Jurors Statement

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.

San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibit

San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibit

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.

Rocky Mountain National Show catalog

Rocky Mountain National Show




  • Leslie Richardson

    May 2, 2015 at 8:48 pm Reply

    “The very best we have to offer is work that is honest, authentic, and given without a need for approval.”
    Yes, in everything. Well said.

  • Darcy Gray

    Jul 29, 2018 at 1:21 pm Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I agree with what you say. I also notice a trend, at least where I have been living for the juror to give a statement, It seemed in the past or just some judges like to give the artist parameters, or a statement of what they are looking for, this I find most helpful, this way I can pick a piece or create a piece which I think answeres the judges criterion, however, lately I find not such guidelines, and the juror just wirtes about him/herself, which does not give me a clue as to what they will be using to judge my work. I wonder if it is even worth entering a show which is being juried by an artist who;s work you do not admire, therrefore not interested in their critical opinion of my work, but then that would be more of a critique than a juried show. I think it is a hit or miss situation. You did mention that a juror may not like your work, one hopes the juror can look beyond his/her own biases and look for ability, skill, and personal expression at least.

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