Thursday, December 9, 2010

Painting Competitions

Snoopy Rock sketch, 5x7 pastel - $60 - contact Michael

It seems that everyone is hosting some sort of national painting competition these days. Application is typically by slide or digital image. But do you really want to try for an award based on a 3-second glimpse of your lovingly-crafted work?

When you don't win or even make the "finalist" cut, don't be sad. The initial cut was made by viewing the images in 3 to 5 seconds. (You'd need to have been weaned on MTV to have the neural circuitry to make that kind of rapid-fire judgement.) The next cut, of course, takes longer, but if your work doesn't hook the jury in that first 3 seconds - or if they blinked or reached for a cup of coffee - you are out of the game.

To hook the jury, the piece can't be subtle. In my own experience as juror and judge, I know that work with impact will cause me to look longer. Strong value contrast, stunning color and dynamic design will likely send your work to the "possibles" pile. Anything less than that will be rejected. This includes moodier pieces that work their magic with subtle shifts in value or muted colors. Weighing judgement on them takes more time and consideration, a luxury the jury doesn't have when viewing a thousand slides.

If you're a painter who paints such pieces, carefully consider your chances. If getting into shows and winning awards, neither of which translates necessarily into sales and satisfaction, are important to you, you may want to enter smaller shows, local or regional. These typically have fewer entries, which might mean more stage time. Or, you might want to enter shows more appropriate to your style. Loose, impressionistic plein air work will not do well in a competition that historically favors tight, realistic work.


Nancy Asbell Arts said...

Thanks for sharing with your fellow artists!

celebrate the day!


Carolyn said...

Thanks, that gives me a sneak peek at the behind-the-scenes of jurying.

Lee McVey said...

Michael, you make excellent points. And timely because a Fine Art Views newsletter and the resulting comments are discussing juried shows.

Drama and high contrast are something I've been thinking about in my own work because many of my paintings have been subtle. I'm now working to achieve more contrast.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, everyone. Good luck with those competitions!

Cindy Michaud said...

thanks for the reminder that awards do not always translate into sales and satisfaction! I did a piece recently, tongue in cheek, to kinda mock judge selections and it got in and rec'd a minor award, I was soooo embarassed. Egg on my face, good blog story but embarassing!!