• Carolyn Land

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

“Technique must be solid, positive, but elastic, must not fall into formula, must adapt itself to the idea.  And for each new idea there must be new invention special to the expression of that idea and no other.  And the idea must be valuable, worth the effort of expression, must come from the artists understanding of life and a thing he greatly desires to say.”                                                                                                                                   Robert Henri

Last week’s “blog” got a lot of positive feedback and 1 question I would like to address.  “Since it is, what it is…juried and judged shows; what does a judge look for?”  It is very individualized; however, I can make some generalizations that will help those who are putting work into such shows.

Stands out in a crowd. The first goal of any artist should be to make the viewer want to look at the painting. Visual art is to share. You want a painting to be interesting enough to have the viewer want to stay, look at it, and come back to it.  You need to create a mood that moves the viewer. The best has a message beyond just the image being perfectly rendered.

Composition should be strong.  The center of interest should be in one of the “sweet spots”? Can the viewer get around the painting?  It is important for a viewer to be able to move from the center of interest to other areas of the painting.    This can be done with color notes, repetition, size of shape, value changes.

Pastel Painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

Fog Lifting


Mastery of the medium. Does the artist know how to use the materials they are using with some amount of proficiency, or have they used the medium in a new and unique way?

Sensitivity and passion about the subject being painted.  How artists feels about their subject should show in their work.  Beauty in art is more than visceral appeal, it is in its inherent meaning, uniqueness, and fulfilled intent.

Presentation is important.  Your frame should fit your painting, style wise and size wise.  Use a white mat and save the colored ones for the interior decorator.  How a piece is framed says a lot about how you feel about your work.

Put your best foot forward, but don’t get hung up on the idea that because you didn’t win, your work is not good.  Paint for the joy of painting.  Let your paint brush dance across the paper and sing the song which is in your heart.

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