Thursday, February 8, 2018

What's It All About, Competitions?

(I can't help humming the tune to "Alfie" as I write the title of this blog.)

A friend, who is not an artist, recently asked me why I enter competitions after witnessing my jubilation over getting an award at a national show. He continued, "Is that what you paint for?" The answer to the second question is a resounding "No!" But the first question has made me think seriously about why I, and many of my artist friends enter competitions.

I have addressed other competition related issues on this blog in the past, but I don't think I've ever explored why I enter competitions in a post. It is not a simple answer because there are many challenges, risks and benefits involved.

One obvious reason I enter is to get affirmation. When I create a painting that I'm happy with, I will first have the quality of the work confirmed by a critique group or artist friend or two.  (By the way, they may not see the WOW factor I do.)  If I continue to appreciate it's good qualities for a period of time, I might be brave enough to send it off to a competition. When I get a piece of art into a competitive exhibition, I relish the affirmation I get from the juror who accepts the art into a show.

The flip side of that is that rejections are a bit painful. And I have had plenty of those!

Another motivator is building a resume. Getting art accepted into a show, winning an award is one way an artist builds a resume. When I  add Fallbrook Art Center 9th Annual Signature American Watermedia International Exhibition to my resume, I can take off something less impressive, such as Second place award,  County Fair. And then adding an award makes my resume even stronger.

But I think the biggest prompter is to help me measure my own growth and improvement as an artist. Where does my art land in the many levels of watermedia art being created in the United States? I started at the county fair level, then moved on to city, state and regional competitions. As my skills have improved I have sent my art off to more national level exhibitions. 

This past weekend I was able to be in Fallbrook California for the 9th Annual Signature American Watermedia International Exhibition where my painting, Will She Be Allowed was hung along with 99 other beautiful pieces of art. I went to see the show, but also to visit with the juror Ratindra Das who juried a show and taught a workshop in Oregon a few years ago. 

As I entered the spacious gallery, I began a slow walk taking in the beauty of 100 excellent paintings. Some of the paintings are by artists I greatly admire such as Carla O'Conner, Dean Mitchell, and Jeannie McGuire. Many paintings are simply stunning. Eventually I started the search for my own piece. I walked around a corner and saw my painting with an award sticker by it. I was so appreciative to have my art in this company, and astounded to win an award. 

So this painting being chosen by and awarded by this juror lets me think (for awhile) that I am at a pretty good level. 

Will She Be Allowed
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Award 

You can look at all the art in the exhibit at: (It takes some time to upload all the pieces, so be patient.)

To learn how my friend Ruth Armitage decides which competitions to enter, read her blog: