all this I have been beavering away with commissioned pieces, to. The completed ones you can see on my Feedback & Testimonials page. And I am currently in the midst of revamping the website to sell only original paintings and limited edition prints. It's all go!
After an eventful first half of 2015, who knows what the rest of the year has in store? Well for one thing it will definitely be more painting. That reminds me, I need to order some supplies from the SAA website...