Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The WOW Factor | 10 Ways to Catch a Juror’s Eye

It’s no surprise that an art juror is going to begin his or her task by studying a painting for certain expected attributes: strong design, solid draftsmanship, a skilled handling of value and color. But once an entry has met criteria like these, what is it in a painting that catches and holds a juror’s attention all the way through to the winner’s circle? What is the secret to that intangible “wow factor”?

At Pastel Journal, we ask this question of all of our Pastel 100 Competition jurors, and they’ve offered some truly great advice over the years. Here are 10 tips for improving the odds that your painting will be one of the stand-outs:

10 Ways to Catch a Juror’s Eye

1. To decide which painting to submit, view your images on a computer at a rate of about one every 10 seconds. Choose the painting that catches your attention in that short time. If you consider the number of entries and time involved, 10 seconds may be all the time you have with a juror.
— Doug Dawson

2. Push yourself to go beyond the expected portrayal of your subject matter. Determine a clear visual message for your subject and use that to drive the execution of the painting.
— Barbara Jaenicke



Barbara Jaenicke, Landscape + Interior Juror in the 18th Pastel 100, found Jeri Greenberg’s painting Moving On/Change is Good (pastel, 24×18), winner of the Richeson Pastel Silver Award, to be “a delightful example of masterful editing” saying, “This piece reveals no more and no less than what’s needed to feature an exquisite display of light and shadow on fabric. The value and temperature shifts (both subtle and high contrast) are perfectly handled, and the closely cropped composition gives us an intimate view of this interior, which is adeptly balanced with a well-proportioned variety of shapes. The suitcase in the corner, where the viewer is led, displays the ideal amount of edited detail for its role in the painting; it’s not the first thing we want to notice, but it’s where we want to end up. Create work that’s personal. And strive to go beyond.” —Debora L. Stewart


3. Take risks. Create work that’s personal. And strive to go beyond. — Debora L. Stewart

4. Be sure your painting accomplishes what you set out to do. I tend to be drawn to paintings that feel complete. Whether loose or tight, impressionistic or realistic, colorful or monochromatic, paintings that say it all and nothing more are the ones that stand out. — Terri Ford



Animal + Wildlife Juror Elizabeth Ganji spoke of Yael Maimon’s design skills in her second-place finisher “The Breakfast Club #5 (pastel, 16×21-1/2): “This artist exhibits an exceptional rhythm and energy in her mark making and playful use of color. The painting exhibits a strong design with great flow… as my eye circles around the bowl and down to the bottom cat, his placement leads me back in again. It is obvious this artist knows her subject matter well based on her skilled use of line, ability to leave in what is important and exclude what is not and the overall life this painting emanates.”


5. Paint the essence of a subject. Paint the idea, not just what you see.  — Stephanie Birdsall

6. Consider what you want your painting to be about and how you can simplify the visual story. Limit the detail to areas where you want the viewer to focus. Take chances. Interpret your subject rather than copy it. You have a voice, so paint to tell your story. — Vianna Szabo



Portrait + Figure Juror Vianna Szabo called Lipstick (pastel, 291/2×211/2), the winner of the Pastel Journal Award of Excellence, “a masterful study in the power of limiting detail in a painting. The artist makes the viewer focus on what is important by employing more finished areas against areas that are suggested. Letting the arm fade into the rhythmic drawing of the hand holding the mirror keeps us focused on the face and gesture of the woman. The splash of pink in the background suggests atmosphere and light without placing her anywhere in particular. The artist skillfully used suggestion to involve the viewer in the interpretation of the scene.”


7. Follow your heart in terms of both content and artistic treatment. Be true to yourself as an artist; it’s the only way to achieve fulfillment in your work. — Brian Bailey

8. Paint a subject you love—one that speaks to you, challenges you and gives you an I-can’t-wait-to-paint-it feeling.  — Stephanie Birdsall



Abstract + Non-Objective Juror Marcia Holmes describes Village Boys #43 (pastel, 28×20) by Isabelle V. Lim, which took second place winner in the Abstract & Non-Objective category, as a “fantastically pleasing painting with the primary use of complementary colors.” The design is “a strong point,” she says, “with the vertical format enhanced by the two-toned blue. The movement is sublime, carrying viewers throughout the painting.”


9. Don’t try to mimic another artist; allow your own personal style to emerge.  — Barbara Jaenicke

10. Paint. Paint. Paint. Every day, if you can.  Elizabeth Ganji

Meet This Year’s Pastel 100 Jurors

Read about the five artists who’ll be seeking out the “wow factor” in the 19th Pastel 100 Competition, which is open for entries now. Find more entry information here.

pastelist-rita-kirkmanRita Kirkman | Animal + Landscape Juror
 has won a number of major awards in national and international competitions and is rapidly becoming a popular workshop instructor. Kirkman is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA) and a Master Circle artist with the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS). Her work has been featured in a number of art publications, including Pastel Journal. Although she’s well known for her depictions of ranch animals, and her adventurous use of color, the artist says that she enjoys painting “almost anything” and finds resonance in a quote by Claude Monet, who said, “The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.”


Nancie King Mertz | Landscape + Interior Juror is an IAPS Master Circle artist, and a master artist in the PSA and Chicago Pastel Painters. Her work was featured in the 2015 February issue of Pastel Journal and has been included many times in Pastel 100 competitions. She teaches across the United States and internationally, and is on the faculty for the Plein Air Convention and the IAPS Convention in 2017. Mertz has traveled the country and to nearly 20 countries abroad for painting inspiration, but her hometown of Chicago remains her favorite city to explore and paint.

William A. Schneider | Portrait + Figure Juror sharpened his skills during eight years of study at the American Academy of Art’s Saturday Program in Chicago, and through workshops with artists Dan Gerhartz, Harley Brown and Richard Schmid, among others. His work has been featured in such publications as Southwest Art, Fine Art Connoisseur, The Artists’ Magazine and Pastel Journal, among others. His work has received awards in a number of exhibitions including those of the American Impressionist Society (in which he’s a master signature member), the Oil Painters of America, the Portrait Society of America and the PSA (in which he is a master pastelist).

Arlene Richman | Abstract + Non-Objective Juror is a native New Yorker and an award-winning abstract pastelist. Her work has been widely exhibited in the U.S., and internationally. Richman is a PSA master pastelist and serves on the executive committee of the PSA board of governors. She’s also a signature member of the Connecticut Pastel Society and the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, and is an artist member of the Salmagundi Club. She has been featured in Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine. Her pastel work is part of the permanent collection of the National Arts Club in New York City and in numerous private collections.

pastelist-sarah-blumenscheinSarah Blumenschein | Still Life + Floral Juror is a pastel artist living in Albuquerque, N.M. Her work has been part of many local, national and international art competitions, earning a number of awards, including First Place in the Still Life category of The Artist Magazine’s 2009 Annual Art competition; The Grand Prize in the Pastel Journal’s 2010 Pastel 100 competition; Best of Show in the 2014 New Mexico Masterworks competition; and Best of Show in the 2015 Pastel Society of New Mexico National exhibition. Blumenschein is a signature member of the PSA and a distinguished pastelist of the Pastel Society of the West Coast.

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