The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Call for Entries is now open!

We are seeking work from portrait artists, to exhibit alongside members of the society at their Annual Exhibition 2022, and we welcome work created in any media, including digital drawings, apart from photography and sculpture. Click here for all details and to enter your work.

We spoke to some of last years’ prize winners to gain some insight into the process of submitting and to gather some words of encouragement, especially for emerging artists who may not have exhibited through an open call before. You can additionally take a look at last years’ featured works to see the sort of work we select.


Frances Bell RP ‘Self Portrait’  - The William Lock Portrait Prize Winner


Frances Bell won The William Lock Portrait Prize for her painting ‘Self Portrait’. Frances describes self-portraits as a fascinating territory as the influences that typically make up a portrait such as the conversations and the sitters’ ideas and expressions are omitted, so it is a far more introspective process. 

Frances was over the moon to receive The William Lock Portrait Prize, when she received the email explaining that she’d won she said ‘I stared vacantly at the screen for a few minutes then asked my husband to read it too. Only when he looked sufficiently dumbfounded did I believe it!’

She really encourages artists to submit saying; ‘I have a general philosophy of entering everything. This does mean that one often hears “no”, of course, but sometimes you get a “yes” and it is such a thrill to be accepted into a major international show. The competition for places will of course be stiff - you should expect that, so it’s not a failure to miss out on exhibiting, just a fantastic success to be selected.’

‘The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is an eminent, historical gem of artistic culture. We are so lucky to have such a society with its history to engage with like we do. The open exhibition is a fantastic platform, and if you are included it will boost your profile enormously, so you might as well go for it!’


Will Calver ‘Self Portrait in Hat’ - The RP Prize for the Best Small Portrait Winner

Will Calver won The RP Prize for Best Small Portrait for his painting ‘Self Portrait in Hat’ which is a small oil painting on linen, painted during the winter lockdown of last year. Will worked from life using an old mirror in his studio and the piece reflects a sense of stillness and quietude. 

Will says; ‘Entering competitions can seem daunting and it is very easy to choose not to submit your work.’ but he says the process with the Royal Society of Poritrait Painters was straightforward and added that if you are accepted, it will be hugely affirming and motivating. Will said ‘the whole process from start to finish was very enjoyable and it was wonderful to have a painting hanging alongside so many esteemed artists’ work’, and to then win The Best Small Portrait Prize was a huge honour for Will.


Sandra Kuck ‘Portrait through a Prism’ - Smallwood Architects Prize Winner

The Smallwood Architects Prize is awarded for a portrait in which interior or architectural features play an important part. Last year, this was won by Sandra Kuck for her painting ‘Portrait Through a Prism’ where a beautiful Chinese bench that the sitter lies on, is an eye-catching aspect. 

Sandra explains; ‘The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is one of the most important and prestigious groups of painters in the world, so being part of their annual exhibition at Mall Galleries should be a goal for all portrait artists!’

She shared how being accepted into the exhibition was so exciting and gratifying, so it was a shock when she discovered she had also won the Smallwood Architects Prize. Sandra said: ‘winning an award was amazing especially as so few were given! It has become such a meaningful and important part of my resume. The Times also featured my photo when heralding the exhibition.’ 

Sandra went on to exhibit and auction her painting at Sotheby’s Gallery in New York. She says ‘Take every opportunity that is given. Exhibiting at The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries is about as good as it gets - be part of that exhibition, make that exhibition your goal because believe me, it can be life changing!’


We hope learning about the experiences of previous prize winners inspires you to submit your own work to this years’ open call. Find all the information you need to do so by clicking the link below:

Submit Your Work Now