Blue & Gray River
10" x 14.5"
10" x 14.5"
How to Paint for a First Place or a Best in Show.
It occurred to me that you might like to hear my secrets for painting to win a prize. When I knew that I was going to be in the prestigious Sausalito festival this year, I wanted to up my game, and bring the best artwork that I could. First, I decided to paint specifically for a first place prize. Cheeky, to be sure, but I hope that every serious artist would think the same way.
Very much to my surprise, I did receive First Place in my category, which was Drawing. As proof of the difficulty level, my award was a tie with the incredible Sheila M. Evans. Sheila seems to win awards everywhere she goes, and it isn't hard to see why. She's probably the most talented artist I know.
But for me, it was a hat trick. And, while the thoughts are fresh in my mind, I'll share the How To in the next few posts. We will consider the following:
Content (have ideas)
Narrow the time frame
Focus on a body of work that will "read" easily and quickly. The judges with the clipboards are looking at the work of 100-300 artists. That can mean a dizzying assortment of thousands of pieces of eye candy, all popping out and screaming "Love me! Look at me!"
The judges are on their feet, and they are there with their own sets of ideas of what they like. How will you be able to appear great, or even appear present, to these judges?
Don't bother them. If they are over ten feet away from you, just leave them alone. Ideally, your booth/display will be neat and orderly when they show up, and your best work will be available to see.
One year, I built an actual wall out of 2x4s and drywall. It was painted white, with some texture, and in the back, or deep, part of my booth. I won a top award from one of the nation's leading arts professionals, Michael Monroe. He actually gave me the award (Juror's Choice/ 2-D) two years in a row. At that show, there are three Juror's Choice awards presented for broad categories like Fine Craft and Wood and Visual Art. It looks great on my resume, and fits well in my shpeal to gallerists and collectors.
This year, I couldn't afford the space and decided to do my best with just my dark gray Pro Panels. As it turned out, that was good enough and the judges found my booth just fine.
Focus for me this year meant staying with a theme based, at one level, on subject. The River Series depicts typical American rivers. I stayed primarily with landscape (long) aspects and similar points of view (slightly high viewpoint from the near bank).
But wait, there's more! I had deeper meanings to my theme. There were fairly meaningful art related ideas as well. They included the unusual use of dark passages as "eye sumps" in the composition. Also, my ideas of coupling Modern Art ideas with Contemporary ideas. Half real and half abstract. Intensity of color, and keying on the primaries. More on this when I post on content.
Focus for clarity and to bring forward the merits of your art, and the award givers (and patrons) will beat a trail to your door.
Next, in a day or two I hope, I'll cover commitment. See you then.