Have recently judged the The Rocky Mountain National and the San Diego Watercolor 34th International Exhibition the opportunity to share my thoughts on the process of judging and being judged.
The decision to enter a competition should be considered. What do you hope to gain by entering a juried show? Some artist want recognition for their many years of hard work. Others seek awards and prizes. Many wish to build a vita that will help when submitting work to a gallery. Perhaps one of the best reasons is to get an evaluation of your work by a professional whom you admire.
I caution you to not take any one of these reasons to be flawless. No matter what a juror may declare judging art is subjective and conditioned by the jurors experiences, prejudices, age, choice of media, and sometimes what they had for breakfast. You might be the best flower painter in the show and not get an award or even be accepted because of the overwhelming number of flower paintings submitted. It is possible the judge is allergic to pollen, or has an affinity for more unique subjects, or simply does not like your work. Too often beginners or shall I say less experienced artist,enter very competitive shows too early. The best shows, those offering the most money, attract the best painters and the competition is fierce. Start locally and move up when you feel ready for the challenge.
I love judging shows for the opportunity to see what new ideas and techniques showing up. Good technique and design are fundamental to making great art. The world of watercolor and acrylic are flooded with great technique. So much so that it is impossible to awe a juror with technical skills. When I stand before a painting I want to feel it in my chest not in my head. I want to be moved by the artist ideas not their brushwork, number go layers or special papers.
It is a mistake to paint to or for a juror. If your work looks too close to the jurors he/she might conclude that you have nothing new to contribute. or that it is easy for them to detect your weaknesses. The lessons are simple does the juror respect my ideas, my techniques, my uniqueness , and my taste. How would I know the answers to these questions if what I offer is an imitation of someone else’s work. The very best we have to offer is work that is honest, authentic, and given without a need for approval.
So when you enter that next show think of it as sharing your genuine feelings and ideas without the need for acceptance and reward.